A Guide To Fire Alarm Maintenance & Testing In Your Business

You need to make sure your fire alarm system works in order to protect your business and ensure the safety of your employees in case of fire. Effective protection requires regular maintenance and servicing of your system to ensure it is fully functioning at all times. This guide outlines how to test and maintain your fire alarm so that your employees are protected.

Fire Alarm Maintenance & Testing Is Your Legal Requirement

In commercial buildings, it is a legal requirement to test fire alarms. You must comply with the law to avoid fines or imprisonment. The government sets out its fire alarm testing expectations in Fire Alarm Testing: Regulations & Requirements BS5839-1.

This legislation states that you are responsible for fire safety in your business or other non-domestic premises if you are an employer, owner, landlord, occupier, or anyone else with control of the premises.

You are known as the ‘responsible person’ and must risk assess the premises, tell staff of risks, maintain safety measures, plan for an emergency, provide staff with information and training, and keep a logbook up to date with tests and faults.

Weekly Fire Alarm Test

As the responsible person, you must also carry out a weekly fire alarm test or nominate the next suitable person to do so. This weekly test is required by the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 and ensures there are no major faults in the fire alarm system, aims to rectify these faults, and familiarises occupants with the sound of the warning signal.

It is recommended to carry out the test at a set time and day every week during work hours so that your employees are aware of the test. You should test a different manual call point each week and rotate so that all are tested. This will ensure the control panel and alarm sounders are operating efficiently.

Trigger the call point but do not sound the alarm for more than one minute so employees can distinguish between the test and the real alarm. Ensure all automatic locking systems and electromagnetic fire doors release and close properly before making sure the system resets correctly. Finally, enter the date and time of the test along with faults in the logbook.

Monthly Tests

You also need to carry out a few monthly tests to make sure your alarm system is working sufficiently. If your alarm system uses an automatically started generator, check that this is working properly. Likewise, check any vented batteries if they are used by your alarm as standby power.

Professional Inspection & Servicing

Further to the weekly and monthly tests that you must carry out, your fire alarm system must also undergo professional maintenance at least every 6 months to keep your system compliant with BS 5839 regulations.

This service must be undertaken by a ‘competent person’ – a professional fire alarm testing company or organisation, such as AEL, that is certified and accredited by BAFE.

They will test your fire alarms for more serious or hidden faults to ensure they are working effectively. They will inspect:

  • Logbook and false alarm records
  • Changes to the building and system
  • Manual call points and alarms
  • The visual display on fire alarm panel
  • Control panel functions
  • Devices connected to the system
  • Accessibility of call points
  • Batteries and vented batteries
  • ARC (alarm receiving centre)
  • Fault indicators and circuits

They will report their findings in a log book and issue you with a servicing certificate. The period to the next visit is based on a risk assessment and will depend on the type of system, size of the building, the age of the system, amongst other factors.

Fire Can Devastate Property, Business, And Lives

Follow this guide to ensure your fire alarm system works to the correct standard:

  1. Comply with governmental regulations BS5839-1
  2. Conduct a weekly fire alarm test to check the alarm system is operating without fault
  3. You must also conduct monthly checks to the alarm’s generator and/or batteries
  4. Every 6 months, have your alarms serviced by an accredited fire alarm testing company such as AEL to make sure your fire alarms are fully functional and compliant.

Fire can devastate property, business, and lives. These guidelines will ensure you have adequate fire protection in place and uphold safety at all times.

For further advice on maintaining or testing your fire alarms, or for any questions regarding fire alarm installation, design, and commission, get in touch with AEL today to make sure your business and employees are protected.