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Do you know what your fire alarm and emergency lighting Technician should be inspecting during your office service visit?

This may sound like an obvious question, but how do you know if it is maintained in accordance with British Standards?

Fire Alarm Systems should be maintained in accordance with BS5839 part 1 and emergency lighting systems in accordance with BS EN 50172 & BS 5266 Parts 1 & 8.

But what does this standard mean to you? Do you fully appreciate what’s actually involved in order to keep your business compliant?

Let’s look at a typical day of the fire alarm Technician and what’s involved before visiting a site, during and after.

Before visiting any site a fire alarm Technician will book the service in advance to ensure the date and time is suitable for the customer and that the Fire Risk Assessment and log book will be available to view on arrival.

When the Technician arrives on site, he checks the Fire Risk Assessment document to see if it is up to date and reads through any fire safety actions that have been recorded.  He then checks any relevant recommendations have been completed. If not, the Technician will discuss with the client any relevant actions they need to take in order comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

After checking Health and Safety requirements across the client site the Technician can then commence work.

Testing the fire alarm involves a number of checks as follows:

  • Does the fire alarm control panel display any faults? Tracing a fault on a system may or may not be a simple fix.  Faults should always be reported to your fire alarm service provider as soon as they appear.
  • The Technician will load test the batteries to check they are the right size for the fire alarm system and that it will have ample power to operate in the event of a power cut or fire. Also, it is important to know that your alarm will keep functioning over a 24 or 72 hours, which would equate to an unmanned weekend.
  • In addition, he will test each and every call point, smoke detector and heat detectors will trigger in the event of fire per annum (50% of equipment should be tested every 6 month – all covered over the year if tested six-monthly).  If any are not working, he will recommend these be replaced.
  • Also, does your office have the correct equipment in the right areas?  Often we see a heat detector placed whereby smoke detectors should be sited and vice versa.  For example, kitchens require heat detectors, not smoke detectors, otherwise the alarm may trigger even if a staff member is just cooking toast!
  • It is your responsibility as the client to test your fire alarm activates on a weekly basis via testing a call point and this should be a different call point each week.  This also applies if you have fire alarm monitoring, which should be checked works with the call centre each week.
  • During your service visit, if the fire alarm is monitored the Technician will check with the connection with the call centre and that they receive the signal when the fire alarm sounds.

Testing the emergency lighting involves another set of checks as follows:

  • Turning off the lights at the fuse board and carrying out a discharge test to see how long the batteries will operate in the event of a power failure.
  • Any lights not working after the discharge test will need new batteries and in some cases replacements.
  • Some companies we visit have told us that previous fire alarm companies have not discharge tested the emergency lights and only carried out flick test.  A flick test is a simple procedure and is actually the responsibility of the client on a monthly basis.
  • Also, the Technician will check there is adequate emergency lighting coverage across the office environment so that all escape routes are lit up in an emergency situation.  Quite often we see areas that have been missed such as disabled toilets.

Not only does a qualified and competent Technician service the fire alarm and emergency lighting, often they are trained to review and advise in relation to other fire safety requirements assisting the client in compliance with the law. Fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire doors, portable electrical appliances, dry risers and hydrants are all hugely important in protecting life, business and property.

At the end of the inspection the Technician will discuss the work complete, together with any recommendations and defects with the client.

A Certificate of Inspection is provided at the conclusion of the visit.  Where the client requires written confirmation of the requirements identified during the visit a service defect report and recommendations report is provided.

After the visit has taken place, any follow-up compliance recommendations are confirmed through a written quotation, or if appropriate a follow up visit and survey.

The benefits of regular fire alarm and emergency lighting maintenance are priceless; qualified and competent third-party accredited fire system Technicians provide a valuable service to your company, meaning you can rest assured that you are keeping your staff, premises and visitors safe from fire and injury at all times.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert advisors about your fire alarm system or any other fire safety requirements, please call us on 08000 234114.

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