How often should the fire alarm at your business be tested?

The UK government recommends that commercial fire alarms should be tested on a weekly basis, as set out in the British Standard BS 5839 and the GOV.UK workplace fire safety equipment, drills and training regulations. If you choose to test your fire alarm less frequently than the recommended weekly interval and subsequently receive a visit from a fire officer, you will need to explain your reasoning for deviating from the BS 5839 guidance.

Your weekly spot checks should be carried out on a different call point each week. This is to ensure that each fire alarm point within the building gets regularly checked and that the fire control panel receives the correct signals. Each fire alarm test should be recorded in the fire alarm logbook, stating which call point was tested and when.

Another part of the workplace fire safety regulations is the regular participation of fire evacuation drills. Employers are legally obliged to carry out fire drills at least once a year with the results recorded as part of your business’s fire safety and evacuation plan.

In a fire drill, the building’s fire alarms are unexpectedly sounded, and the building safely evacuated as if there was the instance of a real fire. Fire evacuation drills are a great way to check that all staff are aware of and trained in current fire safety regulations and evacuation points and procedures, and that your alarm system is working correctly.

If your business fails to follow fire safety in the workplace regulations, you could be fined or face a prison sentence. Minor penalties can be up to £5,000 while major penalties can have unlimited fines and carry up to two-years in prison.

Should I tell anyone that I am testing our business’s fire alarms?

The weekly testing of a fire alarm does not require a qualified professional or specialist knowledge. Only basic instructions/training will be required for the testing of call-points and the understanding of resetting the fire alarm panel. Although, you will require a qualified fire safety officer to undertake in the in-depth inspection of your fire alarm system every 6 months.

This in depth system check should be completed by a BAFE SP203-1 approved fire safety specialist and recorded in the fire alarm logbook along with the weekly testing log.

Do fire alarms save lives?

Yes, correctly functioning smoke alarms save lives. People are four times more likely to die in a fire where smoke alarms are not working, and so frequent testing is vital to safeguard your employees’ lives.

Your fire alarm is usually your first line of defence in the event of a fire. The early detection of smoke from a fire alarm can be the difference between life and death, allowing you time to suppress the fire, escape from the property and call the emergency services.

About FireCare Security & Electrical

At FireCare, we have a vast amount of experience helping businesses across the South Coast with their fire safety needs. Our professional team are here to suggest practical, pragmatic steps to help you improve your compliance and better protect your people, premises, and property. 

Whether you need maintenance on an existing fire alarm or are looking to install a new fire alarm system but are unsure where to begin, the experts at FireCare can help. If you require any more information on fire alarm systems contact our friendly team today by completing our contact form or emailing [email protected].