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Your Pocket Guide to Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems for Buildings

This guide is intended to be an aid to designers and installers of fire detection systems. It is not to be used as a substitute for BS 5839-1: 2017 which should be read in full.

There is a lot to think about when it comes to compliance with the British Standard, Code of Practice BS 5839-1:2017. This pocket guide “Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems for Buildings” provides simple guidance for the provision of fire detection and alarm system in accordance with the recommendations detailed within BS 5839-1:2017.

What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (FSO)?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (FSO) became law on 1 October 2006. Fire authorities no longer issue fire certificates and those previously in force now have no legal status. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (FSO) replaced most fire safety legislation with one new Order. It means that any person who has some level of control in premises (normally the employer) must take steps to reduce the risk from fire, consider how to contain a fire should one break out and then also make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.

Where does the Order apply?

Virtually all premises and nearly every type of building structure and certain open spaces.

What are the Fire Alarm Categories and Fire Alarm Classifications?

Fire Alarm System categories specify the level of protection that a system provides according to the recommendations of the BS 5839-1:2017 British Standards.

BS 5839-1:2017 splits Fire Alarm Systems into 3 system design categories:
  • Category P Systems – Property Protection Fire Alarm Systems
  • Category L Systems – Life Protection Fire Alarm Systems
  • Category M Systems - Manual Operation Systems
Property Protection Fire Systems:
  • ‘P’: Automatic Fire Detection (AFD) designed primarily to protect property
  • P1:  AFD installed throughout all areas
  • P2:  AFD is installed only in defined areas
Life Protection Fire Systems:
  • ‘L’: Automatic Fire Detection (AFD) is designed to primarily protect Human Life
  • L1: AFD installed throughout all areas
  • L2: AFD installed in defined areas in addition to L3
  • L3:  installed in escape routes and rooms or areas opening onto these routes
  • L4: AFD installed in escape routes comprising circulation areas and spaces such as corridors and stairways
  • L5: applies to a non – prescriptive system in which protected areas and/or the location of detectors is designed to satisfy a specific fire risk objective – other than that of L1 to L4
M: No AFD - System design to be operated manually

Designer Responsibilities

(1) BS 5839-1 recommends that a fire detection system is designed by a competent person, who takes responsibility for completing the design and signing off a ‘Design certificate’. This should not be confused with other certificates relating to Installation.

(2) If the contract allows, it is suggested that the Designer witnesses testing of the completed system to ensure the original design is still appropriate; the Design certificate can then be completed after any amendments are included.

Got a question about BS 5839-1:2017? Need Fire Safety Compliance advice?  Get in touch today!

For over 45 years, Fixfire® has been providing quality products, systems and services for Life & Property Protection. Whatever your requirement, please call our Compliance Team for expert advice and a refreshingly different approach.

Freephone 08000 891999

STEP 1:
STEP 2:
You provide a suitable up to date drawing of your building in either:
  • Hard copy
  • PDF
  • Or preferably AutoCAD (dwg) format
Depending on the availability of installation records and the complexity of the building, we arrange a visit to identify the zone number associated with each Fire Alarm Manual Call Point and Fire Detector (for practicality this may involve two engineers).
STEP 3:
STEP 4:
Fire Alarm Zone Chart is created.
Fire Alarm Zone Chart is supplied in A4 or A3 glazed frame for installation adjacent to your Fire Alarm Panel.

For over 45 years, Fixfire® has been providing quality products, systems and services for Life & Property Protection. Whatever your requirement, please call our Compliance Team for expert advice and a refreshingly different approach.

Freephone 08000 891999.

False Fire Alarms remain a huge concern within the education sector- interrupting already carefully scheduled, planned and well-prepared lessons or even causing major disruption and distress to exams.  

Clearly, these false alarms cause significant inconvenience and disruption to students, staff, and visitors. They compromise everyone’s safety in the school and present a significant risk to the local community since the Fire Brigade will prioritise the school over other emergency callouts.

Solutions you should consider:

Anti-tamper products

The first and most straightforward way is to use anti-tamper products.

Fixfire® supplies a wide range of solutions designed to protect Fire Alarm Devices from inadvertent damage or deliberate misuse/vandalism.

Products include:

  • Local plastic cover flaps which attach directly to manual call points.
  • The stopper consists of a clear, tamperproof, tough polycarbonate cover, frame and spacer that retrofits over a break glass call point. When lifted to operate the break glass unit, its optional battery powered integral sounder emits a piercing 96dB (at 1m). Immediate attention is drawn to the area and a prankster will either run or be caught!
  • A range of steel web stoppers designed to protect fire detectors and warning devices. They are constructed from heavy-duty galvanised steel rod which is plastic-coated for durability and external use.
  • A range of polycarbonate enclosures are available for the protection of devices such as fire alarm control panels and associated control equipment. The enclosures combine tough rugged construction with stylish design and offer excellent protection with a key lock for authorised access.

We also provide anti-tamper devices for fire extinguishers and associated products.

KeyCall® Call Point

KeyCall® is a patented anti-ligature Fire Alarm and Access Control call point. It is designed to use the same key as the doors, providing simple operation for staff whilst eliminating nuisance activations by service-users.

KeyCall® has been developed by Fixfire® specifically for approved applications where standard versions would be vulnerable to abuse.

It is one of the best solutions for SEN schools and it is also compatible with a wide range of Conventional and Addressable Fire Alarm Systems.

Conduct Fire Safety Training

Most fire safety courses offer a mix of classroom-based learning and practical training experience, educating attendees on how to respond in the event of an emergency.

 In order to fulfil your obligations under current Fire Safety Law, it is essential that you have a documented regime of Fire Safety tests and checks and personnel who are suitably trained to respond correctly in the event of an emergency.

All Fire Safety Training is provided by experienced, time-served and qualified persons from a Fire Safety background.

Video surveillance

Even if the cameras don't identify the culprit, they can identify who was in the area at the time of the false alarm activation. Fixfire® specialises in integration and will bring together your Fire, Access and Security systems providing enhanced functionality.

Fixfire® provides leading-edge integration with ancillary systems and equipment. Our mission is to deliver reliable, well-engineered installations that provide you with peace of mind 24/7.

Place fire detectors in the correct locations

Smoke detectors that are placed too close to kitchens, cooking appliances, locker rooms or bathrooms will most likely be accidentally activated by the smoke or steam emitted by these sources. Detectors might need to be relocated.

Smoke detectors are more sensitive and are installed in any environment where smoke or steam would not normally be present. Heat detectors are installed in areas such as kitchens where smoke detectors would constantly false alarm during routine cooking. Multi-sensors combine smoke and heat in one detector and offer immunity to false alarms in certain applications.

Use the right detector

New detectors have improved technology and can measure a range of conditions to potentially be more effective at detecting a fire condition.

Flush Fire Detectors ensure protection is not compromised in any areas where conventional ‘un-pluggable’ detection could be subject to abuse. It is widely used in SEN Schools.

Maintain your Fire System

Make sure the alarm system is properly and regularly maintained.

Fixfire® is BAFE accredited for the Design, Installation, Maintenance and Servicing of Fire Alarm Systems.

All works are carried out by our employed, uniformed and trained Fire Alarm engineers.
Following each visit, a Certificate of Inspection is issued.

Got a question about False Fire Alarms? Need Fire Safety Compliance advice?  Get in touch today!

For over 45 years, Fixfire® has been providing quality products, systems and services for Life & Property Protection. Whatever your requirement, please call our Compliance Team for expert advice and a refreshingly different approach.

Freephone 08000 891999

BS 5839-1:2017 & Fire Alarm Categories
BS 5839-1:2017 & Fire Alarm Categories
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