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Why do I have to carry out the Inspection & Testing of my system?
Fire alarm and detection systems are designed and installed as an early warning system to the inhabitants of buildings that danger from fire is imminent. A system that is correctly designed, installed and maintained will ensure that everybody has adequate time to evacuate a building.
The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 requires that fire alarm and automatic detection systems should be installed where there is a requirement for early warning of fire. Periodic testing and inspection of all fire alarms and detection systems is essential to ensure they will operate correctly in the event of a fire; poor maintenance can lead to failure of these systems with catastrophic consequences.
It is the responsibility of all employers, to ensure that these systems are suitably maintained and checked so they are safe and compliant. All fire alarm and detection systems should now be installed, tested and inspected in accordance with BS5839 part 1.
Whose responsibility is it to see that this is carried out?
Realistically, everybody has a duty to ensure their safety and the safety of others whilst at work, nevertheless your employer has the ultimate responsibility for fire safety. If nobody is clear on whose responsibility it is then the responsibility falls on the most senior person. It is however important to know who has the responsibility for the safety and welfare of staff in order to establish that compliance is achieved.
So what does the Inspection & Testing involve?
The inspection and testing of a Fire and detection system involves a series of visual and operational checks being carried out on the components of the system. This ensures both the integrity and operational viability of each and every component and will include cables, containment, panels, detectors and sounders. Whilst this type of work is completely non-invasive, it will also be necessary for the inspecting engineer to carry out a fire alarm drill which involves triggering the alarm system via a detector or break-glass unit.
It is important to communicate with your inspecting engineer to establish when he/she intends to perform this test, as staff on site must be notified of the drill situation in order to avoid unnecessary evacuation.
So do I have to carry out the test?
No don't worry, we will take care of that for you as it's vital that this type of work is carried by a qualified and experienced testers. Usually these testers are also fully qualified electricians who have been trained and qualified in fire alarm and detection system work specifically.
When selecting your contractor you should ask to see evidence of their qualifications and experience in this type of work. All Testing Services personnel who carry this work out are trained in line with BS 5839 - 1:2013 and undergo the requisite training for any additions to the regulations.
How much disruptions will this cause?
There will be some impact, such as fire alarm sounders being activated etc. but don't worry, it won’t impact on the normal operational routine of the business. With careful planning this can be conducted at a time that best suits your business. Note: Be wary of any contractors who tell you the work can be fully carried out without sounding the fire alarm - it is impossible.
How often do Fire Alarms need to be tested?
BS 5839-1:2002, as amended 2013, recommends weekly user tests by the designated responsible person with each test recorded in the building’s log book. Based on your risk assessment, this should be combined with periodic inspection and testing of the system and the recommended interval between these inspections should not exceed six months.
Note: If is not implemented, the system will not comply with the regulations.
Do I get a certificate as proof of completion?
Upon completion of our test you will receive a report that details the following:
Installation details and characteristics
Schedule of items tested and inspected
Provide a list of defects or deviations from the British Standard (these will require attention)
We will also update your on-site log book with all the relevant information
We understand that not everybody is technically minded so we will be pleased to talk through your report with you. We will also agree with you a programme of action to rectify any faults or deviations found during our test.
GCelec Ltd | 6 Benedict Square | Werrington | Peterborough | PE4 6GD