Fire Alarms FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

We’ve put together a collection of Frequently Asked Questions FAQs about Fire Alarm Systems and Fire Alarm Maintenance to help you keep on top of maintaining your system. If you have a question or need further assistance with your fire alarms or any of our other services, please Contact Us.

A Fire Alarm System is a number of devices that work together to warn the occupants of a building that carbon monoxide, fire and smoke are present and to evacuate immediately. The alarm system will typically combine auditory and visual warnings to bring attention to the emergency.
Addressable, Conventional, Wireless and Air Sampling.

Many fire protection providers have only one system offering, limiting their technical solution options but FAFS Fire & Security is a true systems house, enabling us to match and offer a system solution from a selection of the leading manufacturers that best meet you own particular needs.

Find out more about Our Partners.
Sometimes called the Fire Safety Order (FSO) or the RRO, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order states that any person, who has some level of control of premises, must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and ensure that everyone who may be on the premises, at the time of the fire, can escape safely. Read more.
BS-5839 Part 1 is a code of practice set out by the British Standards Institution. It details the guidelines for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire alarm and fire detection systems in non-domestic premises.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 demands that the responsible person must ensure that, where appropriate, the premises is equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms and that these are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair by a competent person. BS 5839-1 provides guidance as to what is considered appropriate, suitable, efficient, good and competent.

To support them in this requirement, the Responsible Person must appoint a Competent Person (a Service Provider who has sufficient training, experience or knowledge (18.5)) to assist them in undertaking the preventative and protective measured. (18.1)

BS 5839 Part 1 Recommends that all fire alarm and detection systems are subject to a regular inspection and servicing arrangement. The period between successive visits by the Competent Person should not exceed a period of 6 months.

100% of the equipment on the system must be checked over a 12 month period.

The inspection can be split into as many visits as is required to ensure that 100% of the equipment has been checked. While a Service Provider can conduct an annual (100%) inspection in 1 visit, we are still required to attend site at least once every 6 months to perform the Periodic Inspection. The Service Provider, with the permission of the Customer, can choose to conduct the annual inspection over 2 visits (checking 50% of equipment during each).
Two visits per year is the recommended minimum to comply with BS-5839 Part 1. During the visit, your engineer will check the detection, sounders, batteries and more.
The Periodic Inspection requires;

the system logbook be checked, a visual inspection undertaken to check whether structural or occupancy changes have affected the compliance of the system (re-siting / replacing / adding devices as required), false alarm incident rates are recorded to ensure compliance with 30.2, battery voltage measured to check it is within the manufacturers recommendations, batteries should be load tested to ensure that they are in good serviceable condition and not likely to fail before the next service visit (25.4b recommends use of batteries with a 4 years minimum lifespan), Control Indicating Equipment (CIE) should be checked, operation of fire alarm devices checked, Alarm Signal Transmission should be checked, all ancillary function of the CIE should be tested, all fault indicators should be checked, all printers should be tested and availability of sufficient printer consumables (printer roles) ensured, radio systems must be serviced in accordance with manufacturers recommendations, manufacturer recommended checks and tests should be carried out across the system.

Any outstanding defects should be recorded and reported to the customer, the system logbook completed and an inspection and servicing certificate should be issued.

In addition to the tasks specified in the Periodic Inspection the following tasks must be completed once during each 12 month period;

testing of every manual call point, examination and functional test of all automatic fire detectors and remote detectors, functional test of every heat detector, smoke detector, optical beam smoke detector, aspirating fire detection system, carbon monoxide detector, flame detectors, multi-sensor detectors etc, full testing of all Control Indicating Equipment, testing of the cause and effect programming by testing one Cause and observing the Effect, testing of the standby power supply capacity to establish it remains suitable for continued service, all further annual checks and tests recommended by the equipment manufacturer.
This will depend on the nature of your business and the location of your fire detection and alarm system. However, our engineers are conscientious in their work and can adapt their practices to accommodate many issues, including sound issues.
Depending on your Fire Risk Assessment, but we think all systems should be monitored. Operating 24/7, Marlowe Connect continually monitors all alarm signals and reacts in the event of an activation, contacting the Emergency Services and nominated Keyholders to ensure your sites protection. Read more
You should test your fire alarm once a week at a set time.

Before you test you alarm, you must warn people inside the building that this is a regular test and that no evacuation is required.

You must also advise your Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) [Hyperlink] that you are about to initiate the test so they do not alert the Emergency Services.

See our Guide on undertaking a Weekly Fire Alarm Test.
You must perform one fire drill per year to comply with UK law. You must also record the results of the drill to inform your fire safety and evacuation plan.
Dependent upon use, testing and environmental factors, the standard life expectancy of a fire alarm panel battery is 4 years - unless specified otherwise by the manufacturer. Life expectancy of fire alarm panel batteries should be checked under (BS 5839 45.4).
The standard life span of an optical detector is 10 years though some specific manufacturers suggest an extended life span. However, detectors need calibrating according to their environment and are highly susceptible to degradation based on environmental factors. For example a detector situated within a very dusty environment will require replacement sooner than a detector in a clean environment.
BS 5839-1 states that all Emergency Callouts should be attended within 8 hours of the call being placed by the customer, regardless of when the call was received. It is recommended that repair to all faults or damage be undertaken as soon as possible. Ideally when they are first identified. Operating nationally, 24/7, FAFS Fire & Security can provide a responsive service, guaranteeing reactive call out times much faster than those recommended by the British Standards. Find out more.
Under the RRO the Responsible Person must appoint a competent person to assist him in undertaking the preventative and protective measures (RRO 18.1). BS 5839-1 suggests that Competence of a fire alarm servicing organization can be assured by the use of organizations that are third-party certificated, by a UKAS-certified certification body i.e. BAFE.
The appointment of a new Service Provider necessitates a special inspection of the fire alarm system during which they must identify all major areas of non compliance including; inadequate detection, sounders, power supplies, inappropriate cabling and the absence of a zone plan or other suitable diagrammatic representation of the premises.

These non compliances must be reported to the Customer who is responsible for arranging the undertaking of the remedial action.

Where available the Service Provider should also obtain and review all existing records (including Design and Installation Certificates, Operation and Maintenance Manual, Testing Records, as fitted drawings, a Log Book and a record of all variations.