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Maintenance of Fire Detection Systems

Servicing is in accordance with the ‘British Standards BS5839 – 1:2017 – Fire Detection and fire alarm systems for buildings’

In accordance with the recommendations of the BS5839-1:2017 & Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 TIS are approved by a UKAS accredited third party certification body under the BAFE SP201 scheme.  This ensures our clients can be assured of the quality of product that we design, supply, install, commission, service & maintain is in accordance with current regulations and standards.

In accordance with BS5839-1:2017 clause 46.2, and to allow TIS to provide a professional & informed service & maintenance of your Fire Safety System, we will need to inspect the original design, installation & commissioning paperwork to ascertain the existing protection.  If the original category of protection is not available TIS will endeavour to identify the category, however, in many instances, although automatic protection may be fitted, only the recommendations of a manual system may be met.

Categories of System (BS5839 – 1:2017 Section 1 clause 5)

Category M System using Manual Call Points only – no automatic detection
Category L (subdivided into 5 systems) – Automatic fire detection systems intended for the protection of life.
L1 Automatic Fire Detection installed throughout all areas
L2 Automatic fire detection installed in accordance with category L3 and defined high risk areas
L3 Automatic fire detection installed to the escape route and rooms adjacent the escape route
L4 Automatic fire detection installed to the escape route only
L5 Automatic fire detection installed to satisfy a specific fire objective
Category P (subdivided into 2 systems) Automatic fire detection systems intended for the protection of property.
P1 Automatic fire detection installed throughout all areas
P2 Automatic fire detection installed in defined areas of the building, usually high-risk areas

Maintenance (BS5839-1:2017 Section 6)

Routine testing by the user

44.2 Recommendations for weekly testing by the user

  1. a) Every week, a manual call point should be operated during normal working hours. It should be confirmed that the control equipment is capable of processing a fire alarm signal and providing an output to fire alarm sounders, and to ensure that the fire alarm signal is correctly received at any ARC to which fire alarm signals are transmitted. It is not necessary to confirm that all fire alarm sounder circuits operate correctly at the time of this test.
  2. b) The weekly test should be carried out at approximately the same time each week; occupants should then be instructed that they should report any instance of poor audibility of the fire alarm signal. In systems with staged alarms incorporating an “Alert” and an “Evacuate” signal, the two signals should be operated, where practicable, sequentially in the order they would occur at the time of a fire (i.e. “Alert” and then “Evacuate”).
  3. c) In premises in which some employees only work during hours other than that at which the fire detection and fire alarm system is normally tested, an additional test(s) should be carried out at least once a month to ensure familiarity of these employees with the fire alarm signal(s).
  4. d) A different manual call point should be used at the time of every weekly test, so that all manual call points in the building are tested in rotation over a prolonged period. There is no maximum limit for this period (e.g. in a system with 150 manual call points, the user will test each manual call point every 150 weeks). The result of the weekly test and the identity of the manual call point used should be recorded in the system logbook
  5. e) The duration for which any fire alarm signal is given (other than solely at CIE) at the time of the weekly test by the user should be at least 5 s, but should not normally exceed 60 s, so that, in the event of a fire at the time of the weekly test, occupants are warned by the prolonged operation of the fire alarm devices.
  6. f) Voice alarm systems should be tested weekly in accordance with BS 5839-8.

44.3 Recommendations for monthly attention by the user

  1. a) If an automatically started emergency generator is used as part of the standby power supply, it should be started up once each month by simulation of failure of the normal power supply and operated on-load for at least one hour. Fuel levels checked and topped if necessary.
  2. b) If vented batteries are used as a standby power supply, a visual inspection of the batteries and connections should be made to ensure that they are in good condition. Action should be taken to rectify any defects, including low electrolyte level.

Inspection and Servicing by Total Integrated Solutions Ltd

BS5839-1:2017 states It is essential that the system is subject to periodic inspection and servicing so that faults are identified, preventive measures can be taken to ensure the continued reliability of the system, false alarm problems are identified and suitably addressed, and the user is made aware of any changes to the building that affect the protection afforded by the system.

Periodic inspection and servicing needs to be carried out by a competent person with specialist knowledge of fire detection and fire alarm systems, including knowledge of the causes of false alarms, sufficient information regarding the system, and adequate access to spares.  Competence of a fire alarm servicing organisation can be assured by the use of third party certified organisations, such as BAFE.

The following are required by BS5839-1:2017

45.2 Recommendations for quarterly inspection of vented batteries

All vented batteries and their connections should be examined by a person competent in battery installation and maintenance technology. Electrolyte levels should be checked and topped up as necessary.

45.3 Recommendations for periodic inspection and test of the system

Clause 45.3 identifies the works that are required during the periodic inspection & test of the system.  The period between successive inspection and service visits should be based upon a risk assessment, taking into account the type of batteries installed, and the environment in which it operates. The period between successive inspection and service visits should not exceed six months.

45.4 Recommendations for inspection and test of the system over a 12-month period.

Clause 45.4 identifies all work that’s should be carried out over a 12-month period, this is in addition to the work recommended in 45.3.

45.3 During our visits, the recommendations detailed in section 45.2 & 45.3 will be carried out with a percentage of the devices tested.  Over our periodic inspection visits, the requirements detailed in section 45.4 will be achieved. Details of the section tested, and percentage of devices will be recorded on the certificate.

Limitation of false alarms (BS5839 – 1:2017 Section 3)

False alarms cause disruption to the normal operation of business and create a drain on fire and rescue service resources. False alarms can even seriously prejudice the safety of occupants, who might not react correctly when the system responds to a real fire if they have recently experienced a number of false alarms.

Responsibility for limitation of false alarms and unwanted fire alarm signals rests with every party involved in the specification, design, installation, commissioning, management at operational level and maintenance of the fire detection and fire alarm system.

It is a common misconception that most false alarms arise from faults in equipment. In fact, most false alarms arise from a combination of environmental influences, fire-like phenomena, inappropriate action by people in the building and accidental damage. The term “unwanted alarms” is now used to describe this latter group of false alarms, to distinguish these false alarms from those arising from malfunction of equipment, which are now described as “equipment false alarms”. Two further categories of false alarms are “malicious false alarms”, arising from malicious action, and false alarms with good intent involving genuine belief by a person that there is a fire.

False alarms – fire signal resulting from a cause(s) other than fire.

False alarms may be sub-divided into four categories

  1. a) unwanted alarms – in which a system has responded, either as designed or as the technology may reasonably be expected to respond.
  2. b) equipment false alarms – in which the false alarm has resulted from a fault in the system.
  3. c) malicious false alarms – in which a person operates a device to initiate a fire signal, whilst knowing that there is no fire.
  4. d) false alarms with good intent – in which a person operates a MCP or otherwise initiates a fire signal in the belief that there is a fire.
  5. e) unknown – in which, in the absence of any other information, the cause cannot be obtained.

Responsibilities of the user

30.2 (g) The user should arrange for suitable investigation and, if appropriate, action to be taken on every occasion that a false alarm occurs.

This may, for example, comprise managerial changes within the building, modifications to the fire alarm system or an investigation by the organisation that maintains the system.

30.2 (h) The user should record appropriate details regarding every false alarm that occurs, information recorded should include the following: – date and time; identity and location of device; category of false alarm (if known); reason for false alarm; activity in area; action taken, whether the FaRS were called & if attended, name of person recording the information.

Non-routine attention (BS5839 – 1:2017 section 6)

46.3 c) The user should record all faults or damage in the system log book, and should arrange for repair to be carried out as soon as possible.

Responsibilities of the service organisation (Total Integrated Solutions Ltd)

30.2 (i) At the time of every service visit, the system false alarm record should be checked carefully to determine a) the rate of false alarms during the previous 12 months, expressed as a number of false alarms per 100 detectors per annum (this rate should be recorded by the engineer).

  1. b) Whether since the time of the previous service visit, two or more false alarms, other that false alarms with good intent, have arisen from any single manual call point or fire detector (or detector location). c) Whether any persistent cause of false alarms can be identified. d) Whether the number of unwanted fire alarm signals during the previous 12 months is recorded in the log book.

30.2 (j) At least, a preliminary investigation should be carried out as part of the service work if any of the following apply:

1) the rate of false alarms over the previous 12 months has exceeded one false alarm per 25 detectors per annum

2) 11 or more false alarms have occurred since the time of the previous service visit, typically within the previous 6 months.

3) two or more false alarms (other than false alarms with good intent) have arisen from any single manual call point or fire detector (or detector location) since the time of the last service visit.

4) any persistent cause of false alarms is identified; or

5) more than two unwanted fire alarm signals have occurred in the previous 12 months.

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