Your Essential Guide to Legally Expected Checks and Services on Fire Safety Equipment
Fire alarms are a legal requirement for every property. But having them isn’t enough; ensuring fire safety equipment is well maintained and regularly tested by a ‘responsible person’ is also essential by law, with severe penalties for non-compliance.
Fire equipment can go for years without being used, so making sure that it is in working order is essential in case a fire does arise, for the protection of your teams or residents, property and assets.
As the Regulatory reform (Fire Safety) Order and Fire Scotland Act states: “If a fire alarm system is deemed to be necessary, then a system of maintenance is required, otherwise the user would be in breach of the FSO and maybe liable for prosecution.”
So how often should you test fire alarms, and other fire safety equipment? How frequently your fire safety equipment is checked, tested and serviced all depends on the type of equipment you have and where you keep it.
The recent Fire Safety Act 2021 places significant responsibilities on building owners and Facility Managers, or ‘Responsible Persons,’ based on the recommendations of the Grenfell Tower inquiry.
At the same time, business owners have a duty of care to ensure fire safety. There are also codes of practice by The British Standards Institution for routine checks that you should follow for your fire safety equipment.
To make things easier, we have summarised below the routine fire alarm testing requirements – regular checks that should be carried out by the competent person, or a qualified professional on your fire alarm and fire safety equipment.
Reminder: The responsible person is a person who has sufficient experience, knowledge and has received enough training to be proactive in the prevention of fire. The responsible person can be: the employer, the owner, the company.
What fire safety equipment needs to be checked?
Fire safety equipment that may need regular checks, testing or servicing includes:
- Fire alarms
- Emergency lighting
- Fire extinguishers
- Fire doors
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Sprinkler systems
- Dry and wet risers
- Means of escape
It is also essential to make a note of all fire safety checks in a dedicated fire log book. This includes reporting any faults identified that need to be repaired as soon as viable, and when they are resolved.
Daily checks for fire safety systems
Check your fire alarm system
Visually check the fire alarm system’s panel daily to ensure that no faults are indicated. The panel should be showing that all indicators are ‘normal’. Any emergency whistles, gongs and air horns should be in place, and smoke alarms should be visually checked for damage. Make sure you check that previous faults have been rectified.
Any previous faults identified need to have been acknowledged and logged as resolved.
Weekly testing of fire safety equipment
Fire alarm system testing
On a weekly basis, the fire alarm system should be tested from a different call point each week, taken in turn, ensuring that all equipment attached to the alarm activates (such as sounders, smoke vents, disabled equipment). Also check that any doors fitted with automatic releases are activated by automatic fire detection and alarm system, and that all lifts return to the ground floor.
All fire extinguishers should be in place and visible with no obstructions present. Make sure that they are in the right location and that the tag and safety clip are in place. Fire hydrants outside should be checked for accessibility, nothing should be blocking their path (such as vehicles).
Ensure that the points aren’t blocked, check that the water supply is sufficient, record findings in the fire log book and report any defects.
Dry & wet risers
Ensure that the points aren’t blocked, check that the water supply is sufficient, record findings in the fire log book and report any defects to the Responsible person.
All fire exits should be able to be opened easily, with no obstructions in the way. The emergency fastening devices (push bars etc.) should be working correctly and escape routes should be clear (make sure there is signage in place.) Don’t forget your external fire escape routes.
Monthly checks on fire safety equipment
Do a monthly test (or flick test): Check the LED light is on, use test point, check that the light works. It is important to keep a record of all monthly tests, including any faults which will have to be reported to the Responsible Person.
Fire extinguishers should be checked fully every month. All fire extinguishers should have their pressure gauges checked monthly, they should be in the correct location, checked for any damage and they should be charged.
First of all, keep a register of all your fire doors with each of them having an ID. Inspect each door: Is the seal intact? Is the closer working? If the door has a door guard, is it working? It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to check external doors as well.
Carbon monoxide detectors
Test the unit by pushing the test button, record the test in the fire log book and record the date when the batteries were last changed.
Bi-Annual servicing on fire safety equipment
Dry & wet risers
BS9990:2015 requires dry and also where legally required, wet risers (for any building that is above 60m in height) to be tested under pressure annually with a visual inspection every six months and serviced bi-annually.
Fire drills with a full or part evacuation should take place every six months. However, some other premises (such as schools) are required to have fire drills more often. Your evacuation procedure should take no more than 2-3 minutes.
Smoke alarms should be tested, and if battery-powered, batteries should be changed every 6 months to ensure they are fully reliable.
Fire alarm system
Fire alarms should be tested in line with BS5839-1:2017, usually every 6 months or quarterly according to the size of your premises. This involves testing all of your alarm devices throughout a twelve month period, along with door closers & smoke vents. Any defects should be noted and reported as part of a compliant service report.
Fire hose reels should be tested every 6 months for damage and wear. Fire blankets should also be checked biannually to ensure that they are effective.
Annual servicing on fire safety equipment
You are required to have a 3-hour emergency lighting test once a year, during which your main light circuit should be switched off and your emergency lights left on for a 3-hour period in line with BS5266-1:2016. Any defects should be reported and resolved as soon as possible.
Fire extinguishers should be serviced once a year in line with BS5306-3:2017. This includes reporting any remedial works that are required, which should be noted in a dedicated service report and resolved.
Systems should be serviced in line with BS9251:2014, whereby if no defects are reported, a renewed certificate of compliance will be received.
There’s a lot of information to take in when it comes to understanding how often you should test your fire alarm system, and other fire safety equipment. With that in mind, we have also produced this downloadable quick-reference table for fire safety equipment testing:
|Equipment Type||What to look for|
|Daily fire safety equipment checks||
Weekly fire safety equipment checks
|Monthly fire safety equipment checks||
|Bi-annual fire safety equipment service||
|Annual fire safety equipment service||
Amthal offers dedicated fire safety equipment service contracts, individually designed to suit bespoke property requirements, working closely with Responsible Persons to ensure the safety of any premises.
If you’d like further advice on how often you should check your fire safety equipment, or specific guidance on setting up fire safety checks processes and protocols for your specific building(s), then please get in touch.