Fire Alarm Regulations and Requirements

Fire Alarm Regulations

Fire Alarm Regulations and Requirements

A guide to the latest UK fire alarm legislation

Fire Alarm Regulations in the UK can seem a little ambiguous if you aren’t a trained Fire Safety Professional. We’re here to provide you with a simple guide on the responsibilities and the requirements you need to meet to be safe and compliant.

The UK Government recommends that all fire alarm and detection systems should be installed and maintained in accordance with the relevant British Standard, BS 5839.

“Fire detection and fire alarm systems substantially reduce the risk of death or serious injury from fire and the fire fatality rate is between two and three times greater in premises where a smoke detector isn’t working or present.” British Standards Institution 2019.

What are the Regulations around Fire Alarm Systems?

 

This is a question that often leaves confusion around the exact requirements for fire alarm systems as it varies hugely on the property.

The current UK fire alarm regulations state that all business premises must have ‘an appropriate fire detection system’ – whether it is someone shouting ‘fire’ or a physical fire alarm system depends on the size and type of your property.

Essentially though, if a fire breaks out it needs to be easily detected, the occupants warned and evacuated.

Things to consider:

  • Is your office a small single room?
  • Is your office open plan?
  • Are there several separate rooms?
  • Is there more than one floor?
  • Do you use any flammable substances?
  • Are there disabled people in the building?
  • Are you a property manager with several homes?
  • etc.

Note: Property owners and managers are required by law to make sure the premises reach the required standards of fire safety.


If you are in any doubt, then your Fire Risk Assessment should specifically state whether you need to install a fire detection system in your building.


 

Who can Install my Fire Alarm?

 

The current UK fire alarm regulations make no requirement as to who can install a fire alarm system, other than they must be ‘competent’. However, we would always recommend you use a reputable firm with the appropriate accreditations and training to install your fire detection system.

Fire alarm system installers with the appropriate accreditation will make sure your fire system meets the technical standards demanded by the British Standards Institution (the UK’s national body on standards) or suitable equivalent.

This will give you peace of mind that your property and people are properly protected. 

 

Which Fire Alarm Should I Fit? The Different Grade of Fire Alarm Systems

 

  • Grade F – System of one or more battery-powered smoke alarms and heat alarms if required.
  • Grade E – System of interlinked mains powered smoke alarms and heat alarms if required, with NO stand-by supply.
  • Grade D – System incorporating one or more interlinked mains powered smoke alarms and heat alarms if required, each with an integral stand-by supply.
  • Grade C – System consisting of fire detectors and alarm sounders (which may be smoke alarms) connected to a common power supply, comprising normal mains and stand-by supply, with central control equipment
  • Grade B – Fire detection and alarm system comprising fire detectors (other than smoke alarms), fire alarm sounders and control and indicating equipment to either BS EN 54-2 (and power supply to BS EN 54-4), or to Annex C of BS 5839: Pt.6
  • Grade A – Fire detection system incorporating control and indicating equipment to BS EN 54-2, and power supply to BS EN 54-4, installed to BS 5839: Pt.1 with some very minor exceptions.

 

  • Category M systems are manual systems and, therefore, incorporate no automatic fire detectors.
  • Category L systems are automatic fire detection and fire alarm systems intended for the protection of life. They are further subdivided into:
    • a) Category L1: systems installed throughout all areas of the building.
      The objective of a Category L1 system is to offer the earliest possible warning of fire, so as to achieve the longest available time for escape;
    • b) Category L2: systems installed only in defined parts of the building.
    • A Category L2 system ought to include the coverage necessary to satisfy the recommendations of this standard for a Category L3 system; the objective of a Category L2 system is identical to that of a Category L3 system, with the additional objective of affording early warning of fire in specified areas of high fire hazard level and/or high fire risk;
    • c) Category L3: systems designed to give a warning of fire at an early enough stage to enable all occupants, other than possibly those in the room of fire origin, to escape safely, before the escape routes are impassable owing to the presence of fire, smoke or toxic gases;

NOTE 1: To achieve the above objective it is normally necessary to install detectors in rooms that open onto an escape route.

    • d) Category L4: systems installed within those parts of the escape routes comprising circulation areas and circulation spaces, such as corridors and stairways. The objective of a Category L4 system is to enhance the safety of occupants by providing warning of smoke within escape routes;

NOTE 2: The installation of detectors in additional areas is not precluded, and the system could then still be regarded as a Category L4 system.

    • e) Category L5: systems in which the protected area(s) and/or the location of detectors is designed to satisfy a specific fire safety objective (other than that of a Category L1, L2, L3 or L4 system). Often, the design is based on a localized need for fire detection in only part of a building. Protection might be provided to compensate for some departure from normal guidance elsewhere or as a part of the operating system for a fire protection system. Such a system could be as simple as one that incorporates a single automatic fire detector in one room (in which outbreak of fire would create undue risk to occupants, either in the room or elsewhere in the building), but the system could comprise comprehensive detection throughout large areas of a building in which, for example, structural fire resistance is less than that normally specified for buildings of that type.

NOTE 3: The protection afforded by a Category L5 system might, or might not, incorporate that provided by a Category L2, L3 or L4 system.

  • Category P systems are automatic fire detection and fire alarm systems intended for the protection of property. They are further subdivided into:
    • a) Category P1: systems installed throughout all areas of the building.
      The objective of a Category P1 system is to offer the earliest possible warning of fire so as to minimize the time between ignition and the arrival of firefighters;
    • b) Category P2: systems installed only in defined parts of the building.
      The objective of a Category P2 system is to provide early warning of a fire in areas of high fire hazard level or areas in which the risk to property or business continuity from fire is high.

NOTE: The defined parts of the building might be as few as one or more rooms, or as extensive as, for example, complete floors of the building.

 


Unfortunately, the UK fire alarm legislation doesn’t specify exactly which each type of fire alarm system should be used in which types of premises, it comes down to what is appropriate for your particular business.

To make sure you get the right fire alarm system that will meet the UK fire alarm regulations, it is recommended that you carry out a Fire Risk Assesment from a Fire Safety Professional.

This will ensure you fit the right fire system to protect your people and property.

 


If you are unsure whether you need a fire alarm and would like a review then get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. Call 01803 557922 or contact us here »

 

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