It has never been more crucial to ensure that fire alarm systems are properly installed and functioning. According to the government’s own statistics, last year saw an increase in property fires in the UK for the first time in 14 years. Of these, around 73,000 in England were what the fire departments call primary fires.
These are the more serious blazes. A primary fire is one that causes harm to people or damage to property. In 2015 to 2016, these accounted for 45% of all fires. In Northamptonshire and the East Midlands, there were 4,616 fires reported in buildings that were not residential. Overall the number of fires in commercial, retail and industrial properties were up by 3% and included two fatalities.
Safety is serious business these days, and modern fire alarms are now technologically far more complex than they were a decade and a half ago. Business owners also face a raft of legislation concerning the installation, placement, testing and maintenance to regulate fire alarms in commercial buildings. Fire alarms are covered by BS 5839-1:2013 fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. This is the code of practice for installation, design, maintenance and commissioning of systems in non-domestic premises.
With so much at stake, it is important that businesses use qualified and experienced fire alarm professionals to maintain these systems, such as ISE Fire, who cover Northamptonshire and the surrounding counties.
Fire alarm systems are designed to save lives as well as protect property, by giving employees and customers enough time to escape, while at the same time alerting the fire and rescue services. However, a fire alarm system is now so much more than just smoke detectors!
As well as detecting heat or smoke, modern electronic alarm systems can include blinking lights for those with hearing problems, and PA systems to provide specific evacuation instructions. These can also be used to communicate with anyone trapped inside a burning building. Public announcements can also ensure evacuation procedures operate quickly and efficiently, and are particularly useful in retail structures with a highly transient footfall unfamiliar with the layout of the building. Other useful features include wireless or radio fire alarms, and VESDAs (very early smoke detection apparatus), which are alarms that constantly sample the air for smoke; these are best suited to entertainment venues.
Commercial property owners are also legally required to have tests carried out by a qualified professional on a regular basis. Inspection and servicing need to take place between 2 and 4 times a year.
Maintenance is also regulated. Regular checks by someone considered competent must be undertaken on all fire equipment. Fire alarm systems do break down; when they do, repairs need to be immediate, by an experienced and reliable professional.
No business owner wants to have to think about worst case scenarios, but it makes good business sense and practice to plan for this. An expert has the skills, training, experience and knowledge required to not just install a fire alarm, but also design a fire system that is best suited to the unique layout of commercial and retail buildings, and provide reliable maintenance and repair services. Most crucially, a professional will provide peace of mind.
For professional fire alarm installations and reliable ongoing maintenance and support, contact ISE Fire today.