Do you manage a block (or blocks) fitted with a fire alarm system? If so, to remain compliant with British Standard 5839 you should be testing the system every week. In my experience this is simply not happening. It is unrealistic to expect property managers to visit all their sites weekly to test the fire alarm is in good working order. And paying for a ‘skilled person’ to carry out these tests can prove expensive over the course of a year. However, these arguments won’t wash if you find yourself involved in a dispute revolving around an untested alarm system.
With this in mind, Future Fire Systems is offering a solution to make testing simple and ensure the safety of all your residents – why not let us train your cleaning team, or any contractor that attends your sites weekly, to test the alarms for you.
What’s involved in weekly testing?
For fire alarm systems with a control panel (BS 5839) a testing regime could be to:
- Test a different manual call point each week
- Confirm that the fire alarm equipment is providing an output to the fire alarm sounders
- Confirm that the fire alarm equipment is providing an output to an ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre) – if applicable
The result of the weekly test and the identity of the manual call point could then be recorded in the system logbook. If the system is connected to NOD*, the property manager will receive the weekly fire alarm test signal, so KPIs can be monitored.
In addition, for interlinked fire alarms of the domestic type, good practice for a weekly test would be to:
- Test a different sensor each time
- Confirm that the sensor activates its sounder, along with others that are interconnected – if practical
The result of the weekly test and the identity of the sensor can then be recorded in the system logbook.
Six- monthly inspections – which are common – are too far apart. That’s leaving it a very long time before you discover that something isn’t quite right with the system/signalling. Ensuring that systems that are tested weekly, at approximately the same time each week (or at least on the same day) and advising residents that this service is in place, not only promotes the professionalism of the property manager but also gives flat owners peace of mind that the system is working.
Train the trainer
Of course, each site will have a different version of the fire alarm control panel, along with different manual call points. We are happy to train the supervisor of the cleaning or maintenance team to ensure he or she is fully competent to carry out the testing. If you are interested in accessing this service, we will provide:
- Crib sheet for each site specific
- Correct test key for call points
- Correct fire alarm panel control key
- A, B, C guide on testing the call point / silencing the control panel / resetting the control panel / data entry to the log book / contact name _ number if system didn’t perform to requirements
*NOD is an auto-notification device that can be retro-fitted into existing alarm control panels to monitor systems in real time, sending signals to a cloud-based app or web portal if the system is in fault or fire condition
Bradley Parker, Managing Director at Future Fire Systems.