Fire Alarms

Fire detection and warning

At Firepoint UK our motto is “Your safety is our business” and we know that the risk of fire is always with us, whether at work or at home. The high standards of fire safety in the UK can blind us to our own responsibilities, to ensure we are safe in our homes and that our businesses are secure.

Did you know that your fire alarm is required to be tested twice annually by a competent company?

Fire prevention and fire training are key aspects to being confident about potential fire hazards, but expert fire alarm choice, along with fire-alarm installation and maintenance, go a long way to giving us peace of mind.

Firepoint UK offers the perfect blend of expertise and commitment to quality. We are at one with our clients; we understand what is required to keep your business safe from fire, and we ensure the highest standard of commitment to all our clients.

All of our work is carried out to the requirements of the British Standards 5839-1: 2017 and 5839-6: 2019 and certified to the same.

If you would like any more information on fire alarms, please call us on 0800 917 1056 or complete the form below.

Test 1 (Weekly)

BS5839-1:2017 Section 6, 44.2

Recommendations for weekly testing by the user

NOTE 1: When testing the fire detection and fire alarm system, there might be a need to disable ancillary outputs.

The following recommendations are applicable:

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.

NOTE 2: It is essential that any ARC is contacted immediately before, and immediately after, the weekly test to ensure that unwanted alarms are avoided and that fire alarm signals are correctly received at the ARC.

NOTE 3: The user needs to take account of the manufacturer’s recommendations, particularly when battery powered devices are being tested, e.g. within radio-linked fire detection and fire alarm systems.

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”).

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.

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 [see 40.2d)].

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 5s, 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.

f) Voice alarm systems should be tested weekly in accordance with BS 5839-8.

Test 2 (Every 6 Months)

BS5839-1:2017 45.3 Recommendations for periodic inspection and test of the system

Some fire detection and fire alarm systems and components claim to include features that permit functions to be automatically monitored, and faults or warnings to be annunciated, or otherwise made available to authorized persons. In cases where this is proven, the recommendations for routine testing under this subclause and in 45.4 may be modified to omit testing which is proven to be unnecessary by the equipment manufacturer, provided it can be proven that the automatic monitoring achieves the same objective as the appropriate test recommended in this subclause and/or 45.4. In the case of detectors (all types), tests should ensure that products of combustion are capable of passing unhindered from the protected area to the sensing chamber/elements of the detector and not simply test the ability of the detector to sample/verify the status of the atmosphere already in the sensing chamber. The recommendations in this clause should be carried out by a competent person (see 3.12). The period between successive inspection and servicing visits should not exceed six months. If this recommendation is not implemented, it should be considered that the system is no longer compliant with this part of BS 5839.

The following recommendations are applicable:

a) The system logbook should be examined. It should be ensured that any faults recorded have received appropriate attention.

b) A visual inspection should be made to check whether structural or occupancy changes have affected the compliance of the system with the recommendations of this standard for the siting of manual call points, automatic fire detectors and fire alarm devices. Particular care should be taken to verify whether:

1. All manual call points remain unobstructed and conspicuous

2. Any new exits that lead to a place of ultimate safety have been created without the provision of an adjacent manual call point

3. Any new or relocated partitions have been erected within 500 mm horizontally of any automatic fire detector [see 22.3g)]

4. Any storage encroaches within 300 mm of ceilings, such as to obviate compliance with 22.3i

5. A clear space of 500 mm is maintained below each automatic fire detector [see 22.3o)], and that the ability of the detector to receive the stimulus that it has been designed to detect has not been impeded by other means

6. Any changes to the use or occupancy of an area makes the existing types of automatic firedetector unsuitable for detection of fire or prone to unwanted alarms

7. Any building alterations or extensions require additional fire detection and fire alarm equipment to be installed.

c) The records of false alarms should be checked in accordance with 30.2i. The rate of false alarms during the previous 12 months should be recorded [see 30.2i)]. Action taken in respect of false alarms recorded should comply with 30.2j.

d) The battery voltage should be measured with the mains on to check the steady state charge voltage and check it is within the manufacturer’s recommendations before any other tests that might discharge the battery and with no load on the power supply other than the quiescent or standing load.

e) The standby battery should be disconnected, the alarms activated and the power supply output voltage checked that it is close to the nominal voltage.

NOTE 1: If applying the full alarm load is not practicable, then the full load may be simulated.

NOTE 2: It would be reasonable to expect the power supply voltage to achieve at least 95% of nominal voltage.

f) Batteries and their connections should be examined and momentarily load tested with the mains disconnected (other than those within devices such as manual call points, detectors and fire alarm sounders of a radio-linked system), to ensure that they are in good serviceable condition and not likely to fail before the next service visit. Vented batteries should be examined to ensure that the specific gravity of each cell is correct.

g) The fire alarm functions of the CIE should be checked by the operation of at least one detector or manual call point on each circuit. An entry should be made in the logbook indicating which initiating devices have been used for these tests.

h) It should be confirmed that a fire alarm signal is given on operation of at least one manual call point or fire detector.

i) All controls and visual indicators at CIE should be checked for correct operation.

j) The operation of any facility for automatic transmission of alarm signals to an ARC should be checked. Where more than one form of alarm signal can be transmitted (e.g. fire and fault signals), the correct transmission of each signal should be confirmed.

k) All ancillary functions of the CIE should be tested.

l) All fault indicators and their circuits should be checked, where practicable, by simulation of fault conditions.

m) All printers should be tested to ensure that they operate correctly and that characters are legible. It should be ensured that all printer consumables are sufficient in quantity or condition to ensure that the printer can be expected to operate until the time of the next service visit.

n) Radio systems of all types should be serviced in accordance with the recommendations of the manufacturer.

o) All further checks and tests recommended by the manufacturer of the CIE and other components of the system should be carried out.

p) On completion of the work, any outstanding defects should be reported to the premises management, the system logbook [see 40.2d)] should be completed and an inspection and servicing certificate should be issued (see G.6).

Test 3 (Yearly)

BS5839-1:2017 45.4 Recommendations for inspection and test of the system over a 12 month period.

In addition to the work recommended in 45.3, the following work should be carried out every year.

NOTE 1: The work described can be carried out over the course of two or more service visits during each 12-month period.

a) The switch mechanism of every manual call point should be tested, either by removal of a frangible element, insertion of a test key or operation of the device as it would be operated in the event of fire.

b) All automatic fire detectors and remote detectors should be examined, as far as practicable, to ensure that they have not been damaged, painted, or otherwise adversely affected. Thereafter, every detector should be functionally tested.

NOTE 2: The tests used need prove only that the detectors are connected to the system, are operational and are capable of responding to the phenomena they are designed to detect. Where fitted, detector remote indicators should also be checked for correct operation.

Information regarding the configuration of multi-sensor detectors and selection of types of detectors suitable for the application is given in Table E.1.​

c) Every heat detector should be functionally tested by means of a suitable heat source, unless operation of the detector in this manner would then necessitate replacement of part or all of the sensing element (e.g. as in fusible link point detectors or non-integrating line detectors).

Special test arrangements are required for fusible link heat detectors. The heat source should not have the potential to ignite a fire; live flame should not be used, and special equipment might be necessary in explosive atmospheres.

d) Point smoke detectors should be functionally tested by a method that confirms that smoke can enter the detector chamber and produce a fire alarm signal (e.g. by use of apparatus that generates simulated smoke or suitable aerosols around the detector). It should be ensured that the material used does not cause damage to, or affect the subsequent performance of, the detector; the manufacturer’s guidance on suitable materials should be followed.​

e) Optical beam smoke detectors should be functionally tested by introducing signal attenuation between the transmitter and receiver, either by use of an optical filter (or any similar method of simulating obscuration by smoke), smoke or simulated smoke.

f) Aspirating fire detection and fire alarm systems should be functionally tested by a method that confirms that smoke can enter the detector chamber and produce a fire alarm signal. It should be ensured that the material used does not cause damage to or affect the subsequent performance of the detectors; the manufacturer’s guidance on suitable materials should be followed. Furthermore, appropriate testing should be performed to verify that smoke is able to enter each sampling point (or collection of sampling points that are recommended by the manufacturer to cover the same area as a point smoke detector).

NOTE 3: This can be achieved by introducing smoke into each sampling point in turn and verifying a response at the detector. However, where access is restricted or other site conditions prevent this, other verification techniques should be employed such as:

1) Verifying transport time from furthest hole or a dedicated test point and comparing with previously recorded results to identify deviations

2) Confirming that the flow monitoring is capable of detecting loss of a single sampling point (or collection of sampling points that are deemed to be acceptable for the risks involved)

3) Inspection of flow readings and comparing with previously recorded results to identify deviations which would indicate a loss of detection performance; or

4) Measurement of the pressure at each sampling point and comparing with previously recorded results to identify deviations which would indicate a loss of detection performance. The technique used is dependent on the particular features of the ASD technology, the risk and details of the specific application. Such techniques may also be supported by visual inspection of sampling points where this is possible but it should be verified that adequate detection performance is maintained. Details of the techniques used should be recorded and agreed with all parties.

NOTE 4: For further guidance see the FIA Code of Practice for Design, Installation, Commissioning and Maintenance of Aspirating Smoke Detector (ASD) Systems [7].

g) Carbon monoxide fire detectors should be functionally tested by a method that confirms that carbon monoxide can enter the detector chamber and produce a fire alarm signal (e.g. by use of apparatus that generates carbon monoxide or a gas that has a similar effect on the electro- chemical cell as carbon monoxide).

WARNING. Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas, and suitable precautions should be taken in its use.

NOTE 5: It is necessary to ensure that any test gas used does not cause damage to, or affect the subsequent performance of, the detector and that the manufacturer’s guidance on suitable test gases is followed.

h) Flame detectors should be functionally tested by a method that confirms that the detector responds to a suitable frequency of radiation and produces a fire alarm signal. The manufacturer’s guidance on the testing of detectors should be followed.

i) In fire detection systems that enable analogue values to be determined at the CIE, it should be confirmed that each analogue value is within the range specified by the manufacturer.

j) Multi-sensor detectors should be operated by a method that confirms that products of combustion in the vicinity of the detector can reach the sensors and that a fire signal can be produced as appropriate.

1) The guidance of the manufacturer on the manner in which the detector can be functionally tested effectively should be followed.

2) Multi-sensor fire detectors should be physically tested by a method that confirms that products of combustion in the vicinity of the detector can reach the sensors and that the appropriate response is confirmed at the CIE.

NOTE 6: Suitable test methods for each type of sensor are as described in this subclause, e.g. for heat sensors, see 45.4c).

3) Where the detector or system design permits, each sensor on which a fire detection decision depends (e.g. smoke, heat, CO) should be physically tested individually. Alternatively, individual sensors may be physically tested together if the detection system design allows simultaneous stimuli and individual sensor responses to be verified either individually or collectively.

NOTE 7: Where individual sensors cannot be tested individually, this recommendation does not apply.

NOTE 8: Where a system includes a time-related configuration of detection, care needs to be taken to ensure that a sensor is not excluded from being tested as a result of the time-dependent mode.

4) On completion of tests the system should be returned to its normal configuration.

k) All fire alarm devices should be checked for correct operation. It should be confirmed that visual fire alarm devices are not obstructed from view and that their lenses are clean.

NOTE 9: This test is intended to ensure that every fire alarm device operates in response to a fire alarm signal. It is not intended that sound pressure level measurements are made.

l) All unmonitored, permanently illuminated filament lamp indicators at CIE should be replaced.

m) Radio signal strengths in radio-linked systems to which Clause 27 applies should be checked for adequacy, and the results recorded.

n) A visual inspection should be made to confirm that all readily accessible cable fixings are secure and undamaged.

o) The cause and effect programme should be confirmed as being correct by activating at least one cause and observing the operation of the effects. Where there are different types of devices (e.g. manual call points and automatic fire detectors), one cause and its effects should be tested for each type of device.

NOTE 10: Testing of a single cause is deemed acceptable and satisfies the recommendations of 45.3o. On a site with multiple cause and effect operations, if the user deems further causal testing is required, it is necessary for the user to specify this to the maintenance provider. Where no agreement is specified, testing of one cause will satisfy the recommendations.

p) The standby power supply capacity should be checked to establish it remains suitable for continued service.

NOTE 11: Further guidance on testing of the batteries is given in FIA Guidance: Testing of lead acid batteries used in Fire Detection & Alarm System Power Supplies [11].

q) A check should be made to determine whether a suitable zone plan (or other suitable diagrammatic representation) of the premises is provided on or adjacent to all CIE and repeat indicating equipment.

NOTE 12: Where repeat indicating equipment relates to only part of the premises, the adjacent zone plan need only relate to that part of the premises.

r) All further annual checks and tests recommended by the manufacturer of the CIE and other components of the system should be carried out.

s) Video fire detectors should be subject to the manufacturer’s guidelines in relation to annual test and inspection. Any lighting provided specifically to aid the detection of flame or smoke should be regarded as an integral part of the video fire detection system. As such, its correct operation should be confirmed, both in the presence of any mains supply to the lighting and the absence of such a supply. On completion of the work, any outstanding defects should be reported to the premises management and a record of the inspection and test should be made on the servicing certificate.​

NOTE 13: Since stimulus of the sensing element through introduction of the phenomena or surrogate phenomena which the above detectors are designed to detect forms part of the test, use of a test button or a test magnet (for example) or compliance with 45.4i) does not satisfy the recommendations given.

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