The Importance of Managing False Alarms – Fire Services & BS 5839 Part 1

As reported by the BBC, the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) at Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue – Les Britzman – is asking business owners to take more care and responsibility in regards to false alarms. Provided that there are no hazardous materials in the premises and there is no immediate risk to life or the community, the CFO says they should “have systems in place to go and check those buildings themselves” before calling 999. This is inline with information and advice from the London Fire Brigade who attended around 38,000 false alarms in 2017 alone, diverting resources from real emergencies and putting people at risk due to avoidable blue light journeys.

BS 5839 Part 1, the Code of Practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire alarm systems in non-domestic premises, has a focus on managing false alarms, which means doing so is necessary to maintain compliance. The Responsible Person must ensure that all false alarms on a system are logged and investigated for a root cause, and that mitigating work is undertaken as necessary. This could be fitting simple flip covers to manual call points, a recommendation in the Standard, to prevent accidental activation.

Another fundamental part of managing false alarms in existing fire alarm systems is to ensure they are tested, inspected, and serviced at regular intervals. This will reduce the risks of false alarms caused by faulty or improperly installed equipment, as well as identifying detectors which have become unsuitable due to a change in the purpose of a room after the system was installed. For example, swapping optical beam detectors to point heat detectors in a building that was repurposed from warehousing into a factory with machinery that creates a lot of dust.

Fire Alarm System Testing & Maintenance
Functional testing of point smoke detectors with a Solo aerosol dispenser and access pole.

For new fire alarm systems, during the design stage the full details of the Fire Risk Assessment, the building, and its intended / current use should be made available so that the most suitable types of detector can be selected and positioned in the correct way. Suitable detectors in the correct locations are one of the easiest methods for managing false alarms as, for example, installing an optical smoke detector near kitchens or bathrooms could result in false alarms due to steam from cooking or baths and showers. While identifying design shortcomings is not generally the responsibility of an installer, the Standard does state that any issues noticed during installation – particularly those arising from features of the building that might not have been known to the designer – should be brought to the attention of the designer or Responsible Person. An example of this could be certain machinery in a room which, during normal operation, creates excessive heat that would activate a Class A1 heat detector (54 – 65°C activation) and therefore making the use of a Class B detector (69 – 85°C) more appropriate.

Managing false alarms properly ensures that time is not wasted by needless evacuations of the premises, which may also cause downtime of machinery and potentially a loss of earnings. There is also a chance that occupants may get used to hearing false alarms and fail to react properly in the event of a real emergency. Should a real fire incident occur, documentation showing full compliance will be required during the investigation and it is highly likely that insurers will also require this when processing a claim.

Safelincs provide nationwide fire alarm system servicing and maintenance contracts at competitive pricing. View our Servicing and Maintenance page, call our Servicing team on 0800 612 4827, or see our summary of BS 5839-1: 2017 for more information.

Daniel Bennett

Daniel Bennett

Product Administrator

Daniel is one of our product administrators. He has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to emergency lighting, fire alarms and smart products.

Setting new standards for health and safety

VattenfallVattenfall is one of Europe’s largest generators of renewable electricity. 100 per cent owned by the Swedish state it operates wind power turbines in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

Vattenfall is keen to set new standards regarding the Health and Safety in all of its locations for employees and also for contractors and visitors who may attend these sites.

In the UK this commitment has been demonstrated by the company taking the initiative to provide automated external defibrillator (AED) units in each of its site buildings and to provide units in lifting bags which technicians can lift up into the turbine nacelles when undertaking significant work. The aim of providing these AEDs is that anyone on site should have significantly faster access to life-saving equipment should they need it.

Zoll AED PlusSafelincs has supplied Zoll AED Plus defibrillators to Vattenfall, a life-saving piece of equipment which not only delivers a controlled shock to save a patient from Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) but provides CPR feedback and instructions to the first aider. The help feature gives audible and visual prompts for the rate and depth of chest compressions being administered during rescue. This AED is a semi-automatic device which can be used by minimally-trained members of staff.

Bournemouth University cuts extinguisher maintenance costs

bournemouth-universitySafelincs has installed several hundred P50 service-free extinguishers at Bournemouth University’s campus in Poole. The new appliances replace units that required annual servicing by an external maintenance company. P50s are corrosion-proof and do not require maintenance by an extinguisher engineer or a discharge test over their entire 10 year lifespan. Instead, they only require an annual visual inspection which can be carried out by the university’s staff.

After 10 years the extinguishers can be factory-refurbished for another decade of service-free life. (At the end of their life they are recyclable). Manufactured in the UK, the extinguishers are Kitemarked by BSI to EN3.

Included in the purchase price of the extinguishers is a site survey, the installation and certification of the P50s and a concise training session for the staff members that will be carrying out the annual visual inspection. Brackets and signage are, of course, also included.

“Whilst the P50s are more expensive than standard extinguishers, significant savings will be made due to us not having to bring in external engineers,” explained Rick White, Maintenance Services Manager at Bournemouth University.

“The annual check is very straightforward and can be undertaken by our own people. All the administrative hassles of booking external maintenance are a thing of the past.”

If your organisation would like to benefit from this cost saving solution, please contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk and we will advise you about the best solution for your organisation.

Safelincs fire alarm panel servicing

Fire Alarm PanelSafelincs has for many years carried out fire alarm system installations and servicing. However, whilst we have been able to give online quotes for new wireless fire alarm systems we had not been able to provide simple online quotes for nationwide fire alarm system servicing without prior discussion with the customer and/or site surveys. This challenge has now been mastered and Safelincs can now offer clear pricing for fire alarm system servicing online; the price remains the same wherever our customer is based in the UK and whatever type of system is installed. The price is unaffected by the customer’s location and is calculated from the number of devices connected to the system.

Our service is carried out in accordance with BS5839-1:2013 and covers all tests and certification to comply with the standard. If defects are found, there is a fixed hourly rate to deal with the repairs (should you wish us to carry out the work). Any replacement components are priced at our competitive online sales prices.

We also offer our contract customers an out of hour emergency service to give you advice about silencing a false alarm. Should we be unable to rectify the problem over the phone we will attend the site within 8 hours.

To book our fire alarm system servicing, just fill in our email contact form on our fire alarm servicing page or contact us by telephone. We will then contact you with a service agreement to be signed and returned so that we can arrange the service visit, at the price already stated online.

Extinguisher help guides

On top of our existing wide range of extinguisher information guides we have now created a photo guide explaining how to find out the age of a portable fire extinguisher. The guide shows how the sometimes tricky to find date stamps can be spotted and interpreted and how different the meaning of the date stamp is for CO2 fire extinguishers compared with other fire extinguisher types. We also explain at what point the first extended extinguisher service is required.

A second guide compares the maintenance of cartridge operated fire extinguishers with stored pressure fire extinguishers. The associated costs are explained and the remaining use of cartridge extinguishers is pointed out

Largest insurer of faith organisations gives Fireworld extinguishers the thumbs up

Ecclesiastical Insurance, the largest insurer of faith organisations in the UK, such as the Church of England and the Catholic Church,  have confirmed that they are happy to insure organisations where the Fireworld maintenance free fire extinguishers are installed.

This formal announcement follows recent acceptance statements from other insurers. The insurance industry’s  embrace of the self-maintenance extinguishers is a major breakthrough for many businesses and organisations, as changing to the maintenance-free extinguishers could save each organisation up to £300 over the lifetime of an extinguisher.  Purchasing Fireworld extinguishers could not be easier. After completing the order, one of our BAFE certified engineers will visit the installation location and carry out a free site survey, ensuring that the correct type and number of extinguishers are installed. The extinguishers are then installed by the engineer and a demonstration of the simple yearly visual check, which can be completed by any able-bodied person, is given. The visual check process can be viewed through a video, too. The visit by the extinguisher engineer and all these activities are already included in the price of the extinguisher.

The Fireworld maintenance-free extinguishers have already been installed in many faith organisations and businesses. For further information visit https://www.safelincs.co.uk/britannia/ or call 0800 612 6717

Free Extinguisher Servicing In London

Following the success of our free extinguisher servicing campaign in the recent weeks we are extending the period of free extinguisher servicing for businesses within the M25 catchment area to the 8th of August. All you have to do is to ring our servicing line on 0800 612 4827 before the 8th of August and state reference ‘M25’ to claim your free extinguisher servicing. The servicing will be carried out during August and the free servicing offer includes callout, basic (annual) service and all spares. Excluded are replacement of damaged extinguishers, refilling of empty extinguishers and the 5-yearly discharge test.

The extinguisher servicing is carried out and certified by our BAFE certified engineers