The rules and regulations regarding fire alarms

Fire alarms form an important part of a building’s safety, and as such, are required to conform to a set of strict standards. Here are the regulations that pertain to the purchase, fitting and maintenance of a fire alarm system.

The fire detection and fire alarm systems legislation is set out in EN54, which is harmonised with EU rules in the form of the Construction Products Regulation. All fire safety products must meet these standards to receive EN54 conformance, and there are a number of points to be checked.

  • A CE mark must be on the product with a four digit test centre number displayed.
  • In order to obtain a CE mark, the product requires a Declaration of Performance that can only be issued if the equipment has been externally tested by an approved agency (Notified Body).
  • The notified body must be involved in the production, testing and inspection of the equipment.
  • To summarise, if a fire safety product does not have a CE mark, then it has not been tested to the required standards. There are a multitude of regulations regarding the installation and usage of fire detection systems. Here are some examples:
  • Audible fire alarms BS EN 54-3
  • Systems connected via a radio link BS EN 54-25
  • Point Smoke detectors BS EN 54–7
  • Call points BS EN 54-11
  • Automatic fire detection systems, which must be installed where flammable liquids and gases are located BS 5839-1

Fire safety equipment testing and maintenance

There are certain tests that can be carried out by a suitably trained person but all testing and maintenance is governed by BS5839:PART1:2002 which states that the following must be carried out.

  • Daily – Check for fault indications and ensure that the system battery is charging. Report any faults.
  • Weekly – Perform a test on a call point or detector. Check that the internal and external sounders operate. Ensure that the system resets correctly. A different zone should be tested each week, in rotation.
  • Quarterly – Perform a call point check in each zone. Check battery by removing mains supply and ensuring it can operate the fire alarm sounders. Examine battery connections and report faults.
  • Annually – Test as above but include a check on all call points and detectors.
  • Every 2 to 3 years – Clean smoke detectors. This is a specialised task.
  • Every 4 years – Replace lead acid batteries (If fitted).

The installation and maintenance of a fire detection system can be a complex task, particularly in a larger building complex, so it is advisable to seek professional assistance to ensure that EN54 regulations are followed. This is essential for the fire service and insurance certification.