Taking adequate precautions to guard against fire is without doubt one of the most important safety concerns anyone with responsibility for a commercial or other non-residential building needs to address. Business people in particular must bear in mind that as few as one in three businesses are able to continue trading in the event of a serious fire, ceasing operations either during the immediate aftermath or within three years.
Unoccupied buildings are especially vulnerable to fire risk, with UK government research indicating that as much as 67% of fires occur in buildings which are not being used. Therefore, choosing and installing the right alarm system for your building could not be more important.
In addition to all of this, anyone who is responsible for the management and safety of a commercial or other non-residential building is subject to a legal requirement to put an adequate system in place which addresses the threat of fire as far as reasonably possible and adheres to fire regulations. This can include a range of measures from training staff to drawing up a clearly defined emergency action plan.
However, commissioning a team of fire safety engineers who have achieved LPS1014 and BAFE accreditation to install an alarm system which suits the building's requirements is certainly an excellent first step.
Here are some key aspects of fire safety which we hope will assist you in getting the process of selecting the correct fire alarm for your requirements off to a good start.
The Nature of the Building
When choosing an alarm for your premises, it is important to consider the size, shape, and construction of the building. A traditional alarm system which operates via wall-mounted break glass switches alongside a central control unit is unlikely to be sufficient for anything other than smaller building with only basic requirements.
Larger premises and buildings which serve a complex purpose involving varied fittings and equipment will require a more advanced approach. Similarly, multi-storey buildings must be equipped with an alarm system which is capable of fully integrated operation across all levels.
There are different regulations for HMO and buildings over 18m tall or 7000 m2 have additional fire safety requirements we can advise on.
The Most Suitable Location for the Monitoring System
Choosing the most suitable location for the monitoring system is critical, as this will help to ensure a swift and efficient response in the event that a fire emergency alert should occur. Principally, it is necessary to decide whether the monitoring system should be located on or off site.
An on-site monitoring system can be monitored by staff members, eliminates the need for communication between the building which requires protection and the monitoring location, and enables the operator to identify false alarms more easily. By contrast, off-site systems can be monitored by specialised fire safety professionals who offer a relevant expertise, and will usually benefit from more advanced technology.
Alarm Type - Wireless or Standard?
Typically, wireless alarm systems are most suited to applications where it's not feasible or financially viable to run cables such as stately homes, heritage buildings or large warehouses. However, while the speed at which information can be transmitted across wireless connections has improved immensely in recent years, it is yet to equal the capabilities of advanced cable technology and is less reliable than having a cable connecting the equipment.
Generally, therefore, it remains advisable to install a wired system in most cases. However, we would suggest talking to one of our experts who can advise you of the correct system for your property.
Before making a decision about which alarm to install at your premises, ensure that you have paid close attention to any special requirements which might be placed upon it. This includes making preparations which take into account the needs of any disabled occupants of the building. Also, many non-residential buildings fulfil a wide variety of different functions and have many different uses, so it is highly advisable to consult with as many users of the building as possible so that all special requirements can be identified.
In addition to exploring all of the issues discussed above in order to identify the most suitable alarm system for your premises, we advise you to commission a thorough on-site consultation with a qualified fire safety expert. This should then be followed up by regular fire safety assessments to ensure all relevant equipment is serviceable and up to date, and all applicable regulatory requirements are met. Further information can be found on our main Fire Prevention page.