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Fire Alarm Inspection Guide – What, When, Why & How

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fire alarm inspection guide – what, when, why & how

Fire alarms are a vital piece of kit for any commercial premises. As such, they need to be regularly inspected to make sure they’re ready when needed. In this post, we’ll answer all the main questions about fire alarm inspections – what they are, when they’re necessary, why they’re important and how to get them done.

What is a fire alarm inspection?

professional fire alarm inspection isn’t just a sound test to see if your alarms are switched on. It’s a full inspection of all the system’s components, including the main fire alarm panel, along with smoke detectors, alarms and sirens in accordance with BS5839 safety standards. Each component will be visually inspected and put to the test to make sure it’s in good condition and full working order.

This is not to be confused with a fire safety inspection, which is carried out by your local fire and rescue authority – more on this later.

When do my fire alarms need an inspection?

A fire alarm inspection is required by law at least twice a year. A trained specialist may recommend more frequent inspections for high-risk premises, such as restaurants. You should also test your fire alarms every week to make sure they’re working.

This applies to a wide range of different types of fire and smoke alarms, including:

  • Ionisation smoke alarms – the most common type of fire alarm, used to detect flaming fires.
  • Photoelectric smoke alarms – which are better for smouldering fires.
  • Fixed temperature heat alarms – which alert you to an unusually high temperature.
  • Rate-of-rise alarms – used to detect unusual increases in heat.

It’s also worth mentioning that carbon monoxide alarms should be tested monthly and serviced along with any fuel-burning appliances on an annual basis.

Why is it important?

There are a few reasons why a fire alarm inspection is important. The first is safety. Fire alarms provide an early warning of fire to those in and around a building, allowing them to exit safely as soon as possible. But they need to be working to do so, which a fire alarm inspection will ensure.

Next is compliance. You’re required by law to keep your fire alarms well maintained, based on the Fire Safety Order. Failure to do so could see you liable if a fire breaks out and harms or even kills someone. Inspections make sure you’re on the right side of the law at all times.

Finally, there’s the cost. Fire alarm inspections spot small issues when they’re typically easier and cheaper to fix. That means no expensive emergency repairs and no costly disruption and downtime for your business.

How to get them inspected

Last but certainly not least is how fire alarms should be inspected. The simple answer is by a fully trained and accredited electrical contractor who has experience working with fire alarm systems. Here are some things to consider:

  • Reviews – It’s all well and good if a contractor says they’re experienced, but how do you know if they’re worth their salt? Customer reviews give you an insight into the experiences of their existing clients.
  • Accreditations – NICEIC is the must-have certification for electrical installation, inspection and maintenance work such as fire alarm servicing. You can also look for safety accreditations like SafeContractor for peace of mind.
  • Knowledge – Your chosen contractor should know the BS5839 standards like the back of their hand. This includes the code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of all different alarm systems.

It’s also a good idea to implement an inspection and servicing contract, which includes your biannual inspections and any repairs necessary. This will provide complete peace of mind that your system is taken care of with no unexpected costs. It also saves you from having to remember to arrange an inspection every six months.

What about a fire safety inspection?

A fire safety inspection is a separate inspection, which looks at the safety of your site more broadly. It’s carried out by local fire and rescue authorities, who visit premises to inspect their fire safety conditions and features. This includes:

  • Checking the presence, condition and suitability of alarms, sprinklers, extinguishers and emergency lighting.
  • Assessing any fire hazards like electrical faults, combustible materials or blocked exit routes.
  • Interviewing staff to assess their knowledge of fire safety practices.

After the inspection, the authorities will compile a written report and contact you about their findings. This may include notices of any violations with corrections needed. They will outline whether these are needed within a certain timeframe to avoid penalties or legal action. Additionally, a re-inspection may follow to check those violations have been corrected.

Needless to say, the condition of your fire alarms is vital to the success of your fire safety inspection. This highlights the importance of keeping your fire alarms in good, working order with biannual servicing.

Book a fire alarm inspection today

Don’t take chances with fire safety. It’s so quick and easy to book a fire alarm inspection and sidestep all the potential damage fire can do to your business.

At Volta Compliance, we provide professional, reliable fire alarm inspections and servicing throughout Yorkshire. Whether it’s an ongoing contract or a one-off inspection with repairs, we’ll tailor our services to your requirements.

Want to find out more or arrange an inspection? Call us on 0113 397 1361 or email [email protected].

Fire alarm inspection FAQs

How long will it take?

The duration of a fire alarm inspection depends on the size of your site, type of business and number of alarms. Rest assured, Volta Compliance will work to minimise disruption on your premises by working around your schedule and meticulously planning how we move through your premises.

How much does it cost?

Similar to above, there’s no one-size-fits-all cost for a fire alarm inspection. It’s dependent on premises size and purpose, along with the number of components to be tested. To make things easier, Volta Compliance can provide a no-obligation quote for free. Remember, it could save you lots of money in the long run by avoiding serious fire damage and financial penalties.

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Richard Carr Volta Compliance
Richard Carr
Managing Director
Richard is the Director of Volta Compliance. He is a fully qualified approved electrician graded with the JIB. Richard has over 20 years electrical experience working on commercial and industrial installations.