Automatic fire alarms
Properly used and maintained, the automatic
system with its fast response to a developing fire can be a
significant factor in reducing the risk to life and the limiting of
damage to your property in the event of a fire.
Unfortunately, the very features that provide
this fast response can also produce unwanted signals arising from
activities other than a real fire. These can prove both costly to
the Fire & Rescue Service, by initiating unnecessary turnouts
of fire appliances and to the building operator where evacuation of
a building as a result of a false alarm signal can result in loss
of production and general disruption of normal business
Many unwanted fire signals are the result of
ignorance on the part of employees or contractors who may not be
aware that an automatic fire system is in operation.
A few simple rules coupled with normal good
house-keeping practices can help to keep these unwanted fire
signals to a minimum.
Rule 1 – Make people
aware that the building is protected by an automatic detection
Display permanent notices at the entrances to
all areas equipped with automatic fire detection, notice to
"This area is protected by automatic fire detectors. Before
undertaking any work involving heat, smoke, flame, dust or sparks,
please obtain clearance to proceed from the Plant Manager or
Rule 2 - Staff or
visiting contractors to be instructed that no activity, generating
heat, smoke, flame, dust or sparks is to be carried without prior
authorisation from the Fire Safety Officer or other responsible
member of the managerial staff.
Incorporate instruction in staff contracts and
Contracts for subcontractors to include clause
requiring them to acknowledge in writing, their responsibility for
ensuring that their on-site staff follow the rules.
Rule 3 - No
renovation work involving the generation of dust or paint spray to
be carried out in any area protected by automatic smoke detectors,
unless proper precautions have been taken to protect the automatic
fire detectors against the entry of dust.
Transfer contractual liability to
subcontractor as for Rule 2. Establish a named person in your own
organisation to be responsible for engaging qualified persons to
remove smoke detectors and replace with heat detectors when
necessary. If removal is not possible arrange for detectors to be
covered whilst dust raising work is carried out.
Warning: The operation of
detectors covered with plastic or paper covers will be impaired, if
not disabled, by this action. Alternative manual surveillance must
be instituted whilst the system is so disabled.
A named, senior member
of the occupier’s staff should be made
responsible for ensuring that the covers are removed or that the
heat detectors have been replaced with smoke detectors where
necessary and the system reinstated, as soon as all residual dust
has been removed.
An operational test of the system by a
qualified person is recommended, following any redecorating or
building work in a protected area.
Compliance with these simple rules will help
to release the Fire & Rescue Service for more essential duties,
reduce your losses associated with false fire signals and they may
also help to save you from the permanent loss of business so
frequently associated with a major fire.