Your staff rely on a safe office environment with minimal danger. That’s why managers and business owners are legally obligated to put fire safety systems and procedures in place – but your obligation does not stop at installation. You must also regularly maintain and test your office fire equipment to ensure it’s all fully functional.
So, how often should office fire equipment be checked? And how should you go about it?
The Issue of Neglecting Fire Alarms
According to legislation, a competent person must maintain all fire safety equipment and devices for the business premises. This is outlined in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
A premises may be visited by fire safety officers at any point, and if they deem your fire safety measures and maintenance to be inadequate they may issue you with an informal or formal fire safety notice.
Failure to correct issues could result in:
- Alterations notice: If your building has, or may have in the future, high fire safety risks.
- Enforcement notice: If your premises has a very serious risk where action is not being taken.
- Prohibition notice: Access to your premises will be restricted, as the risk is deemed to be so high.
In worst-case scenarios, due to repeat neglect of fire safety measures, you may receive financial penalties or be sent to prison.
How Often Should You Check Fire Safety Equipment?
- Under Article 17 of the Fire Safety Order, a competent person must perform a weekly test of a workplace fire alarm. Choose the same time each week so your staff are prepared. As a business, you should have designated fire wardens who can perform the tests, as it must be somebody with adequate knowledge to operate the fire alarm and spot any issues. The date, time and duration of these tests should be logged.
- According to BS 5839 regulations, it is recommended that a competent person performs a checkup of a fire alarm system a minimum of twice per year. For very large premises, you may wish to opt for quarterly checkups. Companies such as Fire Action can both install your alarm systems and perform these regular tests to a professional standard.
- Should any events occur where the fire alarm becomes disconnected, or if any faults are found and repaired, all these instances must be logged. A detailed history of fire alarm upkeep is essential for diagnosing problems down the line, and working out when to next schedule a maintenance checkup or replacement. It also serves as proof that you are adhering to legal obligations. The date and time of any fire alarm modifications, disconnections, and reported faults should also be recorded.
- Gov.uk recommends that workplaces have one fire drill per year, at the very least, and record any results. If your workplace has a high fire risk, e.g. a restaurant kitchen, you may wish to hold a drill more regularly.
Fire extinguishers are essential pieces of life-saving fire equipment, and can restrict the spread of smaller fires before they become dangerous. Keeping them in top working order is something that responsible persons and managers need to track.
- UK recommendations are that fire extinguishers should be serviced annually by a professional with the relevant BAFE qualifications – a company like Fire Action – who will check the pressure gauge, seals and other key features. Failure to commit to this yearly service as a business may result in fines.
- An extended servicing is needed every 5 to 10 years, depending on the type of extinguishers you have, which checks the further internal and external conditions of your fire extinguisher. These checks will also determine if the extinguishers need replacing.
In emergency events, power can cut out or conditions can become smoky. On these occasions, it’s important to have visible lighting directing staff to the nearest exit – the presence of these lights can mean the difference between life and death.
That’s why it’s vital to check them regularly – but how often?
- It’s recommended that a monthly test should suffice, whereby you should switch off the mains power with your test key and check the lighting switches on. You should also check that the condition of the lights is good, and there are no cracks in the casing. All checks should be noted in your logbook.
- It’s also wise to perform an annual test to ensure the lights can sustain several hours of illumination. You may wish to perform both these tests outside of daylight hours for more accurate results.
Here at Fire Action, we are experts at installing, maintaining and repairing fire safety systems. We provide our professional services to offices and commercial premises across Kent and beyond – so if you’re searching for a reliable fire safety specialist, get in touch with our team today.