fire alarm systems

Fire Alarm Systems in the UK: Types, Installation, and Maintenance

Fire detection and alarm systems should be a crucial component of every property, whether commercial or private, big or small. A properly installed fire alarm system can be life-saving, especially for sites susceptible to regular fires.

In the UK, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 headlines the legal necessities for appropriate fire detection systems on the premises. Before designing a wireless fire alarm system, a Fire Risk Assessment must be carried out to understand the system’s primary goals. This constitutes part of the wireless fire system specification.

Main Functions of Wireless Fire Alarm Systems

A fire alarm system is employed for:

  • safeguarding human life
  • protecting physical property and buildings

DOTCOM SOLUTION is dedicated to providing you with the necessary information to choose the most suitable wireless fire alarm system for your premises. 

Types of Fire Alarms

The BS 5839 Fire Standards divide fire alarm systems into three major design categories:

  • L (Life Protection)
  • M (Manual Systems) 
  • P (Property protection)  

These design categories can be bifurcated into 8 subcategories. Every property should have a system specific to its structure, location and function. 

These categories include: 

  • Category M – Manual Fire Alarm System
  • Category L1 – Maximum Life Protection Automated Fire Alarm System
  • Category L2 – Additional Life Protection Automated Fire Alarm System
  • Category L3 – Standard Life Protection Automated Fire Alarm System
  • Category L4 – Modest Life Protection Automated Fire Alarm System 
  • Category L5 – Localized Life Protection Automated Fire Alarm System
  • Category P1 – Maximum Property Protection Automated Fire Alarm System
  • Category P2 – Minimum Property Protection Automated Fire Alarm System

Category M Systems

Category M systems are manual systems with no automatic fire detection. They are commonly installed in properties where the inhabitants are likely to detect a fire quickly but do not use the premises as sleeping accommodation. Manual systems are usually present in places such as warehouses, factories, public houses, cafes and restaurants. 

Category L Systems

Category L1: These systems are installed in every area of the building. Their primary objective is to detect a fire as fast as possible and provide the earliest warning to maximize evacuation time. They are commonly used in hotels, student hostels, hospitals and large office buildings. 

Category L2: These systems are installed in definitive parts of a building, providing coverage necessary for a category L3 system. Their purpose is the same as an L3 system, with an additional goal of early fire warning in areas of high fire risk. 

They are frequently used in hotels, public houses, student hostels, hospitals and large office blocks. 

Category L3: This category contains wireless fire alarm systems specifically designed to provide early fire warning to all occupants except those in the room of fire origin. This is done to allow all inhabitants of the building safe passage to the escape routes before they become impassable. Among others, they are commonly placed in shopping centers, public malls, and residential care homes. 

Category L4: These systems are primarily installed in escape routes, corridors, emergency stairwells and other circulation spaces. They are designed to alert occupants by detecting smoke within these escape routes. They are commonly found in cinemas, theaters, fitness centers, nightclubs, and other similar places of assembly. 

Category L5: These systems are designed for specific fire objectives with clear distinction from L1, L2, L3 or L4 systems. Their design is based on local detection needs in designated areas of a building. These can range from a single room to a complete network across large areas of a building more susceptible to fires (these structures usually have less than the specified fire resistance). Places with systems like these are prisons or public transport terminals.

Category P Systems

This category contains wireless fire alarm systems specifically designed with the intention of protecting property, primarily used for insurance purposes.

Category P1: These are systems installed throughout all areas of a building. Their primary objective is to detect and provide the earliest possible warning of a fire to ensure a quicker arrival of the fire brigade and other emergency services.

Category P2: These systems are installed in specific parts of a building. The main goal of P2 systems is to warn of fire in areas with high fire hazards or risks. 

Which Fire Alarm is Best for You?

Dotcom Solution will help you choose the optimal category that is most viable for your needs in precise, easy steps.

Firstly, you need to determine whether you’re protecting lives or the structural building itself. Drawing this distinction is vital as many systems, such as categories L1 and P1, appear indifferentiable; however, they can be designed with various contrasting characteristics. 

A P1 system is designed for property protection with detection in almost all areas but does not require audio or visual indicators. 

On the other hand, an L1 system is intended to protect the lives of the inhabitants, therefore requiring both audible and visual alerts. 

The BS5839 Fire Safety Standards do not prescribe which system category needs to be installed in a specific building. On the other hand, their categories provide a list of options from which customers, insurers, enforcement agencies, designers, and specifiers can choose the most suitable system for a building. 

Final Notes!

Our fire alarm installation specialists at DotCom Solutions can conduct a complete fire risk assessment to determine the right category for your property. We also perform recurring and frequent maintenance checks for malware detection and to troubleshoot problems. We offer a range of packages covering all sorts of installation and maintenance costs. We also offer detailed manual instructions and initial consultation free of charge. Contact us now to book your slot, and our specialists will be available to pay you a visit. 


What are the Penalties for not Complying with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has listed a range of penalties and enforcement rules to ensure compliance by all individuals. 

Alterations Notice: This is issued when a serious risk is possible due to a change to the building structure. It requires the person responsible for this to inform the fire department before making any change to the property.

Enforcement Notice: If the fire authority discovers the employer’s or responsible party’s failure to comply with the Fire Safety Order, they may issue an Enforcement Notice. It specifies the measures that need to be complied with while providing a time frame for compliance. 

Prohibition Notice: This is a notice issued when the fire risk is so great that the property needs to be sealed off to prohibit/restrict access to the building. 

Prosecution Notice: Following all these notices, continued non-compliance can lead to prosecution. This could be in the form of a fine or in cases of increasing severity, a prison sentence. There is no specified limit on the fine while the prison sentence can be up to two years.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Fire Alarm System? 

The lifespan can differ based on a number of variables, including: 

– Quality of equipment

– Installation environment

– Frequency and quality of maintenance

However, an adequately maintained fire alarm system should last around 10-12 years.

How Often Do You Need to Run Maintenance Checks on Your Home Wireless Fire Alarm System?

Predictive maintenance checks should be run on a weekly basis to ensure that the devices are functional. A professional maintenance and repair session should be arranged every six months.

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