If you are the responsible person in control of commercial or residential premises, it is up to you to ensure that you have all the adequate precautions in place to protect people and your property from fire risks.

During a fire emergency, every second counts, and a fire alarm system is the most effective way to detect and alert those at risk. There is a wide range of fire detection systems available, but how do you know which one is the right choice, and how do you know if you are legally required to install one?

In this article, we’ll explore when you need to install a fire detection system, including the difference between an automatic and a manual, and which businesses are legally required to install one.

What is an Automatic Fire Alarm System? 

An automatic fire alarm will detect a fire in its early stages, activating automatically when it detects heat or smoke, and sounding an alarm to warn occupants in the building.

This gives people a chance to take action to reduce the spread of the fire or report it to emergency responders.

What is the Difference Between a Manual and Automatic Fire Alarm System?

The crucial difference between the two systems is that a manual fire alarm requires the intervention of an occupant or worker who has witnessed the start of a fire to activate it, to warn others in the building.

This has its obvious disadvantages, especially for premises that are either large or built without open plan structure, where a fire emergency may not be immediately obvious. The longer a fire goes undetected the further it spreads, increasing the risk to people in the building and damage to the property.

This is especially relevant to modern businesses that, since the COVID-19 pandemic, have operated with either hybrid or WFH workforces, as their office workspaces often accommodate a fluctuating head count.

A reduced number of staff means that in the event of a fire emergency, there are fewer people to detect a fire and activate the alarm system.

The choice of which system is best suited to your business depends entirely on the specific requirements of your premises. This can be determined through a fire risk assessment.

Manual fire alarms have proven effective in the past, and are still appropriate in some circumstances. However, recent changes in the work environment mean that automatic fire detection systems could be a safer alternative for you.

Are Automatic Fire Detection Systems a Legal Requirement?

If you are the responsible person in control of a commercial or multi-occupied residential building, such as an employer, landlord, or building manager, you are legally required to follow the guidance of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

This involves inspecting your premises and carrying out a thorough fire risk assessment to determine whether there are any risks to the employees, occupants, or paying guests in your care.

While fire alarms are not an explicit part of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, part of the risk assessment involves taking all the necessary precautions to reduce any risks as far as possible.

This means that depending on the specifications of your premises, you might need to install suitable fire detection and warning system.

As the fire safety order is a legal requirement, failure to comply not only risks the lives of the people you are responsible for, but can also result in fines or prosecution, and fire authorities can inspect your premises.

To read more about the order, you can find the official document here.

What are the Different Types of Automatic Fire Alarms?

As technology advances, fire alarm systems are built with new, innovative capabilities. These technologies include:

  • Photoelectric or Optical
  • Heat
  • Video Detection
  • Aspirating

Every building is unique and has its own requirements. That’s why we offer a range of fire detection systems to provide a tailored solution for you.

Fire Safety Systems from Sovereign Fire and Security

Here at Sovereign Fire and Security, we’re passionate about providing effective and reliable fire alert systems. We deliver end-to-end fire safety solutions, from design advice to installation services and maintenance.

We have a wide range of systems available to provide a tailored solution for you, including:

  • Analogue Addressable Fire Alarm Systems
  • PAV Voice Systems
  • Aspirating Air Fire Systems
  • Conventional Fire Systems
  • Gas Suppression Systems
  • Video Smoke Detection
  • Lone Worker Systems

Our business practices with current legislation ISO 9001 accreditation and have NSI Gold BAFE SP203 approval, ensuring that we provide services of the highest standard.

If you have any further questions about our services or need advice on which fire detection system is the right choice for your premises, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team of experts.

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