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  • E K Fire Protection

The Importance of Fire Alarms and Fire Risk Assessments

Updated: Jun 13

Emergency exit lighting

As a legal requirement, all business premises are expected to conduct a fire risk assessment. Frequently overlooked, fire risk assessments are crucial to your building’s safety plans. If not handled correctly, your premises will be needlessly exposed to the dangerous, often lethal risks posed by fire. 

What’s A Fire Risk Assessment?      

A review undertaken on both commercial and domestic properties, a fire risk assessment is used to determine the risks posed by fire. Once the risks shave been assessed, an assessor will provide recommendations to help make the property safer if necessary. 

Why Have One?

According to the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, a Fire Safety Risk Assessment is now a legal requirement. As a business owner, it is essential you create and maintain a quality fire risk assessment to ensure you keep your employees and premises safe. Although a risk assessment will not make your premises safer on its own, it is a crucial step in implementing procedures that will provide appropriate legislation to aid the safety of others. Whatever the outcome of your risk assessment, any associated risks must be acted on, with all recommendations and fire safety arrangements carried out.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Identifying Hazards

For a fire to spread, there has to be an ignition source, a fuel supply and oxygen. This is the first hazard that will need to be addressed, as it’s vital you separate your ignition source from your fuel types, to dramatically reduce the risk of a potential fire. In order to do this, you must first identify possible sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen in your workplace.

All workplaces will contain heat/ignition sources, some will be obvious such as cooking equipment or open flames. Others may be less obvious such as heat from chemical processes or electrical equipment.

Possible sources of ignition are:

  • Defective electrical fittings.

  • Light bulbs and fluorescent tubes are too close to combustible materials.

  • Faulty or damaged wiring.

  • Matches, lighters, candles and smoking materials.

  • Flame or sparks from a work process such as welding, cutting, grinding etc.

  • Ovens, kilns, open hearths, furnaces or incinerators.

  • Boilers, engines and other oil-burning equipment.

  • Portable heaters.

  • Cooking equipment, including deep fat fryers.

Potential sources of fuel and unsafe situations:

  • Combustibles: These can be divided into two main groups; combustible fuels such as paper, wood, cardboard, etc and highly combustible fuels such as thinners, solvents, polyurethane or foam.

  • Unsafe procedures or acts: Undertaking unsafe acts such as smoking next to combustible materials.

  • Unsafe conditions: These are hazards that may assist a fire to spread in your workplace, e.g. if there are large areas of hardboard or polystyrene tiles etc., or open stairs that can cause a fire to spread quickly, trapping people and involving the whole building.

Fire Alarm Systems

Now you have begun implementing your risk assessment, taking the necessary steps to reduce the risk of fire, you will need to place fire alarms strategically throughout the space. Though there are no specific regulations on their placing, below are some of the most common guidelines recommended for fire alarm installation: 

  • You MUST have at least one fire alarm on every level but may need to install more.

  • Place fire alarms in areas of circulation: Hallways or open areas where the air will pass through, making it more likely that your alarm will detect a fire before it gets too big.

  • Add an alarm in areas that may be high risk: For fire alarms, you should place them in areas that could cause issues, such as a space where there is a source of heat or flame.

It’s important to frequently check your fire alarms and ensure that the batteries are fresh and that the alarm itself is functional. Plan to do this every six months, so that you’ll always be warned of a fire in time to take action.

Types of Fire Alarm Systems

Regardless of your property or business type, installing a high-quality fire alarm system is crucial in protecting your business and employees wellbeing from the risk associated with fire. Fire alarm monitoring guarantees that all alarms are heard and attended to, ensuring immediate action is taken to prevent severe damage. 

Conventional Fire Alarm Systems

In a conventional fire alarm system, the property or building is divided into zones that convey a rough idea as to where the fire has potentially occurred. This precision is achieved by the number of zones and circuits that have been wired within the premises, as when these components are triggered, the control panel will sound the alarm. This alerts everyone to the specific zone in which the alarm was triggered.

Addressable Fire Alarm Systems

The addressable fire alarm system is the most modern type of fire alarm system. It has an “address” for each device that can pinpoint the exact location of the threat. When one of the system’s components is initiated, it shows the component’s address on the fire alarm panel. 

Due to the high level of precision, the addressable fire alarm system is usually more expensive than a conventional one.

The Benefits

It’s essential to have safety and security measures in place to avoid any incidents from taking place. Here are all the ways a fire alarm is important for your home and business:

Early Detection

Perhaps the most important advantage of all, fire alarm systems provide early, if not instant, detection of a fire. This, in turn, prevents the flames from spreading, which would ordinarily result in severe damage or potential loss in business. An early signal would protect your property and its inhabitants from the threat and dangers posed by the risk of fire, whilst a monitored fire alarm would also notify the fire department, ensuring the issue is controlled almost straight away. 

Quick Response

With early detection comes a faster response time. A monitored fire alarm system guarantees an almost immediate response, ensuring both your own personal safety and that of your property or building. As previously mentioned, at this stage, the fire department would also quickly be notified, further cementing the chances of your property's safety.

Minimise Cost

At the offset, installing a fire alarm system will appear costly, but once you place all of the benefits into consideration, you’ll soon realise that an effective system can actually minimise price. This is because fire alarm systems and monitoring services can speed up the emergency service response time, protecting your valuable assets from the impacts of fire. As an additional cost consideration, a well maintained and effective fire alarm security system can lower your insurance premiums and protect you from fines during inspections for not having an effective sytem in place. 

Personal Safety

Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death in fire-related incidents. Without a working fire alarm system, you are exposed to the risks posed by fire. The inability to to know there’s a fire when asleep can lead to smoke inhalation, ultimately resulting in death. With a working smoke alarm you’ll be warned with plenty of time to make your exit. 

Fire Risk Assessment in Kent and Surrounding Areas

Are you looking for a fire risk assessment for your office? EK Fire Protection is here to help. We carry out numerous Fire Risk Assessments helping customers adhere to all current Fire Regulations; we install a tremendous amount of Fire Extinguishers within customer’s premises both inside and out.

We Install, Service and Maintain Fire Alarm Systems, including offering a 24 hour callout facility to each and every customer and work hard to ensure we deliver an Excellent Service to all of our customers. We’ll perform the inspection and audit your building, then give you ideas on how to ensure your employees are as safe as possible. Contact us to schedule your assessment.

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