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An independent Fire-Risk assessment company recently provided a report on the four most common failings to be discovered in commercial fire alarm systems.

Despite business owners giving often significant capital investment to their fire safety system they were often shocked to find that subsequent fire-risk assessments found them to be inadequate.

The most common failings are:

1 – Incorrect 230v mains supply provided.
The requirement of mains provision for a BS5839 system is very specific. It requires the supply to be cabled in fire-proof cabling (fixed with fire-resistant fixings at 30cm spacings), fed from its own dedicated supply and terminated at a fire spur labelled ‘Fire alarm Do Not turn Off’. This spur point must have a fuse that requires a specialist tool to remove it. As many as 85% of installations were found to have a substandard supply that was often akin to that of a burglar-alarm mains point.

2 – Non-fireproof cable used.
Prior to 1998 the standard only required sounders to be wired in fireproof cable but since that date all cabling (including detectors and mains supply) must be wired in fire-resistant cable. Yet many systems are still found to have been wired in ordinary mains cable or a mixture of both.

3 – Wrong cable fixings.
The most common error discovered was the consistent use of non-fire-resisting cable fixings. BS5839 requires that wiring is supported at specific distances with fireproof fixings. This usually requires the use of metal clips that are drilled and plugged to the wall. But through either lack of knowledge or a desire to reduce costs many contractors use red plastic clips.

4 – No zone schematic provided.
The standard requires a provision of a zone schematic with a ‘You Are Here’ marker adjacent the control panel. A zone list won’t do as its primary function is to quickly orientate the fire and rescue service that would be unfamiliar with the building. Due to major fire incidents this requirement has been addressed in the most recent amendments to the standard in 2013. Previously the lack of a zone drawing was noted as a minor variation. No zone drawing must now be highlighted to the ‘responsible person as a ‘Major Variation’.

Choosing an installer purely on price or using your friendly well-intentioned electrician can have ramifications for the business owner and competent staff. All Keybury personnel are trained and qualified and all installations are fully compliant both in terms of installation and documentation.

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