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New Fire Safety Rules for Residential Care Premises

By September 10, 2013Blog

The British Standard for Fire Alarms, BS5839-1 has just been updated and re-issued.

There are two changes in particular relating to fire safety rules in Residential Care Premises-

The importance of providing accurate and unambiguous information to staff in residential care premises with regards to  the location of a fire has been highlighted, in particular:

“Where occupants of a building are going to need assistance from staff to evacuate the building (e.g. in residential care premises and hospitals), the fire detection and fire alarm system should be addressable if the building has facilities for more than ten people to sleep.”

The guidance and recommendations have been updated to address the need to avoid delay in summoning the fire and rescue service when the fire detection and fire alarm system of a residential care premises operates, in particular:

“In residential care premises, facilities should be provided for automatic transmission of alarm signals to an alarm receiving centre.”

So does this mean that you need to immediately upgrade your fire alarm system to be addressable and fit an automatic dialler?

What the law says…

The relevant legislation is the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Article 13 states:

“Where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, the responsible person must ensure that the premises are, to the extent that it is appropriate, equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment and with fire detectors and alarms.”

“The responsible person must, where necessary, arrange any necessary contacts with external emergency services, particularly as regards fire-fighting, rescue work, first-aid and emergency medical care.”

So the law says you need to have ‘appropriate’ fire detectors and alarms, and you must arrange ‘necessary’ contact with the Fire Brigade.

The best guidance available as to what constitutes ‘appropriate’ and ‘necessary’ is the British Standard BS5839-1, which says that addressable systems are now required and that auto-diallers must now be fitted. However it is up to a competent Fire Risk Assessor to establish what is actually appropriate and necessary.

What you need to do…

You will need to review your existing Fire Risk Assessment to make sure that it takes account the new recommendations stated in the British Standard for Fire Alarms, BS5839-1 . Cornwall Fire Protection can help you carry out a complete Fire Risk Assessment of your property. The advice from the independent Fire Risk Assessors we use was that in most circumstances they saw no need to immediately upgrade existing systems or to fit auto-diallers – providing that the existing arrangements and management system in place were adequate.

If your fire alarm system is old and requires updating anyway, then it might be worth upgrading to an addressable fire alarm system.

Call 01209 831645 for more information.