Apart from the obvious
reasons why fire alarm systems should be serviced (they save lives,
false alarms in six months un-serviced etc.), you should take the
following legal requirements into consideration :
Fire Safety Order 2005
This legislation replaced
over a hundred pieces of fire legislation. In brief, it now makes the
building owner personally responsible (the Responsible Person) to have a
Fire Risk Assessment undertaken, have all your fire safety measures
maintained correctly and ensure that only competent persons are allowed
to do this work. For more information, see our page on New Fire Regs.
British Standard 5839, Part 1.
Requirement that fire alarm systems should be covered by a
service contract from date of hand over (regardless of whether building
is occupied or not)
Fire Precautions Act
It is a requirement of
the act that the "responsible person" for a property is required to
ensure that any equipment provided for the protection of the means of
escape of a building, shall be maintained in working order at all times.
The new law on corporate
manslaughter means that if it can be proven that in the event of loss of
life, the actions or non-actions of a company lead to a death (in this
case, failing to ensure the continued operation of fire safety
equipment), the directors of that company can now be prosecuted for
Human Rights Act
Another introduction in
the UK is the human rights act. It is now possible for a company (or
individual) to be prosecuted under the human rights act for failing to
ensure the continued safety (i.e. the continued operation of the fire
safety equipment) of staff or visitors to your premises.
If you have had any
dealings with Loss Adjusters working on behalf of Insurance companies,
you will be aware that they will seek to find a way of stopping a claim
progressing for the full amount if they can. One of the first things
they look for in a fire damage claim is alleged negligence on behalf of
the claimant. Lack of correct servicing of the fire protection equipment
is a classic case. Unless there is documentary evidence (contract,
worksheets, log book, etc.) that correct servicing has been carried out,
you may find that the Loss Adjuster will hold the insurance pay-out. Not
having the system serviced can be seen as negligence in failing to
minimise damage caused by a fire (a correctly serviced alarm will raise
help faster, reducing overall damage), and can be seen as an attempt at
"betterment" in the claim. A void Fire Certificate will also void your
premise's insurance policy (see below).
Fire Service Act
Failure to ensure that a
fire alarm system is serviced correctly is seen as inaction leading to
the issue of false alarms. It should be borne in mind that it is an
offence under section 31 of the Fire Services Act to knowing give
or cause to be given a false alarm to the fire brigade.
Should the property be
the subject of a fire certificate, compliance with BS5839 servicing
requirements is mandatory. Failure to comply will result in the
certificate becoming void. It should be kept in mind that the brigade
has the power to issue a Restriction Order in extreme cases, which
forbids, by law, the use of the property.