The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Insurers & Property Protection – Part 14

March 25, 2019 1:45 pm

LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management, or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety has been looking at the impact of the insurer on property protection from fire. In part 13, while acknowledging there are significant areas of overlap between life safety and property protection measures, we began to look at those areas where measures taken to protect property from fire would not benefit life safety aims, and vice versa. In part 14, LWF continues on that theme.

It was noted in the last blog that a manual fire alarm system could satisfy legislation relating to fire safety, because it relies on building occupancy and manual triggering for it to work. However, it would not be suitable for property protection and insurance requirements as it would not have sensors to automatically detect smoke or fire and trigger the alarm. 

Fire alarms which are available for purchase and installation into premises will be prefixed by a reference, as per BS 5839-1:2017

Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises (

Category ‘L’ Systems are those automatic fire detection systems which are designed to protect life. Category ‘P’ Systems automatic fire detection systems which are intended for the protection of property. There are differences in the design requirements between the two types of system. A manual system as described above would be a category ‘M’ system.

One of the main differences between Category L and P systems is that a category P system’s aim is to alert the Fire Service as quickly as possible if a fire starts inside the building. A category P system is also likely to have flashing beacons and sound alerts on the outside of the building. A category L system, while also needing to detect the fire as quickly as possible, will have the aim of notifying building occupants of a fire which would allow them to notify the Fire Service if the system does not do so automatically. The sounders and alerts would take place inside the building and throughout.

While the automatic transmission of an alert from a fire detection system to the Fire Service is unlikely to be necessary for life protection purposes, (although such measures can be required in special circumstances such as hospitals or residential care homes), an automatic transmission of the signal to the Fire Service is the main reason for having a property protection alarm system.

In part 15 of this blog series, LWF will continue examining the differences between measures taken to protect property and those to protect life. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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