The LWF Blog

Fire Safety Engineering for Design – Fire Detection & Alarm Systems – Part 130

May 2, 2023 10:59 am

LWF’s Fire Safety Engineering blog series is written for Architects, building designers and others in the construction industry to highlight and promote discussion on all topics around fire engineering. In part 129, LWF began to discuss fire detection and fire alarm systems. In part 130, we look at how to establish the need for a fire alarm system and which level of coverage is required.

The first step in establishing whether or a not a fire alarm system is required in business premises is to undertake a fire risk assessment. While all business premises in the UK must have an appropriate fire detection system, this does not necessarily mean a fire alarm system. It could be that personnel can fulfil the same requirements if the following statements apply:

  • The premises in question are small and simple, single-storey or open plan
  • No high-risk activities are undertaken, such as cooking or hot work
  • No high-risk substances are stored, e.g. flammable liquids or chemicals
  • No vulnerable occupants are involved, such as the very young, elderly or disabled
  • A fire on the premises would be spotted very quickly
  • Shouting ‘Fire’ would be heard by all occupants

If any of the statements do not apply to premises, or the results of the fire risk assessment indicate so, then a fire alarm system is probably required.

The second step, once it is ascertained you need a fire alarm system is to determine the level of coverage and protection that should be provided. The size of the premises, complexity of the layout and use of the building are all contributory factors. Additionally, any local codes, fire strategies, insurance or client requirements must be taken into account. Premises which are in multi-use buildings should consider the potential impact of activities of other building occupants in their fire risk assessment.

Things to consider:

  • Local codes or standards defining minimum life safety requirements
  • The size and complexity of the building
  • Any unusual hazards
  • Any sleeping quarters on the premises
  • Mixed use or multi-tenancy buildings and implied risks
  • Property protection or life protection (or both)
  • Where business/property protection is required – specific client or insurance requirements
  • Fire strategy (or fire engineering strategy) for the building and fire alarm requirements within
  • Any automatic fire safety system requiring detection to operate effectively

In part 131 of LWF’s series on fire engineering, we will discuss local codes and standards and principal guidance documents for fire alarm systems protection. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients since 1986 to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact the LWF office on 0800 410 1130.

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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