In an emergency situation, having the correct fire safety equipment in place could be the difference between life and death. However, simply possessing the equipment isn’t enough — it must be in good condition to guarantee its effectiveness. This can be ensured during regular maintenance work, which will identify and repair any flaws to make certain all your equipment is functioning optimally.
But just how do you maintain fire safety equipment? And how often should it be done? Luckily, the team at Firepoint Services are experts in this field and have written this article detailing everything you need to know.
What is fire safety equipment?
‘Fire safety equipment’ is a broad term that covers all the tools and equipment on your premises that can be used to protect building occupants in the event of a fire. This includes active and passive protection equipment, including:
- Fire alarms
- Fire doors
- Sprinkler systems
- Fire extinguishers
- Emergency lighting
- Fire blankets
- Fire safety signage
Should your premises be found to be lacking the appropriate fire safety equipment, the designated ‘responsible person’ could be subject to financial penalties or, in severe cases of negligence, even a custodial sentence.
How often should your fire safety equipment be maintained?
All fire safety equipment is different and therefore has different recommended timeframes for inspection and maintenance. For example, fire extinguishers typically only require an extended service every few years, whereas fire doors, fire alarms and other detection systems require more frequent testing. The specific inspection and maintenance requirements for each type of fire safety equipment are typically outlined by regulatory guidelines.
However, one thing that is certain is that your equipment must be checked on a regular basis. Under the terms of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a fire risk assessment must be carried out annually. During this inspection, all potential hazards will be assessed and fire safety equipment will be examined to determine whether further maintenance is required.
How to maintain a fire extinguisher
The frequency of your fire extinguisher maintenance is determined by what kind of extinguisher you own. Whilst all fire extinguishers require an annual inspection, they should also have an extended service performed every few years. For water, powder, foam and wet chemical extinguishers, this must be carried out every five years. During this survey, the fire extinguisher will be meticulously inspected, before being discharged and then re-filled and re-pressurised.
Due to their high-pressure cylinders, CO2 extinguishers only require maintenance every ten years, in a meticulous survey called an overhaul. Before conducting a hydrostatic pressure test, the technician will replace the primary valve. This test ensures that your extinguisher can withstand its pressure rating by checking for cracks and stretches that could compromise its integrity.
How to maintain a fire door
To be effective, all fire doors should be equipped with smoke seals and a self-closing mechanism. Smoke seals are typically made of intumescent materials that expand when exposed to heat, creating a barrier against smoke infiltration. These should be regularly inspected and replaced if they are found to be defective.
A reliable self-closing mechanism ensures that the door automatically closes securely in the event of a fire, helping to contain the spread of flames. Frequent inspection of the closer and hinges is vital and they must be lubricated often to ensure their smooth operation.
How to maintain fire alarms
It’s essential your fire alarms are in good condition as they provide vital early warning in the event of a fire. It is recommended that weekly fire alarm tests are conducted to confirm that the alarms can be heard throughout the building. Your fire alarms should also be regularly cleaned, as dust and dirt can impede performance.
According to BS 5839, all commercial fire alarms must be inspected every six months by a qualified expert. In some cases, this may be required more frequently depending on factors such as the size and complexity of the system, along with the risk factor of the building. During this inspection, all detectors, call points, panels and circuits must be thoroughly tested to ensure they are operating correctly. If any faults or issues are identified, they must be addressed promptly to restore optimum function.
Firepoint Services has been operating across Durham, Newcastle, Sunderland and beyond for over 30 years. Our BAFE-accredited team can carry out swift and efficient maintenance work on all of your fire safety equipment, ensuring your premises are adequately protected and compliant with all legislation.