Frquently asked questions...

a sample of some questions we get asked a lot...

Q - I am looking for guidance for small buildings about the need for a fire alarm, as I am involved with small shops and offices in many locations.

A - We would suggest a look at the guidance given in Approved Document B, of the building regulations. On page 20 & 21 under the heading "Fire Alarm Systems" it talks about the need for fire alarm systems, as well as situations when automatic fire detection is required. Premises such as these should be risk assessed case by case basis, and the requirement for a fire detection and alarm system should be determined from the fire risk assessment You may be interested in the document "Fire Safety Risk Assessment - Offices and Shops" - Please contact us if you require further help undertaking such a risk assessment - BDS have a team of qualified Fire Risk Assessors available to inspect your premises and provide a full written report with recommendations and a qualified Fire Design team to offer suitable solutions BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

Q - How often do fire extinguishers need servicing and do new extinguishers need servicing?

A - All fire extinguishers should be serviced annually by a competent engineer in accordance with BS 5306: Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises: Part 3: Commissioning and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers – Code of practice. New extinguishers should be provided by a reputable company and the installing engineer should ensure that they are fit for purpose when installed with the service label marked with the date of installation. - BDS can help you find the correct extinguishers for your needs and provide annual servicing BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

Q - Please could you tell me under Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 what risk assessment is required for a block of flats and how often this should be reviewed?

A - Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, a fire risk assessment is required to be carried out for the common parts of the building. This should be reviewed at 'regular' intervals (not defined by the legislation), and when there is a change to the building, either by alteration, building works, or on change of ownership. Such changes may include: -

  • alterations to the building, including the internal layout;
  • substantial changes to furniture and fixings;
  • the introduction, change of use or increase in the storage of hazardous substances;
  • the failure of fire precautions, e.g. fire-detection systems and alarm systems
  • a significant increase in the number of people present; and the presence of people with some form of disability BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems
  • Q – Why should I consider installing a PA/VA type fire system?

    A - Several years ago a survey found that, in the event of a fire, only 13 per cent of people responded to a bell warning. In contrast to this, 45 per cent reacted to a written text message display and fully 75 per cent to a spoken message. This may come as no surprise. Yet as the world around us has become even noisier, it is now even more essential to ensure that in building such as educational establishments, pupils, residents and visitors alike are able to respond quickly and correctly to a fire warning. In response, sophisticated voice alarm systems have evolved to form a key part of comprehensive fire detection and alarm systems designed to meet these tougher demands. In one sense, an emergency voice alarm is of limited, if critical, use. However, in recent years its capability has been extended, replacing earlier sounder circuits with an integrated and monitored public address/voice alarm system (PAVA) approach. As a result, schools, colleges and other public access buildings can now broadcast a wide range of messages, including paging and information announcements. This maximises the value of their investment in the system, providing users with a more comprehensive service and in the safest possible environment. - BDS Fire System designers are experienced in providing PA/VA solutions for different types of premises BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

    Q – What different types of intruder system are there and which should I choose for our premises?

    A - BDS install wireless and hardwired alarm systems. Once we have conducted a site survey and discussed your requirements, we can then design the best system that suits your needs BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

    Q – CCTV Systems - How will I know what system I need? A - The type of system should be designed with the purpose in mind along with environmental conditions. - BDS CCTV system surveyors are trained to match the correct equipment to your system's requirements and provide design solutions fit for purpose and good value meeting your needs and budgets BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

    Q – What should be considered for Access Control Systems in Care Homes?

    A - Equipment used needs to be unobtrusive and operable as simply as possible and allow the necessary movement of staff and visitors whilst ensuring the safety of residents. Experience has shown us which access control systems are comfortably able to meet all of these design criteria with a level of flexibility which enables it to meet, or exceed, any additional local requirements for a particular unit. – BDS surveyors and designers will tailor a system encompassing staff and resident needs BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

    Q – I need to add visual alarms to my Fire Alarm System, what should I consider?

    A – All Fire Alarm Systems need to be installed to the recommendations of BS5839-1.2013 but since December 2013 the following should also be observed: BS EN 54-23:2010 -- "Fire detection and fire alarm systems/ Fire alarm devices/ Visual alarm devices." This European Standard sets out the requirements, test methods, and performance criteria for beacons, otherwise known as visual alarm devices (VADs). The standard applies only where the purpose of the VAD is to give a visual warning of a fire to the occupants of a building "only to pulsing or flashing visual alarm devices, for example LED standalone beacons (or incorporated within a detector housing) and Xenon beacons or rotating beacons. Devices giving continuous light output are excluded" (BSI). From December 2013, all products of this type will need to be CE marked to show they meet BS EN 54-23. The manufacturer will need to ensure that any product which is CE marked meets with the conformity criteria described in the standard and has also been through the prescribed testing and evaluation process. – BDS Fire Alarm designers will ensure that all new supply and installation of Visual Alarm Devices are to the new standard BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

    Q - How often do my emergency lights need servicing?

    A - The system should be installed and serviced according to the relevant British Standard, which is BS 5266, which has several parts. The most important of these are: BS 5266: Emergency lighting. Part 1: Code of practice for the emergency lighting. Part 8: Emergency escape lighting. Basically, once your installation is in place and certificated to be in compliance with the standard, it should be tested monthly to ensure that it works. This is just a functional test of a few seconds or however long it takes to make sure that all luminaries are lit. This should be undertaken by trained staff. In addition, every year the installation should be serviced by a competent electrician. Monthly tests and annual servicing should be recorded in the fire log book for the premises. - BDS are NICEIC approved and can help with all your emergency lighting needs BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

    Q – How can I be sure that the wiring for my new Fire and Emergency Lighting systems are safe and to the correct standard?

    A – Electrical wiring installation has to be to the standard required by IET BS 7671 and to the latest Edition. As an approved NICEIC installer and Fire Gold certificated for Design, Install and Commissioning BDS' methods will ensure that all wiring is of the correct type and installed to the required standards BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

    Q – For what reasons should I consider installing an Aspiration type fire detection system?

    A - There are 2 main considerations for choosing an aspirating system. The first is that the sampling pipework used in aspirating systems is more resilient to harsh environments than a standard point smoke detector. The second is that aspirating systems can often give a much higher sensitivity than a standard smoke detector offering a faster response to give earlier warning.

    If either of these 2 reasons fit the requirements of the type of premises or processes within your buildings then an aspirating fire detection system should be considered. So for areas with dust or other particles, very low temperatures such as chilled warehousing, high value IT/data and communications hubs, or where access to a standard type 'point' detector would make maintenance difficult or unsafe then aspirating systems can be designed to fit the requirements. – BDS system designers have experience of systems for many types of premises and can help you choose the right solution for yours BDS Fire and Life Safety Systems

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