In the UK, fire alarms in commercial premises should be tested weekly. This is set out in “British Standard BS 5839-1: 2019 – Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings”. This doesn’t apply to residential properties, other than shared areas in houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) and blocks of flats.
How often does a fire alarm need to be tested – what does the law say?
In England and Wales, the relevant legislation is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (often known as the FSO).
Broadly the obligations in the FSO apply to employers (where the premises are a workplace) or persons who control the premises in connection with carrying on a trade or business. Such people are referred to as a “responsible person” in the FSO and it’s they who have responsibility for complying with the obligations.
Some of the obligations in the FSO include:
– making a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment to determine which general fire precautions need to be taken to ensure compliance with the FSO
– ensuring that the premises are equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment, fire detectors and fire alarms (relative to the activities carried on at the premises)
– ensuring that fire-fighting equipment (including fire alarms) located at the premises are subject to suitable maintenance and kept in efficient working order and good repair.
In Scotland, the relevant legislation is the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and The Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. The Scottish legislation applies to all premises other than domestic premises.
Persons who have control to any extent of such premises must carry out a fire risk assessment and take reasonable fire safety measures to ensure the safety of people on those premises. This expressly includes equipping the premises with appropriate fire alarms and ensuring they are suitably maintained in working order and good repair.
How often should a fire alarm be tested?
For commercial premises in the UK, a fire alarm should be tested weekly.