The Importance of Regular Fire Safety Inspections and Maintenance – October 2021

It is vitally important to regularly inspect and maintain your buildings fire safety equipment. As a business owner, you are responsible for the safety of your building, employees and visitors. This includes the provision of adequate fire safety equipment and systems throughout the building. With more and more businesses returning to the office, it is essential to check that your fire safety equipment is regularly inspected.

Fire Extinguishers­

Fire Extinguishers need to be inspected and maintained by a competent person once a year in accordance with BS 5306. During these thorough checks your extinguisher is serviced and any necessary repairs are carried out or a replacement is recommended. A basic service would include checking it is in date, hasn’t been tampered with, is in good working order, is the correct weight and pressure and has the correct signage and positioning.

BS5306 recommends that fire extinguishers are tested by discharge every five years (water foam and powder) and refilled or replaced, and every ten years (CO2).  CO2 bottles are hydraulically tested at the ten year point, or the extinguisher is replaced.

It is also a requirement to keep a record of all servicing, maintenance and inspections of fire extinguishers.

Outside of the annual inspections, the responsible person for the premises should ensure that a visual inspection is carried out on all fire extinguishers monthly as follows;

    • – Check that the extinguishers are in the correct location
    • – Check that the anti-tamper seals are not missing
    • – Check the pressure gauge is in the green section
    • – Check for any damage to the extinguishers
    • – Confirm the operating instructions are legible
    • – Ensure the extinguishers not obstructed and are visible

RES extinguisher engineers are BAFE accredited (BAFE BS 5306 Part 3- Portable Extinguisher Maintenance).

Fire Alarms

British Standard: BS 5839 recommends any installed fire alarm system in your premises be maintained by a competent person at least twice a year. This includes detectors, call points and panels. A competent person is someone who has sufficient technical knowledge, understands the different types of fire alarms and how they work, is familiar with the makes and models, and has a good understanding of the legal requirements including the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO/FSO) and the BS 5839.

Routine fire alarm maintenance checks should be carried out by a competent person and include the following:

    • – Control panels
    • – Devices (sensors and detectors)
    • – Call points
    • – Voice alarms
    • – Batteries
    • – Reporting (Log book entry is a requirement)

RES provide fire alarm regular checks, servicing and maintenance. RES fire alarm engineers are BAFE accredited to BAFE SP203 – Fire Detection and Alarm System Modular Scheme SP203 – Part 1.

Emergency Lighting

Emergency Lighting is covered by BS EN 50172 / BS 5266-8 which provides guidance on the minimum level of testing dependant on the type of site you operate. Your responsible person should oversee the appropriate schedule.

Testing is as follows:

Monthly – Test all emergency lighting systems and ensure all luminaries and signs illuminate and are clean and present. A quick flick test is adequate.

Annually – To check that the lights remain illuminated for their full rated duration.

For safety reasons, the standards advise that the emergency lighting testing should be carried out at times of least risk to the buildings occupants or if possible, when the premises are unoccupied or in unoccupied portions of those premises.

RES provide Emergency Lighting Inspection and Testing, Fault Finding, Repairs and Regular Checks

RES fire alarm engineers are BAFE accredited to BAFE SP203 – Fire Detection and Alarm System Modular Scheme SP203 – Part 1.

Passive Fire Protection – Fire Doors

It is good practice to regularly inspect that your fire doors function correctly and that it will perform to its designed standard. Fire doors where traffic is high are more likely to be damaged and should be checked once a week/month (dependent on usage) by the responsible person for the property.

Periodic checks should be carried out every six months. Article 17 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO/FSO) makes it a legal requirement to ensure that fire resisting doors and escape doors are correctly installed and adequately maintained in order for them to be fit for purpose.

RES passive engineers are FIRAS Certified for Fire Door Maintenance.

Passive Fire Protection – Fire Stopping

According to FIRAS, fire protection measures can be degraded over time and it is the legal responsibility of the Responsible Person that the fire protection be adequately maintained. It is the responsibility of the responsible person to ensure that regular inspection takes place. Fire stopping is the compartmentation of a building bounded by fire resisting elements such as walls, floors and ceilings. Fire resisting elements are used around cables, pipes and ventilation systems.

We recommend your fire stopping is inspected every six months.

RES passive engineers are FIRAS Certified for Penetration Sealing (Fire Stopping).

Smoke Control / Automatic Opening Vents (AOVs)

Smoke vents have moving parts such as struts, hinges, pistons and actuators which remain stationary for long periods of time. As a result these systems can be prone to failure or fault. These systems should be regularly checked and subject to two maintenance visits per year to ensure they operate correctly.

RES undertake the servicing and maintenance of Smoke Control / Automatic Opening Vents (AOVs).

Dry Risers

BS 9990 requires that Dry Riser systems to undergo an annual static pressure test and inspection and a six monthly visual inspection, by a competent person. This ensures that the Dry riser system is maintained and functioning correctly for the fire brigade at all times.

RES can undertake dry riser servicing, testing and maintenance.

Fire Hydrants

BS 9990 requires that private fire hydrants to undergo an annual test and inspection and a six monthly inspection by a competent person to ensure the hydrant remains ready and in a working condition for brigade use. The Responsible Person should make periodical inspections of all Hydrants on a weekly and or a monthly basis.

Contact RES for ALL your Servicing, Testing and Maintenance needs.

This article is for general guidance only, please get in touch if you need assistance

Natural and mechanical ventilation systems

Natural and mechanical ventilation systems

RES Fire Protection Engineers offer help to repair and service/maintain smoke ventilation systems installed within a building. We cover businesses and residential premises across the south of England.

Smoke control/ventilation systems can be divided into natural/passive or mechanical systems.

A natural ventilation system relies on the natural movement of smoke and hot gasses, venting these through an opening. The opening can be a window, vent or a ventilation shaft, these can be permanently open, be manually opened or have an automatic opening mechanism attached to them. Automatic Opening Vents (AOVs) can be opened by actuating arms attached to windows, hatches or doors etc and activated by local smoke detectors which automatically open that vent. The AOVs normally have a local manual back up switch/button (a call point) as well. Once opened/activated the vents allow smoke and heat to leave the building/area, offering a safe means of escape for occupants, with greater visibility and access for fire-fighters.

Natural systems also offer normal ventilation and allow a natural flow of air to enter a building.

Mechanical ventilation systems extract heat and smoke from a building by using mechanical means, fans etc and forced air movement. Mechanical ventilation is normally interlinked with the Buildings Management System (BMS) and incorporates a control panel, secondary power supplies, dampeners that operate to blocking smoke from entering a floor where there is no fire, but opening on the fire floor to allow smoke to leave etc.

Mechanical smoke control systems include Smoke Pressurisation Systems (SPS) these are designed to stop smoke circulating by introducing clean air into the stairwells etc. This increases the air pressure in the stairwell and reduces air pressure in other areas to create safe and clear escape route for building occupants as well as a rescue route for firefighters.

Maintenance of these systems has to not only check each element is intact but that each is talking to the main control systems that govern them.

Smoke control/ventilation systems are a requirement of the Building Regulations.

Smoke control/ventilation systems with RES Fire Protection Engineers

Our experienced team of engineers can maintain, repair or replace installed smoke control /ventilation systems within a building, including extraction systems for car parking areas.

We work with systems manufacturers and accredited service and maintenance providers to ensure that smoke control/ventilation systems we work on adhere to current legislation and requirement.

We cover the South of England, London, Berkshire, Middlesex, Surrey, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, West & East Sussex.

Smoke Control and Ventilation Systems

What is a smoke ventilation system?

Smoke control and ventilation systems can be either natural or mechanical systems that vent smoke out of a building to enable low level escape routes to be kept clear of smoke, aiding visibility in the case of an emergency. This makes it easier for occupants to escape from a fire, and also prevents further damage to a building. Different premises will have different needs for smoke control and ventilation systems depending on their size, style and the number of occupants within them. According to statistics published by the UK Government, the most common cause of death in the instance of a fire is a person being overcome by gas or smoke, leading to loss of consciousness and eventual loss of life.

An effective smoke control and ventilation system is therefore crucial in order to keep smoke away from commonly used areas in a building such as corridors, safety routes, staircases and lobbies. If a fire breaks out, an effective smoke detector should activate on every floor of a building, ensuring that occupants can easily and safely escape while the fire is in a state of infancy.

Natural versus mechanical ventilation systems

There are two main types of smoke control and ventilation systems – natural and mechanical. Natural ventilation systems use the natural movement of hot gasses to vent smoke through a ventilator. Natural systems use windows, vents and automatic opening vents (AOVs), and are used as part of UK Building Regulations. Natural systems can also offer everyday air ventilation. Mechanical systems require extraction and removal of smoke by forcing it through fans.

 The need for replacement air

It is essential to have a supply of replacement air that takes the place of gasses and smoke that is extracted from a building. If replacement air doesn’t come in to a building, it will become depressurised. This air supply can be sourced from natural ventilators that are in a remote position away from a fire, automatic doors or from inlet ventilators that are positioned near the floor.


 Why install a smoke ventilation system?

A smoke control and ventilation system greatly reduces the chances of building occupants choking or being overwhelmed by smoke. It reduces the risk of smoke inhalation around escape routes such as corridors and staircases, and makes it easier for emergency services to access a building. A well-implemented smoke control and ventilation system can reduce the risk of a fire developing and limit smoke damage to a building (as well as the equipment inside it such as computers and other technical equipment, or even personal possessions).

How do smoke detectors work?

A smoke control and ventilation system is activated by smoke detectors. Once activated, the system should force a natural flow of air into a building while smoke is removed.

Smoke control and ventilation systems with RES Fire Protection Engineers

We can design and commission a smoke control and ventilation system to suit the needs of your premises whilst meeting UK Building Regulations. We work with systems manufacturers and accredited service and maintenance providers to ensure that all systems we install comply with current legislation. Our experienced installers ensure that your ventilation system is installed correctly and on time. Our highly trained engineers will thoroughly test the installed system before handover. We offer smoke control and ventilation systems services covering the South of England including London, Berkshire, Bracknell, Windsor, Middlesex & Surrey, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Essex & Kent, West & East Sussex, Reading, Maidenhead, Slough, Newbury and the surrounding areas.

January 2019 – RES join Fire Protection Association

RES are now members of the The Fire Protection Association (FPA) which is the UK’s national fire safety organisation.

This further demonstrates our commitment  to working towards protecting people, property, business and the environment.

Since the FPA’s formation in 1946 they have attained an unrivalled reputation for quality of work and expertise in all aspects of fire including research, consultancy, training, membership, publications, risk surveying and auditing. The FPA’s products and services are designed to assist fire, security and safety professionals achieve and maintain the very highest standards of fire safety management.