Regulations for Fire Alarms in Flats in the UK

Written by rachelbennett
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Regulations for Fire Alarms in Flats in the UK
The fire alarm system must be tested regularly as it protects both lives and property. (Break Glass Units image by Hedgehog from

Fire alarm regulations in the United Kingdom are governed by the Department of Home Affairs that, in 1996, set up The Fire Precautions (FLATS) Regulations (Statutory Document Number 1996-02-15). These regulations are normally used in conjunction with Document BS5839 titled "British Standard for the design and installation of Fire Detection and Alarm Systems" that provides a general overview of alarm types, testing expectations and British standards.

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Before installing or altering the fire alarm system, the design should be approved by local parties including the fire brigade, council, insurers and site fire officers. Check that the dwelling meets the approved criteria for a flat, otherwise the document's regulations may not apply. A flat is defined as "a separate set of premises, whether or not on the same floor, constructed or adapted for use for the purpose of a dwelling for the occupation of one household and forming part of a building."

Required Components

Assuming the dwelling is a flat the fire alarm system must contain 6 key components:

1) Break glass manual call-point(s): one call point must be fixed to the wall in a visible position within the escape route of each floor of the flat. This should be in an accessible position 1.4m above the floor level.

2) Automatic smoke detector(s): one detector must be located on each level of the common staircase and in each room that is used for storage.

3) Automatic heat detector(s): one must be found in every boiler room and kitchen as well as in all rooms containing laundry or cooking facilities.

4) Test facilities: these are usually contained in a "control and indicator panel" that should be located in a common hall or staircase, as close to the main entrance of the building as possible.

5) Electronic sounders: these must meet the sound levels and location criteria set out in S 5839:Part 1.

6) Smoke alarm: one self contained smoke alarm is required that is separate to the fire alarm system described in points 1-5.

Testing Requirements

The fire alarm system must be tested regularly. According to BS5893 Part 1 a variety of tests should be carried out ranging from the weekly operation of a call point to the annual test of all system elements and the cleaning of smoke detectors every two to three years.

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