I’m not going to sugar coat this – there is a real lack of understanding among some businesses about the importance of a decent fire system. Do you know why? It’s boring. When you get a new CCTV system, there’s a new toy to play with. You can mess around with the cameras, and occasionally laugh at the things you might capture. Sadly, a fire system, which might cost you the same amount of budget, goes in, and that’s it.
A worrying number of business owners I speak to don’t seem to understand that there are standards that they are legally required to meet. It doesn’t matter whether you have 100 people on site or none, whether you’re storing napalm or nappies, a UK business is required by law to do a fire risk assessment every year. CCTV is important, but having the right fire system is a matter of life and death.
The ramifications of an inadquate fire detection system
With the Grenfell tragedy still in the news as those responsible appear in court, more people are realising just how high the stakes are. If your fire system is inadequate and someone is injured in a fire on your site, you will go to court. If they die, you could go to jail. Think you’ve got everything in order? Double check. We speak to many people who think they’re covered, but in fact the system was installed in 1984 and looks as dodgy as the mullet the engineer probably had when he put it in.
Your business changes every year. People move on, premises grow, you branch out. Your fire system has to adapt with you. To keep up, here are 3 simple steps to keep you safe AND compliant:
Get your fire risk assessment every year. Without fail. You wouldn’t miss your tax return, don’t miss this either. Legally, the company doing your risk assessment should not be the one recommending the solutions to put in place. It makes sense – they should suggest what you need, not what’s going to make them a nice profit. A fire risk assessment is a thorough process, and the recommendations that come out of it will be precise. Have a good look, and bring them our way for a chat when you need to consider your next steps.
Assuming you’ve put in place everything your fire risk assessment has recommended, don’t just install it and forget about it. Remember – your business will change and you need to keep your fire system up to date. It’s as simple as keeping a regular maintenance contract. Your provider should visit twice a year and check the equipment. If you have a good contract in place, they should support you in between to keep it running, answer any questions and resolve any queries straight away. We recommend you check the system once a week yourself, and if they find there’s an issue, they can get straight on to you.
Think smarter. If you can integrate your fire system with your security system, there are great efficiencies to be made, but possibly even lives to be saved. Integrating a fire system with an access control door means you can automatically release any doors in the event of a fire. It negates the need for brake glasses, and could save someone’s life who may otherwise have been trapped. If you were to integrate your fire system with CCTV, and a detector goes off, the CCTV could be triggered so the area is shown on the control panel and you can instantly see if there’s a raging inferno or just some idiot having a cigarette break somewhere they shouldn’t.
We specialise in integrating fire and security systems in large, complex sites for customers ranging from airports and hospitals to university campuses and industrial manufacturers. No puzzle has ever left us scratching our heads – we love a good challenge.
Pick up the phone and let’s see if we can get you safe, compliant and running a more efficient fire detection system.