The Law regarding Fire Alarm System Maintenance (Simplified)
Fire Safety Laws in England and Wales require a proper system of Maintenance to be in place.
If a Fire Alarm System is deemed necessary then a proper system of maintenance is required, otherwise the user would be in breach of The Law and liable for prosecution.
In England and Wales The Law is called The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – which is also known simply as ‘The Fire Safety Order’
Building Managers i.e. those with responsibility for the building and its users MUST keep the Fire Alarm System in ‘Good Working Order’, failure to do so is a criminal offence.
Arranging for a suitable system of Maintenance for the Fire Alarm System shows due diligence and is so easy to do, that neglecting to do it is considered to be wilful violation of The Law.
Below is some typical wording in The Law, taken from The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
Where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons the Responsible Person must ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment, and devices provided in respect of the premises under this Order…. Are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and be maintained in an efficient working order and in good repair”.
(Note. This means that all Fire Safety Equipment, including Fire Detection and Alarm Systems, Fire Extinguishers, Emergency Lighting, Fire Doors and Fire Resistant Construction must be kept in good order by regular servicing and repairs.)
The word “must” means that this is obligatory, failure to comply is an offence.
The Manager, Owner, or ‘Responsible Person’ can comply with these regulations by arranging for regular maintenance to be carried out by a ‘competent person’. This would be showing due diligence. This Law applies to England and Wales.
*Scottish Statutory Instrument 2006 No. 456. The Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. Maintenance (clause) 16. This clause has similar wording to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The following is copied from the current GOV.UK website:-
What is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005?
The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 – also known simply as ‘The Fire Safety Order’ – is the main law that business owners and operators must comply with. The order applies to organisations in England and Wales, and came into effect as of 1st October 2006.
The order replaced multiple (around 70) separate pieces of legislation, and requires anyone who manages or oversees a commercial premises – usually the Responsible Person – to take ‘reasonable steps to reduce the risk of injury or damage that may result from a fire and to make sure that people can safely escape if there is a fire’.
Some of the fire safety legislation replaced by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 include the Fire Precautions Act 1961 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997/1999.
A note from the author
As well as the legal implications, there are obvious financial risks associated with not complying with the above stated law,
Firstly, if there is an inspection by the local authority and they find wilful non-compliance they often issues fines, and enforce temporary closure until repair orders are satisfied. Worse still they then tend to go through the whole premises with a fine tooth combe and order works to be carried out that they otherwise would have ignored, for example changing whole doors for higher fire resistance ratings, replacing door seals and replacing certain building materials.
This is because they regard the non-compilance as both a betrayal of their trust and a subsequent general higher risk due to a careless attitude (they take attitude to safety into account in their risk assessment). I have seen this happen many times in my experience over the past 30 years in this business.