Why must I have a Zone Plan?

Do I need a Zone Plan?

Yes, most definitely. The British Standard for Fire Alarm systems in commercial premises and for Grade A systems in domestic premises BS5839 part 1 2017 states that there must be a Zone Diagram located adjacent to the Fire Alarm Panel or CIE (Control and Indicating Equipment). This is mandatory regardless of how small the building is.

BS5839-1-2017 clause 22.2.2 (e) states:

On or adjacent to the Control and Indicating Equipment (CIE or Fire Alarm Panel), there should be a diagrammatic representation of the building, showing at least the building entrances, the main circulation areas (Fire escape routes) and the division into Zones. The diagrammatic representation may comprise any of the following:

  1. An illuminated mimic diagram.
  2. A VDU with an appropriate back up, or
  3. A Printed, correctly oriented Zone Plan.
Even if the Fire Alarm System is addressable with individual labels for every area, it still must have a Zone Diagram. What use is a label indicating a Fire in ‘Mrs Jones office’, to a firefighter who’s never been in the building before when time is of the essence and the building is filling with smoke? He wants to shine his torch onto a proper diagram to see where the fire is, relative to where he is.

What is a Zone Plan?

Clause 3.68. A Zone Plan is a diagram showing the layout of the building and the sub-division of it into Fire Alarm Zones according to where the Automatic Fire Detection equipment and Manual Call Points are sited.

So why is this so important?

  • In the event of a fire, it helps to identify quickly where the fire is and evacuate the building as efficiently as possible.
  • The Fire Brigade are trained to use Zone Plans. If the Zone Plan is missing it may take them longer to put out the fire, resulting in more damage to property, personal injury or loss of life. The building insurers will argue this in order to try to apportion blame to whoever is responsible for the building.

In the enquiry into the Rosepark care home disaster where a fire resulted in the death of fourteen residents, it was discovered that the Zone Plan was unclear resulting in several minutes of precious time being lost in properly locating the fire due to confusion. Furthermore, it was concluded that, had the Zone Plan been compliant, the lives may not have been lost.

What must the Zone Plan include?

  • It must be diagrammatic.
  • It must be clear.
  • It must have theFire Alarm Zone Plan¬†building oriented from the perspective of standing in front of and looking in the direction of the Fire Alarm Panel.
  • It must show the building entrance.
  • It must show the Fire exits.
  • It must indicate ‘You are here’ and show the Fire Alarm Panel (CIE) in the same place.
  • It must show circulation areas (fire escape routes).
  • It must show the Fire Alarm Zones

What if there is no Zone Plan?

This must be recorded on the service report by the service provider as a serious non-compliance. It is the duty of the ‘Responsible Person’ to remedy this problem as soon as possible.

What should I do if there is no Zone Plan, and the service provider has not recorded it in the Service Report?

You should change your Service provider, as this betrays a lack of competence on their part.