How to conduct a fire alarm test: Procedure, Info & Tips
Ah, those pesky weekly fire alarm tests at work, don’t we all know them to be a constant part of work- life? Let’s be honest – most people think of the fire alarm test as a nuisance and often roll their eyes, thinking “this again”. However, as unpleasant as the fire alarm sound may be when you are trying to concentrate on work or during an office presentation, the reality is that the fire alarm testing procedure can save your life in the event of a fire. This is why it is extremely important to know how to conduct a fire alarm test.
The purpose of the weekly test is to find out whether the fire alarm system in the building is fully functional and that it can be heard in all areas of the building if evacuation is required. Not being able to hear the sound of the alarm should a fire break out may significantly slow down the evacuation time, exposing people in the building to harm.
This makes regular fire alarm testing a must-do occupational fire health and safety procedure. In addition to that, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005, conducting a weekly fire alarm test is a legal requirement for all commercial buildings. It must be done by a designated responsible person who has had the necessary training to perform the fire alarm testing procedure.
Fire Alarm Test Procedure: Step by Step
OK, so let’s get down to business and find out exactly what you need to do to conduct a fire alarm test at work. It’s not as hard as it seems, we promise – just follow the instructions below:
- First, find out if the fire alarm is managed by an ARC (Alarm Receiving Centre) and if it is, give them a call to let them know that you will be doing a test
- Always put the fire alarm system in “Test” mode before you begin
- Check you have a manual call point reset key or reset code on hand (you will need this later on)
- Activate the manual call point you would like to test
- Check if the sound alarm is activated
- Reset the manual call point using the reset key/code
- Check the fire alarm control panel to confirm that the expected zone has been activated
- If everything looks good, turn off the sounders (look for a red silence key) and reset the control panel (look for a green reset key)
- Record the fire alarm test procedure and the results in your logbook
- Get in touch with the ARC (where applicable) and confirm the test has been flagged successfully on their side as well
Please note that there are different fire alarm models, so it is worth familiarising yourself with the exact call point model you have to use in your commercial building. However, the overall test procedure remains the same, so it should all be rather straightforward.
5 tips to help you conduct a fire alarm test right
Even if you have had training, you may feel a lack of confidence when it comes to conducting the fire alarm testing procedure. This is why we prepared a list of tips to help you confirm you are doing the required weekly alarm test just the way you should.
- Have a designated, regular fire alarm testing time
Fire alarm tests should be done at the same time every week, ideally during working hours, so you can properly test whether the sound system works. The testing schedule must be clearly communicated to the people working in the building and a weekly fire alarm test shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone (unlike the fire alarm drill but more on that later).
- Test different call points when possible
If you have multiple manual call points throughout the building, make sure you test a different one every week. Possibly, introduce a rotation to ensure that all of them are regularly checked. This is done to ensure that the whole system works and all areas of the building are covered by a working fire alarm.
- Check if the alarm is sounding in the correct zone
When you test fire alarms in different zones in the building, the correct area should be indicated on the control panel. If you see a discrepancy, something isn’t right with your fire alarm, even if the sound is working. Report the issue and make sure it’s looked at to be certain that the fire alarm system is working as intended.
- Keep a detailed log of all weekly tests
As the weekly fire alarm test is a legal requirement in the UK, so is keeping a record of all fire alarm testing. The responsible person must maintain a detailed logbook where the times and findings of each fire alarm test are recorded. This logbook can be requested for an audit by the relevant fire authorities at any point and it is a key element of ensuring compliance with the fire safety legislation and standards.
- Make sure more than one person knows how to conduct a fire alarm test
Feeling ready to conduct a fire alarm test on your own? That’s great! However, what happens if you are off sick next week or if you have a holiday coming up? The weekly test must take place even without you, so there has to be a suitably trained replacement for the responsible person in the office in case you are unavailable to do the weekly fire alarm test.
Weekly fire alarm test vs. Fire drills vs. Fire alarm maintenance
There are many fire alarm testing procedures that have to be followed to ensure that you have completed all your legal responsibilities and they should not be confused or used as a replacement for one another. Learn what you need to do when below!
- Daily fire alarm inspection: The responsible person has to check the fire alarm for any visible signs of damage daily
- Weekly fire alarm test: The weekly fire alarm test procedure involves checking manual call points throughout the building for the correct sound response at a regular set time
- Fire alarm drills: Fire alarm drills or evacuation drills must be performed by an external party at least once a year, ideally every three months. They are designed to test the evacuation speed and procedure.
- Fire alarm maintenance: A professional fire safety engineer should come in every six months to perform regular fire alarm servicing in the building.
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