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Fire Alarm Systems

Introduction

The purpose of this page is to give you a brief understanding on the types of fire alarm systems available.  An automatic fire detection system (AFD), is a system is used to protect life and/or property and provide early warning of fire.  

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The Fire Safety Order is concerned with life safety, so unless an automatic fire alarm system is required to protect the occupants of the building, it will not be a requirement under the Fire Safety Order.  However, you may wish to install a fire alarm system, or a system above your legal obligation to protect you business.  It is a recognised fact that 85 per cent of small and medium businesses that suffer a serious fire either never recover or cease trading within 18 months. 

The British Standard BS:5839 part 1 provides the standards for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in commercial premises. Part 6 of BS:5839 provides the standards for domestic premises (which may be applicable to some small, low risk commercial environments such as rented properties).

Because of the variety of applications covered by part 1 and 6 of BS:5839, systems are divided into a number of different categories which relates to the level of protection.

Category M Systems (life safety for commercial premises)

Category M systems (manual call points) are manual systems and, therefore, incorporate no automatic fire detectors.

L Systems (life safety for commercial premises)

Category L systems are automatic fire detection and fire alarm systems intended for the protection of life. They are further subdivided into L1 to L5, with L1 being the highest standard of detection:

  • Category L5: automatic fire detection in designated areas (no requirement for manual call points)
  • Category L4: manual call points + automatic fire detection on escape routes
  • Category L3: manual call points + automatic fire detection on escape routes + automatic fire detection in rooms opening onto escape routes
  • Category L2: manual call points + automatic fire detection on escape routes + automatic fire detection in rooms opening onto escape routes + automatic fire detection in areas of high fire risk
  • Category L1: manual call points + automatic fire detection in all areas

Category P systems (property protection for commercial premises)

Category P systems are automatic fire detection and fire alarm systems intended for the protection of property. They are further subdivided into P1 and P2, with P1 being the highest standard of detection:

  • Category P2: systems installed in one or more rooms, or as extensive as complete floors. Category P2 systems provide early warning of fire in areas of high fire hazard level, or areas in which the risk to property or business continuity from fire is high.
  • Category P1: systems installed in one or more rooms, or as extensive as complete floors. Category P2 systems provide early warning of fire in areas of high fire hazard level, or areas in which the risk to property or business continuity from fire is high.systems installed throughout all areas of the building, and offers the earliest possible warning of fire and minimise the time between ignition and the arrival of fire service.

BS 5839 part 6 covers the following domestic building types:

  • Bungalows
  • Multi-storey houses
  • Individual flats
  • Individual maisonettes
  • Mobile homes
  • Individual sheltered accommodation as well as their common parts
  • Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)
  • Certain NHS housing in the community
  • Mansions
  • Shared houses
  • Houses divided into several self-contained single-family dwelling units
  • Note: Not included are hostels, caravans, boats (other than permanently moored) and communal parts of blocks or flats or maisonettes.

Category LD Systems

The designation “LD” is intended only for the protection of life domestic premises.

Category LD systems are subdivided into LD1 – LD3 with LD1 being the highest standard of detection:

  • Category LD1: a system installed throughout the premises, incorporating detectors in all circulation spaces that form part of the escape routes from the premises, and in all rooms except toilets, bathrooms and shower rooms.
  • Category LD2: a system incorporating detectors in all circulation spaces that form part of the escape routes from the premises, and in all specified rooms or areas that present a high fire risk to occupants (see Clause 4 of BS:5839-6 for more information).
  • Category LD3: a system incorporating detectors in all circulation spaces that form part of the escape routes from the premises.

Category PD System

The designation “PD” is used for the protection of property in domestic premises and are subdivided into PD1 – PD2 with PD1 being the highest standard of detection:

  • Category PD1: a system installed throughout the premises, incorporating detectors in all rooms and areas in which fire might start, other than toilets, bathrooms and shower rooms;
  • Category PD2: a system incorporating detectors only in defined rooms or areas of the premises in which the risk of fire to property is judged to warrant their provision.

False alarms also have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your fire evacuation strategy and may put the lives of your staff and visitors at risk.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service have developed a toolkit to help businesses reduce the number of false alarms, limit business disruption and free up our resources for other essential activities. Please go to our False Alarms page for more information.

Business Fire Safety Homepage

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Homepage

Business Fire Safety

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters
4th Floor, North Wing
County Hall
Treyew Road
TR1 3AY

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