New Fire Safety Rules for Residential Care Premises
What are the new rules for Residential Care Premises?
The British Standard for Fire Alarms, BS5839-1 has just been updated and re-issued.
There are several changes of note, but two in particular relate to Residential Care Premises (care homes):
- The importance of providing accurate and unambiguous information to staff in residential care premises about the location of a fire has been highlighted, specifically:
“Where occupants of a building are going to need assistance from staff to evacuate the building (e.g. in residential care premises and hospitals), the fire detection and fire alarm system should be addressable if the building has facilities for more than ten people to sleep.”
- The guidance and recommendations have been updated to address the need to avoid delay in summoning the fire and rescue service when the fire detection and fire alarm system of a residential care premises operates, specifically:
“In residential care premises, facilities should be provided for automatic transmission of alarm signals to an alarm receiving centre.”
So this means that I need to immediately upgrade my fire alarm system to be addressable and fit an automatic dialler? Well, maybe not:
Is this law : what does the law actually say?
The relevant legislation is the The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Article 13 states:
“Where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, the responsible person must ensure that the premises are, to the extent that it is appropriate, equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment and with fire detectors and alarms.”
“The responsible person must, where necessary, arrange any necessary contacts with external emergency services, particularly as regards fire-fighting, rescue work, first-aid and emergency medical care.”
So the law says you need to have ‘appropriate’ fire detectors and alarms, and you must arrange ‘necessary’ contact with the Fire Brigade.
The best guidance available as to what constitutes ‘appropriate’ and ‘necessary’ is the British Standard BS5839-1, which says that addressable systems are now required and that auto-diallers must now be fitted. However it is up to a competent Fire Risk Assessor to establish what is actually appropriate and necessary.
Help I’ve had a letter from the Fire Brigade!
Many fire and rescue services have chosen to send a letter to all residential care premises in their area highlighting these changes. This letter is simply to make you aware of the changes. The points above still stand, and there is no need to panic or worry about this.
So what do I need to do?
In short, review your existing Fire Risk Assessment to make sure it takes account of the new recommendations. We can help you with this, or carry out a complete Fire Risk Assessment for you if you don’t have one. The advice from the independent Fire Risk Assessors we use was that in most circumstances they saw no need to immediately upgrade existing systems – providing that the existing arrangements and management system in place were adequate. It may however be beneficial to fit a direct link to the fire and rescue service (this can cost as little as £10 per month) – see this article highlighting the benefits or contact us for a quote.
Having said all that, if your fire alarm system is old or requires updating anyway, then it may well be time to upgrade to an addressable type system – contact us for more advice or a quote.