Q: We would be grateful for guidance on how frequently we should be testing our communal fire alarms (smoke detectors).
The development comprises 11 blocks of flats ranging in size from three to 16 flats in four-storey buildings (including the ground floor). There are 117 flats in total and all communal areas have smoke alarms on each floor.
The alarms and emergency lighting are tested by our security firm every six months. Each alarm contains a battery and it beeps when the battery is running out. In addition a formal independent fire safety survey is carried out annually.
Are there legal regulations on the frequency of testing? Are there good practice guidelines?
FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman replies:
Smoke detectors within the communal hallways should be only provided if these are ‘hard -wired’ and tested in accordance with manufacturers guidelines the same as fire alarm and emergency lighting.
I would not advise having battery smoke alarms fitted in communal hallways as these can offer a false sense of security for those responsible for the building.
Smoke Detectors are highly recommended for each flat where the main risk of fire is and many fire services will install these often free of charge along with advising the occupiers on fire safety in the home.
We have extensive guidance available on our website compiled by the Local Government Association which the FPRA contributed to and sets out fire safety guidance for blocks of flats to assist the responsible persons comply with Fire Safety Order and prepare Fire Risk Assessments.
Question submitted July 2018