How Often Should Fire Alarms Be Tested?
Posted: 15/09/2022
6 minute read
How often should fire alarms be tested?
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How Often Should Fire Alarms Be Tested?

Your fire alarm is a fantastic way of getting early warning of any fire, allowing people to safely and calmly exit the building. It also gives you a chance to raise the alarm quickly for the fire and rescue services — that goes double if you have a monitored fire alarm. 

How often should fire alarms be tested?

But what good is your alarm if it’s not working? 

That’s where regular fire alarm testing comes in handy. If you’re unsure how often fire alarms should be tested, or if you want some legal guidance to make sure you’re complying with the law, then you’re in luck. This month, we’re going to go through legal requirements for fire alarm testing, the testing procedure, how to record a fire alarm test and more.


Fire alarm testing legal requirements

Fire alarm testing legal requirements

We know, from our many years of experience, that the law and regulations surrounding fire alarm testing can be complicated, so allow us to outline the two types of testing.


Fire alarm testing carried out by you:

The first type is the testing that the ‘responsible person’ within your building or business should carry out. This is a weekly test, kind of like a spot check to ensure your system is in full working order. 

Your general obligation to maintain a fully operational system is part of the legal requirement set out in Article 17, point 1, of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005:

‘Where necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons the responsible person must ensure that the premises and any facilities… are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.’

The frequency of testing once a week, on the other hand, comes from BS 5839-6 2019:

‘all fire alarm systems in commercial premises need to be tested weekly’.


Fire alarm testing carried out by a professional:

When we say professional fire alarm testing, we essentially mean fire alarm servicing from a trained and expert individual, such as our team here at Surrey Tech Services Ltd. 

The UK’s legal stipulation for fire alarm servicing only recommends that your system be ‘adequately maintained’. The BS 5839-1, on the other hand, recommends that your system is inspected by a professional every 6 months at a minimum:

‘The period between successive inspection and servicing visits should not exceed six months.’

This is the minimum period we recommend you leave between inspection and testing from a competent individual, but to ensure your system is in top condition all year round, we suggest a quarterly appointment for our clients.


Fire alarm testing procedures

Fire alarm testing procedures

Both you and the people within your building should be made familiar with weekly fire alarm testing procedures so as not to cause undue panic. Here are our recommends testing procedures for your weekly test:

  1. Make everyone aware of the time and day you intend to test the alarm that week
  2. Ensure your alarm control panel is connected before putting it in ‘test’ mode
  3. Make sure you have a manual call point key so that you can quickly reset
  4. Find a call point and activate it, waiting for the alarm sounders to start
  5. Use your call point key to reset the system
  6. Check your alarm control panel to see if the right call point has been identified
  7. Document the result of your alarm test in a fire logbook
  8. If you use an ARC (alarm receiving centre), check they got the fire alarm signal
  9. You can now reset your alarm control panel, turning off the test mode

We recommend you test a different call point each week, using the same process.


How should a fire alarm test be recorded?

As you probably noticed from the process above, you’ll need to record the results of your fire alarm test. This should be done in a dedicated logbook, with the time, date and the location of the call point that you tested. You can also note your communication with your ARC if applicable.

This logbook is also where you should document other important information such as any fire risk assessment reviews, breakages to glass call points and any instances of false alarms.


Fire alarm testing regulations FAQs

How will I know if my fire alarm is malfunctioning?

A clear sign of a malfunction is if your alarm goes off without any clear emergency to trigger it or any use of a manual call point. During your test, you’ll also know if there is a malfunction if the call point or alarm sounders don’t work at any point, as well as if your control panel highlights the wrong call point being used. 

Who do I contact if my fire alarm system doesn’t work?

When you know any part of your system isn’t working – be that the control panel, call points or alarm sounders – then you should contact a professional fire alarm company immediately. If your system isn’t working and is left that way, you are not upholding your legal duty to ensure the system is well maintained at all times, which will undoubtedly spell trouble for your business.

Call our team today if you experience any issues with your fire alarm system.

Is a fire alarm test the same as a fire drill?

No. A fire alarm test is simply testing your fire alarm system, while a fire drill involves putting your evacuation plans into place. A drill still involves triggering the fire alarm, but is more focused on behaviours and procedures for how you get everyone out of the building in a safe, calm and timely manner.

Here at Surrey Tech Services Ltd, not only can we supply and install a fire alarm system or an evacuation alert system tailored to your building, but we can also provide fire alarm maintenance with regularly scheduled appointments. Working with businesses and commercial premises across London and the Home Counties – including Guildford, Maidenhead and Slough – you can count on our years of experience to help you comply with the law and keep your occupants safe.

Contact us to book your maintenance appointment with us.


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    Call us now on 08081 689 497 to find out more about our fire alarm design, installation and maintenance services.