Commercial fire alarm systems are a crucial barrier against disaster for most businesses. Fire can ravage an office or warehouse beyond salvage in a frighteningly short space of time. Even if you are fully insured, the level of disruption that would be caused could mean the end of your firm. Reliable fire alarm equipment is a powerful first line of defence and this one of the few areas in which businesses should spare no expense.

But just what type of commercial fire alarm monitoring do you need? Different brands and models are available – but crucially, so are different categories and grades.

Fire alarm categories and grades

Unsurprisingly the law is stringent on fire alarm systems. All businesses must ensure that an “appropriate fire detection system” is in place and the regulations recommend adherence to the British standard for fire detection and alarm systems: BS5839-1:2017.

The categories and grades mentioned above are defined within this standard. They refer to the complexity of the commercial fire alarm system in question and also define the level of protection it will provide.

The following categories apply to commercial fire alarms:

  • M: manual systems – i.e. devices which do not detect fire and smoke automatically but instead must be activated by hand.
  • L: systems focused on saving lives.
  • P: systems focused on saving property.

We recommend a professional fire risk assessment to properly assess the right type for your premises. Insurance companies and safety specialists will be able to advise.

There are four subcategories of L systems recommended for use by the NSI. These run in reverse order as follows:

  • L4: a device installed only within corridors, stairwells or other high circulation areas.
  • L3: alarms with automatic smoke detection which are installed in both circulation areas and rooms which lead onto these.
  • L2: as above, but also installed in additional high risk areas.
  • L1: alarm systems which provide the highest available level of protection and are installed throughout the premises.

There are also two categories for P systems, which also run in reverse order:

  • P2: an alarm featuring automatic detection installed in high fire risk areas.
  • P1: an alarm featuring automatic detection which is installed throughout.

The L and P categories are not, of course, mutually exclusive: systems which fit within one of the L subcategories will also meet the P category requirements. Businesses often install a mix of manual and automatic alarms, with the latter favoured for higher risk areas for clear reasons.

Fire alarm systems for use in domestic settings are categorised differently.

Ace Fire and Security have decades of experience in the supply of commercial fire alarm systems and provide impartial and reliable advice. Call us today to discuss a professional, no obligation fire risk assessment of your premises.

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