Component 87 – 2 Fire protection & life safety

Your partner for fire protection projects (UK and international)

We understand that for building owners and operators, fire protection is a critical service and non-negotiable. It’s integral for the protection of your people and infrastructure. You need solutions matched to your needs, building regulations and industry best practice. You also want fire life safety systems capable of preventing, detecting and containing fire, providing the means to safely evacuate.

You know that the solutions you invest in, have to fully meet the updated Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (incorporating the Fire Safety Bill and BS8629 2020/1 fire evacuation legislative changes). Fire Alarm & Detection Systems also have to conform with BS5839-1:2017.

For over 30 years, Ace have provided end-to-end fire protection systems and life safety solutions, from initial Fire Risk Assessment to design, specification, commission and installation of fire detection and suppression systems, emergency lighting, monitoring and fire safety training under open-ended SLAs.

New or legacy fire systems are covered by Ace for monitoring, maintenance or upgrade.

Fire Systems

Fire Alarm Systems and Fire Detection

Design, installation and commission of BAFE and NSI Gold-certified Fire Alarms & Fire Detection Systems to meet your building regulations.

Fire alarm systems have a number of devices working together to quickly detect and warn people when a fire or smoke is present. They are essential for protecting your building, your people and for notifying the emergency services. The type of fire alarm system and fire detection technology for a building is determined by application and building regulations.

Ace is a BAFE certified, NSI Gold fire protection and fire suppression and Gold Constructionline specialist. Designing, installing, maintaining and monitoring fire alarms and related life safety systems, we operate to BAFE SP203-1 and BS 5839, ensuring that fire alarm systems are tailored to the fire risk assessment and meet all mandatory compliance needs.

Service Level Agreements are supported by a 24/7 manned Service Desk and a 24/7/365 Monitoring Receiving Centre option.

Solutions include:
  • Fire Alarm & Control
  • Early Smoke & Fire Detection
  • Voice Alarm & Public Address Systems
  • Disabled Refuge Alarms
  • Legacy Fire System upgrades
  • Takeover of monitoring and maintenance of system
  • Design, specification, risk management, installation, SLA
  • 24/7/365 centralised remote alarm monitoring
  • System integrations
  • Passive fire protection

Legislation

In England and Wales, all existing UK commercial buildings are subject to The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. In Scotland, the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2021 apply and Northern Ireland Fire Safety Regulations 2010 apply.

British Standards (include but are not limited to)

BS 5389 – fire detection and alarm systems for buildings
BS 5306 – fire extinguisher installations
BS 5446 – emergency lighting
BS 5446 – fire detection and alarm devices for dwellings
BS 7273 – operation of fire protection measures
BS EN 54 – fire detection and alarm systems
BS 8629:2019 – fire evacuation standard for buildings containing flats
BS 999:2017 – fire safety in design, management and use of buildings
PAS 79 Parts 1 & 2 – fire risk assessment (non-housing and housing respectively)
BS EN 16856:2020 – portable aerosol dispensers for fire extinguishing
BS 8663 – fixed fire protection systems (water-mist systems)
BS 7974 – fire safety engineering principles to the design of buildings

Three types of Fire Alarm Systems

  • Conventional Fire Alarm Systems – call points and detectors are wired to a fire control panel in zones. The system helps identify the source of the fire and uses sounder circuits (bells, electronic sounders and audible devices). Suited to small / lower risk environments.
  • Addressable Systems – similar to a conventional system but the control panel can determine exactly which detector or call point has initiated the alarm. Suited to schools, care homes, hospitals, offices.
  • Analogue Addressable Fire Alarm Systems (or ‘Intelligent Fire Alarm Systems’) – each detector is a kind of small computer that can detect and communicate a fire, false alarm or if cleaning is required. Loop sounders, relay modules and sounder modules may be connected. 2,4 or 8 loop versions cater for larger buildings and can be monitored from a single panel.

Wireless Fire Alarm Systems

An alternative to traditional wired fire alarm systems, they use a secure, licence-free radio communication to interconnect sensors and devices with a controller. No cables are required. Suited to churches and historic buildings.

Category L Fire Alarm Systems

Life protection and system design requirements can be divided into L1-L5 categories:

L1 – requires Automatic Fire Detection (AFD) to be installed throughout a building.

L2 – requires AFD as defined in L3 as well as high risk or hazardous areas (kitchens, boilers etc)

L3 – requires AFD with smoke detection to be installed within escape routes and rooms leading to escape routes

L4 – requires AFD within escape routes only.

L5 – requires specific fire detection and alarm equipment to deal with a specific identified risk (could be a waypoint or route in / out of a building)

Key questions

  1. What kind of control panel is best suited for your site(s)?
  2. How many zones does the system need to manage?
  3. Automatic or manual alarm system?
  4. Open, closed or fault monitoring system?
  5. Single alarm or two-stage alarm system?
  6. Provision for connection to central alarm monitoring centre (ARC)?
  7. Ease of fitting conduit and wiring compatible with the building conduit and wiring mainframe?
  8. Detector heads (heat, heat sensitive or linear) – which are appropriate?
  9. Smoke detection (ionisation, light obscuring, light scattering) – which are appropriate?
  10. Carbon monoxide detector – CO fire detectors are not the same as smoke detectors and perform different functions. Do you need both?
  11. How many manual call points are required?
  12. Is fault line monitoring recommended?
  13. Is all paperwork complete and centrally stored in a document box?

Alarm Sounders

There are many types of alarm sounders – dome bells, bells, electronic solid state, small sirens, sirens and horns. They have mono or multiple tone outputs and can range from 300-1,700 Hz and 0.17KW to 11KW.

Inspection & Servicing (highlights)

Must be undertaken by a person or organisation deemed competent.

Periodic inspection (at least 6-monthly):

  • In accordance with the Fire Risk Assessment
  • The Log Book should be inspected
  • Visual inspection for structural or occupational changes which may affect fire life safety planning and provision
  • False Alarm Records
  • Batteries (check and test)
  • Control Panel functions (check and test)
  • Fire Alarm Devices (check and test)
  • Transmission of fire alarm signals to ARC
  • All fault indicators and circuit indicators
  • All checks required by the manufacturer / installer

Inspection (quarterly)

  • Vented batteries

Inspection (annual)

  • The Switch mechanism of all manual call points
  • All AFDs
  • All fire alarm devices (visible and audible)
  • Radio fire detection and fire alarm signal strength
  • Cable fixings
  • Standby power supply and capacity
  • Defects and Log Book
  • All checks required by the manufacturer / installer

Takeover of site

Expect a Dilapidation Report (full audit and health check) of the system, records, test results, operating performance, suitability, mandatory compliance and more. This will link to a Fire Risk Assessment specific to the building.

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Aspirating Smoke Detection Systems

Aspirating Smoke Detection Systems designed to protect critical buildings and assets including Infrastructure, Utilities, Data Centres.

Aspirating Smoke Detection Systems are an active fire protection measure that can detect a fire at an early stage. These systems operate by drawing air in through a network of pipes with holes strategically located to allow air into the pipe network. This is drawn to an aspirating device which samples the air for smoke particles.

  • Data & Comms rooms
  • Data Centres
  • Warehouses
  • Cold storage
  • Infrastructure (Media Centres, Ports, Stations etc)

Aspirating Smoke Detection Systems are available from a variety of manufacturers including Honeywell Notifier (FAAST or Fire Alarm Aspiration Sensing Technology), Xtralis (VESDA or Very Early Smoke Detection Apparatus) among others. Most systems use either ionization smoke detection or photoelectric smoke detection. Both technologies are also available in a single device.

Benefits

  • Very early fire warning system
  • Especially important in dusty and damp environments
  • Compatible with addressable and conventional fire alarms
  • Provide active fire protection for critical infrastructure

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Emergency Lighting

Specification, installation and maintenance of Emergency Lighting to support the safe and timely escape of occupants during a fire or power interruption.

Emergency lighting is a mandatory compliance requirement for commercial buildings to enable safe exit should mains power fail. Exit and escape routes in the UK must be lit to a minimum of one lux during an emergency. Different types of lights require predetermined spacing which is linked to the unit, location and illuminance.

Relevant Regulations

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Article 14 states “Emergency routes and exits requiring illumination must be provided with emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of failure of normal lighting”.

Ace operates in accordance with The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 & BS 5266 Part 1, BS EN 1838, BS EN 50172. This requires building owners to test emergency lighting systems regularly and maintain it in proper working order.

Maintained and Non-Maintained Luminaires

Non-maintained luminaires remain off during daily operation, only illuminating when mains power fails. Maintained luminaires operate as normal lighting equipment during the day and can be controlled and configured with other luminaries. They automatically switch to a back-up (battery) power system in the event of mains power failure. Building owners can choose between either or have a combination on site.

Self-Test (AutoTest)

These systems eliminate the need for manual testing by automatically testing and signalling remedial action in line with relevant standards.

1 or 3-hour requirement

The following recommendations apply:

3-hour emergency lighting requirement is for;

  • Commercial premises used as sleeping accommodation
  • Non-residential premises used for treatment or care
  • Non-residential premises used for leisure and recreation
  • Non-residential public premises
  • Common areas in blocks of flats and multi-tenant dwellings
  • Sports stadia

1-hour emergency lighting requirement is for;

  • Non-residential premises used for teaching, training, research, offices
  • Industrial premises (manufacturing, processing, storage)

Maintenance

Maintenance and testing should be incorporated into your Fire Protection SLA. Modern luminaires are available with lighting control that can provide an additional 44% luminaire energy saving.

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Fire Extinguishers

Supply, installation and maintenance of Fire Extinguishers to keep you safe, compliant and fully operational.

Fire Extinguishers are a mandatory fire life safety requirement for many building types and must be placed in easily accessed areas, fire escape routes and areas of high fire risk.

There are a number of concordant extinguisher types (water, foam, CO2 and powder) which are specifically designed to treat different types of fire and sources of ignition. Most have a life expectancy of 5-10 years.

Ace provides a comprehensive range of Fire Extinguishers and Fire Safety Equipment designed to respond to specific needs and risks on your site.

  • Full compliance with BS 5306
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Fire Hose Reels
  • Fire Blankets
  • Fire Safety Signs compliant with ISO EN7010

It is a legal requirement to keep a permanent record of all servicing, maintenance and inspection of fire extinguishers.

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Emergency Voice Communication Systems (EVCS)

Design, installation, management, remote monitoring and maintenance of integrated public address and EVCS.

EVCS (or Emergency Voice Communication System) is a fixed, monitored, maintained, bidirectional voice communication system to assist the orderly evacuation of disabled, mobility impaired people and support firefighter communications during an incident. It is used in high rise and large buildings or sites where radio communication may be unreliable.

Importantly, new fire evacuation standards are being enforced to BS8629 from 2021 onwards and enshrined into the Regulatory Reform Order (RRO). Are you compliant?

  • BS5839 Part 9
  • BS8629 new fire evacuation standard for buildings over 18 metres floor by floor
  • Fire telephone system
  • Disabled refuge call system
  • Combined emergency communication system
  • Continuous fault monitoring and reporting
  • Simple and complex call routing
  • Distributed loop-based architecture

The Equality Act (formerly The Disability Discrimination Act) and Building Regulations Document makes it the responsibility of all companies, nationwide, to ensure access to buildings and services is available to everyone.

A and B Types

A Types – use a telephone handset for communication and are identified as a fire or fire steward telephone

B-Types – use a hands-free intercom (wall-mounted with a call button)

Recommendations:

  • EVCS require a dedicated circuit (except outstations)
  • Need to be located in low background noise areas (< 40 dB (A)
  • Need to be usable 24/7/365 and not locked

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Fire Suppression

Gas Fire Suppression

Design, installation and maintenance of Gas Fire Suppression Systems commonly deployed in critical applications.

Gas Fire Suppression systems extinguish fires by removing the oxygen content to below 15% where most materials no longer burn in the same way. The extinguishing effect is based on the replacement of oxygen by the inert gases argon, nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has a high heat-binding capacity which withdraws energy from a fire and enhances the extinguishing effect.

The system is activated by Aspirating Smoke Detection Systems (early fire detection).

Benefits:

  • Reliable and safe fire extinguishing
  • Non-toxic
  • Concealed fire hazard risk management
  • High fire loading protection measure
  • Reduces the opportunity for fires to reignite
  • No fire-fighting residue (reducing clean-up time / cost)
  • Flammable liquid stores and hazardous substance areas
  • Mission critical rooms and system protection
  • Gas is easily replaced
  • Inert gas is easily displaced with ventilation

Ace design, install and manage fire suppression systems tailored to building usage, design and BAFE SP203 Part 3. Systems are intentionally small in footprint and leverage the latest Aspirating Smoke Detection to ensure reliable performance without unnecessary system discharge.

Talk to us to find out whether your site would benefit from an Oxeo Inert Gas or Carbon Dioxide System, or a Halocarbon Extinguishing System.

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Passive Fire Protection

Design, specification, installation and maintenance of Passive Fire Protection to “stop” fires from spreading using tailor-made physical solutions.

Passive fire protection is a central element of any fire safety strategy. It is built into the structure of a building, building extension or CAT-A Fit-Out to safeguard human life and reduce the financial and physical effects of fire.

Passive fire principles:

  • Limiting the spread of fire, hot gases and smoke by containing it within a single zone or compartment
  • Protecting escape routes by keeping safe waypoints
  • Protecting building integrity
  • Resisting heat conduction (insulation)

Load-bearing beams, walls and floors have to be able to support their load under fire conditions. Doors, walls, glazed screens and suspended ceilings have to stop fire ingress (flames and heat). Building services ducts need to be fire-stopped to ensure the ducting does not provide an easy route for fire. It is vital that all fire resistance measures are correctly designed, specified, installed and maintained.

Passive fire protection and resistance to fire

Measures include the specification of fire resistant materials as well as;

  • Fire doors and hardware
  • Fire shutters and curtains
  • Compartment walls / floors
  • Fire-resistant glazing
  • Fire-resistant dampers (mechanical or intumescent) in air distribution ducts
  • Linear gap seals
  • Penetration seals for pipes, cables and other building services
  • Fire-resistant air transfer grills
  • Reaction to fire coatings

Passive Fire Protection Plan: 4 elements

  1. Established fire escape plan (time to react and evacuate)
  2. Compartmentation and fire stopping measures (prevent fire spread)
  3. Smoke extraction ducting system (remove smoke, improve visibility and breathing)
  4. Structural building integrity and protection

Maintenance & support

Ace operate to BAFE SP203, BAFE SP1010 and are NSI Fire Systems Gold Accredited. Get a review of active and passive fire protection measures:

  • Site inspection
  • Fire door solution (install, repair, inspection)
  • Demonstrable compliance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the obligations of your building insurance policy
  • Mandatory compliance with BS 8629:2019 (Fire Evacuation Standard)

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Fire Risk Assessment & Training

Fire Risk Assessments

Comprehensive identification and review of fire risk in accordance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and BAFE SP205.

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is a fire prevention process undertaken by a competent person who carries out a systematic review of commercial premises to assess it for fire hazards. This includes the risk of fire, the likelihood fire could develop and the consequences in the event of a fire.

Fire risk assessments are unique to every building and designed to identify fire risk so that an action plan can be implemented to eliminate or reduce the potential cases of fire. It will identify, quantify and manage risk in order to protect people, buildings, assets and processes.

The fire risk assessment will be linked to building regulations and determine the category of fire alarm system required, as well as active and passive fire protection measures to be maintained.

Legal requirement

All non-domestic premises and organisations employing five or more people, are legally obliged to have and maintain a fire risk assessment for their business. This has to be carried out by a competent person who is appropriately trained and cognisant of all legislative requirements.

At Ace, we believe fire risk assessments should be carried out by an experienced and qualified fire risk assessor (BAFE Accredited). It is your responsibility to ensure you have a thorough fire risk assessment that it is fit-for-purpose and up to date, and that fire safety policies and procedures are followed. This includes fire safety evacuation and compliance with BS 8629:2019 (design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems in buildings containing flats).

Ace fire risk assessments

  • Identify potential fire hazards and dangerous conditions
  • Identify high-risk fire areas or people at risk
  • Evaluate and grade risk
  • Actively reduce risk by planned active and passive fire protection measures
  • Determine if current systems are appropriate, compliant and adequate (fire detection, fire alarms, escape routes, signage, fire-fighting equipment etc)

What you can expect

  • Support with all aspects of fire protection, prevention and risk assessment
  • Compliance with The Regulatory (Fire Safety) Reform Order 2005
  • Robust fire risk management
  • Demonstrable life safety
  • Robust fire safety policies and procedures
  • Guidance related to life safety training

Request a fire risk assessment here.

 

Life Safety Training

Review of your site Fire Safety policy and procedures and training for your Fire Officer and appropriate staff.

It is a legal requirement for employers to provide relevant and up-to-date training to employees about fire precautions in the workplace. This includes what action should be taken on discovery of a fire, the difference between different fire classes, which extinguisher to use for which fire, and what the fire evacuation procedure is.

Responsible persons are required to:

  • Appoint a fire warden
  • Ensure fire risk assessments are carried out and in-date
  • Consider risk to all people (especially but not exclusively vulnerable persons)
  • Reduce the risk of fire spread and development
  • Have active and passive fire protection measures in place if you employ five or more people
  • Have a fire safety policy, procedures and an evacuation plan
  • Ensure fire systems are tested and maintained
  • Ensure your document box is fully furnished and up-to-date

Ace can refer and recommend an appropriate fire safety training course. Enquire here.

HSQE FIRE SAFETY AWARENESS ONLINE

RoSPA and CPD Approved, this is a foundation (entry level) course.

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IOSH FIRE SAFETY FOR MANAGERS

One-day fire safety (generalist) course.

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NEBOSH FIRE SAFETY & RISK MANAGEMENT CERTIFICATE

For people who have fire safety responsibilities at work and wish to carry out risk assessments.

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You may also find the Building Safety Advice for Building Owners useful.

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Accreditations

Why Ace?

  • End-to-end Fire System Design, Install, Monitor, and Upgrade
  • ISO9001, BAFE SP2301, NSI Gold, Honeywell Partner
  • Trusted supply chain service provider for NHS, Public, FM and M&E companies
  • Bespoke no-compromise solutions on-time, to budget with access to proven global technology partners

Partners and technology we typically incorporate across projects

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Discuss Fire Life Safety and Fire Suppression support for your site(s).

  • Mandatory compliance
  • Fire alarms & detection
  • Passive fire protection

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