How often should fire safety equipment be checked?

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their staff. Depending on the size of company premises, this may involve installing fire safety equipment. But the responsibility does not end there – once installed, all equipment and escape routes must be regularly checked, tested and maintained to ensure that staff and property are adequately protected should a fire break out.

So who is responsible for checking equipment, and how often should it be done?

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, in any non-domestic premises a 'Responsible Person' (RP) must be identified, and it is the duty of this person to ensure that fire safety standards are met. The RP is usually an employer, landlord, building manager or managing agent, but in a building such as a school, this may be the head teacher or a governor. Once the RP has arranged for a fire risk assessment to be carried out, appropriate fire safety measures must then be put in place. These are likely to include:​

importance of maintaining fire safety equipment

  • Fire detection and warning systems. Depending on the size of the premises, these might include smoke alarms and fire alarm systems
  • Fire fighting equipment, such as fire extinguishers or fire suppression systems
  • Fire doors
  • Emergency lighting

Again, depending on the size of the building, the RP should appoint fire wardens (also known as fire marshals), whose jobs include checking equipment and ensuring it is well maintained.

Fire safety maintenance – your guide to timescales

Every non-domestic premises will have its own requirements depending on the size and layout of the building and the number of people inside. However, as a general guide we recommend the following checks should be carried out:

  • Daily: RPs or wardens should check that all escape routes are kept clear; that fire doors open easily; and that there are no fire hazards such as visibly faulty electrical equipment, or flammable materials left close to a heat source.
  • Weekly: Test fire alarms to ensure the mechanisms are working correctly
  • Six monthly: Safety standard BS5839 recommends that fire alarm systems are inspected by a 'competent person' at least every six months, a standard which the UK government follows. A competent person is generally recognised as an engineer from a fire alarm service organisation such as Allsaved, whose work can be backed up by third-party certification.
  • Annually: All fire extinguishers should receive a basic service every 12 months, to pick up on any problems and ultimately to ensure that the extinguisher has a long and reliable life. Fire suppression systems also need regular servicing – timings will vary depending on specific products and the environments in which they're stored.
  • Five years: Most fire extinguishers should have an extended service after five years. This will involve completely discharging the extinguisher, checking for internal corrosion, refilling and repressurising.

Keep a careful record of fire safety checks

Crucially, it's important to log each test to ensure you have an audit trail of fire safety checks. Should an incident occur, you'll then be able to prove to police or fire authorities that you have taken your responsibilities seriously.

You could use a physical log book, but for enhanced security and efficiency a digital log is a good idea. Speak to us about our fire safety risk assessment and inspection apps!  

Here at Allsaved, we work tirelessly to achieve the highest levels of compliance with fire safety regulations, while always ensuring a cost effective service for our clients. If you'd like further advice on any aspect of fire safety, please don't hesitate to get in touch.