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Fire alarms residential care homes - BS 5839-1:2013 
08/10/2013 
 
Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, recently sent out a letter to owners of residential care homes to clarify how the new British Standard [BS5389-1 2013] has been revised in relation to the specification of fire alarms in such premises. Firewatch have received a number of phone calls from owners of residential care homes asking how this affects them. 
 
Firewatch Group Sales Manager Roy Blunt has put together some guidance detailing exactly what our clients should do in response to the letter. In many cases it may be just a review of their current fire risk assessment to ensure it reflects the new British Standard, if you wish further clarification contact Roy on 0800 7834171 or info@firewatchsouthwest.co.uk. 
 
Following the Rosepark Care Home in 2004 when there were 14 fatalities, as well as several tragic incidents over recent years, the latest revision of BS5839-1:2013 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings has made several changes for residential care premises: 
 
Commentary section of BS5839-1 2013 
 
• The early detection of fire by automatic means, and rapid summoning of the fire and rescue service in the event of fire, is also important in premises in which people cannot readily be evacuated immediately (e.g. hospitals). In certain premises of this type (e.g. residential care premises), it is also important to give accurate and unambiguous information to staff regarding the location of a fire. In general, this part of BS 5839 makes no recommendations as to whether systems need to be addressable; it is possible for addressable and non-addressable systems to satisfy the recommendations of Section 2. However, where accurate and unambiguous information about the location of a fire is critical to the safety of life, it is sometimes necessary to use only an addressable system”. 
 
Recommendations section BS5839-1 2013 
 
Section 4.2 
 
Where occupants of a building are going to need assistance from staff to evacuate the building (e.g. in residential care premises and hospitals), the fire detection and fire alarm system should be addressable if the building has facilities for more than ten people to sleep. 
 
Section 15 
 
Since the objective of a Category L system is evacuation of occupants, rather than protection of property, manual summoning of the fire and rescue service by occupants may, again, suffice. However, if the early attendance of the fire and rescue service is likely to be essential to life safety in the event of fire (e.g. in hospitals), a secondary, automatic means of transmission might be warranted, unless there are adequate arrangements to ensure that there will be no delay at any time in manual summoning of the fire and rescue service by occupants. Automatic transmission of fire alarm signals is also necessary in the case of residential care premises. 
 
The RRFSO article 13 stipulates that: 
 
Where necessary, to the extent that it is appropriate, the responsible person must ensure that the premises are equipped with fire-fighting equipment, fire detectors and alarms. 
 
The responsible person must where necessary arrange any necessary contacts with external services, particularly as regards fire fighting, rescue work, first aid and emergency medical care’ 
 
We would strongly recommend that all residential care premises carry out or review their fire risk assessment so that the new British Standards can be taken into account. 
 
Copy of letter sent to Residential Homes - CLICK HERE 
Copyright © 2017 Firewatch South West Ltd 
Group Head Office, 1 Brunel Road, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 4PB 
tel: 0800 783 4171 fax: 01626 363172 
email: info@firewatchsouthwest.co.uk 
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