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FS North: Fire and intruder alarms and third-party certification

13 October 2017

BT REDCARE’S Nick Whiting kicked off his presentation on integrated fire and intruder alarm systems at the Fire Safety Event in Manchester on 11 October with a bit of audience participation.

Giving delegates three options to choose from in each case, he asked the following questions: 

  • How many fires are recorded in the UK each week?  
  • How many of them are started deliberately?
  • And what percentage of SMEs that experienced a fire never recover, or cease trading within 18 months?

The respective answers – 3000, 46% and 85% - surprised many of those present. “This could be you or your business,” Nick reminded them. “It doesn’t matter what size you are; the effects of a fire can be catastrophic.”

In terms of specifying an alarm signalling system and components the key thing to remember, said Nick, is that all fire detection and alarm equipment must be third party-certified by law. Third-party certification also applies to installation.

Turning to the subject of remote alarm monitoring, Nick again invited the audience to guess what percentage of systems are remotely monitored. “Just 10%,” he told them, adding: “Intruder alarms are far more widely monitored, yet the cost of a fire, compared to the cost of an intrusion, is way higher.”

He then pointed out that around 70% of fire alarms systems are actually linked to intruder alarms – something that is almost deemed common practice now, as it is referenced in BS5839. The key issues here, Nick explained, are that “up to now, no equipment was certified to both fire and intruder standards. However, BT Redcare does have certification to LPS 1277. We provide continuous monitoring and constant checking, and we use roaming SIMs to ensure best connection to a mobile signal.”

Nick conceded that alarm signalling alone is not going to solve the problem of false alarms on its own, but developments in technology are certainly helping in this respect. He said: “By working together as an industry and with the fire brigades and bodies, we have a good chance of addressing this issue. Confirmed-alarm technology has seen false alarms drop to around 2000 a year, which is a huge difference from around 20,000 a year, 20 years ago!”

In conclusion, Nick reminded delegates that “third-party certification for products and installers keeps people safe, ensures business continuity and keeps insurers happy”.