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BS 5839-1: Fire detection and fire alarm system for buildings. Code of practice for design, installation and commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises

Here is your easy guide to understanding the BS (British Standards) 5839-1:2017.

The BS 5839 Part 1 is a code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire protection systems in commercial/non-domestic premises.

These “non-domestic premises” include offices, shops and shopping centres, hotels, public houses and restaurants, hospitals, schools, churches and care homes, among many others. It also includes the communal areas of domestic premises, such as the hallways and corridors of a residential apartment block, as they affect multiple people within a common area where a fire could potentially take place.


Is the BS 5839 the same as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005?

No – there’s a lot of confusion between the BS 5839 and the Fire Safety Order – they are not the same thing!

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is produced by the UK Government, and outlines legal regulations and responsibilities of Responsible Persons (e.g. business owners or designated premises managers). If a fire takes place and you are investigated, your conduct against regulations set out by the Order will be analysed, and if found to be irregular or negligent then it will be considered a breach of this legislation.

The BS, on the other hand, stands for British Standards and is produced by the BSI Group, which sets a precedent and consensus for the quality of goods and services. There are approximately 27,000 standards set out by this body; all of which lay out the specifications both manufacturers and installers/service providers must adhere to.

In short, the Fire Safety Order is primarily for you (the Responsible Person/building user) to tell you your legal responsibilities, and the BS 5839 is the compliance handbook for your installation and maintenance specialist to use to ensure what they’ve fitted is correctly installed.

The Fire Safety Order stipulates that you must have regular fire risk assessments of your premises to ensure adequate fire protection. YOU, as the Responsible Person, must make sure this happens. As a result of such an assessment, you might be told you need a specific category of fire alarm, and so you’ll instruct a fire alarm installer to design the system and put it in for you. THEY will then have to ensure that what they install is compliant with the standards set out according to the British Standards. However, if they don’t install something which is compliant with the BS, you (the Responsible Person) will be liable for this, even though you’ve done the right thing by having a fire risk assessment and then getting someone to install a fire alarm.

 How is Fire Safety Policed?


When the Fire Brigade carries out spot checks and will review your fire risk assessment as well as  analysing the fire safety precautions within your premises, they will be looking at how you comply with the Fire Safety Order in your practices and how your premises complies with the British Standards regulations.

So, even though the Fire Safety Order and BS 5839 are not the same, they do work in tandem to provide a premises which is fully safe and legal. The best way to be safe and legal is to ensure you (or your building’s ‘Responsible Person’) is familiar with their obligations as set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and to trust an accredited company to carry out any works relating to fire safety or fire protection, so you know that they work in line with British Standards and industry approved regulations.

Fire safety policing and investigations are becoming increasingly stringent following an increasing number of catastrophic events in recent years. Grenfell, for instance, has instigated major talks across the fire industry and Government bodies, which could see fire safety legislation reform in the not-too-distant future.


Ongoing Maintenance

The British Standard outlines the technical observations which must be adhered to for effective system composition, but also points out a number of manual observations and tests that must be done by a human being for routine maintenance and upkeep.

Take weekly testing, for example: the British Standard recommends that the fire alarm should be tested using a different manual call point each week, which should take place during normal working hours at the same time each week. It also specifies that the weekly test should not exceed one minute so that the difference between a test and an actual fire alarm is clear to building inhabitants.

The British Standard also specifies that maintenance service visits should not exceed six months, otherwise the system will be non-compliant. The nature of inspecting and testing a fire alarm system during a maintenance visit is outlined in detail in the BS 5839, and it is outlined that records of these visits, as well as weekly testing and any identified faults, are noted in the user’s log book (usually provided by the maintenance company) as written evidence of upkeep and compliance.

Similarly to the Fire Safety Order 2005, which specifies that each building/premises must have a designated ‘Responsible Person’ for fire safety, the British Standard recommends that “a single, named member of the premises management” should be appointed to “supervise all matters pertaining to the fire detection and fire alarm system”.

The ‘Responsible Person’ for the building and the person appointed responsible for the fire alarm may not be the same person. For example, the ‘Responsible Person’ could be the building owner but the person in charge of the fire alarm could be the caretaker, who was appointed by the owner.

How LFS Makes it Easy for You…

We believe that preventative maintenance can help to save lives by spotting faults in equipment early. There’s no better way to catch these issues than with testing. Whatever system or model you have, we have expert engineers available to assist with professional, reliable services.

Book fire alarm maintenance and servicing today by calling our team.

  If you have any questions about any of the above or your fire safety responsibilities, please feel free to get in touch.


Call : 0800 080 3045


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