• FIRE

    What do I do if I have a power cut?

    This advice applies to both fire and intruder alarms. Even if you’re experiencing a power cut, the batteries should kick in and keep the system working. A fire alarm’s batteries should last for 24 hours, and a burglar alarm should last between 8 and 24 hours. Once the power comes back on, a fault may flag up but it’ll usually restore itself and disappear. But do call us if you encounter any further issues.

    What is the first step to installing a fire alarm in my building?

    You’ll need to get a fire risk assessment to pinpoint the fire hazards within your premises and determine whether the fire safety strategies you have in place are really equipped to keep you safe and legal. For more info, have a read of our 8 steps to undertake before installing a fire alarm

    How often must I have a fire risk assessment carried out?

    We recommend that you have a fire risk assessment carried out annually. But if your premises have undergone a renovation or extension recently, you’ll need to get a new risk assessment done to check you’ve still got adequate fire protection. 

    If you’re opening a new premises, you’ll need to have a fire risk assessment done prior to opening. If your building’s physical structure and occupancy has remained unchanged for some time since your last fire risk assessment, you may be able to get away without doing another one for a couple of years, although you’ll have to accept full responsibility that you’ve made all the necessary precautions if a fire does break out. For more information, read our guide on Fire Risk Assessments

    What is the difference between "addressable" and "non-addressable" alarms?

    Let’s get this straight: it’s not the same as “linked” or “networked” (which applies to how the panels are wired and how information is passed). Addressable versus non-addressable alarm systems involves what you want your alarm system to do.

    Do you want the system to tell you roughly where the fire is, or precisely? An addressable alarm will give you the precise location (i.e. a specific room) whereas a non-addressable alarm will just tell you the zone (which could apply to any number of rooms or even an entire floor). 

    If you have a non-addressable system, you’ll need to physically go to the zone to find out what’s set off the alarm. As you’d expect, the bigger your building, the more likely you’ll need an addressable system.

    Will the Fire and Rescue Service inspect my premises?

    They don’t inspect all buildings routinely but they do carry out random spot-checks. If a spot-check finds that you’ve got an inadequate level of fire protection in your building, you’ll receive a penalty ranging from a basic recommendation to have a fire risk assessment done and implementing the required changes, through to fines or even prosecution.

    Who is responsible for fire safety?

    According to the Regulator Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, fire safety in businesses (and non-domestic premises) is the responsibility of the owner, employer or manager. Each business or premises must have at least one ‘responsible person’, along with other fire marshals/wardens who have received fire safety training.

    Where can I find legislative literature which spells out my responsibility for fire safety as a HMO owner/landlord or business owner?

    The Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services (LACoRS) outlines fire safety provisions required in a house in multiple occupation (HMO) in this free online guide.

    Other fire safety legislation includes the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which stipulates fire safety procedures in non-domestic premises. You can read the document here.

    British Standards stipulate what specification of fire safety equipment must be installed; BS 5839:1 2017 relates to commercial fire alarms, BS 5839:6 2013 refers to domestic fire alarms and BS 5266:1 2016 discusses emergency lighting requirements. These guides are available to purchase online.

    How many fire marshals/wardens does my business need?

    It’s recommended that you have at least one fire marshal for each floor of your building, but two would be better – to account for holidays or sickness. Overall, the number of fire marshals you’ll need will depend on whether your premises is classed as low, medium or high risk, which will be outlined in your fire risk assessment report. As expected, the higher the risk, the higher the number of fire marshals will be required. Low risk requires 1 marshal per 50 people, medium risk requires 1 per 20 people, and high risk requires 1 per 15 people.

    How often should fire drills be carried out?

    Businesses must have a fire drill at least once per year. Schools are required to carry out a fire drill once a term (i.e. once every three months).

    If we changed the layout of the building, can the type of detection (e.g. heat or smoke detector) be changed to accommodate the type of hazard in that area?

    Yes, but it’ll be best if you consider this before any renovation or extension work begins. Your WFP specialist will factor this in during the design stage of your installation, replacement or upgrade, as the spacing for heat and smoke detectors differs greatly. For instance, smoke detectors can cover 100m² but heat detectors only cover 50m².

    What is the difference between "linked" and "networked" fire alarm panels?

    In short, it’s about control and information; linked is basic and networked is full control.

    With a linked fire alarm panel, the only information you’ll receive is that there’s a fire present in one of your other buildings. You’d then need to physically go to the building in question and look at the control panel there. 

    A networked alarm panel effectively makes the three panels into one system and allows you to view any fire activation. E.g. If you were in Building 67 and a smoke detector activated in Building 70 then the display panel you were standing by would read something like: ‘Fire Node 3 – SD 011 – ZN02 – GRD FLOR DESIGN OFFICE LHS.’ (Node 3 means panel 3; SD stands for ‘smoke detector’; 011 is the number of the detector; ZN02 refers to ‘Zone 2’; and Ground Floor Design Office LHS will have been the text inserted upon installation.) All in all, it’s a lot more specific.

    If I have a networked system, can I monitor all of my buildings with one monitoring device?

    Yes, practically speaking, you only need one monitoring device. But there might be other things to consider depending on the critical nature of the signalling and the network wiring grade. 

    There are two grades of fire alarm cable: ‘standard’ and ‘enhanced’; the latter is only installed if the system is distributed and there is a critical signal path. (We’ll determine whether the signalling needs to be critical or not during your fire risk assessment.) 

    There are other options here as well, such as installing three monitoring devices, which may not actually cost much more than installing Redcare. (Redcare is a BT product and is fairly expensive compared to other alternatives.)

    What is the cost and process involved to remove existing wiring from my building?

    When we do this for sites, they often don’t want all of the wiring removed as doing so can require a lot of redecoration, or be impacted by restrictions caused by access issues or asbestos. 

    We often just remove the old devices (smoke detectors and manual call points, etc.) and install a blanking plate to cover the hole that’s left, leaving the wiring in place. This is something that’s agreed on site between the client and our engineers on a practical basis following the installation.

    What type of batteries do radio (wireless) fire alarm devices require and how often must they be changed?

    Radio fire alarm devices are powered by alkaline batteries and must be checked regularly, and changed promptly if needed (failure to do so will result in battery leakage). Leakage will ultimately damage the devices, creating the need for costly part replacements rather than minor battery changes. 

    To put this in perspective, batteries cost approximately £2-3 per smoke detector, but a replacement radio smoke detector costs around £250. Batteries typically last between four and five years, so long as they were installed correctly.

    How will I know that the batteries are empty in a radio (wireless) fire alarm device?

    The system will go into fault and you’ll have 30 days to rectify it. We generally recommend that you change all of the batteries at once to keep the changes in sync.

    Does WFP Fire & Security work on an open or closed protocol basis, i.e. can anyone maintain my fire alarm?

    The systems WFP install are fitted on an open protocol basis and therefore any fire alarm company can maintain it for you, not just us. 

    It’s entirely your choice who you use to look after your fire alarm system and you’re not tied in with us (or any other company). We would definitely recommend that you use a competent, accredited company with reputable reviews to feel confident you’re trusting professionals with your building’s fire detection strategy.

    If you already have an ADT (closed protocol system), we’d be able to test it and carry out basic fault finding but we’ll be unable to make any changes to it. So, if you wanted another detector fitted, or even just a simple programming change, you’d need ADT to do this for you.

    Why does it take 3 hours to test emergency lights?

    The British Standards states that emergency lights have to last for 3 hours. So during your maintenance visit, we’ll carry out dummy runs to make sure they last for as long as they’re supposed to.

    What do I do when my fire alarm sounds - how do I stop it?

    This depends on the type of panel you have as each model will have its own display wording. Search for the zone of activation by looking at your zone chart, or if you have an addressable panel, it will tell you the exact area where it’s been activated. Only once you’re confident that there’s no fire, press reset. However, it’s very important that you never stop a fire alarm and evacuation in progress, as this can result in a big fine or possibly worse!

  • SECURITY

    Do I need my intruder/burglar alarm monitored?

    The answer to this also applies to your fire alarm, and it’s answered with a question: do you want the fire brigade or police to be called if your alarm system is activated? 

    For most businesses, the answer is ‘yes’, though this will depend on the nature of your business and its occupancy. For example, if you operate a jewellery shop, having intruder alarm and fire alarm monitoring will be a no-brainer (but it’s still totally your choice). On the other hand, if you run a residential care home, you’re legally required to have monitoring in place.  

    Do intruder alarms help prevent burglaries?

    Intruder alarms cannot prevent a burglary, but they can be a deterrent and will certainly help catch anyone who does attempt a break-in. If you have monitoring set up with your system, the police will automatically be called. So, in short, it can’t stop someone trying but it’ll most likely stop them trying again!

    Should I have a radio (wireless) or wired intruder alarm?

    This also relates to fire alarm systems and the answer depends on various factors including upkeep, upfront cost and whether you’d like to redecorate or not! 

    If it’s a radio (wireless) system, the upfront cost is likely to be more (and it’ll need more upkeep during its lifetime, like regular battery changes to prevent leakage and system dysfunction). However, installation of wireless systems are usually quick and easy as they simply slot in, without the need for any hard wiring. It’s also important to note that wireless systems do not rely on a phone line for monitoring purposes, but instead use cellular transmission.

    What are passive infrared (PIR) sensors and how do they work?

    Passive infrared sensors are a type of electronic motion detector which measures infrared light radiating from objects within its field of view. When something or someone moves in front of it, it detects the change in temperature. And if it detects this change at a time when there shouldn’t be someone moving in front of it, it’ll trigger the alarm. 

    PIR sensors are the most common type of area motion sensor and unlike active infrared (AIR), they don’t emit a beam of radiation before measuring its disruption, but instead read the infrared rays within its view.

    Will the Police response be affected by multiple false alarms?

    Simply put, yes. After two false alarms you will receive a warning and after the third false alarm, the Police will most likely withdraw their response. This will then have to be reinstated by applying for a new Unique Reference Number (URN) after six months of no false activations. However, you’ll probably want to have your intruder alarm looked at professionally if it keeps sending off

    Simply put, yes. After two false alarms you’ll receive a warning and after the third false alarm, the Police will most likely withdraw their response. 

    This will then have to be reinstated by applying for a new Unique Reference Number (URN) after six months of no false activations. (You’ll probably want to have your intruder alarm looked at professionally if it keeps sending off false alarms…)

    false alarms.

  • CCTV

    What does "CCTV" stand for and do I need it?

    CCTV stands for ‘closed-circuit television’ whereby recording cameras are directly linked within a closed network for surveillance purposes. 

    Most businesses prefer to install CCTV as a deterrent for security purposes, as well as way to monitor their employees’ movements. CCTV is often required by law in many public places. Whether or not your business or commercial premises needs it will depend on the nature, size and perceived vulnerability of your premises.

    Do I need to let people know that they’re being recorded?

    Data Protection legislation dictates that if your business uses CCTV then you must inform people that they’re being recorded with the use of appropriate and clearly visible signage around your site. You’ll also have to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about your intentions for utilising CCTV.

    Can I view my cameras’ footage remotely?

    Yes! CCTV is a constantly evolving technology, which is becoming increasingly sophisticated. You can download an app onto your phone which allows you to view your CCTV cameras in action remotely.

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    WFP Fire & Security serves businesses and commercial premises within Essex, London and the Home Counties across East Anglia and the South East of England.

    With our hometown being in Stock, Essex, we’re perfectly positioned for our customers based in areas such as Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Central London. For the right project, we will cover further afield. Get in touch today to find out if we cover your location.

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