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Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

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Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 27, 2019 8:49 pm

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Part of the communal areas of purpose built sheltered housing flats on three floors with a lift that has a full monitored fire alarm system, that closes the internal fire doors and opens the exterior doors when activated. 

Each individual flat has a heat alarm in its hallway connected to the communal alarm system and also has an Aico interconnected smoke and heat alarm system that is connected to the intercom system allowing the call centre to monitor them and speak to the tenants to ask why they have been activated. 

Can you think of any justification for installing very basic domestic battery operated smoke alarms in the communal areas?

Because I cannot think of any way their installation can be justified, particularly as they will not be monitored in any way and should not be required. 

Andy B

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 27, 2019 9:02 pm

66.3 Fire detection and alarm systems are not normally provided in the common parts of blocks of flats (with the exception of sheltered housing schemes). This has been the benchmark standard for many years (see Appendix 1) and continues to be the case for new blocks of flats under the current guidance in Approved Document B.
66.4 As indicated earlier, there may be circumstances in which such a system needs to be provided in order to compensate for shortcomings in compartmentation and means of escape.
66.5 In any block of flats where a communal fire alarm system is installed, the system should be of the type to which BS 5839-1 applies. Domestic smoke alarms are not appropriate for the common parts of blocks of flats, nor is it appropriate to apply the recommendations of BS 5839-6 to a communal fire alarm system. Where domestic smoke alarms exist in the common parts of a block, they may, and often should, be removed and replaced (if this is essential) with a fire alarm system of the type to which BS 5839-1 applies.

Local Government Association

Andy B

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by ebee on Dec 28, 2019 8:52 am

Hi Andy,
just a couple of points first.
When you say "opens the exterior doors when activated " do you mean unlocks rather than opens?
Am I correct that I understand that 1) outside each flat there are interconnected heat alarms as a communial alarm and 2) there are combined smoke/heat alarms connected to the intercom system ?
So, in effect, then 2) would be dealt with initially via operator intervention i.e "is it real or is it a false alarm" and 1) is the second line of defence in case danger starts to spread with or without operator intervention (for alarms initiated inside a flat).
Hope I got that right.

So are any more additions required (I`d think not) or an actual improvement (I`d think so, mostly but with drawbacks). Overall it can`t hurt can it?

I`m intrigued as to why your question, perhaps somone has insisted it must be done for compliance to something.

Essentially I think the same as you

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 28, 2019 10:12 am

There are intercom call points in the communal areas and each of the flats allowing people to contact a call centre, the intercoms at the front and rear entrances allow visitors to contact each of the individual flats and the residents can then open the front and back doors, they can also see who’s at the front and back doors using their televisions as monitors for the CCTV system, as can the call centre.

The fire alarm system in the communal area is a part one system that is monitored by the same call centre, when it is activated the internal fire doors close and the external entrance doors fully open to allow people in the building to evacuate and the emergency services to enter the building.

The flats have monitored part six systems.

I am really finding it hard to any justification for installing battery operated stand alone smoke detectors, if an issue has been identified that needs dealing with this cannot be the way to resolve it as far as I can see.

Andy Betteridge 

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by AJJewsbury on Dec 28, 2019 11:40 am

Can you think of any justification for installing very basic domestic battery operated smoke alarms in the communal areas?

Is it a real smoke alarm? and not say a covert CCTV camera?
   - Andy.

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Andy88 on Dec 28, 2019 4:57 pm

At a stretch....
The main alarm has no UPS/power back up and
in the event of a power loss these would be the (last and) only defense ?

AFAIK, Battery backed versions should (these days) be the 10 year Lithium versions (if only to reduced maint' costs) not the standard 1-2 year that was acceptable some 10-15 years ago, and perhaps once the 10 year /label warranty went those were replaced with the same instead of the current 10 year battery version - typically maintainence Co and Contracts merely say replace with same not improve.
Afterall FRA prepared by external 'experts' are of very variable quality, yet are only advisory after all - despite a belief that it transfers responsibility from the owners/directors of the institution, so may not have raised it as an issue.

 

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 28, 2019 5:11 pm

Backup for a part one alarm system provided by alarms with PP3 batteries?

Andy Betteridge 

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Andy88 on Dec 28, 2019 8:12 pm

Backup for a part one alarm system provided by alarms with PP3 batteries


Well, I did say it was a stretch !
 

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 28, 2019 9:44 pm

When I posted this topic I could not think of any possible justification for the installation of the smoke alarms, but I thought I’d run it past my peer group on the off chance I might not have thought of something that I should have.

This topic has now been viewed one hundred and seventy times without anyone coming up with any possible justification, so I think my original WTF reaction when I saw the alarms was the correct one.

Andy Betteridge 

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by mapj1 on Dec 28, 2019 10:58 pm

Timeline - which was put in first - i.e could they have been put in first, but left there after the main system went in,  - or was there some re-furbishment that meant that for a short period  some zones of the proper system had to be switched off  and this was a risk reduction excerise.?
Or was there a desire to detect someone smoking in the corridor without  triggering the whole building alarm but to name and shame the perpetrrator - i.e. not a fire alarm in the normal sense at all, more of a local 'reminder' to go outside.?
None of it very likely I agree.
I presume there is no-one in a position of authority who can be asked?
regards Mike

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by ebee on Dec 29, 2019 9:07 am

Ahh, seems I wrongly assumed (you should never assume!) that the standalone units were planned as being needed ad not in place yet.
Mapj1 might be on the right track methinks

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 29, 2019 10:04 am

The battery smoke alarms are a new addition to an apparently sophisticated part one fire alarm system that has been in place for some years.

Andy Betteridge.

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by ebee on Dec 29, 2019 10:37 am

So the battery alarms are a recent addition that`s been added before you saw it and not a propsed addition that you`ve been asked to add or approve?
As Mapj1 says the where perhaps a temporary part mitigation whilst the main system was down to some extent say over a weekend or so, in that case the intention might have been to remove them at a later date or perhaps even a case of not doing harm so we leave `em in . Perhaps even future proofing for next time there is a down situation. Just guesses though

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by AncientMariner on Dec 29, 2019 10:48 am

Two unconnected thoughts:-

1) Was the person who authorised the battery alarms aware of the part one fire alarm system being in place?

2) Surplus money towards the end of a financial year in a budget which if not spent a) will indicate that the budget is too high, resulting in a lesser amount the following year, and b) cannot be carried over to the following year?

Clive
Clive S Carver GCGI IEng MIET MITP

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Timeserved on Dec 29, 2019 6:44 pm

Can see a gent head n base in the pic looks like an addressable system in the common areas?
regards Ts

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 29, 2019 10:20 pm

Timeserved:
Can see a gent head n base in the pic looks like an addressable system in the common areas?
regards Ts

 
Along with door closers on the flat doors and magnetic holders on the corridor doors that are connected to the alarm system, all monitored by the call centre.

The part one fire alarm system seems as sophisticated as they get, yet someone seems to think it needs the battery alarms to supplement it.

Andy Betteridge

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 30, 2019 12:07 pm

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Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 30, 2019 12:09 pm

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Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 30, 2019 12:12 pm

I have the feeling that there is a unresolved problem that needs urgently dealing with. 

Andy Betteridge 

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by ebee on Dec 30, 2019 12:18 pm

Well I hope you get to the bottom of it Andy (and inform us of the outcome). Where you given any history? How did you come by this install, have you been asked to work on it or inspect it?

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 30, 2019 12:33 pm

Much more basic than that. 

My dad lives in a second floor flat and it appears that the communal area fire alarm system does not work.

Andy Betteridge 

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 30, 2019 12:53 pm

And presumably not just the communal area alarms,  but also the detectors in the hallway of the flats with the additional issue that many residents have wedged the internal fire doors within their flats open or have completely removed them,  increasing the risk of a fire within a flat threatening the communal area escape route. Although the monitored Aico alarms within the flats should provide some reassurance. 

I am thinking out loud now thinking through the risks of the fire alarm system not working. 

There is no one to hear the one in the first photo,  it is outside the flat of a deaf resident, a guest room that is only used occasionally and a plant room. So the risks from fire have increased significantly without the residents being aware of it.

Andy Betteridge 

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by mapj1 on Dec 30, 2019 2:16 pm

Does the control panel picture imply that the interlinked system is indeed not working at the current time ? It sort of looks like it might
Fault 1  disable 2 is not really the sort of status message I'd want to see.
If so the battery ones may be a temporary measure while it gets fixed, but I'd not be especailly happy with that either except perhaps a very short term indeed.
regards Mike

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 30, 2019 2:34 pm

I interpreted the indicator lights on the left hand side as indicating a deliberate disablement.

Andy B

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by weirdbeard on Dec 30, 2019 4:02 pm

Hi Andy, are these throughout the entire building, or just in one particular area?


You mentioned that there was a heat detector in the hall way of each flat of the old folks home connected to the communal fire alarm, is there also a sounder/ indicator within each flat that may sound every time the part 1 system is tested?
:D

Re: Smoke alarms, are they appropriate.

Posted by Sparkingchip on Dec 30, 2019 6:03 pm

The problem seems to be in the main access areas and the battery alarms have not been installed throughout the building.

It is an all singing and all dancing alarm system, have had a look at the panel I am now assuming there is a fault that cannot be located and fixed. The sections of the system that can be seen is wired within galvanised steel conduit and I am sure it was installed to a good standard.

I am surprised that if there is a fault it hasn’t been fixed rather than putting up battery alarms. 

Andy Betteridge 

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