Maintenance of Fire Safety Equipment

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Maintenance of Fire Safety Equipment

Every second counts when a fire breaks out, therefore conducting regular maintenance of fire safety equipment is essential for protecting lives and property. Maintaining fire systems and equipment on a regular basis will help to ensure that they always function as intended and in line with fire regulations.

Regular inspections are necessary for business owners who are obliged to give yearly fire safety statements to ensure that equipment is running properly and to detect any defects or problems that might cause malfunction. When a problem is discovered and a defect notice is issued, the building owner must correct the problem in order to stay compliant. There are three types of defect notifications: critical, non-critical, and non-conformance.

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Critical defect notice:
A major defect disables the system completely, preventing it from functioning correctly, such as a water supply problem that impacts the sprinkler system’s ability to function. Major defects are likely to have a large negative influence on building occupant safety during a fire emergency and must be corrected as soon as possible to avoid penalties.

Non-critical defect notice:
A system defect or malfunctioning component may be detected, but it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the overall fire protection system’s performance. This might include a faulty local alarm bell, which, although unlikely to impair normal operation, should nonetheless be fixed.

Non-conformance notice:

Any features that are necessary for continuous regular servicing but do not influence the system’s functionality, such as missing or erroneous Fire Alarm Block Plans. These, also known as Zone Block Plans, should be placed next to the Fire Indicator Panel and must clearly identify the panel’s position as well as the size of each Fire Alarm Zone.

The importance of THE maintenance of fire safety equipment

A fire alarm panel that is old or poorly maintained is one of the most common reasons for issuing a critical defect notice. The fire panel is in charge of the fire alarm system; however, if it is outdated or malfunctioning, it may create a slew of problems, not only for building owners but also for the fire department, since false alarm calls are more likely.

A well-maintained system may significantly minimise the number of false alarms, and fire departments charge costs to respond to a false alarm call-out, a strategy aimed to encourage building owners and managers to maintain systems on a proactive basis.

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ADVICE FOR BUSINESS OWNERS

Every business, no matter how large or small, must have adequate fire protection in place, and it is a legal necessity to have it evaluated on a regular basis. This involves replacing fire panels that are ten years or older.

While upgrading or migrating to newer fire equipment may require a significant upfront investment for some businesses, maintaining an outdated system can be more expensive to service and repair in the long run due to the high cost of obtaining outdated replacement parts, which are becoming increasingly difficult to come by.

Servicing Popular Fire Safety Equipment

Fire extinguishers may last for several years, but they don’t last forever. They also have a tendency to lose effectiveness over time. Like other fire safety equipment, fire extinguishers need to be replaced after a certain period of time, even if you’ve never used them. (Fire extinguisher manufacturers often recommend replacing them every 5-15 years, depending on the extinguisher.)  You’ll also need to check them regularly to make sure they’re still in good condition, with no signs of wear or damage.

For home extinguishers read the manufacturer’s directions on the extinguisher.

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Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers shall be serviced—

(a) six-monthly (consists of an external inspection and some measurements);

(b) yearly (same as 6 monthly but can include internal inspections in some extinguishers); and

(c) five-yearly (generally includes pressure testing the cylinder, note it is often cheaper to buy new extinguishers than to pressure test).

Upon installation and after any usage, a six-monthly service shall be carried out. The date of manufacturing of the fire extinguisher or the date of the last pressure test, whichever is later, shall be the commencement date for five-yearly service. If the date of manufacturing or the previous pressure test cannot be reliably determined, the extinguisher must be serviced every five years.

Adverse operating environments

Unless protected from the effects of an adverse operating environment (any extinguisher located outdoors), extinguishers located in such environments shall be subjected to a more comprehensive service program by conducting the five-yearly inspection, test and routine service schedules, every three years

Fire Blankets
The frequency of routine servicing of fire blankets shall be in accordance with the following:

  • At intervals not exceeding 6 months (the blanket is removed and inspected for defects).
  • When defects are suspected (if so, blankets are replaced).


Hose Reels
Fire hose reels shall be serviced—

(a) six-monthly (includes an external inspection and check for leaks); and

(b) yearly (as for 6 monthly plus a flow test to ensure correct flow rate).

For each of these pieces of fire equipment, a Servicing Tag attached to the item will be stamped for the Month of the Year.

Summary records (a written document) must also be provided by the servicing company.

maintenance of fire safety equipment

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