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FIRE INDUSTRY UPDATE 24th MARCH 2020

We are receiving calls from members concerned about attending client’s premises to service fire equipment and systems as to whether this work should be considered ‘essential’?

The Fire Industry Association has had confirmation from James Brokenshire, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office that “fire alarm technicians are considered key workers, when they are responding to alarms or system failures” but there is no mention about the other services e.g. fire extinguishers. 

If you do have to attend a premise where a person is suspected to have or is showing symptoms of Coronavirus the general health and safety advice that we last received states;

  • Telephone the client from your vehicle upon arrival to gain access and give instructions as to how you are going to proceed.
  • The entrance should be opened by an occupant of the premises and they and everyone else in the property should move into rooms where you will not be working and close the doors behind them.
  • Enter the building having first applied your PPE (nitrile rubber gloves) outside and then conduct the service or repair work.
  • Leave the building, then carefully remove the gloves outside of your vehicle avoiding any physical contact with the outside of the glove and dispose of them by double bagging.
  • This is the tricky bit, wash your hands thoroughly (20 seconds) but where?
  • Telephone the client for them to secure the entrance and let them know you have left the building.
  • Complete job sheets, from inside your vehicle, post or email to the client, informing them in the report that the Fire Log Book has not been completed on this visit (do this later when conditions return to normal).

The majority of our Members that I have spoken too (especially those with a duty of care to their technicians) are looking for customers to postpone routine servicing.  With many businesses having already implemented a lockdown of their premises with their staff working from home the usual urgency for compliance is way down the employers current priority list and many will in any case be preventing service technicians from entering their buildings.  With the latest Government guidance stating that we should avoid “Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home” we feel that this means routine non-essential fire equipment and systems maintenance will have to be delayed indefinitely anyway.

The problem now is that with fire alarms there is no prescribed leeway on the 6 monthly service visits recommended in BS5839-1:2017 where at least with fire extinguishers BS5306-3:2017 allows ±1 month on the 12 monthly service visit.  During this period of lock down we recommend that for low risk facilities you might offer a temporary extension of +1 month on both fire alarms, systems and extinguisher servicing, strictly on the basis of reviewing the situation monthly with the client with a view to provide servicing at the earliest opportunity, i.e. during an easing of restrictions.  It is essential that you record this variation in your service documents and wherever possible discuss this with the Responsible Person.  If possible get their confirmation in writing that they understand the possible risks of delaying servicing e.g. insurance cover potentially affected, higher likelihood of false alarms, increased threat from fire, etc.

Disclaimer:

The UK-FA has made every effort to ensure accuracy of the information provided above based upon BAFE, Government and NHS advice as at 24 March 2020, however it is not guaranteed and the UK-FA does not accept any responsibility for direct or indirect damages caused through its interpretation or use.