Maintenance Best Practice
UK Fire safety legislation requires that the responsible person must ensure that the premises and any protective measures are subject to a suitable system of maintenance. Maintenance is essential for any equipment but particularly for safety critical uses such as fire safety equipment. All protective measures for fire safety must be safe, reliable, efficient, effective
and ready for use at all times. The maintenance system should cover all fire safety equipment, systems and facilities such as, fire detection and alarm systems; means of escape; emergency lighting; signs; notices and fire fighting equipment.
In order to fulfill the requirement of a suitable system of maintenance, all facilities, equipment or devices must be:
• In an efficient state
• In efficient working order
• In good repair
This is achieved by regular checks and proper maintenance procedures. Regular inspection and testing by the responsible person and a competent person is necessary at suitable intervals. These checks ensure that any faults or failings will be found and rectified as quickly as possible.
The appropriate checks and procedures can be found in the relevant codes of practice such as BS 5306 for portable extinguishers and BS 5839 for fire detection and alarm systems.
The definition of a competent person will depend on what is being maintained. Generally, a competent person will have undergone a programme of training followed by ‘on the job’ experience. Ideally training will be administere
d by an independent body, to maintain competency, the competent person should undergo continual professional development.
The fire risk assessment should indicate broadly what measures are required and any obvious failings in existing measures. A competent person specialising in a particular area of fire safety such as, maintenance of extinguishers or fire detection and alarm, would be able to provide the specialist knowledge necessary to ensure the fire safety measures are not only in good working order but remain adequate and appropriate.