Top 5 Don’ts When Repair Fire Panel
- Do not get your weekly fire panel testing mixed up with fire drills
Evaluating your fire panel is not the same as a fire drill. The fire panel testing is looking at the health and response of your panel and its devices, fire drills evaluate you and your building occupants’ ability to conduct an evacuation quickly and calmly.
Unlike your fire panel testing where everyone should know what time and day this happens so they know it’s just a test, building occupants should not know when a drill will happen so as to test how they’d act in a real life situation.
- Don’t alter the environment.
When everyone knows a test is happening, don’t let anyone stick earplugs in; they must not alter their environment. It’s just one of those things that you’ve got to suffer, I’m afraid! But it’s much better, I’m sure you’d agree, not to suffer through a real fire.
- Don’t just test the same manual call point every week
A different call point should be evaluated each week. If you have 10 of them at your site, you should have tested all of them by the end of the 10th week before rotating round again. This is because there could be a fault with one of them, e.g., one of them doesn’t trigger the panel as it should, which you wouldn’t be able to identify if you kept testing the same one each time.
- Don’t mistake this testing with your bi-annual maintenance service
Another thing not to mistake your weekly fire panel testing with is your periodical (typically six-monthly) fire panel maintenance visit, which is to be conducted by a competent specialist (i.e., us!).
The maintenance service, when done twice a year, is usually split into a major and a minor visit. The major visit will be where everything is evaluated (all MCPs, for example), while the minor will just evaluate a small selection. Your maintenance visit will not only check the call points but also the detectors and your batteries in the panel – making sure everything is keeping you safe and legally compliant.
- Don’t be the only person who knows how to do the weekly fire panel testing
It’s unwise to just have one person on-site, such as a caretaker or office manager, who knows how to carry out the weekly fire panel testing (or how to operate and silence the panel in general, for instance, if it starts going off) because it’s likely that person will be on annual leave of off sick at some point, so there needs to be a back-up. Ideally, you’d have two or three people who know how to work the panel and do the weekly testing, but this of course depends on the size and capacity of your building.
We’ve heard in the past about how the person who knew how to work the fire panel left but there was no handover to someone else and when it started going off, no one knew what to do!
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