Testing and Maintenance of Life Safety Installations in buildings is mandatory under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement at 8.30pm on 23 March 2020, it remains imperative that people living and working in the built environment are kept safe regardless of the current Covid-19 lockdown conditions. Fires still happen, emergencies do not respect crisis management.
Testing and maintaining of life safety systems in order to keep them operating at their maximum effectiveness is one of the most important aspects of Facilities Management. Maintenance frequencies are specified under BS 9999 and for smoke control systems, this should be tested weekly and maintained annually as a minimum.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing crisis, many organisations are paring back their maintenance regimes to reactive maintenance only, i.e. repairing systems only once a fault is apparent. This is putting lives at risk - the problem is, life safety systems often lie dormant in a state of readiness for when needed, so faults and failures often go undetected for some time or until an emergency occurs, when it may well be too late.
Furthermore, if a fault occurs and a system has reduced performance or is inoperable, mitigating provisions should be put in place to offset the risk in the event of a fire. This might be simply be employing a waking watch for the building, but worst case could mean a total decant to alternative locations.
The best way to avoid this is to continue with planned maintenance, make sure all systems are operating effectively and keep buildings as safe as they always should be.
The Prime Minister made it clear in his statement that essential services should continue. Maintaining life safety systems is essential where buildings are still being occupied and many being occupied much more than normal – in particular residential properties, healthcare and other premises providing support functions, such as factories and warehouses.
Our engineers are continuing to operate, where practical and with sensible protective precautions, to carry out critical maintenance to ensure smoke control systems, continue to operate as intended and keep occupants safe. They are working in line with Government advice on social distancing and travelling to sites avoiding public transport.
Like many businesses we have quickly migrated our office team to working from home and making use of available collaboration tools such as video or teleconferencing, both internally and with our customers, where required. All our contact numbers remain unchanged.
Our message to our customers is don’t leave it to chance that your smoke control installation is functioning correctly, planned maintenance is a critical route to identifying system faults. We are fully prepared to help keep your people safe.