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Covid 19: Testing and maintenance of life safety systems

Colt Service has issued some important advice on life safety given the current lockdown in the UK.

It states that the testing and maintenance of life safety installations in buildings is mandatory under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement 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 says Colt. 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 says Colt 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.

Colt’s advice on keeping your buildings protected during this Coronavirus outbreak is “do not leave it to chance that you smoke control installation is functioning correctly, planned maintenance is a critical route to identifying system faults”.

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