Multiple fire safety failings led to the dreadful fire at Rosepark Care Home in 2004. A lack of fire alarm zone plans was one of those failings. Since then, there’s been an increasing recognition of just how vital these plans are. But there are still some businesses that aren’t fully aware of the importance of zone plans and don’t have them in place. And that makes those businesses vulnerable.
What are fire alarm zone plans?
The main purpose of the fire alarm zone plan is to help in a fire emergency situation. The plan shows the layout of the building and clearly highlights the division of the fire alarm zones. You should also find the following information about the building layout on the plan:
- Building levels
- Escape routes and all the final exits (in other words, the exits that open out into a place of safety)
- All the circulation areas (areas which provide people with access to the spaces within the building – for example corridors, stairs and lifts).
There should also be an accurate ‘You Are Here’ sign on every zone plan so the reader can locate where they are in relation to the zone alarm that’s been triggered. Zone plans should correspond to the orientation of the building; if there’s a fire exit door to your immediate left, it should also appear to the immediate left of the ‘You Are Here’ mark on the zone plan.
Zone plans can also carry additional information that might be useful although it’s important they don’t become so overloaded with detail that their primary purpose is compromised. For example, a monitored fire alarm system could have the monitoring centre phone number on the plan to remind testers that they need to notify the centre before doing a system test.
Why are fire alarm zone plans so important?
Zone plans aid rapid orientation and that helps anyone involved in the situation, particularly the emergency services, to quickly identify the origin of the alarm and therefore work out where the fire’s started and where it may be spreading towards. Most fire alarm panels provide some information to help but in many cases it’ll be meaningless – or it will take longer to understand – without a zone plan.
If you have a visit from the fire service to inspect your property, and you don’t have a fire alarm zone plan located on or adjacent to your control and indicating equipment (i.e. by all fire alarm control and repeater panels), it would be flagged as a major non-conformance against the standard BS 5839-1:2013. Zone plans are required on every system of any size, and if a suitable plan is not displayed on an existing installation, you’re compromising fire safety.
Is yours up to date?
Like other forms of fire safety documentation, zone plans need to be kept up to date. Make sure that references to offices and spaces are still accurate and check that any zone descriptions of the locations on the panel match those written on the plan. If they don’t, make sure either the panel or the plan are updated accordingly. If your panel provides other more specific information, like room names or detectors, again make sure that the information on the plan and panel corresponds clearly.
You might want to consider having spare copies of the plan available too. If a fire broke out, the fire services could find it helpful to have copies to assist with finding their way around your building.
Do you have a fire alarm zone plan?
Ideally you should have the zone plan drawn up when your fire alarm’s being installed. But if you don’t have anything in place for an existing system please contact us. We can provide you with zone plans as well as any other support you might want to ensure your fire alarm system’s as effective as possible.