Categories of Fire ALarm Systems

Ensuring the safety of your business premises involves complying with legal requirements, particularly The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This imperative law encompasses nearly all building types, excluding individual private homes. As a business owner, meeting fire safety standards and determining the appropriate fire alarm category are crucial responsibilities.

To ascertain the right fire alarm category for your business, considerations such as premises type, contents, nature of the business, and risk level come into play. The British standard for fire alarm installations, BS 5839, delineates eight fire categories further classified into three system types – manual, life protection, and property protection.

Adhering to the Fire Safety Order and selecting the correct fire alarm category is paramount for the safety of everyone in your building during a fire emergency. Seeking the guidance of a professional fire protection engineer is advisable to ensure the accurate installation of your fire alarm system.

Conducting a professional Fire Risk Assessment, facilitated by fire safety experts, aids in determining the suitable fire alarm system for your business. The assessment evaluates the risk level and recommends the appropriate fire alarm system, safeguarding both employees and property.

To guarantee the presence of the right fire alarm system in your business, consider booking a Fire Risk Assessment with our team of fire safety experts. Prioritizing safety through expert assessment ensures optimal protection for your business and its occupants.

What are the Fire Alarm System Categories

There are eight categories of fire alarm systems that can be chosen depending on the specific requirements of your business, including factors such as the type of premises, contents within the business, nature of the business, and level of risk involved. The eight fire alarm categories are:

  • Category M – Manual fire alarm system
  • Category L1 – Maximum life protection automated fire alarm system
  • Category L2 – Additional life protection automated fire alarm system
  • Category L3 – Standard life protection automated fire alarm system
  • Category L4 – Modest life protection automated fire alarm system
  • Category L5 – Localised life protection automated fire alarm system
  • Category P1 – Maximum property protection automated fire alarm system
  • Category P2 – Minimum property protection automated fire alarm system

Category M – Manual Fire Alarm Systems

Image of a diagram on a Design for device locations on a Category M fire alarm System

Manual fire alarm systems represent the simplest form of fire alarm systems, depending on building occupants to detect a fire and initiate an alarm. In the event of a fire, it becomes the responsibility of individuals within the building to manually activate the alarm, thereby notifying others about the imminent danger.

In this setup, employees play a pivotal role in activating the alarm manually when they identify a fire.

This collective approach to safety ensures that in case of a fire, occupants take the initiative to raise the alarm. A common example of a manual fire alarm system is the installation of manual call points (MCPs) at exit points in a building, enabling individuals to initiate the alarm as they evacuate.

Life Protection

Fire alarm systems categorized as “L” are considered to be the most appropriate for ensuring the safety of occupants within a building. These systems are further classified into five sub-categories based on their efficacy levels.

Category L1 Fire Alarm System – Maximum life protection

Image of a diagram on a Design for device locations on a L1 fire alarm System

This is the ultimate fire alarm system, equipped with detectors in every potential fire origin location in the building. These detectors are connected to a centralized alarm system that triggers a building-wide alert in case of a fire outbreak.

The purpose of this setup is to provide occupants with the earliest possible warning in case of an emergency, making it the preferred standard for facilities such as high-occupancy buildings such as hotels and care homes where quick fire detection is essential for evacuation.

Category L2 Fire Alarm System – Additional life protectionImage of a diagram on a Design for device locations on a L2 fire alarm System

Fire alarm systems in the L2 category are equipped with smoke detectors in all escape route rooms and corridors, as well as in high-risk areas such as kitchens, boiler rooms, and areas with heavy machinery.

This system is efficient in providing an early warning to occupants located beyond the fire source and those working in high-risk areas. It is commonly used in facilities like factories or medium-sized residential buildings.

Category L3 Fire Alarm System – Standard life protectionImage of a diagram on a Design for device locations on a L3 fire alarm System

The standard life protection system includes detectors in all escape routes and rooms that have access to escape routes. The goal of this system is to provide ample warning to all building occupants to evacuate before flames, smoke, or toxic fumes block their exits.

This type of fire alarm system is commonly installed in average-sized office buildings and commercial buildings with staircases.

Category L4 Fire Alarm System – Modest life protectionImage of a diagram on a Design for device locations on a L4 fire alarm System

The L4 category fire alarm system consists of detectors installed in escape route areas, such as corridors and stairways. Circulation areas that form part of the escape routes should also have detectors installed if the property falls within this fire alarm category.

Properties that typically adopt this type of system are those with lower levels of risk, such as ground-floor only offices where occupants have less time to evacuate.

Category L5 Fire Alarm System – Localised life protectionImage of a diagram on a Design for device locations on a L5 fire alarm System

L5 fire alarm systems are designed to address specific fire hazards in specific areas of a building. For instance, if a room within a building poses a heightened risk due to stored items or business activities, an L5 system may be necessary in addition to the general L4 system.

This category of fire alarm system recognizes the elevated level of risk presented by this particular room and provides a targeted solution.

Property Potection

The P category fire alarm systems are aimed at protecting property. A system can be classified under this category when assessing the potential impact of fire on a business and its operations.

Category P1 Fire Alarm SystemImage of a diagram on a Design for device locations on a P1 fire alarm System

A P1 fire alarm system involves installing detectors in all areas of the building. This type of system is aimed at safeguarding critical facilities for business operations.

By implementing comprehensive protection throughout the site, those responsible for fire safety can quickly detect and respond to any fire incidents, reducing the risk of damage and disruption and the financial impact on the company.

Category P2 Fire Alarm SystemImage of a diagram on a Design for device locations on a P2 fire alarm System

A category P2 fire alarm system features fire detectors installed in high-risk areas only. Although it doesn’t offer the same coverage as a P1 system, it provides early detection of the most probable fire sources.

This early detection shortens the response time of fire services and helps to minimize property damage and business losses.

Selecting the Right Fire Alarm System

When choosing the ideal fire alarm system, factors like building size, occupancy, fire risk level, and specific requirements identified through a fire risk assessment are key considerations. Consulting with our experts at Cobra Fire and Security offers valuable guidance for an informed decision.

Optimal safety for occupants and property hinges on selecting the right fire alarm system. Acquaint yourself with various categories and their features to make an informed decision tailored to your needs. Conducting a thorough fire risk assessment and seeking professional advice from Cobra Fire and Security ensures your chosen system provides optimal protection in case of a fire.

Cobra Fire and Security possess the knowledge to help your business meet legal requirements in Fire Safety, including legislation on Fire Alarms. Take a moment to explore our website for more articles and guides covering services like fire risk assessments, Fire Alarm Installation and Fire Alarm Maintenance, advisory services, and insightful articles on Fire Safety Provisions, along with our Top Fire Safety Tips!”

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Reviewed: 23/12/2023 Our articles are reviewed regularly. However, any changes made to standards or legislation following the review date will not have been considered. Please note that we provide abridged, easy-to-understand guidance. To make detailed decisions about your fire safety provisions, you might require further advice or need to consult the full standards and legislation.