Fire Safety Certificate Guidance
Fire Safety Certificates seldom receive the priority they deserve. They are the starting block of fire safety in a building. It would be fair to compare them to a birth certificate. Your birth certificate legitimises you as an individual and is requested by officials for most major events in your life. From starting school, travel, and medical records, the list is endless. Your birth certificate is often the first requested legal document you need to produce for many things. We all have one and we can all produce our birth certificate when requested. So, would you be able to produce your building’s Fire Safety Certificate? Do you know where it is? Have you seen it?
Why is the Fire Safety Certificate so important?
The Fire Safety Certificate confirms the validation process the building has been through to achieve fire safety. It is a simple certificate and would represent the front cover of a legislative document. The fire safety certificate displays the legitimacy of the process complied with. The information which underpins the Fire Safety Certificate is where the valuable information about the building resides. It allows you to understand the systems which have been installed to save lives in the event of a fire. The fire safety certificate lets you know there is a plan based on proven science you can follow in an emergency.
Image of newly installed smoke control panel by a Williaam Cox Engineer.
Why would a smoke ventilation Contracting and Maintenance service provider place importance on the Fire Safety Certificate?
The information underpinning the Fire Safety Certificate contains valuable information which can be found in the Fire Safety Manual. The information relates directly to the procedures for operating and maintaining the smoke ventilation equipment. Ensuring the equipment functions as per the manufactures requirements is only part of the process. Ensuring the equipment operates in the manner in which the fire engineer has designed the fire protection system to work in a fire requires the equipment to operate in different sequences under specific conditions. The experienced maintenance engineer will be familiar with the equipment and the key points to address whilst inspecting and evaluating the condition of the equipment.
Images of damaged smoke control equipment captured by Williaam Cox Engineers during servicing.
What are the functions of the maintenance team?
The maintenance team has two specific functions. Firstly to make sure the equipment is serviceable and operates. Secondly, make sure the equipment responds to the information from the activation alarms. The equipment operation must follow the correct sequence as detailed in the Fire Safety Manual. Control panel simulation is important and confirming the logic is correct is vitally important in a fire.
Images show smoke vents on the roof of a warehouse and automatic smoke curtains installed in a hotel.
In Chapter 3, Terms and definitions of BS 9999:2017 Fire safety in the design, management, and use of buildings – Code of Practice. The fire safety manual is detailed. The functions are defined:
3.50 fire safety manual
Record of all design, procedural, and management issues and events that relate to the fire safety of a building
Further on in BS 9999, the Fire Safety Manual is detailed in Annex H. Several key points worth noting: The fire safety manual is a “Live Document”, in Note 1 it specifically refers to the design information forming the basis of an ongoing history document. As the building evolves over time with changes to usage, occupancy, additions, alterations, etc. Additional responsibility is placed on the fire safety manager to ensure the operational records, fire safety policy, and fire safety documentation remain updated.
The fire safety manual should contain at a minimum the following elements:
- Design information
- Operational records
- Fire safety policy statement
- Fire safety documentation
How often should the fire safety manual be updated?
The fire safety manual should be updated within one working week after an event. It is important that the maintenance engineer is briefed by the building owner’s appointed fire safety manager before commencing the maintenance visit. The maintenance engineer should have a de-briefing meeting and present their findings on the health of the systems on completion of the maintenance visit.
Visit the Irish Government website for more detailed information on the Fire Safety Certificate here.
Find out more details n the Building Control Regulations Article 11 here.
Discover the consequences should you choose to construct a building without applying and securing the Fire Safety Certificate here.
As you journey through these links you will notice the importance placed on meeting the Fire Safety Certificate requirements.