Fire alarms

All places of worship should have some means of raising an alarm in the event of fire, this must be heard throughout the premises by visitors and members of the congregation.


Fire alarm systems

New systems should comply with British Standard 5839 Part 1. However, if existing systems are effective and adequate in relation to the requirements there is no need to replace them.

Electrical fire alarm operating points should be located on escape routes, near storey exits, and should be suitably indicated where their location is not immediately obvious.

No person should have to travel more than 30 metres to reach either a manually operated sounder or an electrical call point.

It is advisable to have a system in place to ensure the Fire Brigade are called.

The following arrangements are advised to be put in place:

  • It is recommended that individuals are designated as stewards. They will be responsible for raising the alarm and organising an evacuation, assisted, if necessary, by other members of the congregation. 
  • In the event of fire, the individual making the discovery should inform the person leading the worship who in turn requests that everyone must leave the building.
  • Stewards proceed to designated exits, open the doors and assist people out of the building. Particular care should be taken to ensure that people with impaired hearing, vision or other disabilities receive assistance.
  • The provision of one or more manually operated sounders (such as gongs or bells) may be adequate. These devices must be audible throughout the premises and its operation must not place the person using the device at risk.
  • If manually operated sounders are inadequate, due to the size of the building or if the site contains more than one building, the premises must be provided with an electronic fire warning system. Mains fed “domestic type” smoke alarms will suffice for premises comprising not more than two floors e.g. ground floor and first floor or ground floor and basement. These devices can be used together and must be regularly tested. If the fire alarms are at height, consideration should be given to the Work and Height Regulations, see “Building work and Managing contractors” for further information. 
  • Alternatively, mains operated smoke alarms can be powered and linked together by lighting circuits provided they are fitted with a battery backup should the lighting circuit fail.