Fire alarm testing and maintenance

We recommend a risk-based approach to prioritising fire alarm maintenance and testing.

The following maintenance and testing frequencies are recommended and should be followed unless a fire risk assessment identifies a higher or lower test frequency is required.

HMO landlords have a duty to undertake and update a fire risk assessment for each property under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

All fire alarm systems must be maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions and BS5839, which describes testing and maintenance procedures for complex (Grade A) and simpler (e.g. Grade D) fire alarm systems.

Large (3+ storey) HMOs with Grade A LD1 fire alarms systems

These are complex systems comprising detectors in all rooms, call-points and a fire alarm panel, usually found in higher-risk properties):

Weekly tests – At least one detector or call point in each zone should be tested weekly. This push-button testing could be done routinely by cleaning or maintenance staff, or a competent tenant.

Six-monthly maintenance – Grade A alarm systems must be serviced every six months by a suitably qualified and competent professional (i.e. a specialist alarm engineer under a maintenance contract). An Inspection and Servicing Certificate should be issued in accordance with BS 5839-1 and a copy provided to the council.

You should record these checks and any remedial action taken in a logbook (e.g. our fire logbook).

Each six months you must submit to the council a copy of the Inspection and Servicing Certificate confirming the alarms have been tested and maintained by a competent professional in accordance with BS 5839-1.

Smaller HMOs with Grade D LD2 fire alarm systems

These are simpler systems of mains-powered, interlinked alarms, usually comprising smoke alarms in corridors and selected risk rooms, and a heat detector in the kitchen:

Routine tests – BS5839:6 recommends weekly testing as best practice, but we appreciate that this is not always possible to achieve. We recommend that you:

  • Always test during routine inspections, maintenance or cleaning visits (press the button on a different detector each time ideally).
  • Advise tenants to test their detectors weekly.

The minimum testing frequency will depend on the size and type of HMO:

  • More often for higher risk properties e.g. ‘bedsit’ type (separately let bedrooms) and larger two and three storey HMOs – fortnightly or monthly
  • Less often for lower risk properties e.g. small two-storey properties let on a single tenancy – at least quarterly

Annual maintenance – All detectors must be maintained in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. For Grade D systems this usually requires periodic cleaning/vacuuming of all detectors and changing batteries as necessary.

You should record these checks and any remedial action taken in a logbook (e.g. our fire logbook).

Each year you must submit a signed HMO Fire Alarm Testing Self-declaration form or certificate confirming the alarms have been tested and maintained in accordance with BS5839:6.