Documentation for fire systems

November 2017 Editor's Choice, Fire & Safety

A fire detection system is not considered complete until there is adequate and necessary documentation about the system. Certificates for a system are issued to show compliance and make note of any variations to the standard. The end user, clients representative or purchaser of the system will rely on the certificates to show compliance to regulation and for any insurance requirements.

Before a contractor starts to install a fire detection system there should be an approved design to show where the devices are to be installed, what type of system is to be installed and what interfaces, if any, are to be incorporated into the system. The design should also specify what actions should be taken by the system when a fire is detected to ensure safe evacuation of the people. A design certificate is the first document that needs to be produced before any fire detection system is installed, and accompanying this should be drawings and a document giving details on the system.

After the installation is complete, the installer needs to produce a certificate showing that the system has been installed as per the approved design with regard to the relevant standard, which in South Africa is the current SANS 10139:2012. The installer also needs to produce an as-built drawing and a wiring diagram showing cable routes and where all the devices have been installed. The as-built drawings from the installer also make it easier for the maintenance team when they are carrying out fault finding or maintenance and for future additions or modifications to the system.

A commissioner needs to check and test the system thoroughly before issuing a commissioning certificate. The commissioner needs to confirm that the installation is of an acceptable standard, it has been carried as per the approved design and it complies to the national standard.

The commissioner will test the devices to confirm the correct operation of the system and inspect the installation to ensure there is no obvious potential for an unacceptable rate of false alarms. The commissioner, having inspected and tested the system, assures the end user that the system will function as intended. He also becomes responsible to ensure the correct documentation is handed over to the client.

The following are the other documents that need to be handed to the end user together with the above-mentioned certificates:

• Operation and maintenance manual for the installed system.

• Data sheets for the major devices/equipment in the system.

• As-built and schematic drawings.

• A written record of any deviations or variations from the original design.

• A record of tests that were carried out on the system.

• A log book.

Some end users may require an independent organisation to verify compliance with the recommendations of the SANS 10139 standard in respect of design, installation and commissioning. The organisation that does the verification will issue a verification certificate or a compliance certificate if the installation satisfies the requirements of the standard.

It is possible that one organisation can carry out the design, installation and commissioning and issue these certificates though, if possible and practical, there should be a different organisation issuing at least one of the certificates. The verification has to, however, be carried out by an independent organisation that was not involved in either the design, installation or commissioning of the system. Some organisations, even though they are involved in the design, installation and commissioning of a system choose to issue a certificate of completion (CoC) which may confuse or trick the end user to think that their system is compliant.

It is important the person issuing any of the certificates is competent in the task that they are issuing the certificate for. This measure of competence is provided by SAQCC Fire registered persons.

The last certificate in a fire detection system is the acceptance certificate and this is signed by the client or end user after having satisfied themselves that the installation is of a good standard, they know how to operate the system, are aware of the maintenance requirements of the system, in possession of required documents and are familiar on how to minimise false alarms.

The FDIA is committed to provide continuous information on standards to its members and the general public in order to maintain high quality installations all in the aim of saving lives and protecting property. Ensure that you use an FDIA member company for all your fire detection needs, all FDIA member companies have competent SAQCC Fire registered persons.

For comments and enquiries please contact the FDIA on


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