How often should fire alarms be tested?

The Regulatory Reform (or Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that where it is necessary (whether it’s because of the features of the building, the activity that is completed there, any present hazards, or any other relevant circumstances) it is legally required that a responsible person must make sure the premises are, to the suitable extent, equipped with working fire detectors and alarms, to ensure the safety of all relevant individuals on the premises.

Subsection three of the order says that the chosen person to implement and maintain these measures must be competent. However, a responsible person (or someone appointed by the responsible individual) can conduct testing of the fire alarm system after being trained to do so properly.

What are the different types of fire alarm systems?

There are two main types of fire alarms for commercial buildings, manual and automatic.

The manual fire alarm system needs someone to activate the alarm by a manual call point (outstation), which will register on the panel of the fire alarm. Outstations need to be situated on escape routes and fire exits, with extra outstations in areas at greater risk like commercial kitchens, laundries, and plant rooms.

An automatic fire alarm system is automatically activated by either detecting heat or a certain amount of smoke. It will also have the ability for a user to manually start the alarm near an outstation, which will register on the master station.

Fire alarm systems within commercial or business premises can come in two variants, conventional or addressable. A conventional system will see a detected fire (whether via an automatic detection system or manual activation at a call point) registered on the fire alarm control panel in one of the highlighted zones, for example, the ground floor, warehouse, or plant room, depending on how the system was designed and installed.

An addressable fire alarm system, where a fire is detected and registered on the control panel as a specific location or address within a zone. For example, through an automatic smoke detector in a boiler room on the ground floor, or a manual call point by the rear fire exit.

The type of fire alarm system you need for your premises should be determined and recorded in a current fire risk assessment. Also, to help reduce the risk of a fire in your premises, you should ensure you have fire resistant cable.

How often should a fire alarm be tested?

In section 25.2 of the relevant British Standard regarding testing fire alarm systems confirms that all fire alarm systems in commercial buildings are required to be tested weekly. This is to ensure that there hasn’t been any significant failure and the system is fully in working order.

To test the system, firstly you should create a list of all outstations within the premises as each one will need to be tested in a rotational order, making sure all locations are regularly tested. In smaller buildings, it’s acceptable to test only one location each week.

For instance, in a premises where there aren’t many outstations, they could all be tested over a period of two months in rotational order. In bigger commercial businesses, it might be more suitable to test two or three outstations each week, to guarantee all devices are tested over the same length of time. In the event of a fire in your building, fire proof cable can help buy you more time to ensure everyone gets out safely and there is less damage and downtime to your operations.

Do I need to be trained to test fire alarms?

Section 25.1 says that testing a fire alarm doesn’t need any specialist knowledge and can normally be conducted fairly easily. However, it might be preferable for a competent person to offer initial instruction in testing the system in order for this to be diligently carried out in the future.

The British Standard also states that fire alarm testing can usually be carried out by the occupier of the building. This could be the responsible person, or someone assigned by the responsible person, like a property manager. However, both will need basic instructions in how to do correctly do so.


Generally speaking, fire alarm systems should be tested on a weekly basis in commercial properties. As well as regularly testing your fire alarm, there are many things you can do to make sure your premises is as safe from fire as possible, including having fire retardant cable.

At TRM, we provide engineered solutions and products that help many industries with their temperature measurement, trace heating, and fireproof wiring with high quality fire cable. Contact us today to see how we can help your business operations.

Benefits of MI Cable

What is mineral insulated cable?

Mineral insulated cable (MI) is a specialist type of cable that is designed to be used in high temperatures and severe environmental conditions because it’s not flammable, so it won’t be damaged by heat.

MI cable is generally made up of copper conductor wires inside a sheath that can be made of copper, stainless steel, or Inconel, (other materials are available on request). It is insulated by packed minerals specifically magnesium oxide (MgO). Magnesium oxide is the perfect electrical insulation material because it is resistant to oxidation, ionizing radiation, and it’s stable at high temperatures both, physically and chemically.

When the MI cable has been packed with MgO, the mineral insulated cable is annealed and drawdown in size to reach the required diameter. The outer sheath works to protect the conductors, for example thermocouple wires inside from heat, chemicals, or other damage from the environment. For fire proof wiring cables the copper sheath can be covered with an extra, coloured low smoke and fume (LSF) sheath to add in both identification and an additional layer of protection from corrosion.

An MI cable can have a number of wires depending on the application, the configurations that are used most often in temperature measurement are 1, 2, or 3 pairs of conductors. Specifically designed mineral insulated cables might include extra thermocouples in customised configurations. MI cable can come in a range of diameters and lengths, depending on the unique requirements for their use. All TRM MI cables are extensively tested before shipping on to our clients.

What is MI cable used for?

Mineral insulated fire survival cables where created with critical and essential circuit protection in mind. They are ideal for use in protecting buildings and structures for example, high-rises, tunnels, airports, healthcare facilities, and industrial or petrochemical plants.

Additionally, temperature sensors made from MI cable like RTDs and thermocouples, are commonly used in corrosive and high temperature environments such as heat treatment, solid waste incinerators, sintering powdered metals, firing ceramic metals, fuel fired heat exchangers, and nuclear or hydrocarbon-based energy plants.

What are the benefits of MI cable?

Corrosion and oxidisation resistant

The metal sheath that covers MI cable works to protect the conductor wires from oxidising when used in chemically active or damp environments. A high level of corrosion resistance means mineral insulated cable is great for use in areas where failure and replacement could be extremely dangerous or even impossible to do.

For instance, MI cable is used in nuclear plants to monitor core temperatures. It would be incredibly dangerous if the temperature controllers were not getting accurate readings, and it would be challenging to attempt to repair or replace the cables in this type of environment.

Non-reactive insulation

The MgO within MI cables offers unparalleled non-reactive insulation, which prevents the conductor wires from coming into contact with either each other or caustic substances like oils, solvents, or water. This is to make sure for example that the thermocouple probes always stay accurate, which is vital in applications like heat treating or sintering where the quality of the product could be negatively affected by fluctuations in temperature.

The insulation doesn’t burn

The insulation inside MI cables does not burn, meaning it is ideal for fire protection applications where it could be disastrous if a fire broke out. MI cables are ideal for critical applications such as medical devices, power plants, and oil rigs. Simply put any essential circuits would be safer with the installation of mineral insulated cables.

High levels of precise accuracy

Since the metal sheath and MgO insulation also protects thermocouple and RTD probes, they’re not easily subject to malfunction or inaccurate temperature measurements. MI cables are carefully calibrated to achieve international standards, meaning they provide accurate and precise temperature measurements across long duty cycles with very little to no loss of accuracy at all.

Also, thanks to the mineral insulation, MI cables can effectively function in high temperature conditions without their accuracy levels being affected. This makes them very useful for kilns, firing ceramics or heat-treating metals, or any other high temperature process.

These cables retain their accuracy during and after exposure to high temperatures, making them ideal as a temperature probe in these kinds of operations. Additionally, for industries like medical devices or aerospace where safety standards are enforced strictly and deviations from processes could lead to serious or even life-threatening quality issues.

Contact TRM today for find out how we can help you with our fireproof wiring, temperature measurement, and trace heating expertise. We can create tailored solutions for business in many industries to ensure the safety of their processes.

Fire Survival In Modern Buildings

The difficult job of making sure our modern buildings are as safe as they can be

Thermal Resources Management have a long history as MICC and BICC of supplying both the commercial and industrial construction industries. From the 1930’s BICC were manufacturing and installing the same seamless tube Mineral Insulated Fire Survival Cable as we make today in Churches across the UK… much of it is still working today!

The construction indThe ustry represents a unique challenge in terms of promoting our fireproof and heating cable products. To ensure our products are used correctly we work at all levels of the supply chain. This helps end users ensure they get the right product at the highest quality but also the best life time cost!

Please review the following sections on how we can specifically help each part of the construction supply chain.

End Users

When it comes to who has the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the people who will eventually use a new building the end users/owners must surely take on this mantle.

Why? Because they or the building in their building will be the ones who in the event of a disaster or major emergency like a large scale fire will be the first to face the trauma of it.

It’s their staff, tenants, guests, visitors, commuters, patients and even perhaps pupils that will experience things first hand and will rightly expect the building to have the very best lifesaving systems…. Regardless of cost the alarm, emergency lighting, ventilation, access, firefighting and suppression systems etc must do the job they are required to do… they simply must work!

Of course, the cost is a major influencer in all construction projects around the World but before the cost of a build comes the reason to build or job the building must succeed in doing. So it stands to reason that any product to be used in the building during or after construction needs the same approach… i.e. a simple method or thought process like the following is needed;

  1. What does it need to do?
  2. Can it do it?
  3. How much will it cost?
  4. When can we get it?
  5. Etc

There is clearly no use in reviewing products from the cost only angle. If it doesn’t work then it doesn’t matter what the price is, it just shouldn’t be used!

It is however unfair of course to give all the responsibility the end users/owners of the buildings, they trust the people they employ to help them design and build their project to the highest possible specification.

Owners and end users also must trust the governing bodies and standards associations to provide adequate tests to ensure the products used will perform the job they are required to do.

They must also trust the manufacturers to market their products correctly and truthfully, especially when it comes to potential life-saving equipment and technology.

Sadly the last two points cannot be guaranteed.

MICC provides a voice for the Mineral Insulated Cable Industry. In the Fire Survival Wiring section of our website, you will find open, honest and factual information concerning the performance of our MI cables in a real fire… the only one that matters.

Well before the sales process begins we offer free training and consultation, our aim is to make buildings around the World safer by advising on where MI fireproof cables should be used. The information we give is fact-based and backed up by industry experience and research.

Please contact us to arrange a seminar at your office, or leave your details so we can invite you to our next training seminar in your area. Let us help you make the right choice.


After the End Users / Building Owners have decided to start a project very early on they appoint a design consultant. This may be a direct approach or for large scale projects may be in the form of a tender where a consortium of companies might win a package of work within the budget set by the client.

The key thing to note here is that the end users will look to the consultants for advice and expertise in what standards need to be employed in the building construction. Savvy end users may already have an idea of what they want but generally, their consulting partners will design the building based on their knowledge and experience, ensuring the building fits their client’s requirements.

With this in mind, it is vital that consultants know as much as possible about the potential life-saving systems they are recommending to be used in the building. So how do they gain this knowledge?…

It may be a mixture of some or all of the following; past experience, current local or international standards, product research and education / other training.

When looking specifically at the choices made for the Fireproof cabling in a modern building two important factors are usually considered; how long must the circuit work for and what standard must the product meet.

Once the egress time is decided, usually upwards of one hour to ensure the building users have time to escape with the lifesaving circuits still operational, a suitable standard is called for to ensure the products used fit for purpose.

It is of course not the consultants’ job to test the products themselves to give them and their client the peace of mind that they will do the job intended… The problem is the standards cannot always be 100% trusted to confirm the performance a product in question. Standard committees will only guarantee product performance based on the specific laboratory tests employed, they also usually have small print which must be understood before placing full trust in them. And finally, they say it is up to the Consultant to still make the right choice as they only provide a minimum guideline of potential performance.

This leaves consultants and indeed end users in a very difficult position, are they really expected then to conduct their own tests to ensure the products specified will perform the jobs intended? Well in the past this has been what has been needed to ensure the best / right products are installed… for example, the Kings Cross underground fire in 1987 where 27 people lost their lives. After this fire the London Underground developed their own test for fire performance cables known as BS6387 enhanced, the only cable to pass this test for a long time was MICC fire survival cables.

MICC works around the World to educate and consult on the proper use of fireproof cables. Using tried and tested methodologies and research we bridge the gap between real-world performance and current international standards.

Our training and consultation is free and simply designed to help save lives in the event of a fire or other serious event where a higher performing cable is required, for example, risk of terrorist attack.

Please contact us to arrange a seminar at your office, or leave your details so we can invite you to our next training seminar in your area. Let us help you make the right choice.


When it comes to the actual construction of a building then the contractors employed are on the front line. Their knowledge and experience are vital to ensure the end users dream and the consultant’s plan are realised in the desired way.

However it is rarely a straight forward task, even the best-laid plans can need a little tweaking to ensure they work. The critical thing here though is the consultant, designer or architects and contractors are on the same page. If the contractor doesn’t know what a specified standard or product is they may not know how to use it correctly or where to even source it from. Sometimes what is not understood is feared and contractors rightly will do all they can to ensure they complete their part of the construction in the shortest time to the lowest possible cost.

It is vital then that contractors know as much as possible about current standards and where the relevant products fit in with them. Then they must know how to work with them properly to ensure there are no delays on site which could delay the project and increase its cost.

MICC understands how important contractors are and also hold training seminars with them regularly around the World to advise and demonstrate how Mineral Insulated Cables work, and how they should be used correctly to make installation quick and easy.

Please contact us to arrange a seminar at your office, or leave your details so we can invite you to our next training seminar in your area. Let us help you make the right choice.


MICC believes that in order to have the greatest potential to save lives through better specification and use of fireproof cables all levels of the supply chain must understand the real-World situation.

As the pages in the Fire Survival Wiring section area of this website demonstrate, the fact is soft skin cables do not give the performance they or current standards infer. It is not that they are poor cables, more than they are often used incorrectly or relied upon to give survival times which they have no hope in meeting.

Distributors and wholesalers are vital to the construction industry and play a very important role in providing products quickly and to the required standard. They are also ideally placed to give an extra layer of advice/peace of mind to contractors / installers by being able to help recommend and demonstrate proper use of retailed products.

MICC support the wholesale and distribution industry by giving full training on the principle, technical specification and proper termination & installation of Mineral Insulated Fire Proof cables.

This holistic approach by supporting all levels of the construction supply chain is best way to ensure lives are less at risk in the event of a major incident including fire in any modern building.

Please contact us to arrange a seminar at your office, or leave your details so we can invite you to our next training seminar in your area. Let us help you make the right choice.

Fire & Risk Management Publication

MICC’s regional manager for Asia/Pacific, Richard Hosier, has had an article published in the Fire & Risk Management Journal in October 2019.

Richard discusses is wiring for life safety and firefighting systems up to code in our buildings, and is this enough to ensure safety?

Read the article here

To learn more about the Fire & Risk Management Journal, please visit

Fire Resistance Standards and my duty to design with appropriate skill and care

Fire Resistance Standards and my duty to design with appropriate skill and care

“What if I became aware that parts of the very building regulations I rely on are inadequate?”

Today the UK Building Regulations, Approved Document B adopts the standard time temperature protocol of ISO834-1 / EN1363-1 in BS476 pts 20 to 24 for fire resistance testing of all building elements such as fire doors, fire stopping systems for penetrations, structural elements, fire walls and partitions, in fact every material, component and product used in a building that is required to have a fire resistance rating.

What is often overlooked is that this time temperature protocol for fire resistance testing (ISO834-1 / EN1363-1 aka the standard time temperature curve), was developed almost 100 years ago when buildings and contents were commonly made of wood and fabric and when plastic or synthetic materials did not exist (1). Further, buildings of this age were mostly not very tall or very large. Today our built environment consists of both large and small buildings but critically is far more complex with super high rise and mega-interconnected transportation, retail, commercial structures with significant below ground environments. In these buildings we have a much larger range of evacuation times and where these egress times are very long, designers and engineers need to look for alternative more innovative solutions for evacuation or protection of occupants such as reducing fire loads, lift evacuation or protect in place refuges.

Recent research (2) has identified that in most modern buildings the use of light weight and polymeric building materials, plastic contents, synthetic foams and fabrics with high calorific values can significantly increase fire loads resulting in time temperature fire profiles significantly different and in cases well above the original parameters of the existing, early 1900’s test protocol as adopted in BS476 (ISO834-1 / EN 1363-1) and as mandated by the Building Regulations for fire resistant building elements.

Underground environments can also exhibit very different fire profiles to those in above ground cellulosic environments (3) especially in confined underground public areas like road and rail tunnels, underground shopping centers, car parks where a high fire load is present. Fire temperatures in these areas can exhibit a very fast rise time and reach temperatures well above those in standard model above ground buildings. British Standard BS8519:2010 and BS EN12485 clearly recognise underground public areas such as car parks, loading bays and large basement storage as “Areas of Special Risk” with potential for fire temperatures to 1,200°C. In these environments more stringent requirements for fire resistance maybe needed.

Worse still…

Almost all Life Safety & Fire Fighting systems depend on the reliable function of electric cables during emergency. If these essential cables fail during a fire event, the critical equipment they enable also fails. This could mean that firemen’s lifts, fire sprinklers, hydrant pumps, smoke & heat extraction and pressurization fans, emergency communication, alarms and lighting systems stop working during evacuation putting occupants, emergency response workers and property at risk. It is therefore concerning that the only exception in the Building Regulations for fire resistance testing to BS476 pts 20-24 is for the very electric cables required to power all emergency life support and firefighting systems. This contradiction allows these essential cables to be tested to alternative flame tests which have little or no relevance to real building fires and at lower final temperatures than required for all other fire resistant elements of the building.

This anomaly has occurred in the Building Regulations because the BSI cable testing standards adopted by the regulations for Protected Circuits allow this strange exception. In looking to world’s best practice, it is interesting to note that other developed countries including America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand Germany and Belgium have for years, required testing of these essential cables to the same fire time temperature protocol as every other building element which is the same as used in BS476 pts 20-24 i.e. ISO 834-1 / EN 1363-1.

Given most buildings rely on functional and reliable life safety and firefighting systems to protect life and property it would seem logical that these protected circuits should be tested to perform to at least the same standard as everything else because logically they will be in the same fire. It might be better if they were subject to even higher standards in order to ensure that the critical life safety and firefighting systems remain functional during evacuation (as is required in the USA and Canada).

In light of recent major fire events in the UK and around the world, having British Standards years behind global best practice for electrical wiring systems enabling life safety and firefighting systems is unacceptable.

Fortunately there is expertise and wiring systems both approved and available in the UK market to assist electrical design engineers find appropriate solutions for all major projects where egress times are long or anticipated fire profiles could be in excess of the minimum regulatory requirements of today.  The MICC Ltd company based in Washington, Tyne & Wear is one such manufacturer who produces essential wiring systems for Protected Circuits for the most demanding applications in buildings, underground built environments, nuclear power and industrial Petro Chemical applications.

Whilst it is common to rely on code and professional consultants are generally indemnified from designing with a ‘fit for purpose’ mandate, it remains necessary to exercise ‘reasonable skill and care’. Even if the builder and/or project owners inherit more liability under the Sale of Goods Act (5) due to implied terms that the goods and products supplied will be of satisfactory quality where a purchaser makes known a particular purpose (4), there remains both an ethical and prudent incentive for the contracted professional consultant to factor in the design any known limitations in regulation or standards.

BRAC (Building Regulation Advisory Committee) is aware of the Protect Circuit testing anomaly and hopefully will address this in future revisions.

  1. A Short History Of The “Standard” (Cellulosic) and Hydrocarbon Time/Temperature Curves (2000) Paul Mather Technical Engineering Manager Fire & Insulation Products, International Coatings Limited.
  2. Fire Safety of Buildings Based on Realistic Fire Time-Temperature Curves (2013). Ariyanayagam, Anthony Deloge & Mahendran, Mahen Queensland University of Technology.
  3. Recent achievements regarding measuring of time-heat and time –temperature development in tunnels (2004).  Haukur Ingason and Anders Lönnermark SP Swedish National Testing and Research Institute.
  4. Fenwick Elliott Annual Review 2014/2015 Understanding your design duty – “reasonable skill and care” vs. “fitness for purpose” – mutually incompatible or comfortably coexistent?
  5. Section 13, Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

About the author:

Richard Hosier is the Regional Manager in Asia/Pacific for the world’s largest manufacturer of mineral cables the MICC Group:  Mr. Hosier has lectured at institutions and universities around the world publishing many technical papers on advanced fire safe cable design. He was the winner of the Institute of Fire Protection Officers UK technical trophy award in 2014 for his research into fire performance wiring systems and previously served on 3 Australian and New Zealand technical standards committees for fire safe wiring systems and cables.

Other publications by this author:

  • Fire Resistant Cables – April 2017
  • Wiring Systems for Hospitals – June 2015
  • Wiring Systems for Nuclear Power Stations – July 2014
  • Wiring Systems for Road and Rail tunnels – July 2014
  • Electric Cables Fire Performance – May 2014

MICC Raising Standards, Saving Lives campaign – Press Release

The MICC Ltd Company has made a formal request to The Building Regulations Advisory Committee for a review and alignment of The Building Regulations 2010 Approved Document B (Fire Safety) requirement for Protected Circuits.

The request has been made because of an apparent anomaly allowing the electric cables which provide power to all life safety and firefighting equipment, to be classified for fire resistance by tests which are different to the fire tests required for all other building, components, structures and systems. It is noted that the tests essential electric cables are required to undergo do not align with any known building fire profile and are mostly conducted at significantly lower final fire temperatures.

It is therefore both surprising and concerning that these essential electric cables should be allowed to be tested and qualified under more favorable conditions than other fire rated building elements. It may be more relevant if these critical electric cables, which keep the life safety and firefighting systems working to ensure safe evacuation, should be subject instead to a more rigorous test protocol.

The MICC company has observed that other countries like America Canada, Australia New Zealand Germany and Belgium do in fact test these essential wiring systems to the same test time temperature profile as every other building element, so in light of the recent shocking fire emergencies experienced in UK and around the world a prima facie case exists for an urgent review.

Having Building Regulations that allow two or more different test protocols for fire resistance testing and specifically an arguably inferior test protocol for the very cables that are needed to ensure reliability and effectiveness of all life safety and firefighting systems, especially as the essential fixings and supports are not required to be tested, may have underwriting implications as well as possible difficulties if challenged in a legal context.

The MICC Ltd Company manufactures the world’s largest range of mineral insulated fire survival wiring systems as well as heating cables, thermoelectric and compensating cables, temperature measurement probes & assemblies. They are headquartered in Washington,Tyne & Wear in the North East of the United Kingdom. MICC Ltd have tested their wiring systems to the required British Standards (BSI) and hold the necessary LPCB approvals to sell their wiring systems throughout the UK, but in order to supply a wiring system “Fit for Purpose” they have also tested their wiring system to world’s best as required  in Australia and America.

31st July 2017

MICC Ltd,  21 Sedling Road, Wear Industrial Estate, Washington, Tyne & Wear, NE38 9BZ,  UK

MICC To Make A Storm At Firex

We are happy to announce that MICC will be making a big presence at this years International Firex exhibition held in London at the ExCel centre between the dates of 21st and 23rd of June.

Focusing on the future of fire proof wiring. MICC will be flying the flag for the ultimate fire survival wiring MI Cable. Educating the masses on the difference of cable performance of the current market. As well as providing further training on MI cable, whether its cable facts, termination or installation. We are here to help.

Come down and visit our stand at E100 and meet our representatives who will happily discuss our products and our future projects.

If interested in attending the Firex Exhibition don’t forget to register below


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