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Fire Standards Updates

Anthony Morgan from Baldwin Boxall Communications and PLASA's representative on FSH/12/5 at BSI covering both the EU and UK fire safety standards, has submitted a brief update for those members following fire safety standards development work.

European Activities

Issues remain with harmonising standards with work on 10 of 11 standards effectively suspended.

The FIA (Fire Industry Association) are aware that CEN/TC 72 (European Committee for Standardisation, Fire detection and fire alarm systems committee) continue to be frustrated by the lack of progress on getting standards published in the Official Journal of the European Union. However, the European Commission is showing signs of a willingness to compromise, for instance, allowing pass/fail criteria.

CEN/TC 72/WG 3 update:
EN 54-3 has been rejected as hEN (harmonised European standard). The version of the standard cited in the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) was withdrawn a year ago, which places the selling of fire alarm sounders in the EU in a difficult position.

Work on EN 54-23 is focussed on removing colour requirements so that the manufacturer simply declares the colour. Also, altering the height parameters for ceiling VADs and improving the data provided with open class VADs to ensure correct application.

CEN/TC 72/WG 23 update:
The review of EN 54-16 comments is complete but the draft is currently very untidy so two meetings are planned before the end of the year to tidy this up. Once complete, it will be sent to WG23 to check. Once this is complete, it is likely that work will be suspended pending guidance on how to ensure publication in the OJEU.

The review of EN 54-24 comments is also complete and WG23 is ready to try to add requirements and tests for active LS but does not have sufficient expertise. A new standard for active LS has been drafted in Germany which WG23 wishes to take into account. Work is on hold pending publication, which is expected by the middle of 2018.

International Activities

ISO 7240-3 was recently subject to Systematic Review. There are currently no UK experts involved. However, it was noted that a revision of ISO 7240-3 might be an opportunity to fix the issues impacting EN 54-3. Although, doing so runs the risk of resulting of divergence between the ISO 7240-3 and EN 54 series.

It was noted that the revision of ISO 8201 is complete. It now includes sounders but the WG doesn't believe the changes are sufficient.

National Standards Matters

BS 7827 (code of practice for designing, specifying, maintaining and operating emergency sound systems at sports venues) revision update:
Work on BS 7827 is progressing slowly due to the workload of the experts involved. However, it hasn't been officially approved by BSI. The scope and title is being changed to no longer refer just to sports grounds but instead to any large building. The draft gives guidance on when to follow BS 5839-8, (voice alarms) and EN 50849 (sound systems for emergency purposes). It also includes references to networking and power supplies from CEN/TS 54-32 (voice alarms).

Once a decision is made to use BS 7827, the building can be divided into areas, including internal and external, and where different standards might apply. The revised version aims to provide much clearer guidance about when BS 7827 should be used.

The changes to BS 7827 may result in a need to review BS 5839-8, starting October 2018 if BS 7827 is published mid-2018. However, the committee have no desire to revise BS 5839-8 and BS 5839-9 at the same time.

Proposed new Emergency Voice Communication standard and revision of BS 5839-9:
BSI considered the business case and while it was not accepted, it was not rejected either. BSI noted that simply taking existing text in BS 5839-9 and creating a new standard would not work because the text is already available in the market, negating the need to purchase a new standard.

The options therefore are:

  • Revise or amend part 9 accordingly
  • Expand the proposed text of the new standard to warrant a need for it

The need for the certification scheme is to facilitate sales of covered products into the Middle East and support UK industry. There has also been a request to include hearing loops into BS 5839-9. As the revised BS 5839-1 recommends covers on Manual Call Points (MCPs), it may be prudent to amend part 9 in the same way for type B outstations in disabled refugees.

The core issue is that test houses cannot test to BS 5839-9 as no test methods are included within it. For certification to be possible, tests will need to be included and these could be based on EN 54-16. However, as the intention is to create a certification scheme to allow products to be sold in the Middle East, it needs to be understood what the requirements for recognition are in that region first, otherwise work on a new standard could be wasted. A task group is to be formed looking at the feasibility of the standard.

If you have any questions regarding any of the subjects covered please direct those questions to PLASA's Technical Resources through Ron Bonner at