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BS EN54 – What is it all about?

Person Twisting Key On Fire Alarm Controls

There is a lot of discussion in the construction industry regarding BS EN54 and its application to temporary fire warning systems. For most people outside of the fire industry, it is a bit a minefield trying to navigate around the BSI’s multitude of standards, so we thought a brief overview might help some people out there.

What is BS EN54?

BS EN54 is a suite of standards applicable to the components of a permanent fire alarm system. There is a different part of the standard for each component, for example:

Part 2 – Control and Indicating Equipment (CIE)

Part 7 – Smoke detectors

Part 11 – Manual call points

Part 25 – Radio linked components

Fire safety professionals will never specify a fire alarm system compliant with BS EN54, because in itself BS EN54 gives you no indication of what the overall fire alarm system should look like. Instead we refer to BS 5839-1, which cross-references to BS EN54.

What is BS 5839-1?

This standard tells you how to put your BS EN54 components together to form an effective permanent fire alarm system in commercial premises. There are a number of categories within the standard (e.g. M, L1, L2 etc.) that dictate where automatic detection should be sited within the building. It also makes additional requirements in relation to the components themselves. Therefore, even if the components comply with BS EN54, they will not automatically comply with BS 5839-1.

If your system is to conform to BS 5839-1, it must be designed, installed, and commissioned by a ‘competent person’ – usually a fire alarm company. Such systems are seldom applicable to a construction project, for the simple reason that everything is changing on a daily basis, and therefore can never be properly completed. It is more appropriate in some temporary accommodation where the building is of a semi-permanent nature.

Is a BS EN54 site alarm better than a non-BS EN54 site alarm?

No, not at all. Quite simply because BS EN54 is not written for the rigors of a construction site, there are a number of areas in which BS EN54 components do not lend themselves to use on a construction site, and fall short of the practical requirements for such environments.

For more information on this topic, please contact us.

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