BSI launches full fire safety standard revision

12 June 2019

The British Standards Institute (BSI) has published the revised BS 5839-6: 2019 standard for fire detection and fire alarm systems.

Specification Online reported on the publication of the revised standard, Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings – code of practice for the design, commissioning, installation and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises. It stated that in the UK, around 80% of all fire deaths and injuries ‘occur in domestic premises’, resulting in over 300 deaths and 9,000 related injuries per year.

Consequently, fire detection and fire alarm systems are ‘proven to substantially reduce the risk of death or serious injury from fire’, with the fire fatality rate ‘an estimated two to three times higher when no smoke detector is present and functioning’ than in a premises with ‘adequate’ installations. The revised standard includes the most recent recommendations for detection and alarm systems in ‘new and existing’ premises ‘in order to make them safer to live in’.

Among the main revisions include a ‘re-grading’ of statistics and recommendations; an update of guidance to ‘take all other standards in the BS 5839 series into account’; a new table on testing and servicing by grade of alarm system; new recommendations for ‘ensuring alarm signal transmission required within social care and sheltered housing settings function accordingly’; and ‘increased’ protection for both sheltered and supported housing.

Finally, another new recommendation has been added that states that communal fire alarm systems ‘should not normally be installed in purpose built blocks of flats’, with BSI noting that the standard is ‘aimed at’ architects, engineers and other building professionals, as well as enforcing authorities, installers and others ‘responsible for implementing fire precautions in domestic premises’.

The standard is not intended however for occupiers, as government advice is published for them, though the standard does provide recommendations for ‘simple systems that may be installed by non-specialist installers’.

Ant Burd, head of built environment at BSI, commented: ‘Fires in the home are one of the biggest threats occupants can face and therefore fire detection and alarm systems are a crucial fire safety component in helping make sure people can get out of their home safely. BS 5839-6 provides detailed guidance on the design and specification of fire detection and alarm systems in domestic and residential properties.’

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