There have been a number of important changes to the British Standard BS 5838-1 following the 2017 update. 

It is important to make sure you understand what the update incorporates and that you keep up to date with the changes so they can be correctly applied. Here at Firenso London, we regularly review and apply any changes to the British Standard and help many businesses and establishments apply these changes in accordance to their property requirements.

The update brings many significant changes following a research project by BRE together with the FIA. The project was named ‘Live investigations of false fire alarms’ They investigated why false alarms were occurring and how to reduce and prevent further false alarms. The cause of the false alarms was not known and they had to look into what was causing them so they could effectively apply a solution. The research was carried out produced some interesting results.

One of the main causes of false alarms was caused by people. The results showed that instead of mechanical errors, it was actually people that were accidentally setting off the fire alarm. This could have happened for a wide range of reasons, for example, people accidentally leaning on the alarm or bumping into it with heavy items. Other causes discovered were by people pushing the alarm after mistaking it for an ‘open door’ button or presuming that burnt food was a fire. Other causes were from deliberate activation.

As a response to the results of the research, the FIA then worked with others to recommended that changes should be added to be British Standards; which would avert false alarms from happening in future.

The main changes are:

  • Protective Covers on Manual Call Points

Fitting manual call points with protective covers should help prevent accidental triggering of the alarm. A cover will protect the alarm from people banging into it or accidental impact. It will also deter people from mistaking it as a door button or any other button; as the extra action of lifting up the cover will also make people think about if the alarm really needs to be pushed. Protective covers are not necessarily new pieces of equipment and were not mandatory on new fittings until the update. New installations of manual call points after the update must now have protective covers fitted over them. Here at Firenso London, we can install you a new manual call point or upgrade your existing one to have a protective cover fitted.

  • Detailed Inspection Methods On Multi-Sensor Detectors

The upgraded British Standards have included detailed methods and recommendations of inspecting and servicing your multi-sensor detectors. It explains in detail how you should follow manufacturer guidance on testing and explains methods on how you can physically test your detector to confirm that items of combustion in the vicinity of the detector can reach the sensors. Thus, following up the testing with an appropriate and efficient response. The standard also explains how multi-sensor testing can be carried out with the implementation of up to date sensor testing equipment. The standard also points out that those who have a fire sensitivity of BS EN 54-7, are now recognised as acceptable for fire escape routes; but the detectors configuration must include smoke detector mode.

  • It’s No Longer a Requirement for Double-Pole Isolation

The update states that there is no longer a requirement to provide double pole isolation to power supply units and control equipment. However, safe isolation for maintenance purposes must be provided.

  • Annexe E- Guidance About The Selection and Application of Detecting a Fire

Annexe E explains the correct procedure for the selection of detector types; to reduce and prevent false alarms occurring. Annexe E recommends that linking a fire alarm system to a security alarm will ensure that the correct person is informed about a potential fire, even in an empty building at night.

A recommendation that the use of staff alarms should be applied to validate emergencies and avoid unnecessary panic and evacuation of the building. This will also help save valuable time and resources of the emergency services.

To further prevent false alarms, the annex recommends deactivating the connection of the alarm whilst maintenance is carried out.

We hope this quick guideline to the changes applied to BS 5839-1 2017 has been useful. Here at Firenso London, we can help your business apply some of these changes. With installations of manual call points, staff alarms, fire alarm maintenance and servicing etc, we can help you keep up to date with the British Standards. There are several other changes not listed here, for full details please refer to the BSI document.

If you would like any more information, please contact us here at Firenso London, where we can help you with all of your fire safety needs. We look forward to hearing from you.