BSI has revised the British Standard for fire detection and fire alarm systems in commercial buildings.

Work on the revision began before June’s Grenfell Tower fire, in which 80 people are estimated to have been killed. The revision was issued to public consultation in 2016 and does not address residential buildings.

The standard, BS 5839-1:2017, covers the planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in and around commercial buildings.

BS 5839-1:2017 Fire detection and fire alarm system for buildings. Code of practice for design, installation and commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises is referred to in both volumes of the government’s statuary guidance for fire safety, Approved Document B, which concerns building regulations [in England] covering fire safety matters within and around buildings.

The revised standard is relevant to anyone involved in the commissioning, installation, design and planning of fire alarm and detection systems for non-residential dwellings.

Some of the key changes over the standard it replaces include:

  • Improved definition of the L2 fire alarm system. L2 Fire Alarm Systems are designed to offer automatic detection on all escape routes within a building
  • Modified guidance for use of multi-sector detectors, with distinct sections dedicated to both the application and testing of these
  • Clauses 17 and 18 require clarification as to the use of voice alarm detectors (VADs) and visual indicator devices (VID)
  • Inclusion of a section in the standard concerning the testing of the power supply, and how long any batteries or contingency power supply should last
  • Guidance for persons who work at night so they can recognise the alarm.

Recommendations for the planning, installation and servicing of facilities for operation of certain fire protection systems by the systems addressed within BS 5839-1 are given in the relevant part of the BS 7273 series. Equally, BS 5839-1 does not recommend whether or not a fire alarm system should be installed in any given premises. Recommendations for fire detection and alarm systems in dwellings are covered in BS 5839-6.

A BSI spokesperson said that BS 5839-1 might be revised further if lessons from Grenfell make it appropriate. “If the findings of the various investigations make recommendations that are relevant to a standard on fire detection for non-domestic premises, then of course BSI stands ready to respond, including the relevant national committee considering how best to incorporate them.”

She added: “BSI has received a proposal to revise BS 5839-6, which covers fire detection in domestic premises but that proposal was also received before Grenfell and is a natural result of BS 5839-1 being revised. The national committee will pay close attention to the investigations and any relevant findings.