4 things to consider when specifying a fire evacuation alert system

4 things to consider when specifying a fire evacuation alert system

Tomas Protivanek, Product Manager, Fire Detection, Johnson Controls takes a closer look at the key points security professionals should be aware of when detailing a fire evacuation alert system.

When it comes to fire safety in highrise structures, swift and controlled evacuation is paramount. As building designs become more complex, evacuation protocols must also evolve. In recent years, fire evacuation alert systems (EAS) have been identified as a vital component in establishing safe egress and limiting confusion during stay-put orders. When specifying a fire evacuation alert system, consider these key factors:

BS8629 Compliance

The BS8629 code of practice has become the gold standard for fire evacuation protocols within high-rise residential buildings. These guidelines highlight the importance of a fire EAS to provide effective communication during critical events.

The BS8629 standards extend into EAS design, installation, commissioning and maintenance, and it is important that all involved parties be trained on, and be familiar with, these guidelines. Although BS8629 guidelines are a code of practice and not an enforceable regulation, building professionals who implement these standards can now be poised to meet future requirements as standards evolve. For this reason, it is important to ensure the EAS you purchase is fully compliant with BS8629.

Building Size

The Fire Industry Association (FIA) designates that evacuation alert systems must meet the occupant load of the building including the number of storeys. In most instances, each building level will be identified as an individual evacuation zone. If the number of evacuation zones exceeds a single EAS panel, multiple panels can be networked together or linked through an evacuation alert black box. Additionally, each residence must be fitted with an alarm sounder and visual alarm device.

System Features

Simplified operation is a key element of EAS design that should not be overlooked. Features such as individual toggle switches allow the operator to systematically activate and cancel sounders by evacuation zone. Look for a system with exterior identifiers that can be used to indicate the status and availability of power within each zone. It is also important to ensure speakers and sounders are EN54-24 certified to optimise safety and performance.

Panel Protection

Fire evacuation alert panels are intended to be operated exclusively by first responders. To prevent tampering, panels should be concealed within an Evacuation Alert Control and Indicating Equipment (EACIE) enclosure that meets LPS 1175: Issue 8 security guidelines. The enclosure should always remain locked. A unique key is then issued to nearby fire and rescue stations.

Evacuation alert systems are a vital component of establishing reliable fire safety measures within high-rise residential buildings. When evaluating systems, it is important that BS8629 standards are followed, as well as these other considerations. Following these guidelines will help ensure reliable EAS performance and intuitive operation when the system is needed most.