19 September 2014 by Graham Simons, FIA Technical Manager

Preparing for the seminar at FIA FIM Expo in the Titanic Centre, Belfast and looking at the empty seats I’m getting that sinking feeling (sorry I couldn’t resist).

Graham Simons preparing for the presentation

But soon the seminar area is bustling, all the chairs are taken and people are standing round the edges, we have a keen attentive audience. Which is just as well because the subject is rather dry and sometimes controversial!

The intension was to share some of the FIA guidance on two tricky issues; better understanding of “options with requirements”, (OwR) as required under EN 54-2, the harmonised standard for control and indicating equipment, (CIE). We also covered the need for visual alarm devices, (VAD) to meet EN 54-23 and when such devices should be specified.

The FIA already have available several documents that cover these topics. After explaining the meaning of some of the TLA’s we looked at the matrix of legislation, standards and proof of compliance. An important point here is that is not possible for a manufacturer to demonstrate compliance with the system installation standard BS 5839-1, test bodies are only able to test products to show conformance with the applicable product standard.

We looked at an example of a manufacturers Declaration of Performance, (DoP) and discussed that the manufacturers product manual may be the best source for determining which OwR a particular product is able to provide. But first a specifier must know which OwR are applicable to a particular project. So we then looked at the selection of OwR in EN 54-2 and I explained how some of these options are only required in other European countries and are not utilised in the UK.

I also explained which OwR are required to fulfil some of the recommendations of BS 5839-1. What is actually required for a particular site will depend on the fire risk assessment and the emergency evacuation procedures for the building. BS 5839-1 also includes some particular requirements for products and these were further explained.

G. Simons at the seminar

Finally we moved onto a discussion of VAD’s. If the need for a VAD is identified in the fire risk assessment for a building then those devices must comply with EN 54-23. BS 5839-1 clearly calls for VAD’s when there is a noisy environment and people may be wearing ear defenders. But the fire risk assessment must define a strategy to ensure deaf & hard of hearing will be notified of a fire alarm. VAD are one tool to achieve this but tactile devices or LF sound may also be used.

There were 87 delegates and 17 exhibitors at the event. There was a lively debate with plenty of questions from both manufacturers and installers but I think that we all enjoyed the interaction and the chance to clarify some of the issues. Some questions raised will be fed back into our work groups and the FIA will continue to work to improve standards and regulations to improve the effectiveness of fire detection and alarm systems.

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