BS 8629 Fire Standard & EMTECT: Going Beyond The Required.

Late last year a new standard was published; BS 8629. This article offers a background to this new BS 8629 standard, its application and requirements in terms of product design. It also looks at how EMTECT not only meets the standard but exceeds it; remaining the only emergency control system that’s compliant to all the relevant and most stringent standards, whilst also delivering a lower-cost solution for installation and management.

Launched in 2019, EMTECT was, and remains, the only fully compliant, combined emergency control system – meeting BS 5839-1, BS EN 12101-10 & BS ISO 21927-9. 

Late last year a new standard was published; BS 8629. This article offers a background to this new BS 8629 standard, its application and requirements in terms of product design. It also looks at how EMTECT not only meets the standard but exceeds it; remaining the only emergency control system that’s compliant to all the relevant and most stringent standards, whilst also delivering a lower-cost solution for installation and management.

What is the Fire Safety Standard BS 8629?

Published in December 2019, BS 8629 is a new British standard covering what it terms “Evacuation Alert Systems”; that is a systems designed to provide a way for firefighters to manually evacuate blocks of flats, if conditions dictate that this is required.

The complexity in this area, and the reason this standard has been formed, is that under normal circumstances if a degree of evacuation is required this would ordinarily be achieved by fire fighters knocking on the doors of the affected flats and encouraging the occupants to leave. However, what Grenfell and other incidents have taught us is that, although unlikely, there are instances when this method of evacuation is not suitable or possible; hence the need for an “Evacuation Alert System” able to be activated manually by the incident commander. This electronic system is designed to save fire fighters time, enabling them to focus on firefighting operations, rather than manually evacuating residents.

What Does BS 8629 Compliance Demand From Product Design?

To be BS 8629 compliant requires that these Evacuation Alert Systems are not confused with, or even integrated, into fire detection systems. They should be totally separate and standalone systems. The BS 8629 standard prescribes that this is to avoid confusion for the fire and rescue service inadvertently operating an output that they did not mean to, or the system being programmed incorrectly if it were to be integrated. As such, BS 8629 requires the controls to be located in a dedicated enclosure, located at 1.4m from the floor to the bottom of the enclosure. This enclosure should only contain the controls relevant to the system, and no other controls. However, the standard does concede that the technology does exist for these systems to be integrated into one system; and also requires the use of equipment that is certified to EN 54, as does BS 5839-1.

Furthermore, if a project specification requires detection within the corridors to be compliant with BS 5839-1 to activate the smoke control system (unless our EMTECT system is used), it could mean having a separate Smoke Control System, a separate Fire Alarm System to trigger the smoke control system and then a separate Evacuation Alert System. These will therefore all require separate control panels and separate wiring (often travelling along the exact same routes as each other), taking up excessive wall space, increasing installation time & costs, and making maintenance extremely confusing.

How Does EMTECT Exceed The Standard?

One of the great virtues of EMTECT is its flexibility and versatility. Therefore, in custom design and application, EMTECT can have the compliant BS 8629 functions integrated into its already combined Smoke Detection and Smoke Control Systems – achieving the separation required by having a separate enclosure for the Evacuation Alert Controls ONLY. This uses the existing infrastructure already installed along the common corridors by simply extending this into the lobby of each flat to control the Evacuation Alert Devices in the flat, eliminating the need for duplication of cabling throughout the building. Obviously, sufficient and thorough testing of the system at the commissioning stage ensures that the correct programming is conducted so that the system performs as it should – as is similarly achieved when programming smoke clearance systems or standard fire detection systems.

This simple adaptation to meet the requirements of the British standards will require agreement from the approving authorities – a common place process within the built environment. In fact, this has already occurred on multiple occasions in the subsequent few months since the standard was published in December 2019, including agreements from fire consultants, M&E Consultants and developers alike.

In summary, the system provides the separated controls that BS 8629 compliance requires. And, if the system is suitably tested and demonstrated, and ultimately maintained, then not only is it sensible from an economic and environmental perspective, but for us at LYFE, the creators of EMTECT, it is the next logical step in the emergency control systems development – where we already specialise and are leading the way.

LYFE