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British Standards BS 5839-6:2019 Update – What’s changed?

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The BS 5839 series of standards began life with the publication of BS 5839-1 in 1980. It has since grown into nine-parts, splitting domestic and non-domestic premises and also dealing with a range of specific systems in greater detail.

British Standard BS 5839-6 is established as the key standard for domestic premises, supplying guidance and recommendations on planning, designing, installing, commissioning and maintaining detection and fire alarm systems for the purpose of life safety and property protection.  

BS 5839-6 applies to  both new build and existing properties as well as materially altered dwellings (in conjunction with regional building regulations) and covers all areas of the premises including communal areas of the building.

Anyone involved in the commissioning, installation, design and planning of fire alarm and detection systems should know about this standard. That includes architects, other building professionals, enforcing authorities, installers and anyone else with responsibility for implementing fire precautions in domestic premises. 

The latest revision has been published as BS 5839-6:2019 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings Part 6: Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises

What's changed??

New recommendations have been added for fire detection in supported housing in particular, whilst revised guidance on the installation of communal fire alarm systems in purpose-built blocks of flats has also been introduced. 

Other changes to BS 5839-6:2019 include new grades covering the different types of alarm system, with Grade C being redefined, Grade D being replaced by D1 and D2 and Grade F replaced by F1 and F2.

Below outlines the key changes to the BS 5839-6 Standard and the areas you should be aware of to ensure they’re offering individuals the highest standard of fire protection throughout all types of domestic properties. This applies to architects, building professionals, installers and enforcing authorities. 

Revised system grading for fire detection and fire alarm systems:

Grade A

Separate detectors, sounders and central control and indicating equipment with back-up power supply that conforms to British Standards BS EN 54.

Grade C

Separate detectors and sounders that are mains powered with back-up power supply and central control equipment.

Grade D1

A system of one or more mains powered detectors, each with a tamper‑proof standby supply consisting of a battery or batteries.

Grade D2

A system of one or more mains-powered detectors, each with an integral standby supply consisting of a user‑replaceable battery or batteries. 

Grade F1

A system of one or more battery-powered detectors powered by a tamper‑proof primary battery or batteries.

Grade F2

A system of one or more battery-powered detectors powered by a user‑replaceable primary battery or batteries. 

Grades B and E are no longer defined in BS 5839-6:2019.

Categories for fire detection and fire alarm systems (as per BS 5839-6-:2019) : 

With regard to categories, the standard of protection in sheltered housing flats has been increased from Category LD2 to Category LD1, positioning it as a higher potential risk. To meet LD1 requirements, the installation of a fire detection system is required throughout the premises - this includes all rooms (and circulation areas that form part of the escape routes) except toilets, bathrooms and shower rooms.

The three categories for fire detection and fire alarm systems are listed below along with an outline of where fire detection systems should be installed:

LD1 Maximum Protection – all areas where a fire could start

Alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes and all areas where a fire might start, but not bathrooms, shower rooms or toilets, such as:

  • Hallway
  • Landing
  • Living Room
  • Kitchen
  • Bedroom
  • Airing / Meter Cupboards
  • Loft
  • Garage
LD2 Additional Protection – circulation spaces and high-risk rooms

Alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes and rooms or areas that present a high fire risk, such as:

  • Hallway
  • Landing
  • Living Room
  • Kitchen
LD3 Minimum Protection – escape routes only

Alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes such as:

  • Hallway
  • Landing

Additional Guidance

  • The latest updates also outline the recommendation of optical smoke alarms or multi-sensor fire alarms featuring an optical sensor, to be installed in circulation areas such as hallways and landings.
  • Heat alarms should also be installed in kitchens to provide appropriate protection.
  • Interconnected alarms should also be installed throughout a property, dependent on the specific grade, through hard-wiring or wireless connections.

The BSI’s recent update of the domestic fire detection and alarm system standard, specifically Part 6 of BS 5839, outlines the code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic properties. For more information on these changes visit BSI