Updated BS 5839-9:2021 Guidance

Recently published, BS 5839-9:2021 provides guidance for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of EVC (Emergency Voice Communication) systems.

Who is BS 5839-9:2021 for?

  • Anyone responsible for designing, installing, commissioning or maintaining EVC systems
  • The responsible person/people for evacuating buildings
  • Those who oversee buildings, including the manager or building control officers

What does BS 5839-9:2021 include?

The guidance provides information on the complete process of incorporating EVC systems into the holistic fire safety strategy. It contains recommendations for planning, designing, installing, commissioning and maintaining EVCs, including specific technical components.

The published standards apply to the use of EVCs during fire situations in a variety of public and private buildings. The guidance also emphasises the correct usage of EVC systems in the broadcasting of evacuation announcements to the building’s occupants whilst not using it as a fire alarm system.

It discusses the usage of EVC systems in the case of a fire and using it to communicate with occupants who are stranded in refuges and how it can be used to liaise with key personnel, including wardens, marshals and firefighters.

The guidance does lack content in some areas, including using EVC systems, other than in fire situations, by those with disabilities and other individuals.

Unless in extreme circumstances, an EVC systems should not be installed as an intended fire alarm system, for guidance here, you should be looking to BS 5839-1.

It’s essential to be aware BS 5839-9:2021 does not advocate for the use of an EVC or recommend against it but is purposed to provide guidance surrounding its inclusion into a wider fire strategy.

The guidance is solely provided for fire detection designed EVCs and is not intended to be used in conjuncture with generic voice systems, such as intercoms, telephone systems and external communication systems. Guidance for this can be found within BS 5839-8.

Why consult BS 5839-9:2021?

Consulting with specific guidance for an EVC ensures that the implemented system is reliable, safe and secure which assists in creating a compliant and thorough fire safety solution for the entire project or building.

BS 5839-9:2021 helps any individual installing, maintaining or in charge of the day-to-day operation of the system remain up to date with regulatory and legislative changes alongside best practices for using the systems.

Referring to the standard can assist in ongoing training in EVC installation and how to competently maintain the system’s capability and compliance as part of the fire strategy. Through actively promoting that you follow the guidance and recommendation set out in BS 5839-9:2021, building developers and managers are able to confidently reassure occupants’ fire safety.

As businesses, including contractors and development companies, environmental impact becoming a focus, BS 5839-9:2021 contributes to the UN’s sustainable development goal 3 focusing on ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of all ages. It also contributes to goal 9 encompassing building resilient infrastructure.

How has BS 5839-9:2021 changed?

The newly published version is the first update to BS 5839-9 since 2011 and incorporates the latest legislative requirements with newly published recommendations for building evacuation, including people with disabilities and is reflective of industry changes since the last publication.

Get in touch with FDS Consult UK today to discuss how we can help in creating a bespoke, competent and compliant fire safety solution that extends throughout the design, installation and maintenance stage of systems.


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