Chris Massey, Product Manager at ESP, discusses the latest legislation affecting the ﬁre and security sector and the implications for electrical installers.
From 1st January 2014 any Visible Alarm Device (VAD) newly installed and used as the primary means of warning as part of ﬁre alarm system, must under the Construction Product Regulation (CPR), conform toEN54-23. The standard dictates that all beacons manufactured for ﬁre alarm use and sold for ﬁre alarm applications in the EU after this date must be CE-certiﬁed using the new standard.
The key driver behind the introduction of the requirements is the Equalities Act. The product standard is designed to ensure that, as far as is practical, the ﬁre system will generate an effective warning for all occupants of a building, particularly people with hearing difficulties, in the event of a ﬁre.
VADs had been used for this purpose for many years. Up until May 2010, there was no ﬁre industry standard that determined the light output performance criteria and installation requirements of VADs. This lead to inconsistency and confusion among manufacturers when specifying the performance of products.
BS EN 54-23 stipulates the requirements, test methods and performance criteria for VADs in ﬁre detection and ﬁre alarm systems. In order to comply, manufacturers now need to present their products’ performance data in a uniform manner so that they can be directly compared and their suitability assessed for particular applications.
“EN54-23 gives an independent assessment of a beacon’s performance in the same way that EN53-3 does for sounders. With this standard, systems designers, risk assessors and installers can assess what the requirement of a beacon must be in order to deal with a particular application and then have confidence in choosing the right device for the job.”
EN54-23 gives an independent assessment of a beacon’s performance in the same way that EN53-3 does for sounders. With this standard, systems designers, risk assessors and installers can assess what the requirement of a beacon must be in order to deal with a particular application and then have confidence in choosing the right device for the job. For example, compliant beacons and sounder beacons are designed for areas where people with hearing difficulties may be alone, environments with high levels of ambient noise and areas with restricted access.
The development of EN54-23 required a fundamental change in visible alarm technology to ensure that the light output from warning beacons is sufficiently bright to attract attention. EN 54-23 allows for three product classiﬁcations: W (wall); C (ceiling); and O (open). The key performance indicators are that the output of the device must be greater than one candela (cd) and less than 500 cd; the ﬂash rate must be between 0.5 and 2.0Hz.
The critical requirement from a manufacturer’s point of view is that each model must be tested to demonstrate compliance with the standard’s requirements. For ceiling-mounted devices, the manufacturer must deﬁne the maximum height at which it can be installed, set by the standard 3, 6, or 9 metres. A wall-mounted device must be installed at a minimum of 2.4m from the ﬂoor in the same way a sounder is today. The coverage volume, deﬁned by the manufacturer, is that in which the output meets the minimum illumination requirement of 0.4 lumens/m2 (lux) on a perpendicular surface.
A further important consideration is that if the risk assessment does not specify a VAD for a particular area, it will still be acceptable to install a non-compliant beacon as a supplementary indicator to a sounder.
The introduction of EN 54-23 has led to growth in the use of VADs and an increase in the number of products coming to market. It is important that installers are working with reputable manufacturers to ensure the products they use are EN54-23 compliant.