Standards and regulations for smoke and heat alarms – how do they affect me?

In this article we would like to inform you about what does the British standard  BS5389 recommends(the system grades and categories, for the new build and materially altered dwellings and for the existing tenanted properties – 2/3 storey or single storey) and what do building regulations demand in New build&materially altered dwellings(in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland).

What does the British Standard BS 5839: Part 6: 2004 recommend?This is the definitive Code Of Practice to which architects, building professionals, enforcing authorities, landlords and installers should refer for recommendations on the design, installation and use of smoke and heat alarms in the majority of domestic dwellings. Landlords in both the public and private sector are considered to have a Duty of Care to fit compliant smoke and heat alarm systems.

System Grades

Six different grades of fire detection systems are defined and – generally speaking – the greater the fire risk the more sophisticated the system should be. Briefly, these grades are as follows:

  • Grade A – A full system with control and indicating equipment installed to BS 5839: Part 1
  • Grade B – Detectors and sounders using simpler specified equipment
  • Grade C – Detectors and sounders or alarms with central control
  • Grade D – Mains powered alarms with an integral stand-by power supply
  • Grade E – Mains powered alarms with no stand-by power supply
  • Grade F – Battery powered alarms

System Categories

Three different categories of life protection systems are defined. Briefly, these categories are (starting at the highest):

  • LD1– 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
  • LD2 – Alarms in all circulation spaces that form part of escape routes and rooms or areas that present a high fire risk
  • LD3 – Alarms in circulation spaces that form part of escape routes

BS 5839: Part 6: 2004 emphasises that no one type of alarm is most suitable for all applications. Consideration must be given to the most suitable type of detection – optical, ionisation and heat.

New build properties & materially altered dwellings one to three storeys – Grade D, LD2

  • Mains alarms with battery back-up
  • Optical smoke alarms in circulation spaces – hallways and landings e.g. Ei166RC with or without RadioLINK
  • Heat alarm in the kitchen e.g. Ei144 or Ei164RC with or without RadioLINK
  • Smoke alarm or heat alarm as best suited for the particular circumstance in the main living room
  • All alarms must be interconnected
  • The sound pressure level of the alarm signal measured at the doorway of each bedroom with the door open should be at least 85dB(A)

Existing tenanted properties two and three storey – Grade D, LD3

  • Mains alarms with battery back-up
  • Optical alarms in circulation spaces – hallways and landings e.g.  Ei166RC with or without RadioLINK
  • If a fire risk assessment shows the property or occupier to be a high fire risk, increase the number of alarms installed to meet the risk – e.g. follow recommendations for an LD2 installation
  • All alarms must be interconnected
  • The sound pressure level of the alarm signal measured at the doorway of each bedroom with the door open should be at least 85dB(A)

Existing tenanted properties single storey – Grade F, LD3

  • Battery powered with a minimum battery life of 5 years e.g. Ei 10 year alarm
  • Optical smoke alarm in circulation spaces – hallway
  • If a fire risk assessment identifies a concern that the occupier cannot or may not replace a battery, use mains alarms or mains with battery back-up
  • If a fire risk assessment shows the property or occupier to be a high fire risk, increase the number of alarms installed to meet the risk – e.g. follow recommendations for an LD2 installation

What do Building Regulations Demand in New Build & Materially Altered Dwellings?

Architects, builders and installers must comply with Building Regulations and install mains powered alarms in new and materially altered dwellings.

In England & Wales

Building regulations approved document B (Fire Safety) minimum requirements are currently Grade D, LD3, but it also defines that installation should be to BS 5839 Pt. 6 and therefore Grade D, LD2 is recommended.

Grade D, LD3
  • Mains alarms with battery back-up with the mains supply taken from a lighting circuit or a dedicated circuit from the distribution board
  • Smoke alarms are required in the circulation spaces such as hallways and landings. In general optical alarms are recommended e.g. Ei146, Ei166RC
  • Heat alarm to be installed in the kitchen where there is no door separating the kitchen from the circulation space, e.g. Ei144, Ei164RC
  • Smoke and heat alarms must be interconnected
  • Alarms may be interconnected using radio-links

Northern Ireland

Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) Technical Booklet E (Fire Safety) requirements were amended in June 2005 to:

Grade D, LD2
  • Mains alarms with a battery back-up
  • Smoke alarms are required in the circulation spaces, hallways and landings
  • A smoke alarm is required in the ‘principal habitable room’ e.g. living room
  • A heat alarm is required in every kitchen
  • Loft conversions require all the above to be installed
  • Smoke and heat alarms must be interconnected
  • Alarms may be interconnected using radio-links

Scotland

Building Standards Technical Handbook No 2 (Fire) requirements are currently:

Grade D, LD3
  • Mains smoke alarms with battery back-up
  • Smoke alarms are required in the circulation spaces, hallways and landings
  • Smoke alarms must be interconnected
  • Alarms may be interconnected using radio-links

This article was taken from the Fire, Smoke, Heat & CO Alarms guide of our supplier, Aico.

One comment

  1. The smoke and carbon monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 part 6 includes lavatory & Bathroom as living accommodation also know mention of mains related!

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