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Fire Alarm Zones

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Paul1979
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Fire Alarm Zones

Post by Paul1979 »

Looking for some steer / advice please regarding where fire alarm zones must be.

Reading BS5839-1 but cannot see where it states exactly where fire alarm zones must be?

Reason for question is we manage a 3 storey office block (built 2006) which has only 3 zones (one for each floor). MCP's are in tenanted areas leading to each escape stair. No MCP's in stairways.

There are no separate zones for the stairways, or for the lift well? And no separate zone for the plant room on ground either.

We are just looking to be pointed in the right direction of the BS5839-1 document so we can check to make sure what the engineer has done is correct. Or if anyone has a simple guide (which us non-engineers can easily understand!) please feel free to share.

Thanks as always for help and advice you give.
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Messy
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Re: Fire Alarm Zones

Post by Messy »

How old is this system? and what category? There is no requirement to change your AFD system every time the standards are updated unless there is a significant issue

For example, having no access to MCPs in the stair core does sounds a bit poor. So if I leave the top floor in a hurry and fail to operate my tenanted MCP, can I access another one - even on the ground floor? If not, how do I raise the alarm?

Colin Todd wrote an excellent guide to part 1 systems, but it relates to the older 2002 version of the standard. If you can get even a second hand one on amazon its a real help to understand the rationale of some of the 'rules'

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Detection-Alar ... 0862131294
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Paul1979
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Re: Fire Alarm Zones

Post by Paul1979 »

Hi Messy, the system was originally installed in 2006 but there is no commissioning paperwork to be found to show it met the standards even back then...so we are trying to back-track and work out if it was ever compliant in the first place! The MCP's (issue as you highlighted) is just one concern, but we cannot find where in the BS5839-1 where it states that the stairs and lift must be a separate zone in their own right...maybe it doesn't have to be!

Thanks for the link to Colin Todd's book - will have a look!
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Re: Fire Alarm Zones

Post by stephen1974 »

My opinion on this, but im not an engineer when it comes to alarm installation so I could have this wrong...

What are you concerns? When you mention stairwells, lifts etc it comes across as you would like a system that tells you more specifically where a fire has started than just, 1st floor, 2nd floor etc... in which case you would want to be looking at detection zones rather than alarm zones.

When you set off a call point, does it sound on all floors or just the one you set it off on? If its the former then you have one alarm zone, the whole building, but three detection zones, each floor. If its the later then yes you have seperate alarm zones, though I dont see why you would want or need this.

So, assuming we are talking detection zones I think you are then asking, is there anything that says where you MUST have a detection zone. I'm not sure that there is anything that says this and it could be down to issues highlighted in a fire risk assessment. There are some recommendations that areas such as stairwells, lifts, flue like structures should be considered seperate detection zones.

Code: Select all

we cannot find where in the BS5839-1 where it states that the stairs and lift must be a separate zone in their own right...maybe it doesn't have to be!
13.2.3
c) Automatic fire detectors within any enclosed stairwell, liftwell or other
enclosed flue-like structure should be considered as a separate detection
zone.

Manual call points located at final exits to open air from stairwells
may be incorporated within these detection zones [but may, alternatively, be
incorporated within the detection zone described in 13.2.1a)].
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Paul1979
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Re: Fire Alarm Zones

Post by Paul1979 »

Thank you stephen1974 for this - we are the property managers for this site and whilst we have no expert knowledge of fire alarms (and the engineer we have in place at moment just keeps saying its not his job to comment on the design of the system - he is only there to service / maintain what was put in originally...) all the other sites we have (approximately 260 at last count) which are similar to this have separate zones for the stairways and lifts.

The FRA just says something along lines of '...further investigation required to clarify if design / zoning meets BS5839-1..." as they have no commissioning certificate to go by...

The alarm is designed for complete / instant evacuation rather than phased / delayed. So someone sets off a MCP or burns some toast which actuates the AFD, the whole building escape using the escape stairways. Looking at FRA, whilst no MCP's in the first and second floor landings of stairway, there is a MCP next to each final exit - guessing this is designed for the scenario where someone panics, quickly walks (!) down the stair and then realises they forgot to hit the red box inside the tenanted area?

The level of AFD isn't in question - it has a L2 . Even has AFD in voids above ceiling tiles.

Apologies if I have confused anyone but the question is about the zoning and is there anywhere in black and white (rather than relying on the FRA) which clearly shows where zones should be. We found the 2000sqm being max size of a single zone - stephen1974; thank you for pointing out 13.2.3 which gives us a better steer on what we need to achieve.

We genuinely appreciate that we cannot update the system every time the BS is updated - but as we don't know if the system ever met the standard of any era, we are trying our best to track this back. Unfortunately, engineers and FRA don't help us...

Typically, no fire strategy either...

As always, your help is a much appreciated. Thank you.
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Messy
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Re: Fire Alarm Zones

Post by Messy »

Messy wrote: Tue Sep 29, 2020 1:27 pm
Colin Todd wrote an excellent guide to part 1 systems, but it relates to the older 2002 version of the standard. If you can get even a second hand one on amazon its a real help to understand the rationale of some of the 'rules'

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Detection-Alar ... 0862131294
I have been in contact with Colin Todd and coincidentally an upgraded book with re BS5839-1 has just been published - in fact he only got his printed copy yesterday. It will be on the BSI site - but as of this morning its not there yet

I would thoroughly recommend it
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Paul1979
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Industry Sector: Property Management including H&S
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Location: London
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Re: Fire Alarm Zones

Post by Paul1979 »

Thank you Messy - I will keep an eye out for it and definitely stick it on the Christmas list this year :) Thanks as always for your help & steer.
"If life were predictable it would cease to be life and be without flavor." ../.
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