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What is the BS 8629:2019 guidance for Evacuation Systems?

BS 8629 is a “Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services in buildings containing flats”.

BS 8629 is a “Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems for use by fire and rescue services in buildings containing flats”.

What is an evacuation alert system (EAS)?

An Evacuation Alert System is not a fire alarm system.  It is a system, designed to be able to withstand fire for extended periods of time, for use exclusively by the Fire and Rescue Service.  It will only be used in the event that a fire in a building designed for stay put, is developing to the point where residents in the building are becoming potentially at risk from fire, and who need to evacuate.

The person who makes the decision that evacuation is needed, is the incident commander.

Normally, if the commander considers that there is a need to evacuate occupants of flats, this is done manually.  In rare situations, like Grenfell, it may be necessary to initiate a more extensive evacuation, where FRS resources are already stretched.

This is where the Evacuation System is used.

Why BS 8629 is needed and which buildings does it apply to?

The standard BS 8629 was written following a request from the Scottish government, who wished to be able to reference a standard in their building regulations, to specify the requirements for an evacuation alert system, for buildings with storeys over 18 above ground level.  The system was to be installed, in applicable buildings, and be held ready for exclusive use by the Fire and Rescue Service (“FRS”).

Although BS 8629 is intended for blocks of flats, it does not provide any recommendations with respect to the type of applicable building, or when an evacuate alert system should be specified for use in a specific building.  This is left to the specifying authority.

When the standard BS 8629 was written, it was assumed that it would only apply to new builds.  It was written at the request of the Scottish government, but it was believed that it would also be of interest in England and Wales and, potentially, other countries who use British Standards.  Since publication, local authorities are considering its application in existing buildings, and to date many of the applications have been retrofits, rather than new builds.

The primary application is for high rise buildings over 18m in height.  However, there is no reason why it could not be specified for all purpose-built blocks of flats, although the cost of the system and the unusual situations where it would be used, make it less desirable for lower-risk buildings.

Fires in high rise buildings are not uncommon, but in most cases the fire does not spread beyond the flat of origin, because of the design and construction of the purpose-built block of flats.  However, over time it is recognised that the integrity of the internal compartmentation can become reduced by construction workers undertaking maintenance work, or internal changes to the building.  Where internal compartmentation becomes less effective, the risk of fire spread grows.

In the case of Grenfell, and the hundreds of other blocks that, at the time of writing, are similarly at risk, the exterior of the building has been clad with insulation that was intended to meet current energy efficiency rules, but where fire risk had not been adequately considered.  

Who needs to comply and how to meet the requirements of BS 8629:2019?

The BS 8629:2019 standard is designed for:

1. Fire and Rescue Service

2. Building Managers

3. Manufacturer of Evacuation Alert Systems

When an emergency system is in place, understanding maintenance and testing is absolutely critical to keep the system running and ready for use when needed.

Consulting a compliance expert will ensure that you comply with the design, installation and ongoing maintenance requirements of a system.  

Got a question about evacuation systems? Need help installing a fire alarm or emergency evacuation system? Get in touch today!

For over forty years, Fixfire® has been providing quality products, systems and services for Life & Property Protection. Whatever your requirement, please call our Compliance Team for expert advice and a refreshingly different approach.

Freephone 08000 891999

STEP 1:
STEP 2:
You provide a suitable up to date drawing of your building in either:
  • Hard copy
  • PDF
  • Or preferably AutoCAD (dwg) format
Depending on the availability of installation records and the complexity of the building, we arrange a visit to identify the zone number associated with each Fire Alarm Manual Call Point and Fire Detector (for practicality this may involve two engineers).
STEP 3:
STEP 4:
Fire Alarm Zone Chart is created.
Fire Alarm Zone Chart is supplied in A4 or A3 glazed frame for installation adjacent to your Fire Alarm Panel.

For over forty years, Fixfire® has been providing quality products, systems and services for Life & Property Protection. Whatever your requirement, please call our Compliance Team for expert advice and a refreshingly different approach.

Freephone 08000 891999.

Evacuation Alert System
Evacuation Alert System
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What is the BS 8629:2019 guidance for Evacuation Systems?
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