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Published 24/08/2012 11:00


BS 5839-9:2011 is the Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of emergency voice communication systems (EVC Systems).

Disabled Refuge and Emergency Voice Communication Systems must comply with BS9999:2008, BS8300:2009 and BS5839 Pt 9, the latter of which was updated in 2011 and replaces BS 5829-9:2003.

Emergency voice communication (EVC) systems are used to assist both firefighters and those responsible for evacuating buildings or sports stadiums. This ensures a controlled evacuation, minimizing panic and confusion.

BS 5839-9 provides recommendations for the planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of EVC systems in and around buildings and at sports, entertainment and similar venues.

Current building regulations insist that all new non-domestic buildings with more than one storey provide ‘refuge areas’ (these provide people who cannot easily use fire escapes or evacuation lifts, with a protected temporary place to wait). Effective two-way communication in these areas is essential to help rescue teams in determining where extra assistance is required and to reassure the people waiting.

This update brought about some significant changes to the Disabled Refuge Standards, in particular;

Outstations MUST be Green in colour

Housings or front panels provided for refuge communication by disabled people should be green in colour or otherwise be indicated by means of a green sign conforming to the requirements of BS 5499-1“

Cable can be “Standard” Softskin if;

  • The systems is designed for use only in Disabled Refuges and not for fire-fighting or similar purposes 
  • The building is less than 30m high
  • The building is covered by a sprinkler system
  • Sports or Venues where cable will  be wired underground (with mechanical protection)

“…cables used for EVC systems generally need to have “enhanced” fire performance. This would be the case, for instance, in EVC systems installed for use by the fire and rescue service and EVC systems for use in disabled refuges, in unsprinklered buildings with evacuation in four or more phases and (unsprinklered) buildings greater than 30 m in height.

Nonetheless, the use of cables with standard fire resistance performance in an EVC system may be acceptable where the system is intended for use only in disabled refuges and not for fire-fighting or similar purposes by the fire and rescue service and where such cables would be capable of operating correctly during the period specified by the evacuation strategy for the building.

In sports and similar venues, underground sections of cable may not need to have “enhanced” fire performance but they will require appropriate mechanical protection.”

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for further details and advice.

Details provided above are not comprehensive; they are designed to give an overview only.  No responsibility can be accepted by CDS Security & Fire for any misinterpretation of an instruction or guidance note or for the compliance of the system as a whole. Copies of BS 5839 can be purchased from the British Standards Institute (www.bsi-global.com).


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