Martyn Keenan, business manager at Gent by Honeywell, shares his top EN54-23 compliance tips. EN54-23, the new European legislation governing the design and installation of visual alarm devices (VADs), went into effect in January 2014. The standard essentially serves as a benchmark for the performance of VADs in order to ensure manufacturer conformity. When VADs are used as the primary source of alerting people in a fire alarm and detection system, they must comply with the new standard.
VADs are commonly used in situations where sounders are ineffective at alerting people to fires. Large public areas, high-noise environments such as manufacturing plants and engineering works where employees wear ear defenders, care homes or schools, and critical settings such as operating rooms are examples of these applications.
Manufacturers of fire alarm devices, installers, and designers have undergone significant changes in preparation for compliance in the run-up to January 2014. From the manufacturer’s perspective, adapting the VADs took three years. Furthermore, the legislation has had an impact on the way fire alarm and detection systems are designed and installed, with engineers taking a variety of factors into account when carrying out the implementation.
Everything you need to know to comply:
• EN54 governs fire detection and alarm systems, whereas EN54-23 addresses VADs specifically.
• VADs use strobe lights to warn hearing-impaired people of potential fire hazards, and as such, the legislation has been largely influenced by the Equality Act 2010.
• EN54-23 compliance is required only for VADs that are the primary means of alerting in a fire system. Prior to the system’s design, a risk assessment will be performed to determine whether the VADs are primary or secondary alerts.
• The standard only applies to VADs used in installations beginning in January 2014.
• VADs are now classified based on how they are installed in a system: wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, or open class. Each of these VAD classes has unique requirements for light distribution and, as a result, must meet precise coverage volume demands. Previously, VADs had strobe lights; now, the light used on the VAD must fill the room with a minimum light level in order to alert its occupants.
• The successful design and implementation of a fire detection and alarm system is dependent on three factors: selecting the appropriate device for the job, correctly installing it, and maintaining compliance. EN54-23 has not altered these goals, only the methods for achieving them.
• The performance of VADs is affected by the ambient light levels in the area, the viewing angle of the VAD, and the room height. As a result, the type of device selected – for example, a wall-mounted or ceiling-mounted VAD – will have a direct impact on the system’s design.
• Light levels for ceiling-mounted VADs are calculated using a cylindrical shape. The manufacturer specifies the maximum height at which these devices can be installed as 3, 6, or 9 metres.
• Light levels for wall-mounted VADs are calculated using a cube shape. The minimum mounting distance for these devices is 2.4 metres from the floor.
• The Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) code of practise provides a thorough overview of the standard.
• Manufacturers are offering continuing education courses for installers, designers, and engineers on the standard, its complexities, and how it affects the development and installation of a fire detection and alarm system.
• The EN54-23 compliant VAD can use both red and white lights. Many manufacturers provide two options.
• When it comes to presenting VAD performance data, manufacturers are now required to do so in a unified manner to ensure consistency and to allow engineers or end users to compare products more easily.
EN54-implementation 23’s has been a long time coming. While devices, design approaches, and the installation of fire detection and alarm systems have changed significantly, one thing has remained constant: the purpose of VADs, which is to save lives and make working environments and public spaces safer.