Industry Updates from BDS...

Fire and Life Safety Industry Updates

In an industry such as ours that is heavily regulated it is very important to keep up to date with all of the current legislation and product developments. Please feel free to visit this page regularly to keep up to date with such developments. In the meantime we thought we would share with you a fascinating article regarding Human behaviour in a building fire situation... When carrying out a fire risk assessment, designing a building, a fire alarm system or maybe compiling an evacuation strategy, one should take into consideration many aspects of which the following should be one:

'September 2017 – New British Standard for Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems issued!'

From time to time the British Standards, which provide guidance to companies like BDS for us to work to, under our BAFE SP203-1 accreditation, are reviewed. Over the last few months of 2017 the finishing touches have been made and now the new standard has been published.

So now we have BS5839 part 1:2017 (replacing ‘2013’) and the first thing we all want to know is: ‘’What’s changed?’’ well quite a lot really but many are changes of wording rather than policy. Our trade association, The FIA, have issued a summary of all the changes which you can read here

One of the most noticeable changes I discuss below: Manual Call Points (‘Break Glass’ Units) In the 2013 standards you were ‘allowed’ to fit hinged covers on to these most important items for enabling warning of fire to be instigated (Sounding of alarms, Voice evacuation announcement, Visual flashing beacons etc.

Oh, and summoning the ‘Fire Brigade’) The covers helped prevent accidental or malicious activation of these ‘break glass units’ but were considered a ‘Variation to the Standards’ and had to be recorded as such upon handing over of a system to the end user, to comply with the regulations.

In the new ‘2017’, standards the opposite applies, that is: Every manual call point installed MUST have a hinged cover to help prevent unwanted activations! OR if not fitted, a Variation has to be raised and recorded on the Commissioning Certificate for the system, and signed off by the issuing company and the accepting client. This change came as a result of statistics showing that a major cause of false or unwanted Fire Alarm activations (and costly call out of the fire and rescue services) was accidental or malicious breaking of the ‘glass’ or activating the membrane, in Manual Call Points. So, a sensible move by the Standards authorities.

'Human behaviour in a building fire situation'


A study in 1988 found that people usually choose to leave a building the same way they came in, even if this is a poorer or less safe alternative than the others available and which they are directed to by signage or fire marshals. Within the field of behavioural science, it is pointed out that people often choose the known before the unknown, which would explain the above behaviour. The study looked into the use of evacuation routes and arrived at the conclusion that knowledge of, and familiarity with routes are important if they are to be used. According to the study, this is more important than the width or length of the routes

When leaving the bar in a large building, most of the guests preferred to leave by the same door as they had entered. The behaviour of people is affected by lots of factors such as:

  • Whether the person is alert or waking from sleep
  • Sober or intoxicated/under the influence of other substances
  • Familiar with their surroundings or not
  • Trained or untrained in evacuation procedures
  • Fit and healthy or with physical or mental disabilities
  • Even ethnic or cultural traits can sway the behaviour away from taking the safer option

  • The distribution of people within the building can also alter behaviour for example persons in a family group may be together or in several different places as may be the case on a shopping trip in a mall or retail centre, people sometimes split up and plan to re-meet somewhere later. If a fire evacuation occurred in the above scenario the members of the group may concentrate on finding each other before exiting the building especially if some of the group are children or elderly

    In another study people also showed a determination to complete what they were in the building for before leaving even when the evidence of an established fire was in quite close proximity. There is *footage available of some examples of this happening in retail outlets when people were still entering the building with a fire happening in view. Others still queueing to pay for items etc. and others seeming to ignore what was going on around them and continuing to browse the merchandise! *Example of video footage below:

    Do you have questions or perhaps need some more information on any of our Fire Safety and Detection Systems? Please don't hesitate to call us on 020 8773 3377 or email us here, no question or enquiry is too large or too small...

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