Evacuation Alert Systems (BAFE SP207)
Evacuation Alert Systems enable Fire & Rescue Services to prioritise evacuation from residential high rise buildings so people at risk in endangered areas e.g. particular floors, or parts of a floor in a building, can be safely evacuated. They provide an extra degree of assurance that should evacuation be necessary, the signal to leave can be effectively communicated to all within the building. They do not replace fire detection and alarm systems, but are an additional layer of safety designed to support evacuation of persons at risk.
Evacuation Alert Systems installed by approved installers in line with the recognised industry standard - BAFE SP207 - are certificated with a NSI/BAFE ‘Certificate of Compliance’ (a sort of “MOT”) for newly installed and serviced evacuation and alert systems. Scheduled service and maintenance visits are usually every six months.
This 'Certificate of Compliance' is evidence for enforcing authorities and insurers that systems are adequately installed, fit for purpose and properly maintained, such that if needed in earnest by the Fire & Rescue Service they can be relied on to function correctly.
Evacuation procedure changes
Launched in October 2020, the BAFE Fire Protection Industry Scheme, references SP207 for the Design, Installation, Commissioning & Maintenance of Evacuation Alert Systems. It was developed in response to the revision of the Technical Domestic Handbook in Scotland and a recommendation from the Grenfell Tower Phase 1 inquiry report. SP207 responds to the need for blocks of flats over 18m in height and where a “stay put” policy is in place, to be provided with the means for Fire & Rescue Services to initiate an evacuation alert signal within flats in a controlled and managed way.
What this means for Responsible Persons/Duty Holders
For individuals or organisations responsible for fire safety in blocks of flats, such as residential managing agents, the designated ‘Responsible Person’ or ‘Duty Holder’ can fulfil their legal obligations and duty to householders in part by holding a valid Certificate of Compliance for the installed Evacuation Alert System. (They can also hold a Certificate of Compliance for any Fire Detection and Alarm System supplied by an approved installer, and for which they have responsibility).
Why choose an NSI approved company?
An effective way to ensure fire safety measures in blocks of flats are professionally considered and competently delivered, is by contracting the services of an NSI approved company. This ensures the contractor is competent and capable to complete installations according to relevant industry standards.
NSI approved companies sign up to an ongoing audit programme which means they are regularly audited to check their competence and ongoing compliance.
Companies approved by NSI for evacuation alert systems will be regularly audited against the requirements of BAFE Scheme SP207. (This observes best practice defined in British Standard BS 8629 – ‘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’, published in November 2019).
NSI approved companies are regularly assessed by specialist auditors to monitor competence such as the design, installation, commissioning and/or maintenance of systems. Therefore, confirmation of NSI approval should be requested when commissioning a service provider.
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