Evacuation Alert System

In the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the importance of efficient evacuation procedures in high-rise buildings has come sharply into focus. Introduced as a recommendation from the Grenfell Tower Enquiry Phase 1 report, Evacuation Alert Control & Indicating Equipment (EACIE) is a crucial system designed solely for use by the fire and rescue services during critical fire-fighting and rescue operations. Today’s blog delves into the intricacies of Evacuation Alert Systems (EAS), their operational independence from fire detection systems and their role in facilitating safe, efficient phased evacuations. Understanding these systems is vital for ensuring the safety of residents in emergencies and complying with evolving safety standards.

Evacuation Alert Systems

Introduced following recommendations in the Grenfell Tower Enquiry Phase 1 report, EACIE (Evacuation Alert Control & Indicating Equipment) is intended for the sole use of the fire and rescue service during firefighting and rescue operations.

Evacuation alert systems are designed to help enable the phased evacuation of an area, floor or building in the safest possible way.

EACIE is now strongly recommended in England for all tall buildings containing flats with a storey located at a height of 18 metres or more – and is mandatory in Scotland.

The EACIE must operate completely independently of fire detection systems and be designed to support any evacuation strategy chosen by the fire and rescue service.

What is an Evacuation Alert System (EAS)?

An Evacuation Alert System (EAS) is a system, designed to be able to withstand fire for extended periods of time, for use exclusively by the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS).  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.

What is the difference between a Fire Alarm System and an Evacuation Alert System?

An Evacuation Alert System is not a Fire Alarm System. Fire alarm systems will normally detect smoke and heat and then trigger an alarm signal automatically to alert the occupants to evacuate the building. Evacuation alert systems are for use by the fire and rescue service only when the need arises to evacuate all or part of a building normally in stages, saving time in alerting occupants individually.

The alarm system on an emergency evacuation alert system can be controlled by individual floors. This lets Fire & Rescue Services prioritise the zones closest to the fire and isolate the alarm alert so they can evacuate one floor at a time. The Evacuation Alert system does not incorporate any form of automatic detection.

They provide an extra degree of assurance should evacuation be necessary and ensure the signal to leave can be effectively communicated to all within the building.

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”.

Evacuation Alert Systems (EAS) are a Requirement (ADB) for all new buildings (flats) and substantially altered buildings over 18 meters from December 2022.

 

There is no legal requirement to retrospectively fit evacuation alert systems to existing blocks of flats although it can be done.

Evacuation alert systems are only to be used by the fire and rescue service and are only used if the fire and rescue service decide that “stay put” has failed.

EAS are a recommendation of the phase 1 enquiry following Grenfell.

Why? Stay put is usually safe but when it fails the fire service need a means of amending the evacuation procedure.

Appearance of evacuation alert systems should be consistent to allow for ease of operating for fire service personnel.

It is essential to consult with fire and rescue services at the design and installation stage of evacuation alert systems

Equipment should be;

1 Indoors near the main fire service entry point or behind the concierge desk and clearly labelled

2 Lit, so controls and indicators are clearly visible to the fire service with an emergency light within 2 meters

3 Top controls should be 2.2 mtr above the floor

4 If more control units are needed then units should be mounted next to each other

5 72 hour standby power or 24 hours if a back up generator is present

6 Switch layout within the unit to be as “easy” to use as possible i.e. top switch relates to top floor of building

Premises management should ensure the fire service and maintenance contractor have the correct keys. Units should never be accessible to the public or open to vandalism to allow persons to activate controls.

Advisable (but not a requirement) to link systems to an ARC to allow for faults on system to be recognised early.

Can consist of sounders, visual indicators, vibrating pads for under pillows etc.

Wiring loops must not go into individual flats.

Usually one sounder or indicator per flat will be sufficient however more may be needed in certain circumstances/layouts etc.

Maintenance is 6 monthly although toggle switches are 12 monthly and incorporated into one of the 6 monthly maintenance tasks.

There is NO full building alert function. Buildings are set up into zones so fire service can alert/evacuate certain parts as and when the need arises.

 

A single named member of the premises management team needs to be appointed to supervise all matters relating to the evacuation alert system.

BAFE SP207

​​​​​​​We are certified in accordance with the BAFE SP207 Scheme: For the Design, Installation, Commissioning & Maintenance of Evacuation Alert Systems.

Following a thorough development process in conjunction with the fire safety industry and the Fire and Rescue Service, the BAFE SP207 Scheme was launched in October 2020 to help ensure those living in high-rise buildings can be safely evacuated by the emergency services in the event of a fire.

Supporting British Standard BS 8629:2019 (Evacuation Alert Systems for use by fire and rescue services in buildings containing flats), the BAFE SP207 Scheme document covers demonstrating quality evidence of competency for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems.

Certification under this scheme means our customers and the relevant enforcing authorities, e.g. the Fire Authority and Building Control, can be confident 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.

FAFS Fire & Security is proud to be accredited by this independent registration body. Third Party Certification is the best assurance of quality when looking for a provider to help meet your fire safety requirements.

 

To sum up, the deployment and maintenance of Evacuation Alert Systems are more than compliance with safety standards; they are essential components of a proactive fire safety strategy in residential high-rises. Regular consultation with fire and rescue services, adherence to the BS 8629:2019 standards, and ensuring systems are user-friendly for emergency personnel are critical for the efficacy of these systems. With the proper implementation and maintenance of EAS, building managers can significantly enhance the safety of residents by ensuring a well-coordinated evacuation during emergencies.

FAFS Fire & Security Blog

Welcome to the FAFS Fire & Security blog! As leaders in fire protection and security solutions, we’re committed to keeping you updated with the latest industry insights and safety tips. Stay informed and secure with our expert guidance and innovative approaches.

Most Recent Posts

  • All Post
  • All Posts
  • Fire Legislation
  • Fire Safety
  • Security

Explore Our Services

From initial design and installation to commissioning, maintenance and monitoring, we are the trusted choice to deliver expert services to you.

Category

Scroll to Top