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All products and services provided by Deaf Alerter plc fully meet all the relevant European and British Standards, as well as enabling the customer to meet their obligations under British Law.

British Standards are not laws and carry no legislative status. Building Regulations - Approved Document B suggests that electrically operated fire alarms should work to the British Standard BS5839-1.

However, many building insurance policies are only issued when compliance to standards has been achieved.

Adherence to British Standards can be seen as best practice. The British Standards that mainly apply to this issue are BS5839-1:+A2 2008, BS8300:2009 and BS5588-8:2008; which supersedes the entire BS 5588.

Furthermore, under the Equality Act, British Standards should apply equally to Deaf people and therefore fire alarms installed for Deaf people should meet this same standard.

It is the interlocking of the Equality Act and BS5839-1 that provides us with the guidance on how to address the issue of fire alarm warning for Deaf people.

BS5839-1:2002 (amendment 2004) Fire detection and alarm systems for buildings. Code of practice for system design, installation, commissioning and maintenance

The British Standard for design, installation commissioning and maintenance for fire detection and alarm systems now includes recommendations that should be followed when installing a fire alarm system for Deaf people.

It is important to recognise to fully comply with BS5839-1 the system must meet the relevant parts of EN54.This includes the technical design and testing of the equipment.

This critically important compliance is often overlooked by other suppliers that are really only installing radio paging systems with an EN54 compliant power supply.

All Deaf Alerter systems fully comply with all the relevant parts of BS5839 and EN54 that relate to fire alarms for Deaf and hard of hearing people.

BS8300: 2001 Disability Access

BS8300 states that consideration should be given to the installation of alarm/alerting systems for Deaf and hard of hearing people in conjunction with audible alarm systems. BS8300 suggests “flashing beacons or vibrating devices” but then goes on to say “certain frequencies in flashing/stroboscopic light systems can cause confusion, disorientation, and in some people, epileptic fits”.

BS 9999:2008 Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings

BS 9999 gives recommendations and guidance on the design, management and use of buildings to achieve acceptable levels of fire safety for all people in and around buildings.

BS 9999 is applicable to the design of new buildings, and to alterations, extensions and changes of use of an existing building, with the exception of individual homes and with limited applicability in the case of certain specialist buildings. It also provides guidance on the ongoing management of fire safety in a building throughout the entire life cycle of the building, including guidance for designers to ensure that the overall design of a building assists and enhances the management of fire safety.

BS 9999 contributes to the protection of people in buildings, being aware of the types of people in the building and any special risks or needs (such as disabled people, see BS 8300 Design of buildings and their approaches to meet the needs of disabled people).

Bearing in mind the Equality Act, it is discriminatory not to include Deaf or hard of hearing people into a fire evacuation plan.

Acts of Discrimination

It is a case of discrimination under the Equality Act (which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act) if you do not provide free and easy access and egress to your building for physically disabled people.  During a building fire evacuation, this can become significantly harder when normal passenger lifts should not be used.  Therefore, a management procedure of assisting disabled people is often used. 

Building Regulations

Part B of building regulations state that:

• To facilitate the effective evacuation of people from refuges an emergency voice communication (EVC) system should be provided.
• It is essential that the occupants of each refuge are able to alert other people that they are in need of assistance and for them to be reassured that this assistance will be forthcoming.

Health & Safety at Work

Building Managers and Company Directors are required to evaluate and minimise risks in their premises. You need to consider the health & safety of two groups of people: firstly, disabled people, and secondly non-disabled people you are asking/telling to assist in the evacuation (commonly called buddies/fire wardens).  In the unfortunate event of a fatality, corporate manslaughter legislation could be applicable, it is therefore important to consider your requirements in this area and how to mitigate against these risks.