What are the governing standards for Fire Alarm Systems?

What are the governing standards for Fire Alarm Systems?
Sources: https://www.safelincs.co.uk/bs5839-12013/ and https://www.firehouse.com/careers-education/company/11147911/nfpa-national-fire-protection-association

Fire Alarm Systems affect the safety of human beings in regard to protection from fire hazards. Two main standards govern the design, installation, testing, and commissioning of Fire Alarm Systems: the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA72) and the British Standard for Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems for Buildings (BS 5839-1:2017).

Why are standards important?

Fire Alarm standards are a compilation of recommendations developed by standardization bodies. They have no authority until a government body forces them by law. Then they become a “code” that must be adhered to in any application. Standards guide engineers in designing, installing, testing, commissioning, and maintaining fire alarm systems. They also help in building a consensus among professionals working in the field.


NFPA72 is an American standard published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in the United States. Standards issued by NFPA are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The association was founded in the 19th century, and since then it has been undergoing continuous improvements and revisions. As defined in the most recent edition of NFPA72 2019, “the purpose of the code shall be to define the means of signal initiation transmission, notification, and annunciation; the levels of performance; and the reliability of the various types of fire alarm systems, supervising station alarm systems, public emergency alarm reporting systems, fire and carbon monoxide detection and warning equipment, emergency communications systems, and their components.”

BS 5839-1

On the other side of the Atlantic ocean, the British Standards institute (BSI) developed the Fire Detection & Alarm Systems for Buildings BS-5839-1. The standard “provides recommendations for the planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in and around non-domestic premises.” The British standard is widely adopted around the world especially that all European Union standards are automatically assumed as British Standards. The most recent edition of the standard was published in 2017.

Other standards specific to countries are available, e.g. the DIN in Germany; however, the most prevalent ones are the NFPA72 and the BS5839-1. In the MENA region, both standards are applied and sometimes a hybrid of the American and British standards are specified.

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