British Standards BS 5839-6:2019 –what’s changed?

The BSI’s recent update of the domestic fire detection and alarm system standard, specifically Part 6 of BS 5839, outlines the code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic properties. Here Ian Ballinger, Certification Manager for FireAngel, outlines the key updates for professionals.



irst launched in 1995, British Standard BS5839-6 has long established itself as a key reference standard for specifiers, architects and fire safety personnel, outlining the specific systems that should be installed for the purpose of life safety and property protection.

Covering the implementation of fire precautions in domestic premises, including HMOs and sheltered housing, throughout both the dwelling units and common areas, the Standard is applicable to both new build and materially altered dwellings (in conjunction with regional building regulations) as well as existing properties. The recommendations can be applied to the fire detection components of combined domestic fire and intruder alarm systems, or fire and social alarm systems.

New recommendations have been added for fire detection in supported housing in particular, whilst revised guidance on the installation of communal fire alarm systems in purpose-built blocks of flats has also been introduced. The Standard has also been updated to reflect the updates made to Part 1 in 2017, which addresses non-domestic premises, combined with any other updates made to other Standards since the last full revision.

Whilst BS 5839-6 has previously been split into six varying Grades, each outlining the level of protection appropriate for certain properties and their corresponding levels of risk, the new update has altered the six sections, removing Grade B and Grade E, whilst Grade D and Grade F have been split into Grade D1 / Grade D2 and Grade F1 / Grade F2 respectively. Grade C has been revised and its recommendations expanded. The new grading system is as follows:

• Grade A – Separate detectors, sounders and central control and indicating equipment with back-up power supply that conforms to British Standards BS EN 54.

• Grade C – Separate detectors and sounders that are mains powered with back-up power supply and central control equipment.

• Grade D1 – A system of one or more mains powered detectors, each with a tamper‑proof standby supply consisting of a battery or batteries (such as FireAngel’s SM-SN-1, ST-622 alarm).

• Grade D2 – A system of one or more mains-powered detectors, each with an integral standby supply consisting of a user‑replaceable battery or batteries (such as FireAngel’s SW1-PF-T alarm).

• Grade F1 – A system of one or more battery-powered detectors powered by a tamper‑proof primary battery or batteries (such as FireAngel’s ST-630, ST-622, ST-750, ST-622 alarm).

• Grade F2 – A system of one or more battery-powered detectors powered by a user‑replaceable primary battery or batteries. (such as FireAngel’s SB1-T alarm).

Professionals should adhere to the above grades when designing, constructing and managing fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic properties. They should also be aware of the revisions made to Table 1 of the Standard, which outlines the minimum grade and category of system that should be installed to provide protection of life in typical premises. The updates have been made to reflect current living conditions.

By following the latest changes to BS 5839-6, professionals can ensure the systems they install are not only fit for purpose for current living environments within domestic premises, but also ensure individuals are provided with the highest forms of protection available, contributing to the reduction in the number of fire deaths and injuries that occur each year.

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