EN54 – Fire detection and fire alarm systems is a series of European standards that includes product standards and application guidelines for fire detection and fire alarm systems as well as voice alarm systems.
The EN54 suite of standards are all Product Standards:
- EN54-16 for Voice Alarm main equipment
- EN54-4 for Power supplies
- EN54-24 for Loudspeakers
These standards came into effect in April 2011. Manufacturers must have their products externally tested and certified to the applicable EN54 standard in order to comply with the CPR (Construction Products Regulations) which is a requirement for CE marking. In other words manufactures cannot sell anything if it is not EN54 approved.
EN54 and Europe
Other European countries may have different criteria, stating where and when EN54-24 loudspeakers are to be used. However, this is a legal requirement for 24 out of the 27 member states of the European Community.
EN54 approved loudspeakers
EN54 Compliant speakers are required for use in Voice Alarm systems under the use of the following standards: BS5839 Part 8, ISO 7240 Parts 16 & 24.
EN54-16:2008 requires speakers within the Voice Alarm Control Indicating Equipment (VACIE) to be compliant with EN54-24.
The following test are required for a loudspeaker to meet EN54 approval
Frequency response, horizontal and vertical coverage angles, maximum sound pressure levels, rated noise power, rated Impedance.
Dry heat (operational), dry heat (endurance), cold (operational), damp heat, cyclic. (Operational), damp heat steady state (endurance), damp heat cyclic (endurance), shock. (Operational), impact (operational), vibration sinusoidal (operational), vibration sinusoidal. (Endurance) and sulphur dioxides (SO2) corrosion (endurance) test.
The flammability of any plastic materials being used. The protection of internal speakers type “A” in the standard to IP21C. The protection of external speakers type “B” in the standard to IP33C.
Voice Alarm System Refurbishment
Voice alarm systems first became very popular back in the late 1980 & 1990’s. Early systems were bespoke using equipment adapted from public address system equipment. However, as industry standards such as BS5839 & BS7443 became the required level to make a fully integrated life safety monitoring voice alarm system, manufacturers started to design purpose-built products compliant with these standards.
Some of these early systems are actually still in use, however they are well past their optimum life cycle and thus failure rates will increase.
British standard 5839 Pt8 from 1988 recommends a minimum life cycle for voice alarm main equipment of 15 years including full support from the manufacture. (Some manufactures can still support equipment older than 15 years).
Due to the environment where some of these voice alarm systems are located, such as storerooms, offices and security offices. The heat build up can cause premature ageing of equipment such as amplifier’s and control routers.
This can obviously affect the systems reliability. Therefore as a guideline, voice alarm systems over 15 years old should be replaced.
Voice Alarm System Field Wiring
In general the voice alarm field wiring consists of fire rated cabling which has a good level of mechanical protection as well as protection from heat, therefore it is not usually necessary to replace the field wiring.
This has the great advantage of reducing system replacement costs as rewiring an existing building which is in use by staff and/or the general public would be very inconvenient and costly.
Loudspeakers for voice alarm systems
Loudspeaker’s for voice alarm system come in various different designs, however as from 1988 all voice alarm ceiling loudspeakers were fitted with fire rated enclosures as per the requirements of BS5839 pt8.
Ceiling loudspeakers with fire rated enclosures.
The fire rated enclosure can protect each individual loudspeaker from fire and limit the spread of fire or smoke from above or below the ceiling.
Prior to 1988 ceiling loudspeakers had Nylon terminal block, no thermal fuse and Aluminum enclosures. Steel enclosures were introduced in 1995 to increase the enclosure melting point to 800 degrees C.
Ceramic terminal block
Changing the loudspeaker connections from plastic terminal block to ceramic terminal block helps to isolate the field wiring from short circuits if a loudspeaker were to catch fire.
Loudspeaker thermal fuse protection/isolation
The next addition to loudspeaker circuit protection was to add a thermal fuse in line with the loudspeaker connections.
This would enable a loudspeaker to isolate its connections from the field wiring in the event of a short circuit and thus keeping all other loudspeakers in the associated areas fully operational.
Latest standard EN54-24
Since the new standard EN54, not much has changed with loudspeaker design compliancy apart from the types of paint used on loudspeakers with low toxicity and coping with ingress of moisture.
Tech X have carried out such works at various sites throughout the UK using tried and tested manufactures solutions where the main equipment microphones, end of line monitoring and fire alarm interface are compliant with EN54.