How changes to standards affect fire detection testing

BS5839 – How changes to standards affect fire detection testing

BS5839 – How changes to standards affect fire detection testing 1024 640 Detector Testers

With fire detector technology constantly evolving, standards also change in order to include these technologies and to drive innovation within the industry. The recent update to BS5839-1 has, for example, for the first time, placed a focus on how multi-sensors should be tested.


Multi-sensor fire detectors should be physically tested by a method that confirms that products of combustion in the vicinity of the detector can reach the sensors and that the appropriate response is confirmed at the CIE. (45.4(j) sub-clause 2).


The market is now seeing far more multi-sensors – a recent poll* of 165 engineers showed that 73% were now testing the same or more multi-sensor detectors than 2-years ago. While these detectors are proven to reduce false alarms – a major driver in their use, they also throw up another challenge, with multiple sensors now requiring testing.

Testing Multi-Sensors Poll

*Source: Detectortesters Twitter poll conducted October 2017  @NoClimbProducts

Such developments have led to wider use of an all-in-one detector tester – such as Testifire, which offers the ability to test smoke, heat and CO from one device.  Naturally, use of one tool for multiple functions brings about productivity savings – with engineers having less to carry around site and spending less time changing between testers.

Another update to BS5839-1 is the recognition that while the majority of detectors can be easily accessed, there are some detectors that are sited in hard-to-access locations – which of course should also be tested.


For remotely situated or hard-to-access detection equipment, consideration needs to be given to the feasibility of testing and maintenance at the design stage. (Clause 22.1).


The modern design of buildings has seen greater creativity in design, with many voids and large open areas – all of which have some form of fire detection, and all of which need to be tested.  Other common areas of hard to access detection include lift shafts and secure rooms.  Often, testing in these locations is at great expense, involving third party engineers, extra staff and increased disruption.

This again has led to an advance in the solutions available as the market looks to reduce the cost of maintaining such detectors.  The availability of a tester (Scorpion) which is permanently installed alongside such hard-to-access detectors means detectors in lift shafts, ceiling voids, secure rooms and other hard-to-access locations can now be tested easily and safely at the same time as easy to access detectors – without the need for additional personnel, cost and disruption.

A fully compliant fire detection and alarm system is essential in protecting the building and its occupants, and the ongoing maintenance in accordance with accepted standards is a crucial aspect of this.  BS5839:1 now addresses some important technical advances, which enhances our safety when at work.