Fire detection and alarm system developers “worried” by shift in EU standardisation approach

Euralarm members within standardisation body CEN/TC 72 are questioning the impact of a newly-enforced standardisation procedure on the quality of fire detection products across Europe. They’re determined to support CEN/TC 72 and work hand in hand with the European Commission for a joint solution in the longer term.

A recent letter sent by the European Commission’s DG GROW to CEN/TC 72 has raised questions among the members of the group – mainly representatives of the electronic fire safety industry and standard certification bodies – over their capacity to adapt to new standardisation procedures in their sector. The procedure “also puts the safety of European citizens into question”.

The role of Technical Committee 72 of the European Committee for Standardisation, otherwise known as CEN/TC 72, is to prepare standards for meeting the essential requirement ‘Safety in Case of Fire’ contained within the Construction Products Regulation (CPR). The CPR is a European Union-devised legal act which, since 2011, has served as the regulatory background for standardisation in the field of fire detection and fire alarm systems in and around buildings.

The official European Commission letter informs CEN/TC 72 members about the discontinuation of pass/fail criteria used when testing fire detection and fire alarm systems. The pass/fail testing approach is contrary to the one favoured by the CPR, based as it is on ‘classes of performance’.

One potential impact would be on the colour of alarm manual Call Points (the traditionally red buttons found in public buildings which activate fire alarms on a manual basis). Under the performance approach, each manufacturer could choose a different colour for its manual Call Points unless a ‘delegated act’ is issued with the agreement of all Member States and scientific evidence has been provided to back up the new regulation.

Single European Market

The performance approach supposes greater regulatory prerogatives for EU Member States. From the standpoint of Euralarm members, this “endangers the Single European Market for electronic fire safety and security products” and could result in “lower levels of safety” for EU citizens depending on their country of residence.

Additionally, the newly-enforced approach “introduces an additional red tape burden” on those SMEs which form a substantial part of the sector.

While development work on several standards is now partially on hold, a sub-Task Group within CEN/TC 72 has been created to solve the issues raised by the newly-enforced standardisation approach and work in close collaboration with the European Commission towards a satisfactory solution.

Euralarm is represented on the sub-Task Group and “offers its support” to any long-term solution for the new standardisation approach.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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