Improving Fire Safety Standards through stakeholder engagement and consultation

Amendment No.1 to I.S. 3218 sees the National Standards Authority of Ireland engaging with industry experts to amend a widely used Irish Standard for fire detection and alarm systems.

Fire Detection and Alarm Systems are unique among building services in that their primary purpose is the protection of human life.  Therefore, it is essential they are designed, installed, commissioned,  and maintained correctly.  I.S. 3218 provides clear guidelines that, when applied correctly, can support compliance with the relevant provisions of Technical Guidance Document Part B.

We spoke to Joe Walsh, Chairperson of the NSAI Technical Committee 16 Working Group 2, about Amendment No. 1 and its importance. Joe works for Siemens Ireland and was recently awarded an NSAI 1997 Award in recognition of his significant contribution to the Standards work of NSAI over many years. 

Why was it important to develop Amendment No.1 to I.S. 3218:2013?

Standards need to evolve as products and their applications change with the ever-increasing advances of technology.  Before the introduction of Amendment No.1, there was some misunderstanding in the Fire Safety Industry about exactly what was included in the scope of I.S. 3218.

While the cause and effect strategy programmed into the Fire Detection and Alarm control panels include many functions of the Fire Safety Strategy such as smoke ventilation, lifts, roller shutters etc these were not catered for in I.S. 3218.  This was causing confusion among building owners regarding the responsibility for servicing and coordination of such ancillary devices : often the misconception being the fire alarm servicing company was solely responsible.  

What stakeholders were involved?

A sub group of NSAI Technical Committee 16 Working Group 2 was established and consisted of a wide variety of industry representatives including national regulators. Facilitated by NSAI, industry experts considered the issues and determined that clarification on the inclusion/exclusion of ancillary devices in the servicing certificate should be addressed. 

What are the main changes included in Amendment No.1 to I.S. 3218:2013?

There were a series of edits made across the standard, the majority of which related to Clause 9 User responsibilities.  This was revised to clarify the responsibilities of all parties involved in the process.  To show this, a new informative one-page diagram Annex N was added.  This clearly identifies input and output functions of ancillary equipment included in the Fire Safety Strategy and which of these are in scope and out of scope of I.S. 3218.

Annex D1 is now an Annual Cert, with more emphasis on the availability of the system records e.g. Design, Commissioning, installation certs and as installed drawings.  

The details of the works required for the Annual Cert are now included in the periodic Service Inspection and Test reports.  

What are the benefits of using I.S. 3218?

In addition to supporting compliance with relevant provisions of Technical Guidance Document Part B, I.S. 3218 provides clear guidelines that, when applied correctly enables the system owner to maintain high levels of performance throughout the lifecycle of the system.  This will ensure confidence that if activated, it means a Fire has been detected rather than a false alarm 

So, what is next for is I.S. 3218?

The Current Edition was published in 2013 and amendment no. 1 added in 2019. It has become a comprehensive document since it was first published in 1989 with multiple cross referencing between clauses.    NSAI Technical Committee 16 Working Group 2 are currently drafting the next revision of IS 3218, with publication planned for the final quarter of 2021.  It will be based on CEN (European Committee for Standardisation), Technical Specification 54-part 14 (Fire detection and alarm systems – Guidelines for planning, design, installation, commissioning, use and maintenance) and will include local requirements deemed essential for the Irish market.