Evacuation Alert System Guide
Posted: 23/11/2022
5 minute read
Evacuation Alert System Guide
Home > News > Evacuation Alert System Guide

Evacuation Alert System Guide

In the effort to reduce the risk of fatalities when a fire breaks out, as an industry, we are always looking for more ways to alert people within buildings. While fire alarms and fire safety equipment are the first things to think of when dealing with larger buildings and high-rise blocks of flats, there is a new system we’re also now recommending: the evacuation alert system (EAS).

Since this technology is relatively unfamiliar to most, we wanted to provide a quick guide to all the things you need to know about evacuation alert systems.

At Surrey Tech Services Ltd, we now provide the installation and commissioning of evacuation alert systems, so don’t hesitate to contact us to book a survey for your building and find out if you could benefit.

Evacuation Alert System Guide

Are evacuation systems a legal requirement?

As things stand, no, evacuation alert systems are not a legal requirement in England and Wales. However, one of the reasons we’re so keen for everyone to understand these systems is because the Scottish government has already made them a legal requirement for buildings over 18 metres high. 

So why is that important?

It’s important because this has led to the creation of a new British Standard: BS 8629:2019, covering the ‘design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of evacuation alert systems’. Separate from the British Standards for fire detection and alarm systems, this is an industry-wide directive on voice alarm systems. The benefit of this is that firefighters will not be faced with vastly different systems that they are unsure how to use, meaning they won’t be slowed down in an emergency.

While they are not a legal requirement in England yet, they are recommended and should be installed per the BS 8629:2019 guidelines. It is believed that evacuation alert systems will, at some point, become a legal requirement in the same way that they already are in Scotland.


What’s the difference between a fire alarm and an evacuation system?

The difference between a fire alarm and an evacuation alert system is pretty simple to understand. A standard fire alarm is triggered by the presence of flames or smoke, and then it sounds throughout a building to raise the alarm. They can be used in a wide variety of buildings across different industries regardless of the size of the building – you can find out more about the different types of systems here

An evacuation alert system, on the other hand, is really only for fire and rescue services to utilise in an emergency within a larger building, usually a block of flats. Firefighters can use the system to alert people within the individual flats if they need to. For example, they may need to evacuate the 10th floor and not others, which can be quickly communicated in an emergency.

There are no trigger points for an evacuation alert system as there are with fire alarm systems, and your Responsible Person for the building isn’t in charge of using the system, the fire brigade is. 


Which properties are evacuation alert systems recommended for?

Evacuation alert systems are recommended for high rise buildings

Because of the tragic events at Grenfell Tower in 2017, evacuation alert systems are mainly recommended for high-rise buildings, so while this could include office buildings and commercial premises, the primary focus is for high-rise buildings containing flats to use them. This can include buildings provided by the local authority and HMOs owned by private landlords.

It is hoped that these systems will be a quicker, more efficient way to alert people within the building who need to be evacuated, rather than firefighters having to knock on doors individually. This, in turn, should help to prevent a mass rush of evacuation that would block access for fire and rescue services inside the building.


How does the system work?

An evacuation alert system is a manual panel within a block of flats that can be used by fire and rescue teams in the event of an emergency. There is a sounder within each flat that can be activated via the panel by the fire brigade so that they can issue alerts as necessary.

These alerts can be issued floor by floor, allowing for the gradual or partial evacuation of a building in line with the threat being faced. This means that a controlled evacuation can allow fire and rescue operatives an unimpeded route through the building. Without this system, a mass evacuation could flood the stairwells with people, creating more panic and slowing the process down for everyone.


Would you still need an evacuation plan?

Your evacuation plan is still a requirement even if you have an evacuation alert system

Your evacuation plan is still a requirement even if you have an evacuation alert system. The two things are not interchangeable; the latter is only for the use of the fire brigade. Every building, regardless of whether it’s used commercially or as a block of flats, needs an evacuation plan that includes:

  • What to do in the event of discovering a fire
  • How the alarm should be raised
  • How to proceed if the alarm is raised
  • Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) for the elderly or disabled
  • Specific people responsible for alerting the emergency services
  • The installation of clear exit route signs and assembly point details


Here at Surrey Tech Services Ltd, we install evacuation alert systems for high-rise blocks across London and the Home Counties – including Maidenhead, Guildford and Slough – helping you to keep the people in your building safe. We adhere to BS 8629:2019 in order to commission your system in line with industry guidance.

If you’d like to learn more about high-rise evacuation alert systems – or if you’re reading this piece and they’ve since been made a legal requirement – then call us now to book an appointment with our expert team.

    Protect your business premises today

    Call us now on 08081 689 497 to find out more about our fire alarm design, installation and maintenance services.