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Generally, large fires start as small fires, often of a size that can be tackled by suitably trained staff using portable fire extinguishers. Therefore, action by staff can prevent development of a fire that would pose a threa t to life, property or operation of a business. In some premises, early action to control a fire in this way can also enable people to assist others, such as disabled people, residents in a care home or patients in a hospital, who are at greater risk in the event of a fire.


The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which applies to virtually all premises other than dwellings, requires that, where necessary in order to safeguard everyone who is lawfully on, or in the immediate vicinity of the premises, the premises must be equipped with appropriate firefighting equipment. This requirement is supplemented by a requirement to take measures for firefighting, adapted to the nature of the activities carried on, the size of the un dertaking and of the premises concerned. The necessity of firefighting equipment under the Order arises from the features of the premises, the activity carried on in the premises, the fire hazards or any other relevant circumstances.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order is supported, in England and Wales, by eleven guides produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The guides advocate the provision of firefighting equipment in premises, and they provide recommendations for the selection and sitting of appliances. In the case of portable fire extinguishers, more detailed guidance is provided in BS 5306, Part 8.


Portable fire extinguishers are the most universally applicable form of firefighting appliance. Portable fire extinguishers are rated according to the maximum size of fire that a trained operator can control with the extinguis her. Extinguishers should be sited at fire exits and on escape routes, within 30m of all personnel. Class A extinguishers are required as a minimum and should be supplemented by extinguishers suitable for specific risks in particular are as. Carbon dioxide extinguishers are normally suited for electric, gas, flammable liquid, flammable metal or live electrical equipment wherever such equipment is situated within the area. Where there is a commercial kitchen with deep-fat fryers, one or more Class F extinguishers and/or fire blankets are likely to be appropriate. Fires are classed according to the material that is burning. The fire extinguishers provided need to be appropriate for the class of fire.


The Fire Protection Association/Construction Confederation have produced, with the support of the Association of British Insurers, the Chief Fire Officers Association, and the London Fire Brigade, the Joint Code of Practice on the Protection from Fire of Construction Sites and Buildings Undergoing Renovation3. This lays out best practice fire safety recommendations with the specific challenges and demands of the construction industry in mind, and includes the following provisions:

4.3 “Fire alarm system – any means utilised for giving warning of a fire on site. The most basic system can be no more than a hand held siren or manually operated gong. Certain sites by their size and nature may require “bre ak glass” call points which, when broken, electronically operate bells, klaxons or sirens.”

4.4 “A system comprising components for automatically detecting a fire, initiating an alarm and initiating other action as appropriate.

6.1.1 “Weekly testing of the fire alarm is carried out. “Cygnus units electronically operate powerful 110dB sirens, linked site-wide, and can be triggered both automatically with the use of heat and smoke detectors and manuall y at each call point. The system has an automatic daily silent test function but should still be tested weekly to make sure that all sounders and beacons are in full operation and compliance.

16 Steps to Timber Frame Construction

The Structural Timber Association’s 16 Steps to Timber Frame Construction document.

An appropriately designed, installed and maintained automatic fire detection alarm system can reasonably ensure that site operatives will be aware of a fire before it can become large enough to compromise their escape route. A s a general rule, handbells, whistles and similar fire alarm devices are probably not going to be loud enough or heard easily by all site operatives on multi-storey construction projects. Electrically operated fire warning devices must a lways be used in timber frame projects unless it can be clearly demonstrated that other systems are effective. These devices should be linked to detection devices strategically placed around the structure to provide the earliest possible detection of fire.”

European Standards covering the use of radio technology in emergency equipment (ETSI 300-220-1)

European guidelines on the use of radio technology in emergency equipment to specify the use of life critical Class 1 receivers in ‘human life inherent systems’ – i.e. those in which any failure may result in physical risk to a person. The Cygnus system uses Class 1 radios throughout, ensuring maximum signal reliability for your critical construction site evacuation system.

HSE Fire Safety Guidelines for Construction Sites (HSG168; 223)

Health and Safety Executive guidelines for compliance with legislation on fire safety in construction sites1 state that: “It is expected on the majority of sites that an inter-connecting (could be wired-in or wireless) system of call points and sounders will be required to provide an effective fire warning system. “Cygnus is a robust wireless fire warning system, integrating both call points and sounders, that ensures that when one call point – or heat/smoke detector – is triggered, a site-wide alert is initiated at a volume that’s practical for alerting a busy construction site.

Understanding CE marking and the Construction Products Regulation

By definition a construction product is any product or ‘kit’ which is produced and placed on the market for incorporation in a permanent manner in construction works. The Cygnus system is a temporary fire alarm system and is n ot required to comply with the Construction Products Regulation 2011. However, due to the devastating nature of fire on construction sites, the system has been rigorously tested. The product does not fall under the Construction Products Regulation 2011 when used as outlined below:

– The system’s intended use is a fire and first aid alert system incorporating fi re call points, fi rst aid call points, smoke and heat detection and a control panel for temporary fire cover during construction works.

– The system is intended to be installed either in a building under construction, in site cabins or on mobile fire points and is taken out/deinstalled at the end of the construction project.

The radio modules are Class 1 with Category 1 receivers as required for human life inherent systems in accordance with the R&TTE directive (1999/5/EC) and the system has been tested to the following standards;

EN 60950-1: 2006 + A2: 2013 Electrical Safety

EN 301 489-3 v1.6.1 (2013-08) Electromagnetic Compatibility

EN 50130-4: 2011 Electromagnetic Compatibility

EN 300 220-2 v2.4.1 (2012-05) Radio Performance

Fire Industry Standards

The Cygnus system has been designed for use on construction sites and can be used as part of a fire alarm system installed to BS5839-1 2013 in Temporary Site Accommodation (Section 13.8) as required by JCOP (The Joint Code of Practice on the Protection from Fire of Construction Sites and Buildings Undergoing Renovation – 2012). The system is also intended to meet the JCOP requirement for High Rise Construction Sites (Section 22.8) and Large Timber Frame Struc tures (Section 23.15).