Development of European Standards

European Standards for security smoke

The European Standards for Intruder Alarm Systems, CCTV Systems and Access Control Systems have been in place now since 2012 (EN50131, EN50132 and EN50133 respectively). A new European Standard covering alarm transmission systems and alarm transmission equipment (EN50136) has been recently introduced.

So, why do we need standards? And why are they so important?

We need standards in place to ensure that security systems are designed, installed and maintained reliably.

NB: European Standards only apply to new systems. Existing systems remain subject to your country's previous codes of practice (such as the British Standards). There are exceptions where systems requiring extensive re-design/replacement may need to comply with the new European Standards. And where specific police and insurer requirements are not covered or yet available (generally component related), then special 'enabling' standards need to be invoked.

Overview of EN50131

The major differences between EN50131 and the old BS4737 are:

  • Structured standards.
  • Grading of systems.
  • Classification of equipment.
  • Risk based.

This provides a structured approach to:

  • Assessment of risk.
  • Technical survey.
  • System design.
  • Installation of the system in accordance with agreed specification.
  • Installation of equipment in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations.

A significant advantage for insurers and surveyors applying European Standards to systems is the specification of grades appropriate to the associated risk. The grading of a system based on a structured risk analysis will determine the extent of the system, signalling and tamper security. Installers are required to carry out a formal assessment of the theft risk to determine a suitable Grade of alarm, taking property value and historical activity into consideration. As the Grade of an alarm cannot be readily changed after installation, it makes sense to check a proposed alarm with any interested insurer before proceeding.

Insurers may respond to a request to approve an alarm by visiting the premises, making a decision based on information already held by them, or by agreeing the outcome of the installer’s risk assessment.

There are four security grades:

  • Grade 1 - low risk.
  • Grade 2 - low to medium risk.
  • Grade 3 - medium to high risk (normal).
  • Grade 4 - high risk (cash handling centres, banks, museums).

The key difference between Grades 2, 3 and 4 is that movement sensors at Grade 3 must be able to detect ‘masking’ (i.e. something has been placed over the sensor lens) and at Grade 4 ‘range reduction' (i.e. something has blocked part of the detectors’ field of view).

When having a new alarm installed:

  • Use a reputable installer, e.g. one inspected by the NSI (NACOSS) or SSAIB.
  • Co-operate with the installer’s risk assessment procedures.
  • Check any interested insurer agrees with the proposed alarm grade, detection, signalling and response.
  • Where police response necessitates a ‘Confirmation System’ check that the installer designs a system that has dual path signalling, confirmation from each ‘at risk’ area and a means of unsetting that does not prevent the police being called should an intruder force open the designated alarm entry/exit door.

Both our Managing Director and Chairman form part of an expert consultation group for the formulation of a very specific section of EN50131 - namely part 8: security fog device / systems.

This section specifies the requirements for security fog systems as a part of an alarm system. It covers application and performance and also gives the necessary tests and trials to ensure efficiency and reliability of such obscuration devices. It also gives guidance on the criteria for design, installation, operation and maintenance of security fog systems.

There are currently no test houses in Europe that are officially empowered to bestow accreditation, however there are means for companies to achieve a level of compliance.

The provisions of standards do not vary according to the Grade of alarm system. This means that a compliant security fog system is suitable for use in all Grades. A tamper signal from a security fog system can contribute to a confirmed alarm in accordance with the standards.

Guidance on design, installation, operation and maintenance of the security fog system:

  • Risk assessments must be performed in accordance with the guidance documentation, in particular with regard to man traps and unsuitable chemicals.
  • A representative must be on site when the connection to the alarm system is made. This is to determine the correct connection and to assist in any commissioning and testing.
  • The arrangements for maintaining the security fog system must be in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. If the security fog system is maintained by the specialist company, we recommend your representative should be on site when the security fog system is maintained to assist in any testing and to protect your liability in case the alarm system and/or the security fog system fails to perform correctly at a later date.