Calling all buildings and facilities managers! What is required of you if a voice alarm system is installed in your premises?

Issues with PAVA systems can be costly and time-consuming if the system is not maintained adequately. One of the biggest barriers to adequate maintenance that we have come across is a misunderstanding of the system once handed over to the client.

Premises management should appoint a named member of management (usually the buildings or facilities manager) to supervise all matters relating to the voice alarm system. This is written into BS 5839 pt 8 and should, therefore, be adhered to in order to avoid any potential personal liability.

What is required of the ‘named member of management’?

Briefly, a voice alarm system will take the place of fire alarm sounders in given areas of a building, with this in mind it is vital that the system is understood, tested and maintained in accordance with the relevant standards. Here are just some of the responsibilities of the ‘named member of management’ in accordance with BS 5839 pt 8:

1. Ensuring that any personnel involved in the operation of the system are trained on a regular basis. This training should include: microphone technique; the function and use of all system controls; the purpose of all system indicators; the position, type and function of every part of the system; and the location and contents of the operation (user) manual.

2. Ensuring that the system is checked at least once every 24 h to confirm that there are no faults.

3. Ensuring that arrangements are in place for testing and maintenance of the system in accordance with section 5 of BS 5839 pt 8. Testing and maintenance requirements in accordance with this section call for routine testing from the named member of management, and regular inspection and servicing by a competent person with specialist knowledge of voice alarm systems. (There is a strong point to be made here which is that not all fire alarm companies are classed as fulfilling the criteria of competent where voice alarm is concerned. Always ensure a voice alarm systems engineer takes care of the servicing and maintenance of the system to avoid any future potential personal liability.)

4. Ensuring that the system logbook is kept up to date and is available for inspection by any authorized person (e.g. representatives of enforcing authorities).

For a fully exhaustive list of the requirements of the named member of management and the maintenance schedule for your voice alarm, you can reference BS 5839 pt 8. If there is any doubt about the competency of your system or you would like to ask any questions on how best to maintain please get in touch with us via LinkedIn, email ( or telephone (0191 276 2076).