When is a PAVA System required?

When is a PAVA system required?

When you think of alarms, vocal recorded broadcasts probably don’t enter the equation. Many of us exist in the belief that alarms emit high-pitched tones in the event of emergencies. Still, as technology’s evolved and the population has grown, it’s become a recognised benefit having a PAVA (Public Address and Voice Alarm) system installed to inform persons of an issue at hand and the necessary protocols to follow. PAVA systems can operate in two sectors of the audio world. The first and foremost provide life-critical messaging— ‘Voice Alarm (VA)’—but they can also be of use to provide paging messaging or music, referred to as ‘Public Address’ or PA.
Voice Alarm & Public Address Systems are similar in their function, but Voice Alarm Systems have the advantage of providing monitored backup and are generally used for emergency evacuation systems.
Both systems provide announcements via microphones and prerecorded messages to loudspeakers throughout the building.
Voice alarm systems are installed with the safety of the general public in mind. Where traditional bells and alerts only indicate an emergency, they don’t address the nature of the problem, which can leave signals ignored and potentially result in fatalities.

In a crisis, it’s been recognised that people react with little confusion or panic if they hear a clear, intelligible announcement incorporating understandable instructions. These messages are stored in the voice alarm system and respond to emergencies, initiating the evacuation of untrained personnel and the public in a safe, orderly fashion.
A voice alarm (VA) is usually recommended by a fire risk assessor but is generally always required in a building subject to a pre-determined or ‘phased’ evacuation plan.
With a Voice Alarm:

  • All critical circuits are monitored for faults
  • It has a minimum battery backup of 24 hours standby with a 30-minute alarm
  • There’s a monitored secure link to a fire alarm panel
  • Several pre-recorded emergency messages are securely stored
  • An emergency Fireman’s microphone can be incorporated
  • ‘Phased Evacuation’ methods allow specific zones to be departed in sequence. Generally, the zone most hazardous will be cleared first whilst the surrounding zones are warned with an ‘alert’.
  • All controls can be overridden by the fire services or building maintenance when required.
    Voice Alarm Systems will be required to comply with BS5839 Part 8 as a minimum. They will interface with the Fire Detection System to provide a proposed evacuation procedure suited to that particular building.
    All essential items of a Voice Alarm System will be monitored to ensure that the system does not fail when needed in an emergency.
    BS5839:8 recommends that PAVA Systems are installed in public buildings.
    The spaces below could be decisive for the requirement of a voice alarm system:-
  • A place of public assembly with an area of at least 1,000 square meters.
  • A place of general assembly where people regularly stay during daily operation.
  • Sales rooms and sites that are bigger than 2,000 square meters.
  • Schools, airports, bus stations, railway stations, hotels, medical centres, office complex, shopping centres, stadiums and theatres.
    As part of the mandatory Fire Risk Assessment for the building, Voice Alarm should be considered where Security Staffing levels are low.

Public Address Systems are used to make general announcements and must not be used as a primary source of evacuation announcement and must be supported with a Fire System using its own emergency sounders. Messages and even backup monitoring systems can also be installed with Public Address but are not essential.
Both types of system can be integrated with other systems to provide background music, noise masking, programmed advertising and messages. Voice Alarm systems can be combined with flashing beacons or building management systems if not already done via the Fire System.
A Voice Alarm system (integrated with PA) is undoubtedly the best choice for a building with public occupancy where safety is essential. The differences in regulation, purposes and basic functioning can be found in the table below.

B L Acoustics Ltd has designed and installed an upgraded PAVA system in a well-known Kent Shopping Centre. A fault-tolerant Bosch network was established to provide a robust solution to their site-wide reliability problems. We continue to provide full servicing and support for their ever-changing systems.

  • 12 System Racks
  • Networked addressable system
  • Conventional sounders in staff areas
  • Call points

This protection system covers the entire two-floor area; all retail outlets, restaurants, cafes and bars, storage units, basement areas and administrative offices.

 In case of fire, the system will activate voice alarm messages, evacuation signals throughout all areas, set up communication with systems in adjoining buildings and turn off music systems in shops. 

The Fire Alarm Panel will control lifts, stop escalators, shut down boilers and other plants, initiate sprinklers/pumps, activate backup power supplies, and open emergency exits.

If you want to know more about When is a PAVA System required? or if you would like a no obligation quote, please contact us.
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