BS5839-8:2023 – Updated Voice Alarm Standard comes into effect


A Voice Alarm System, also known as a Voice Evacuation System, is an essential accompaniment to a fire alarm system in buildings containing a large number of occupants. Typical applications include hotels, office blocks, entertainment venues, arenas, universities, shopping centres and airports. The primary purpose of a voice alarm system is to assist in the evacuation of a building or venue in the event of an emergency situation, such as a fire or bomb alert. Voice alarm systems are also suitable for daily use as public address systems, for the broadcast of music, promotional messages and staff paging.

The applicable codes of practice for voice alarm systems are BS5839-8, BS EN 54-16, and EN60849. In October 2023, an updated code of practice for Voice Alarm Systems, BS5839-8:2023, came into effect.

The BS5839-8:2023 code of practice gives recommendations for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of voice alarm systems which automatically broadcast speech or warning tones, in response to signals from their associated fire detection and fire alarm systems. It also covers systems that include a manual facility for the transmission of live voice messages as well as automatically generated messages for emergency purposes.

Voice alarm systems have a number of advantages:

  • People typically react without confusion or panic if they receive clear, intelligible instructions
  • Phased evacuation can be utilised, meaning that those most at risk are evacuated first
  • Fire officers can broadcast “live” at any time

BS5839-8:2023 sets out recommendations for new voice alarm systems, and also applies to extensions and alterations to existing systems, at least in respect of the design, installation, commissioning, maintenance, and certification of the new work.

As well as installing and maintaining voice alarm systems, Diamond Systems offers a one hour CIBSE approved CPD course to consulting engineers on BS5839-8:2023, including the recent changes. To register your interest in CPD training contact us, or email For support with voice alarm systems, including new and existing installations, email


BS5839-8:2023 – Updated Voice Alarm Standard comes into effect