Interviews News Regional World

Roadmap to Compliance: Bosch and VdS Decipher EN 54 & NFPA 72 Standards

In this exclusive interview, Eman Mattie-Suleiman, Technical Director at VdS, and Onur Sönmez, Head of Sales and Marketing, Bosch Fire Alarm Systems, Türkiye, Middle East and Africa, shed light on the importance of the adoption of EN and VdS-certified products in fire safety, emphasizing their quality, compliance, and seamless integration in mixed UL-EN markets

a&s Middle East: What are some of the key differences between the standards enforced in the EU and the building codes of practice, such as NFPA 72, commonly used in the USA, particularly regarding product requirements and testing methods for fire safety equipment?

Eman Mattie-Suleiman- Technical Director VdS Loss Prevention – UK

Mattie-Suleiman: The CPR applied in the EU is like having a product passport to be able to move within the EU market. These are based on harmonized product standards which have certain requirements for a product. Some of these requirements are related to the conditions and regulations within EU countries. The NFPA 72 building code is the planning and installation code for such products which are primarily produced by the Americans for the USA. However, the NFPA 72 specifies some product requirements that are related to conditions found in the USA.

The intent in both cases is the same but the method of testing and parameters may be different. For example, the temperature specified in NFPA is 0 to 49 degrees whereas the EN standards specify -10 to 55 degrees for smoke detectors but for control and indicating equipment it is -5 to 40 degrees. Also, the times the product is exposed to these temperatures differ.

a&s Middle East: According to US Building Codes, is it mandatory to be UL listed? What does NFPA 72 say about this?

Mattie-Suleiman: It is absolutely not mandatory to use UL-listed products to install products designed in accordance with NFPA 72. In fact, the NFPA 72 code clause 1.5 explicitly permits the use of  equipment of the same or higher quality than described in this code. Therefore, it is undisputed that the EN 54 standards which are harmonized under CPR – both always included in VdS-Approval – are of a high level of quality and fit for use in their anticipated environment, independent from any single code of practice including NFPA 72. Clause 1.5 of NFPA 72 discusses equivalency in the context of systems, methods, devices, or appliances used in fire safety. It states that the code does not prohibit the use of systems or equipment that are of equal or better quality, strength, fire resistance, effectiveness, durability, and safety compared to those outlined in the code. However, to demonstrate equivalency, technical documentation must be provided to the authority having jurisdiction. Once equivalence is proven, the alternative systems or equipment can be approved for use.
Sönmez: Unfortunately, there is often a misconception in some markets that a tender that is NFPA 72 specified cannot be covered with an EN-certified system. Well, we have just heard from VdS that an EN solution would perfectly fulfill the requirements of NFPA 72.

a&s Middle East: Can you explain the key differences between EN 54 and UL certifications?

Mattie-Suleiman: The intent of both the UL and EN 54 product standards are similar. In other words, each product is tested in terms of functionality or sensitivity as it undergoes environmental, mechanical and electromagnetic testing, while some products such as smoke detectors also undergo fire tests. However, the actual tests and the requirements are different. The UL standards are written by USA experts whereas the EN is written mostly by experts from European countries. The development and harmonization need of the standards take longer in Europe, but they are scrutinized more intensively by experts. The repeatability of tests and control of test equipment must be of a really high standard. To obtain the CE mark under the CPR, the product must also meet all relevant directives such as EMC, electrical safety, etc.

a&s Middle East: Has any independent body such as VdS looked into the compatibility of EN 54-certified products in NFPA installations?

Mattie-Suleiman: Many top sector experts have studied the NFPA 72 code and that is why VdS states with confidence that the EN 54 product approval can be allowed to be used in installation which is based on NFPA 72.

Sönmez: Bosch products are VdS specified. So, our customers can be confident that with our portfolio they can perfectly comply with all NFPA 72 requirements. In fact, we have successfully conducted several projects that were originally specified for NFP 72. I can recall an example of a well-known textile and apparel manufacturer operating in Lahore, Pakistan that we concluded recently.

a&s Middle East: Is there any cooperation between VdS and other laboratories in Europe?

Mattie-Suleiman: Yes. Under the European Fire and Security Group (EFSG), we have established cooperation with other European laboratories. Any test house can apply to join the EFSG but they have to meet the high standard imposed by this group.

a&s Middle East: The UL and VdS Mutual Data Acceptance agreement was recently announced. What will change with this Agreement?

Mattie-Suleiman: In a similar way to the EFSG, the agreement is based on mutual acceptance of tests and this will be project based and assessed case by case. The implication is that manufacturers wishing to gain VdS and UL quality marks based on EN 54 standards can now achieve it with less testing.

a&s Middle East: In the past, it was also announced a similar agreement with FM Global. Could you comment on this collaboration?

Mattie-Suleiman: There is an agreement for the fire detection and alarm products based on EN 54 between VdS and FM. Manufacturers are free to apply.

a&s Middle East: Now, a question that we often have from stakeholders: does the EN certification guarantee a high level of EMC immunity? Why is this important?

Mattie-Suleiman: The EMC testing under the EN is of high standards and second to none. The EMC is one of the most challenging tests for fire product manufacturers and most test houses experience a high level of failure in the initial testing. With today’s technology and possible interference, you want to guarantee that your product performs in the correct way and does not cause nuisance or risk to the occupiers of the building and fire service personnel.

Sönmez: Bosch systems comply with the EN standards concerning EMC. But we go even beyond that. We want to avoid any disruption to production and other operations caused by electromagnetic disturbances. That is why we offer an eSmog feature in our AVENAR 4000 fire detectors. What does this mean? Well, the Bosch detector offers additional EMC protection beyond regular EN requirements and, on top of that, measures disturbance values. If they are too high, the detector location can be improved. It greatly reduces the risk of false alarms, subsequent downtime, and unnecessary evacuations.

a&s Middle East: How do EN standards and, for example, VdS certifications fit regional variations in regulatory requirements and market preferences, particularly in regions with diverse certification standards?

Mattie-Suleiman: In many regions of the world, the dominant and accepted standards are EN (e.g. in Europe) or UL (e.g. in the USA) or a mix of both standards (e.g. in the Middle East).
Some regions of the world such as China, India, and Australia, have their own standards but if you look into these standards, there are a lot of similarities, and some are really based on ISO standards with some variations. For example, if you take the control and indicating equipment, the AS7240-2 standard is called up in Australia. This standard is in fact based on ISO 7240-2 which itself is based on EN 54-2.

Having a product tested against a specific standard is one thing but to ensure its fit for a specific site and application, you may want to consider other factors such as climate conditions, risk assessment, etc.

a&s Middle East: What strategies do you recommend for companies looking to promote the use of EN and VdS-certified products in markets dominated by UL standards?

Mattie-Suleiman: We encourage companies to invite our experts to support and cooperate with those who specify the approval need on the value that is offered by EN standards and the VdS quality mark.

Sönmez: Exactly, this is the way to go. Therefore, Bosch is now putting a big effort to run communication activities to inform but also to train main stakeholders in mixed UL-EN markets. They must be aware of the many open possibilities for EN solutions. Specifically, we are collaborating with trade magazines and associations, running digital campaigns & webinars, and also organizing f2f events with consultants and system integrators in the Middle East, ASEAN, India, and Latin America. For this, we work closely together with VdS to communicate about the high standards of a VdS certification.

a&s Middle East: From your perspective, how do you anticipate the adoption of EN solutions in the UL-EN mixed markets?

Onur Sönmez – Head of Sales Marketing Bosch Fire Alarm Systems, Türkiye, Middle East and Africa

Sönmez: Today, most of the mixed regions are very UL-driven.
Projects are often NFPA 72 specified and, as mentioned earlier, many automatically interpret that these projects are only open for UL solutions. Nevertheless, we can see that once the consultants, system integrators, and end customers learn about the high quality and compliance of EN standards and in our case, about the benefits of our Bosch solutions, they open up to EN solutions. This way we are increasing the number of successful projects and the number of happy customers, which also calls for more projects.

Let me share some benefits or special features offered by Bosch to help designers transform an originally UL project into EN.  Firstly, our AVENAR panels are pretty unique when it comes to their functionality. It means that the panel meets several UL functional requirements such as audible distinguishing of fire & fault signals, signaling line circuit separation, or flexibility to add modules that offer auxiliary monitored outputs. That, followed by the newest technological achievements such as a 7’’ color touchscreen or an integrated Ethernet switch, makes the overall state-of-the-art solution that satisfies even the most demanding users. 

Then I’d like to highlight our detection range. For instance, AVENAR 4000 point type detectors that do not only meet high electromagnetic requirements given by EN 54 standards but exceed them offering extraordinary robustness in the 10-50kHZ frequency range and live measurements of the EMC value in the field. That results in high reliability and reduces the total cost of ownership, minimizing false alarms. 

Our signaling devices frequently offer ISO 8201 driven signaling tone and come with luminous intensity information (cd) that let the planners easily follow NFPA 72 requirements. Additionally, many of them offer a unique power supply concept, meaning built-in batteries that can ensure 30-minute alarm functionality even upon double loop breakage. 

Last but not least, I’d like to mention our AVENAR all-in-one signaling device, which is a single-point solution for applications when both visual and audible alarm signaling is required. It can be used with or without a detector, and also it doesn’t need an extra power supply to work.

On top of the product features, we also have good delivery times, advanced tools shortening project design and commissioning time, competitive pricing, and a 3-year warranty with an advanced replacement procedure. Check this out, learn more and you will fall in love with the unique offer.

a&s Middle East: What is the one key takeaway you would like people to remember from this interview?

Mattie-Suleiman: Your optimal back-up in any emergency is ensured by the top reliability of VdS-approved and so also EN-certified products.

Sönmez: As we learn from VdS, the EN solution would perfectly fulfill the requirements of NFPA 72. Therefore, since Bosch products are VdS specified, our customers can be confident that our portfolio perfectly matches all NFPA 72 requirement.

Eman Mattie-Suleiman – Technical Director, VdS Loss Prevention – UK

With over 27 years in fire protection since 1997, Eman Mattie-Suleiman holds a PhD in Instrumentation and Control Engineering, an MSC in Control Engineering, and a degree in Electronic System Engineering. Specializing in fire detection and alarm systems, she actively contributes to national, European, and international standards committees. Her expertise ensures the advancement and reliability of fire safety measures globally.

Onur Sönmez – Head of Sales and Marketing for Bosch Fire Alarm  Systems, Türkiye, Middle East and Africa

Having earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Electric and Electronic Engineering from Bahçeşehir Üniversitesi and a Master of Engineering in the same field from Anadolu Üniversitesi, Onur Sönmez brings a strong academic foundation to his career. With over 12 years at Bosch Security and Safety Systems, he is now Head of Sales and Marketing for Türkiye, Middle East and Africa. His long-term knowledge in these markets equipped him with profound expertise, particularly in regulatory aspects of fire alarm systems under EN and UL regulations.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *