Voice Alarm System

Last Updated: July 16, 2019

Definition - What does Voice Alarm System mean?

A voice alarm system, also called a public address voice alarm (PAVA), is a type of emergency alarm used primarily in public or high-occupancy buildings.

In the event of an emergency within the building, such as a fire, chemical spill, or bomb threat, a PAVA can provide an efficient means of communicating evacuation procedures and instructions as necessary. In some jurisdictions, the use of a PAVA is a legally required safety element in public buildings.

Safeopedia explains Voice Alarm System

Voice alarm systems frequently combine the option for manual voice broadcasting with the use of automated or semi-automated messaging that is activated in the presence of certain conditions. For instance, evacuation instructions in the case of a fire may be activated by a fire alarm. Because of their importance to modern evacuation systems, the use of a voice alarm system is governed by both industry and governmental quality control standards that set minimum criteria that a PAVA must meet to comply with applicable building safety standards.

As more research has emerged that demonstrates their superior effectiveness compared to other forms of emergency alarms, the use of voice alarm systems has been increasingly recognized as an integral part of modern emergency systems. Research into responsiveness to emergency alarms has shown that only 13% of individuals react in a timely manner to bell alarms, but 75% react in a timely manner to voice alarms. The instructions provided by voice alarms also improve the likelihood that individuals will evacuate through emergency exits instead of leaving through their regular entrance/exit point.

The use of voice alarm systems in buildings is required by major consensus standards such as the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, as well as under European law. The international technical standard IEC60849 also prescribes specific universal requirements that are commonly used within industry.

In 2011, the use of voice alarm systems that comply with European standard EN-54 became legally mandatory within many European buildings, including the following: high-rise public buildings, commercial or exhibition buildings, one-story buildings with high occupancy and a large fire area, sports and recreation facilities, hospitals, schools, hotels, shopping centers, and transportation (rail, air, underground) stations.

Because they need to function during fires and other situations that may impede normal building functions, voice alarm systems must be designed to operate in a variety of non-standard situations. For instance, a common requirement of voice alarm systems is that they be supported by a battery backup that provides enough power to maintain their operation in the event of a power outage in the building.

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