THE EMS 5000 SYSTEM’S CURRENT SITUATION
You will be looking at this page as you’ll have an EMS 5000, also known as the EMS FirePoint 5000 (or 5004, 5012, 5048, 5096, depending on how many zones the system covers).
If you have an EMS 5000 system installed in your building, you may be advised that it needs upgrading after it was made obsolete. Here’s everything that you need to know so you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
Here’s a quick video which sums up what you need to know, and read for more detail about the EMS 5000 fire alarm system.
The Obsolete EMS Fire Point 5000 System
The EMS 5000 was, indeed, a first-class radio fire alarm system. It was widely installed and, at one time, considered the radio fire alarm to install.
During 2012, EMS released the next generation system; the EMS FireCell, which this was radically different to the EMS 5000 in a number of ways. The key difference was that the EMS 5000 system operated on radio frequencies of VHF 173 MHz and UHF 459 MHz, whilst the new EMS FireCell system operated on the 868 Mhz. At the time, the EMS 5000 was retained within the EMS family of products for what was described as the ‘foreseeable future’. This was mainly due to the fact that there were many EMS 5000 systems installed throughout the UK and, like every fire detection and alarm system, there was a need for these installed systems to be able to be expanded and repaired.
However, due to a seemingly overlooked change in legislation (the Construction Product Directive, or CPD/CPR), which came into force during July 2013, the EMS 5000 became obsolete. This was due to becoming non-compliant with the new requirements. EMS was not the only fire alarm manufacturer to be affected by the CPR and a number of other fire alarm panels were discontinued at the same time. The net result of this was that it became illegal to sell new systems made from the non-compliant product range, which includes additional parts.
What the manufacturer did to mitigate this at the time was to stockpile £1m of product to be sold through a wholesaler and this pre-made stock was allowed to be resold into the marketplace. The stock ran out in the middle of 2014, and therefore there is no legal way to obtain additional parts for the system from the manufacturer directly.
- The EMS 5000 system was made obsolete in July 2013. The manufacturer is not allowed to sell new parts, extensions or additions to the existing systems due to the Construction Products Directive.
- The now obsolete EMS 5000 was supported with new parts and installations until late 2014, however when the stock ran out, no new products were made available.
- The system is incompatible with the next generation product, the EMS FireCell, and therefore existing systems were not backwards compatible.
- EMS did release an add-on part that could be connected to the hard-wired call point connection of the 5000 system. This can be useful for particular purposes, however this is limited in functionality, can only be used in one zone and depends upon the hard-wired call point connection being available.
- If you want to upgrade part of the system a full upgrade would be required.
- Repairs are available at the time of writing this page, however this is dependent upon the manufacturer’s ability to source the appropriate components and there is no guarantee of how long this service will continue for.
Is the EMS 5000 Safe?
The EMS 5000 alarm was a premium product and came with a 5-year warranty. The way it worked and its reliability was renowned throughout the industry and this was backed by dependable technical support from the manufacturer. When installed and maintained properly, it was a solid choice and as safe as any hard wired system that was on the market at the time. Therefore a properly maintained system can be considered safe. If you have faults on your system then they can be fixed; changing batteries is not always the answer, which you may have come to realise by now if you have had multiple visits for batteries that don’t last as long as they should do.
As far as the condition of your system is concerned, then this depends on your individual circumstances. I would advise that you don’t leave faults, as if they are caused by battery failures and are then left, the alkaline cells will leak and the cost of repair will be many hundred pounds more than just replacing the batteries. The reality is that your fire alarm shouldn’t have any faults and if you do have faults, these should be attended to immediately. Leaving faults on a system has non-compliance implications with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA).
The HASAWA details wide-ranging requirements of employers. Employers must protect the ‘health, safety and welfare’ at work for all employees, as well as others on their premises; including temps, casual workers, the self-employed, clients, visitors and the general public.
An employer’s duties are qualified with the words ‘as far as is reasonably practicable’. This means that employers can argue that the costs of a particular safety measure are not justified by the reduction in risk that the measure would produce. What it doesn’t mean is that they can avoid their responsibilities simply by claiming that they cannot afford health and safety measures.
Is the EMS 5000 Legal?
The law and fire safety is pretty complex. Specifically, the EMS 5000 was a legal product when installed prior to 2013/14 and unless you make changes to your building, which in turn requires changes to the fire alarm system.
In any case, if your Fire Risk Assessor requires you to change the system then effectively you have to comply with the recommendations of your Fire Risk Assessment and upgrade your system as instructed.
Can I Get Spare Parts for an EMS 5000 System?
Yes you can. At the time of writing this article (August, 2019) there is still a remove and repair facility of faulty parts. Practically, this will involve the following process:
- Have an engineer attend to diagnose the problem (this could take 2-3 visits as fault finding on the EMS 5000 system is a process of elimination; the batteries, the device and the radio infrastructure, and not necessarily in that order).
- Remove the faulty product from site and send to the manufacturer for detailed fault investigation.
- The manufacturer quotes for the faulty parts and an order is required to proceed.
- The device is repaired.
- The device is brought to site and added back to the system.
The manufacturer provides a limited warranty on the repaired parts only under the condition that the fault is again diagnosed and the whole procedure is followed as detailed above. In essence, this is quite a bit of a process and can take some time to complete, especially when you factor in possible battery changes.
One big consideration here is that you cannot legally purchase any additional new parts for your EMS 5000 system. If you see them online then my advice is that you don’t purchase these parts. If you were to purchase these parts online you could fall foul of a number of things, such as the parts would be considered as being illegally obtained, or the parts could be past their replace by date, or any refurbished parts were meant for the site from which they came.
If you are tempted to take this route, the biggest factor to be aware of is that the EMS 5000 system had safeguards built in which stops you setting off the sounders in the next door building. Therefore there are batched products which are not interchangeable; these were called ‘check-sum’ and ‘check-sum+’ etcetera. What this effectively means is that the parts of your system may not be interchangeable with other installed EMS 5000 systems.
My EMS 5000 System is Broken or Needs maintenance, Can You Help Me?
The good news is that ‘yes’ we can help!
Please call our Service Desk to arrange a Technical Survey and one of our radio fire alarm specialists will visit your site to ascertain the nature of the faults you currently have.
What we often find is that another company has already changed numerous batteries on the system and this can give a false impression that the system is unreliable. In reality, changing the batteries is part of the fault finding process. Once the correct batteries have been installed you can then see if this clears the faults; if it does then you could find that it was simply the use of the incorrect batteries or that they were incorrectly installed. When new batteries are installed within the EMS 5000 detectors, each cell should be tested to ensure that the batteries being fitted are in a good condition to avoid confusion over the cause of the fault.
However you may find that the fault returns and this indicates that there are other issues, such as:
- A faulty EMS 5000 smoke detector, EMS 5000 sounder or EMS 5000 manual call point draining batteries prematurely.
- A device which has failed for reasons which can’t be diagnosed without a factory diagnosis.
- A device that has suffered leaking battery acid onto the terminals and printed circuit board (PCB) which sometimes can be cleaned and repaired on site, and other times may require a new set of terminals and PCB.
- There could be issues with the radio infrastructure and this could be contributing to the impression of device faults.
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