BS EN 50518 - European Standard for Monitoring and Alarm Receiving Centres (MARC)


A little on the history

The first part of this standard, part 1 (there are three parts), was published in 2010. Part 1 dealt with location and construction, part 2, also published in 2010, dealt with technical requirements and finally part 3 published in 2011 dealt with procedures.

A minor amendment was made in 2013 to all three parts essentially to clarify:

  • that the suite of standards should not be used in isolation;

  • that they applied to monitoring of I&HAS only;

  • that the UPS and/or generator may be outside of the shell;

  • resistance class 4 (RC4) for construction of doors and glazed areas was reduced to RC3

Following publication of this standard BS 5979:2007 – Remote centres receiving signals from fire and security systems, which had been around for nearly 30 years, was withdrawn. The British Standards Institute (BSI) in its role as the UK National Standards Body (NSB) is obliged to withdraw any national standard that conflicts with a European Norm.

Withdrawing BS 5979 presented the UK monitoring industry with a problem. The problem was that while BS 5979 applied to an ARC monitoring Intruder, Fire, social and CCTV whereas the new European Standard only applied to an ARC monitoring Intruder & hold-up alarm systems (I&HAS). This meant that once BS 5979 was withdrawn there would be no standards in place for ARC monitoring Fire, Social and CCTV.

The answer, BS 5891:2014 – Remote centres receiving signals from alarm systems. This standard was published to plug the gap left by the withdraw of BS 5979 and covered all the above systems with the exception of Intruder.

Where we are today? Current standards:

  • BS EN 50518:2013 (Parts 1, 2 & 3) – Applicable to an ARC monitoring I&HAS

  • BS 8591:2014 – Applicable to an ARC monitoring fire, social, CCTV, lone worker and vehicle tracking

Fortunately for those ARC that are already certificated to BS 5979:2007, the police and insurance industry continue to recognise and accept them and at present there is no suggestion that any UK stakeholder will require ARC to change to the European Standard.

Note. Other related standards, BS 8418 – Detector activated CCTV and BS 8484 – Lone Worker Services, continue to include reference to BS 5979 as an acceptable standard for the construction and facilities of an ARC.

Around the corner:

BS EN 50518 is in the final stages of its first full revision. The revised standard is expected to be published mid-2017. The ‘draft’ revision includes the following principal changes:

  1. the three parts have been consolidated into one document;

  2. provision for two categories of ARC, Category 1 for ARC monitoring alarms from security applications and category 2 for ARC monitoring alarms from non-security applications;

  3. scope extended to cover Intruder, Fire, CCTV, Lone Worker, Social, Access, Elevator Alarms;

  4. easing of certain construction requirements for ARC on upper floors;

  5. corrections and clarifications identified from the first publication;

  6. concept of an Alarm Management System (AMS) for the control and presentation of alarm messages;

  7. requirement for a management system to be in place

If the draft standard receives a positive vote and is subsequently published, this again will result in a conflict between a UK standard, BS 8591 and a European standard BS EN 50518:201X which inevitably will result in the British Standard being withdrawn.


Like it or not one positive outcome will be one standard to get our heads around (and purchase) instead of four!