A good fire alarm system design becomes a function of how well you understand fire-protection principles as well as the requirements of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC).
Addressable fire alarm systems are the typical choice for new installations. The programmability gives designers and installers an astounding array of operational features. However, occupants may not understand their responsibilities or how to interpret an alarm.
We all know fire protection is a lot more than a fire alarm or a sprinkler system. In many buildings, the fire alarm is integrated with other systems for the purpose of making the building safer. Who ensures all of the systems perform together properly?
In the course of daily business, you often receive a request to update or replace electrical systems in a building. Have you ever proactively asked customers to allow you to review and audit their fire alarm systems?
Design/build means different things to different people. Regardless, you should know that it places more responsibility on your shoulders as the electrical professional. It means you need to stay abreast of the codes that affect your installations.
Where do you begin? The technician inside all of us wants to immediately lay out the design on the plans, but that should not be your first move. Instead, determine what goals the owner and other relevant stakeholders want the building’s fire protection system to do.
I have often described the reliability of a fire alarm system installation as dependent on four elements: design, equipment, installation and maintenance. I have also explained that the last two elements contribute the most to a fire alarm system’s operational reliability.
Designers, contractors and authorities having jurisdiction often misunderstand the term “survivable.” They presume it means the installer has chosen to use either a Class A wiring scheme or has placed the circuits in metal raceway.
As most of you know, the codes and standards for fire alarm and mass notification systems change on a three-year cycle. New technology and more refined occupant needs top the list of reasons for most changes.
At a recent gathering of fire alarm industry friends, we found ourselves lamenting that, even though we felt confident that NFPA 72 2013, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, provided very good guidance for designers, installers and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs), we still find new instal
As a contractor, you bid on numerous fire alarm system projects based on plans and specifications developed by an engineer. You assume the engineer has discussed such things as quality and reliability with the owner because the specifications focus on those issues.
We all know that fire alarm systems that are tested and maintained on a regular basis are more reliable. According to NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, the owner is responsible for inspections, testing and maintenance as well as any alterations or additions to the fire alarm system.
I am sure many of you are certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) in fire alarm systems and encourage your employees to become NICET-certified as well. NICET has been certifying individuals in fire protection fields since 1978.
I receive questions and stories about installer experiences with code-compliant fire alarm systems in the field, many relating to issues about the use, application and installation requirements of visible and audible notification appliances.
Like many engineering disciplines, the fire protection world is built on tradition. And while tradition provides stability and uniformity, it also explains why the fire protection community has moved toward new technology applications at glacial speed.