The primary focus of the National Electrical Code (NEC) is safety, and it offers specific requirements for how to install wiring and help ensure the safety of both the contractor and the building occupants.
Electrical professionals understand that the purpose of a smoke detection and alarm system is generally to provide life safety for building occupants. They also understand that the goal of the fire alarm system is to provide occupants with as much escape time as possible.
As a fire protection engineer who oversees the proposals to repair fire alarm systems, I often experience communication disconnects between the contractor, owner and authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). These disconnects manifest in the extent of changes each stakeholder requires.
Each year, we receive construction forecasts that we presumably use to determine what to expect for the promise of work during the coming year. Regardless of what these reports say, the question remains: How do you approach your own construction or work forecast?
Despite the threat of disasters, many people fail to develop emergency plans. It often takes experiencing a disaster to recognize the need for a contingency plan, but electrical contractors can suggest such plans to their customers before calamity strikes.
Many Might answer the title question: “I am a professional contractor.” That means you at least install fire alarm systems, maybe even design your own projects. If that alone constitutes your answer, you routinely miss a huge amount of sales.
It makes sense that most contractors focus on the codes that relate to the system types they install. Specifically, professional systems contractors most use NFPA 70, National Electrical Code and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.
“What is NFPA 72?” That sounds like a straightforward question, right? At least, we would like to think so. At a recent meeting, someone asked a technician this seemingly simple question. He replied correctly that NFPA 72 was the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.
It is interesting to monitor how the biennial “Profile of the Electrical Contractor” research study has changed over the years. It shows how the EC evolves with the times, including adding communications work to their offerings. Those who responded to market shifts made the move to profit.
Do you keep up with new fire alarm systems technology developments? If you do, you will have an edge when you speak with customers about their fire alarm system needs. Most of your clients will ask for code-compliant systems.
I recently realized that our failure to properly train fire alarm system technicians has created a group of workers who simply do not understand the reasons they do what they do. When a technician asks for the rationale behind a procedure, we often respond, “Because the code requires it.”
Oscar Wilde, the Irish poet and novelist, wrote, “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” Although I like this statement, I get a little nervous when a fire alarm system contractor smiles and says, “Boy, do I have a lot of experience!” Let’s face it.
In these difficult economic times, we see much more renovation than new construction. Generally, when an owner renovates a building, the work will more than likely affect the fire alarm system coverage or operation.
Although the 2013 edition of the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code contains 15 chapters and nine annexes, I find many contractors, designers and authorities having jurisdiction reference only one or two chapters when deciding what requirements will affect their fire alarm system design, install