IBC 2024 Fire Alarm Requirements: Touching base with the codes, part 2

By Thomas P. Hammerberg | May 14, 2024
IBC 2024 Fire Alarm Requirements: Touching base with the codes, part 2
This article covers changes to the 2024 International Building Code (IBC). Like with NFPA 101, there are not many changes from previous editions, but it is always good to know what they are.

In March, I reviewed the changes to the fire alarm requirements for the 2024 NFPA 101, Life Safety Code. This article covers changes to the 2024 International Building Code (IBC). Like with NFPA 101, there are not many changes from previous editions, but it is always good to know what they are.

Fire alarm requirements

Most states use the IBC or International Fire Code (IFC) for fire alarm requirements, although in some cases, there may be local modifications to the model code. It is always a good idea to review your local requirements to ensure you have the correct information.

Remember that the fire alarm requirements are developed in the IFC and copied into the IBC. One main difference is that the IFC also covers existing occupancies, while the IBC only covers new ones. As I mentioned in March, the IBC and NFPA 101 are structured differently. In NFPA 101, you find fire alarm requirements in each occupancy chapter. In the IBC, you find them mostly in Section 907.

Here are the fire alarm requirement changes for 2024. In Section 907.2.1 for Group A (Assembly) occupancies, many new exceptions were added to allow eliminating manual fire alarm boxes and the associated occupant notification systems for A-5 outdoor bleacher seating. These include having a public address system with standby power, a limitation on enclosed spaces within 5 feet of the bleachers to not exceed more than 1,000 square feet, all means of egress from the bleachers must be to the outdoors, bleacher-type seating erected for less than 180 days and evacuation must be included in the approved fire safety plan.

New requirements were added stating that a fire alarm system activated by an air-sampling-type smoke detection system or a radiant-energy-sensing detection system must be installed throughout the entire fire area used for the research and development or testing of lithium-ion or lithium metal batteries.

In 907.2.4 for Group F occupancies, there are similar requirements for areas used for manufacturing lithium-ion or lithium metal batteries and when the vehicle manufacturer  uses energy storage systems or equipment containing these batteries when they are installed as part of the manufacturing process. The same new requirements apply for Group M and Group S occupancies for the storage of these batteries in accordance with Section 320 of the IFC.

In 907.5 for occupant notification, Group I-1 was added to Groups R-1 and R-2 to require low-frequency signaling complying with NFPA 72.

Those are essentially the changes made to Section 907 in 2024.

Carbon monoxide detection

There were also a significant number of changes made to Section 915 for carbon monoxide (CO) detection. First, an exception was added in 915.1 that CO detection is not required in groups F, S and U that are not normally occupied. Also, CO detection is now required in all occupancies that a) contain a CO source, b) contain or are supplied with a CO-producing forced-air furnace, c) have an attached private garage or d) have a CO-producing vehicle used in the building.

A notable change is that the use of CO alarms is now limited to dwelling or sleeping units. All other applications now require the use of a CO detector, which must be connected to a fire alarm system or a CO detection system. The exception would be for buildings that do not require a fire alarm system if the use of a CO alarm is approved by the fire code official.

Another new requirement for now requires CO alarms to be interconnected so that if one activates, all CO alarms will.

One problem in the past was that there was very little information about occupant notification requirements. It began saying that you had to notify the local area of the alarm; now it states in 915.5.4 that activation of a CO detector must annunciate at the control unit and initiate audible and visible alarm notification throughout the building. 

There is an exception that allows occupant notification only in the area where the CO alarm signal originated, provided that the alarm signal from the activated CO detector is automatically transmitted to an approved on-site or off-premises location.

Over all, there are not that many changes, but the ones identified in this article improve the overall life safety system operation. This is a good example of industry participants and AHJs working together to make better code language and improve systems. / labalajadia

About The Author

HAMMERBERG, SET, CFPS, is an independent fire alarm presenter and consultant currently residing in The Villages, Fla. Tom represented the Automatic Fire Alarm Association on multiple NFPA technical committees as well as actively participating in the ICC code making process for many years. He is NICET Level IV certified in fire alarm systems and a Certified Fire Protection Specialist. He can be reached at [email protected]






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