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Fire Side Chat: Unlocking the 2013 Edition of NFPA 72

The NFPA 72 standard, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, has long been the most highly referenced and respected guide for building managers, AHJs and fire systems contractors alike. The recently adopted 2013 edition contains several important changes to support the mission of protecting lives and property within built environments.



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The 2013 edition of NFPA 72 was adopted during June’s annual National Fire Protection Association conference and expo in Las Vegas. A number of changes and updates were made to the standard known as the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. So this month we’ll discuss a few of the more significant ones you can expect to find within some of the chapters.

Documentation Changes Detailed

A new section, Chapter 7, has been added that is dedicated purely to documentation requirements. In past editions of the code some of this information was dispersed among a number of chapters. One particular addition to the documentation requirements is that a written narrative must be included as part of the submittal drawings or submittals.

Chapter 7 sets the minimum protocol for documentation, which depending on what the scope of the system is, may or may not be required by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). In particular are directives to provide ambient noise and audible design sound pressure levels, designation of spaces that are to have visible notification, and extensive emergency communication systems design document requirements.

Requirements for the various forms found within the standard were also changed and consolidated. So beyond a basic information section, documentation is expanded depending on the scope of the system and what devices and appliances were installed. This eliminates what had been a required 12-page form for every system.

Handling CO and Nuisance Alarms

A change to signal priority was made within the Fundamentals chapter (Chapter 10) that allows a signal from carbon monoxide (CO) detection to take precedence over supervisory and trouble signals. In addition, pre-alarm signals now may have precedence over supervisory and trouble signals.

Within Fundamentals is a new requirement that a supervising station must report to the AHJ whenever any account that has had monitoring is terminated. The service provider shall also report to the AHJ any fire alarm system that has been out of service for more than eight hours.

Unwanted alarms have been classified into four types:

  • Malicious
  • Nuisance
  • Unintentional
  • Unknown

Inside Inspection Requirements

The chapter on Circuits and Pathway (Chapter 12) now requires that all power- and nonpower-limited circuits that enter or leave a building have transient protection.

Inspection, Testing and Maintenance found in Chapter 14 has added a requirement that all systems are to have a test plan submitted to the AHJ. This test plan shall clearly define the scope for the testing of the system, and shall be a part of the documentation with the test records.

Voice intelligibility was amended so that a quantitative method of testing is not required, but permitted. If you can understand the message being delivered, it would meet the intelligibility requirements.

Visual inspection requirements were changed with more details as to what the inspector should be looking for:

  • Damage
  • Obstructions
  • Location
  • Condition

Having Elevator Control Down

Chapter 21, Emergency Control Function Interfaces, had a number of changes related to the recall of elevators:

  • Where sprinklers are located above the lowest level of recall, the fire detection device shall be located at the top of the hoistway.
  • Where sprinklers are located in the bottom of the hoistway, fire detection device(s) shall be installed in the pit.
  • When a smoke detector is installed within a pit, they shall be listed for the environment.

The chapter on Protected Premises Fire Alarm Systems (Chapter 23) now clarifies that a signal from a duct detector may be a supervisory signal. The chapter further addresses duct detectors by now requiring that if such a device cannot be reset from the fire alarm control unit then a listed switch must be provided in an accessible location to facilitate a reset of the detector.

The chapter also now specifies that only a fire alarm signal from a low-powered wireless transmitter must latch until manually reset. Supervisory and trouble signals are not required to latch.

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Article Topics
Fire/Life Safety · Other · Fire/Life Safety 2 · Fire Side Chat · Fire Side Chat with Shane Clary · NFPA 72 · All Topics

About the Author
Shane Clary
Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.
Contact Shane Clary: smclary@bayalarm.com
View More by Shane Clary
Fire Side Chat, Fire Side Chat with Shane Clary, NFPA 72


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