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Pathways to Glory

As critical as the components of a fire/life-safety system (e.g. fire alarm control panels, smoke detectors, strobes, sirens) are, they matter little if they fail to get a signal transmitted during an emergency. Thus it is essential system designers ensure uninterrupted circuit pathways, an area that has recently been updated.

Describing Survivability Levels

In addition to describing the pathways, the system designer must also describe the Pathway Survivability Level:

  • Level 0   — Not required to have any provisions for pathway survivability
  • Level 1 — Pathways shall be in buildings that are fully protected by an automatic sprinkler system in accordance with NPFA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems.
  • Level 2 — Pathway shall consist of one or more of the following: (1) two-hour fire-rated circuit integrity (CI) cable. (2) Two-hour fire-rated cable system [electrical circuit protective system(s). (3) Two-hour fire-rated enclosure or protected area. (4) Two-hour performance alternatives approved by the authority having jurisdiction.
  • Level 3 — Pathway shall have both requirements found for Levels 1 and 2.

Designers of systems should be knowledgeable with the requirements for pathways and circuits, and what class and level is to be specified for a particular project. Installers need to be aware of the requirements for their installations as ignorance could have a negative effect if it is later found that a different class and level should have been used.

NFPA Chicago Meeting Notes

During June’s National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) annual meeting in Chicago, two particularly noteworthy documents were voted on during the Membership Technical Session:

  • NFPA 25 — Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems
  • NFPA 70 — The National Electrical Code

I will review the changes you should be aware of in both these documents later this year, after the NFPA Standards Council has acted on any appeals that may be filed.

The next edition of NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, is in full swing with several of the Technical Committees holding First Draft meetings for the 2016 edition in St. Louis. I will be in the Gateway City in September when the Technical Committees on Fundamentals and Protected Premise Systems meet. I will discuss the significant proposed changes after all of the committees have met and the balloting has concluded.

Circuit Types Not Required to Be Monitored for Integrity

  • Shorts between conductors
  • Noninterfering shunt circuit
  • Connections to and between supplementary system components
  • Trouble notification appliance circuit
  • Interconnection between enclosures containing control equipment located within 20 feet of each other*
  • Conductors for ground-fault detection
  • Circuits for alarm notification appliances installed within the same room with the central control equipment*
  • Interconnection between listed equipment within a common enclosure

* Circuits required to be installed in conduit or equivalently protected against mechanical injury.

Shane Clary, Ph.D., has nearly 40 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 Pacheco, Calif.-headquartered Bay Alarm Co.

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Article Topics
Fire/Life Safety · Fire/Life Safety 2 · Emergency Communications Systems ECS · Fire Side Chat with Shane Clary · NFPA · NFPA 72 · All Topics

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Emergency Communications Systems ECS, Fire Side Chat with Shane Clary, NFPA, NFPA 72

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