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NFPA 72 Motions Hot Topic at Annual Meeting

Which motions passed, which didn’t from NFPA annual meeting.

The annual meeting of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) was held in Chicago in late June, during which the important final floor discussion took place for the 2016 edition of NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. During this discussion, nine Certified Amending Motions (CAMs) were brought to the floor. Let’s take a brief look at each as well as how the vote transpired.

72-1: This motion was to change the testing requirements for supervisory switches from semiannual to annual. In the 2013 edition of NFPA 72 the frequency of these inspections was changed to annual, but it appeared that this was an editing error as there was no technical substantiation for this change. The Technical Committee on Inspection, Testing and Maintenance returned the text to the 2010 edition. The vote on the floor was not in favor of the CAM, and to maintain semiannual inspections of supervisory switches.

72-2: This resolved to change the maximum light pulse duration of a notification appliance strobe from 20 milliseconds to 200 milliseconds or 0.2 seconds. This was influenced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that are now being used for strobes. However, the result of the floor vote was to not accept the motion, and the 2016 edition of 72 will require a 20-millisecond pulse duration.

72-3: This was to mandate within NFPA 72 that the fire alarm initiating device(s) required to be within an elevator hoistway be accessible for repair, servicing, testing and maintenance from outside of the hoistway. While this is a needed requirement, the majority of the discussion on the floor was of the opinion that this belongs in the building or fire codes and not in the installation standard for fire alarm systems. The motion was defeated.

72-4: The Technical Committee on Protected Property Systems added new text to describe SLC (Signaling Line Circuits) Zones. This motion was to remove this text from the 2016 edition. The motion was not pursued.

72-5: This motion was to return to the 2016 edition the text found in the 2013 edition related to the use of isolation modules on SLCs. The 2013 edition requires their use for every 50 devices. The 2016 edition will require their use for every zone. The new definition of SLC zones is such that a different floor of a building will be considered a separate zone. A minority in Chicago felt that this may be a bit too much, especially for non-high-rise buildings. The motion did not carry, so the revised requirements will be in the 2016 edition.

72-6: This was to add requirements for two-way emergency voice communication systems and the locations to which they would be required within a building. This would have included areas of refuge, elevator landings and building stairways. While basically a good idea, the majority of the voting members present did not accept the motion. Like the elevator hoistway devices, the prevailing notion was that these requirements should be in the fire and building codes instead.

72-7: This motion was a bit of a twist in that it was to add text to the 2106 edition stating that “where required by applicable building codes” area of refuge and elevator landing emergency communications systems shall comply with NFPA 72. The text within 72 was that area of refuge systems are to comply with NFPA 72 requirements, with no mention of elevator landings. The motion failed, keeping the existing language in the standard.

72-8: For some in the room, this was the most important motion to come up. The motion was to return to the standard language that gives the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) the final approval of where a remote station’s system signals were to be received (read more about this topic in this month’s Monitoring Matters). The dialog at the NFPA meeting centered around a number of Chicagoland fire departments that were requiring signals from the protected premises to be transmitted to their dispatch center as opposed to a supervising station. After a very emotional debate the motion passed, restoring the text to allow the AHJ to approve to location of the remote station to be used. I’ll share more thoughts on this in an upcoming article.

72-9: This motion would have removed entirely the text that would have al-lowed a listed central supervising station to act as a remote station. Based on the results of 72-8, this motion was not pursued.

About the Author

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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.

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