CO Alarm Requirements Among Top Changes to NFPA 72

Other proposed NFPA changes tackle detector requirements and ceiling placement.

CO Alarm Requirements Among Top Changes to NFPA 72

By the time this article is published, the various technical committees that make up the NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, will have met in Charlotte, N.C., for the second draft meeting for the adoption of the 2019 edition.

In this article as well as next month’s I will review a number of the proposed changes that will be seen in the 2019 edition. Paragraph is being revised so it is clear that no documentation is to be stored or kept within the control unit.

This was added due to a fear that a document could come in contact with a hot component within the control unit and present a fire hazard. A new paragraph 10.4.3 proposes adding specific guidelines for the mounting height of fire alarm control units that have a display.

It reads: “Fire alarm control unit displays and controls, which includes visible indicators, shall be mounted such that the distance to the highest switch, lamp, or textual display does not exceed 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) above finished floor, and the lowest switch, lamp, or textual display shall not be less than 1.5 feet (0.4 meters) above the finished floor.”

A new paragraph is being added that states, “Smoke or heat detector(s) shall not be required to be installed at the location of a dedicated function(s) fire alarm control unit(s) that are not required to provide local or supervising station notification signals.”

This would principally be for those control units that are installed for the purpose of elevator recall, and that are not sending signals to an offsite monitoring station or activating local notification appliances.

NFPA 720 Requirements Now Slated for NFPA 72

One major change with the 2019 edition is the placement of CO alarm requirements within NFPA 72. NFPA 720, Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment, is being retired.

All of the requirements that were within NFPA 720 for CO alarms and detection systems will now be found in NFPA 72. In a few areas, the technical committees will still need to resolve a few conflicts.

One is the proposed paragraph, “Where carbon monoxide detection is not monitored by a supervising station, the secondary power supply shall have sufficient capacity to operate the carbon monoxide detection system under quiescent load for a maximum of 24 hours and at the end of that period, shall be capable of operating the carbon monoxide detection system and all notification appliances for 12 hours.”

The reason behind this development is to alert individuals who might not have been present at the time of the initial alarm to be made aware upon their return to the protected premises.

The issue is that depending upon the number of notification appliances, a very large secondary power supply would be required. A new section 17.7 is being added to address specific requirements for air sampling smoke detectors and detection systems.

This section will include general requirements, pipe network, installation, air duct applications and electrical and data cabinet applications. Section is being revised so as to address that a pressure supervisory switch on a dry pipe sprinkler system is to monitor both an increase and decrease of 10 psi.

Smoke Detection on High Ceilings Considered

There is also the possibility language will be added regarding the spacing of smoke detectors that are mounted on high ceilings. Under the present NFPA 72, while there are requirements for the reduction of spacing for heat detectors for high ceilings, there are no such provisions for smoke detectors.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation is having a study conducted on this question. It is hoped that information will be presented to the technical committee so that some guidance regarding the spacing of smoke detectors on high ceilings would be included.

Within Chapter 18 for notification appliances, there is a proposed change in which the designer of a system would not need to designate Acoustically Distinguishable Spaces (ADS).

The change would only require ADS that do not need intelligibility to be designated by the designer. The technical committee on notification appliances is also working on a complete revision to the visual appliance performance requirements.

This is to address the differences between xenon strobes and LED strobes, and concerns indirect viewing. Work is being conducted by UL that will be presented to the committee for consideration on this question.

I will discuss the activities of the other technical committees in September’s Fire Side Chat.


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About the Author


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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