Code-Compliant Systems Turn on Inspection and Testing

The Need for Uniform Electrical Characteristics

Scott Edwards, vice president of Fire Protection Products for Gentex of Zeeland, Mich., says UL acknowledged the need for uniform electrical standards in the fire alarm industry some time ago.

According to Edwards, a representative from UL has gone on record as saying,  “At an ever-increasing rate, UL is being made aware of installed fire alarm systems having notification appliance, smoke detector, or even control units that must be replaced. Since there is no published information concerning electrical characteristics, the building owner may have to replace the complete system.”

“Does this sound like a statement about today’s fire alarm systems? Of course it does!” says Edwards.“So when did UL make this statement? This statement was made more than 10 years ago at the Industry Affairs Commi
ttee meeting held Nov. 6-7, 1995.”

Understandably, pressure for uniform electrical standards in this area has not been forthcoming from the field. Why? Because fire alarm companies can make a lot of money replacing entire fire alarm systems when listed devices are no longer available.

“I think for a starting point we need to fast forward from the 1995 comments by UL regarding the need for some sort of standardization of electrical parameters and go to the Report on Proposals for NFPA 72-2002. I believe we need to start with 72-352, Log # 220,” says Edwards.

According to Edwards, the proposal says,“Where control panel manufacturers provide a listing of compatible notification appliances as part of the listed product, such lists are intended for informational purposes only and shall not be interpreted to prohibit the use of compatible notification appliances which are not on the list.”

SSI will cover this issue in more depth in a subsequent issue.

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