For the Alarm Industry, 2016 is Chock-full of NFPA Code Talk

Keep an eye out for the following hearings and new proposals that may affect your business.

INSTEAD OF TACKLING a single topic, let’s take a look at what 2016 has in store for the alarm industry. This year will be very active with the revisions to various codes and standards that affect the design and installation of fire alarm systems.

Throughout 2016, the International Code Council (ICC) will be working toward the next edition of the International Fire Code (IFC). The closing date for proposals was in January. The IFC is part of the Group B cycle, which also includes the International Building Code (IBC) and the International Residential Building Code (IRC). There will be two meetings in which proposals and then comments to these codes will be discussed in public.

The Committee Action Hearings are scheduled to be held April 17-27 in Louisville, Ky. The Public Comment Hearings will be held in conjunction with the ICC Annual Meeting Oct. 19-25 in Kansas City, Mo. As public meetings, anyone with an interest in the proposed changes can attend. Any member of the ICC can vote during the Committee Action Hearings. Only governmental members may vote during the Public Comment Hearings, which is also referred to as the Final Action Hearings. Additionally, these hearings will be streamed live via the ICC Web site.

NFPA Already Looking Ahead to 2019

At press time I did not have the final list of items that will be of interest to those who design and install fire alarm systems. The Fire Code Advisory Committee (FCAC) is working on a number of proposals, including bringing NFPA 4, Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing into the IFC as an adopted document with requirements that certain types of buildings be required to have these tests conducted. Another proposal would make changes to the requirements for shop drawings. There will also be proposals from outside of the FCAC. Look for coverage of the various proposals once they’ve been released in an upcoming Fire Side Chat.

While the 2016 edition of NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code was just released, work is already beginning on the 2019 edition. With this edition there will be a new chair of the Correlating Committee, as a term is limited to 10 years. Robert Schifiliti has completed his term, and recently named to the position is Merton Bunker Jr. Bunker is the past chair of the Technical Committee on Protected Premises Fire Alarm and Signaling Systems, and has spent time working for the NFPA. He also served for a number of years with the United States Department of State in the Fire Protection Division.

MORE: Check Out Other Fire-Side Chat Columns From Shane Clary

One major change for the 2019 edition will be the inclusion of NFPA 720, Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment into the body of NFPA 72. NFPA 720 will then be removed as a document that is published by the NFPA. The Correlating Committee felt that with the prior move to make NFPA 72 more inclusive for emergency communication systems (mass notification), the time was right to include CO detection. This will eliminate a lot of the duplication that now occurs between the two documents.

The closing date for First Draft Public Comments is June 29, 2016. If you have any changes or additions that you would like to see within NFPA 72, now is the time to get them submitted to NFPA so that they may be considered for the 2019 edition. Submittals may be made online through the NFPA Web page. One does not need to be a member of the NFPA to submit public proposals.

Electrical, Fire, Life Safety Codes Under Review

The NFPA Annual Meeting will take place June 13-16 in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The principal document that will be voted on at this meeting will be the 2017 edition of NFPA 70, The National Electrical Code.

Also in 2016, final work will be made on the next editions of NFPA 1, Fire Code; NFPA 101, Life Safety Code; NFPA 3, Recommended Practice for Commissioning of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems; and the aforementioned NFPA 4. One significant change that is being proposed for NFPA 3 is to move it from being a “Recommended Practice” to a “Standard,” meaning the key word “should” would be changed to “shall.”

Being an even-number year, I’m planning on taking another trip to Essen, Germany, to attend the biannual Essen Security tradeshow. You may have read my previous coverage of this massive exposition. This is the one foreign show that I would recommend security providers attend at least once in their career. Think of the ISC, ASIS, ESX and the NFPA expos combined – and then almost doubled. The dates are Sept. 27-30, so it’s not too late to consider.

All in all, it will be a busy year, and an important one to keep track of potential changes that may affect your business.

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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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