More to Central Station Service Than Meets the Eye
Don’t overlook requirements for central station service and its protected premises.
Addressing the Testing and Inspection Question
Then there is the question of who may provide the testing and maintenance of a system that has been documented as central station service? This is to be through a contract, and is found within Paragraph 26.3.3:
26.3.3 Contract Requirements. The central station service elements shall be provided under contract to a subscriber by one of the following:
(1) A listed central station that provides all of the elements of central station service with its own facilities and personnel.
(2) A listed central station that provides, as a minimum, the signal monitoring, retransmission and associated record keeping and reporting with its own facilities and personnel and shall be permitted to subcontract all or any part of the installation, testing and maintenance and runner service.
6 Elements of Central Station Service
- Installation of alarm transmitters
- Alarm, guard, supervisory and trouble signal monitoring
- Associated record-keeping and reporting
- Testing and maintenance
- Runner service
(3) A listed alarm service-local company that provides the installation, testing and maintenance with its own facilities and personnel and that subcontracts the monitoring, retransmission, and associated record keeping and reporting to a listed central station with the required runner service provided by the listed alarm service-local company with its own personnel or the listed central station with its own personnel.(4) A listed central station that provides the installation, testing and maintenance with its own facilities and personnel and that subcontracts the monitoring, retransmission and associated record keeping and reporting to another listed central station with the required runner service provided by either central station.In all cases, the work must be performed by either a listed central station firm or a listed alarm service-local company. There are no allowances for the property owner to provide the inspection and testing, unless they have gone through the process to become at a minimum a listed alarm service-local company. A number of large facilities have done this, and may even operate their own supervising station. The majority of property owners, however, do not.In past editions of 72, the indication of central station service was either through a certificate or placard. Certification generally referred to Underwriters Laboratories and a placarded system was with FM Approvals. As other organizations are providing listing services, the standard was changed to “documentation indicating code compliance …” The three organizations that provide listings are:
- Edison Testing Laboratories-Intertek
- Factory Mutual Approvals
- Underwriters Laboratories
The alarm company that issues the document is responsible for the system, and that it meets the edition of the standard that it was installed under. It is possible to issue a new document for a system that was installed under the 1989 edition of NFPA 71, and have it listed under the requirement of that edition of the standard, as long as the system was installed and approved by the AHJ at the time that standard was enforced. So while the 2013 edition of 72 is the most current, there are still jurisdictions that enforce the 2007 or even the 2002 edition. The system would be listed under that edition.
If a listed alarm-service local company is under a subcontract with the firm that issued the document, that firm still has overall responsibility for the operation and code compliance of the system. That relationship would not be present if the property owner were performing a portion of the required services.
(On a related note, a reminder to those who are interested in the next edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, that the first draft will be posted on the NFPA Web site no later than March 9. To access the draft, go to the Codes and Standards section, and then to the Next Edition for 72. I’ll provide commentary on several of the proposed changes in an upcoming edition of Fire Side Chat.)
Next month I’ll conclude my discussion on central station service and discuss “qualified.”
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