NFPA 72 Changes: Remote Access & UL Usage

Within the 2022 edition, some stringent rules have been added to quantify what can and cannot be performed via remote access to the fire alarm control unit.

NFPA 72 Changes: Remote Access & UL Usage

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This is the third installment of my columns on changes made to NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, 2022 edition. Depending on the state that you may operate out of this addition may or may not have been adopted yet.

In the state that I primarily work out of, California, the 2022 edition will become the law of the land on Jan. 1, 2023. California is completely skipping over the 2019 edition. To further complicate matters, by the time this column is published, the closing state for the 2025 edition will have passed, being June 1, 2023. 

Ahead, I shall be covering changes that were made in Chapter 23, Protected Premises and Chapter 24, Emergency Communication Systems.

Chapter 23, Protected Premises Alarm Systems: 

For a number of years, it has been possible to remotely access a fire alarm control unit (FACU) for the purpose of testing, determination of a trouble condition and even programing. Within the 2022 edition, some stringent rules have been added to quantify what can and cannot be performed via remote access to the FACU.

A new definition has been added to Chapter 23, which states that remote access is to be between a remote device and a component of the fire alarm or signaling system. Within the annex to this definition are examples of what a remote device may be. The annex also makes it clear that the use of remote access communications is not intended for supervising station operations, i.e., the receiving of signals. 

Within Chapter 23, it is made clear that is a system is to be reset, or if a system is to have a programing change, that a qualified person shall be onsite. Some testing activities may be executed with no technician being onsite. When a remote access session is started for the purpose of testing or diagnostics, there shall be a means in which to terminate the session from the FACU at any time, and after a period of one-hour of no activity, the session shall terminate.  

If the remote access is to be used for updating the firmware or software of the FACU or system, or making a change to the programing, in addition to the two requirements noted above, a technician shall be onsite so as to test the system in accordance with Chapter 14.

Within Chapter 23, a Class A and Class B radio pathway was added. A Class A radio pathway is to have a redundant pathway while a Class B will not. As a Class A radio pathway will have redundancy, it is expected that if one pathway goes down, the redundant pathway will allow the intended operation to continue.  

With a Class B pathway, operation capability will end at the affected portion of the pathway. The remaining requirements for a Class A and Class B radio pathway are the same, including primary and secondary power, end-to-end communications to verify operational capability and a 200-second requirement to restore operational capability when a fault condition occurs.  

Chapter 24, Emergency Communication Systems: 

The work within this Chapter was very light as compared to past editions. The significate change was to clearly identify that UL 2572, Mass Notification Systems was to be the primary standard to be used when a control unit was to be used for the purpose of mass notification.

UL 864, Standard for Control Units and Accessories for Fire Alarm Systems is to be used when the control unit is to be used for the purpose of the detection and notification of a fire or other possible signaling event. Both standards are to be used for a combination system.  

However, if the system is only to be used for mass notification, the control is to only be Listed to UL 2572. When designing a system to the 2022 edition of NFPA 72, the designer will need to use the correct type of control unit for the application that is intended.    

As the technical committees begin their work for the 2025 edition of 72, I am not aware yet of all proposed changes that may be sent in by the closing date of June 1. I do suspect that there will be a number of public inputs related to remote monitoring and Cloud-based services.  

I will be reviewing bi-directional amplifier (BDA) systems in my next column.     

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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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