New Electrical Code for the City of Chicago

The City of Chicago has adopted the 2017 version of NFPA 70 (NEC) as its new electrical code, with amendments of course. The new code is set to become effective on March 1, 2018. I’ve got a copy of that new code and have begun going over the fire alarm/voice evacuation section to find variations [Read More]

Can I use a PBX phone line for a DACT connection to the fire department?

With the impending discontinuation of the hard copper (POTS) phone lines, and in fact many municipalities already no longer have hard copper pairs from end user to the fire department dispatch center, is it a violation of NFPA 72 if the DACT connections to the fire department use PBX phone lines? Some fire alarm system [Read More]

Do fire alarm strobes always have to be synchronized?

I was recently asked a question about whether two strobes had to be synchronized if they were the only two in a field of view .  The facility’s fire alarm vendor told him that if a field of vision had just two strobes in it, they did not need to be synchronized.  When he tried [Read More]

Are fire alarm notification devices required in all areas of a hospital?

As hospitals upgrade their existing life safety systems to include newer technology, designers of record may not be sure of where notification devices should be placed, given the need for quiet areas in a hospital.  Since this is a non-evacuation occupancy, private mode signaling can be used for fire alarm announcements, as allowed by NFPA [Read More]

Does a sprinkler in a LULA elevator pit mandate elevator recall?

I get this question on occasion when there is confusion over the relationship between elevators and sprinklers.  The short answer is probably not.  The base requirement of ASME 17.1 (2007) Sec. 2.27.3.2.1(c), which calls for fireman’s service if a sprinkler head is in the hoistway, is exempted for electric Limited Use/Limited Access (LULA) elevators by [Read More]

Do single station smoke alarms have low frequency sounders?

NFPA 72 now requires a 520 hz square wave fire alarm signal in smoke detector sounder bases provided for publicly available sleeping areas.  The 520 hz tone has been shown as more effective in waking people of a certain age (ahem), deep sleepers or those that may have had a few too many the night [Read More]

What Version of NFPA 72 Record of Completion is IDPH Using?

Since we service many hospitals and long term care facilities, we run into a number of different opinions on which version of the NFPA 72 Record of Completion (ROC) the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is requiring as part of its closeout documentation.  You’ll get different answers, depending on the general contractor. Since the [Read More]

Can I Use VoIP to Replace My Fire Alarm Telephone Lines?

Utilizing the internet to send fire alarm signals to a monitoring station is a subject that confuses end users, designers and installers alike.  Many installers will just say ‘You can’t’ regardless of the equipment currently used, even though that’s usually not the case.  While it’s true that older, existing equipment probably can’t use VoIP, there are options [Read More]

If I Have Sprinklers, Do I Also Need Smoke Detectors? Part 2

In our previous blog on this subject, we addressed whether smoke detectors are required in business, healthcare and assembly occupancies if they have sprinklers installed.  In this edition, we’ll look at general requirements for educational and residential occupancies, based on the IBC/IFC and NFPA 101. As mentioned in Part 1,  it’s important to remember that sprinklers are [Read More]

Can Fire Alarm System Smoke Detectors Replace 120 VAC Smoke Detectors?

  When it comes to renovations of multi-residential buildings or transient occupancies (hotels, SROs, etc.), one of the considerations that designers of record has is long term costs to the owner.  An item the often gets overlooked are the living unit smoke detectors.  Most assume that local, 120 vac powered (AKA ‘single station’) smoke detectors [Read More]