Chicago High Rise Office Space Fire Alarm Speaker Requirements

PresTowers IILike other major metropolitan areas, the city of Chicago requires emergency voice and communication systems in its high rise buildings (over eighty feet in height).  Rather than sound a general alarm when a detection device activates, the fire department is notified without any audible warning provided to the high rise occupants until the fire department arrives and assesses the situation.  This is done to control building egress and keep the occupants from flooding the stairwells in a panicking manner.  Once the fire department determines that a partial evacuation should commence, an announcement is made to the floors affected from the fire command center, usually in the main lobby.  High rise buildings are required to have fire alarm speakers in elevator lobbies, within five feet of any egress stairwell and spaced no greater than seventy five feet in common corridors.  Where does that leave the occupants of the various offices on each floor?  The Chicago Building Code only requires fire alarm speakers in office spaces greater than five THOUSAND square feet, so specifiers may need to reconcile the Chicago requirements with the building owners to ensure any life safety requirements they may be required to comply with (insurance, federal funding, etc.) are being met.  If the owner is required to comply with NFPA 72 outside of City of Chicago requirements, additional speakers will be required in the office spaces in order to meet audibility requirements.  Additionally, since Chicago doesn’t require visual notification, any requirement to adhere to ADA standards would require additional visual devices above the CBC requirement.  In the end, a thorough review with the owner will help avoid having to go back into finished spaces to add additional fire alarm equipment.

Affiliated Fire Systems has the experience, knowledge and personnel to answer thee and other life safety application questions.  Hiring an experienced, proactive fire alarm vendor that can spot upcoming conflicts can make all the difference between profitability and losing your margin.  Feel free to contact us at your convenience to discuss your application questions or for more information on how Gamewell-FCI life safety products can meet your installation requirements.

Gene Rowe

About Gene Rowe

Gene Rowe serves as the Director of Business Development for Affiliated Customer Service. He brings twenty three years of fire alarm and emergency voice systems experience to the table with both an operational and marketing viewpoint. A US Army veteran, NICET certified, an executive board member of the IL-AFAA and a member of the NFPA, he began his career establishing operational expertise as a technician, developed graphic skills with CAD design as a general engineer, gained a ‘big picture’ mindset by moving to project management and finally a marketing perspective directing business development efforts. By interfacing with a broad range of diverse organizations such as the AFAA, CAA, AIA, CEA and the IFIA, he combines concerns of the owner, designer of record, contractor, distributor and approving authority to bring a unique perspective to Affiliated.

An avid marathon runner, he resides in west suburban Chicago with his wife and two sons. He's served the community as a Cub Scout Leader, as well as coaching multiple levels of travel and park district basketball and baseball teams. Professionally, he serves as the Treasurer and is on the Board of Directors for the Illinois chapter of the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (IL-AFAA).

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