What are the required system components for a Fire Alarm System versus a Fire Sprinkler Monitoring System?
I've ran into a debate on this in multiple jurisdictions. I know a fire alarm system has occupant notification and initiating devices, such as the smoke detectors, pull stations, waterflow, etc., whereas sprinkler monitoring is just waterflow notification.
But, is occupant notification required for a Sprinkler Monitoring System?
Furthermore, do horn/strobes need to have a secondary power supply, like Fire Alarm System components do?
Is a smoke detector required above the panel/radio/dialer?
I know it depends on the local AHJ, but I'm looking for some guidance here... I am the local AHJ.
Thanks for your input!
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8/30/2022 08:24:17 am
I'm sure one of the code/standard hawks will come along with the code reference for you, but I can tell you what we see and install all the time. A single panel, flow switch, horn/strobe, smoke detector (above panel), and dialer. I'd have to check with our alarm guys on the battery backup for the detector.
8/30/2022 06:45:15 pm
This is where my confusion came from. The last city I worked for required “sprinkler monitoring” to include a pull station for testing, an intelligent panel which displays the applicable signals, a smoke above the that panel etc. In my current City, we require just a flow switch and a means of communication to a central station with a horn strobe in a usually attended location. When I referenced the codes and standards for guidance, I found it a bit confusing to separate the fire alarm system requirements and the “sprinkler monitoring”. Now that I have read the responses here, I now know it’s actually called a Dedicated function fire alarm system and has less requirements.
8/30/2022 08:26:46 am
This is a tricky question. If you're familiar with NFPA 13, you'll know that NFPA 13 does a good job of telling you where you need to install sprinklers, where you can omit them, and the rules of how sprinklers and associated equipment (hangers, piping, valves, etc.) are supposed to be installed. NFPA 72 does a great job telling you the requirements of how things are supposed to be installed when they're required, but it doesn't go in to a lot of detail about specifically when you're supposed to install the devices other than that, if required by some other code, install the device here.
8/30/2022 08:29:48 am
I would suggest if your state/jurisdiction has adopted ICC codes to study in chapter 907 of the IFC or IBC the conditions for specific occupancy types. The 2015 IBC 907.2 shows that "a single fire alarm box shall be installed" regardless of any sections that eliminate fire alarm boxes (pull stations). Our interpretation is that the pull station is for testing purposes or fire watch personnel, and we typically install it in the riser room. You do not need it if the system is for elevator recall only, and there is another exception for R-2 units that is in the 907.2 section. Section 907.4.1 show the requirements for needing a smoke detector over the control unit. As far as occupant notification, it depends on the occupancy type. At a minimum we typically install a 24v bell outside the sprinkler room, but occupant notification will be required by other sections in chapter 907. Our typical "sprinkler monitoring system" is connections to the waterflow, and tamper, a smoke detector, a pull station, and a bell. This configuration is about 80% of the monitoring systems we install. The only exceptions are typically residential occupancies where occupant notification is required. You have to provide 24 hour emergency power, with 5 minutes in alarm (usually 7ah batteries work fine) and show it in a battery calculation.
Todd E Wyatt
8/30/2022 08:35:26 am
The scoping Fire Code (e.g. 2021 IBC) identifies IF an automatic sprinkler system (ASPS) is required to be monitored.
8/30/2022 08:37:23 am
A building fire alarm system is defined as follows:
8/30/2022 10:42:20 am
Thank you! This is very helpful. I’m not sure I have seen that section you referenced, “Dedicated function fire alarm system”…I will definitely check that out today. I wasn’t sure if NFPA 72 applied for these systems since they aren’t a full “fire alarm”. But this action answers that, thank you very much !
8/30/2022 05:03:44 pm
This ^^. Nailed it DS.
8/30/2022 05:58:36 pm
Yes, I’m super grateful for this info. Game-changer! 🙏🏼
8/30/2022 09:36:13 am
The sections of code & standards cited above and specifically from DS, who identified NFPA 72, leads me to a fundamental question about the language used in the question....
8/30/2022 10:45:18 am
I see your point. I definitely want occupant notification. I’m just trying to get a feel for the industry as a whole and ensure I’m not overstepping my bounds and requiring something for building owners when I don’t have the code/standards to back it up. I appreciate your input, thank you!
8/30/2022 12:12:45 pm
If you don't have a code path to require occupant notification via applicable codes, what advantage are you trying to gain by requiring a system or components that aren't supported by the code?
8/30/2022 10:59:07 am
If its a small R-2 (unit 16 units) or under 12 when an apartment building using NFPA, it will not require occupant notification. However----
8/30/2022 12:01:24 pm
Yes, and think I could agree with you on R2. Although we have the knowledge to provide water flow alarms for each unit.
8/30/2022 12:22:19 pm
This is from the Fundamental Requirements section that is outlining the fundamental concepts that are to be addressed in other chapters of the Code. This not an all out requirement to require occupant notification. That is set forth in occupancy chapters or other applicable codes or standards.
8/30/2022 12:25:04 pm
Are you inferring an AHJ cannot use this section to require occupant notification in a let’s say brand new sprinkled 6 unit apartment building that has a panel monitoring a sprinkler system?
8/30/2022 12:41:32 pm
8/30/2022 12:49:31 pm
8/30/2022 01:01:59 pm
Step out of 101 for a moment. I am referring to NFPA 1.
8/30/2022 06:03:10 pm
Thanks very much everyone, this is all very helpful!! I am getting into the standards now and will be sure to share with my coworkers so we can all do a better job of interpreting the things we are seeing and enforcing.
9/9/2022 02:40:00 pm
As an AHJ, lots of great information above. My 2 cents along with a little common sense is that a single pull station near the riser should be required by the AHJ.
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