NOTES & SUMMARY
CODE & STANDARD REFERENCES
What is a household and combination fire alarm system?
In this series, we are focusing on the different types of fire alarm systems. In our last video, we discussed single and multiple station alarms.
This is Part 2 of our residential fire alarm system discussion.
Part 1 focused on single and multiple station smoke alarms. Today we are going to focus on a high-level discussion about household and combination fire alarm systems.
What is a household fire alarm system?
HOUSEHOLD FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
Well, as mentioned in part one of our residential fire alarm system discussion, a household fire alarm system uses smoke detectors as opposed to smoke alarms. The smoke detectors are connected to a control unit.
You are probably asking the question, “is this a commercial fire alarm system, since the smoke detectors are connected to a control unit similar to the protected premises fire alarm system we discussed earlier in this series”? The answer is “no”.
NFPA 72 REFERENCES
Household fire alarm systems are required to be installed in accordance with NFPA 72 Chapter 29. Section 29.1.3 clearly indicates that chapters 7, 10, 11,12,14,17,18,21,23,24,26 and 27 do not apply unless otherwise noted. That is pretty much the entire National fire alarm code.
Also important is Section 29.3.1 which dictates that all devices, combination of devices and equipment must be installed in conformity with Chapter 29 and shall be approved, labeled, or listed for the purposes for which they are intended.
So then, what is required for this quasi-commercial fire alarm system?
DETECTION & NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
Listed smoke detectors installed in all:
The detection requirements are identical for single and multiple-station smoke alarms.
Temporal code 3 emergency evacuation signal is required in all bedrooms and sleeping areas. Voice messages are allowed and notification for hearing impaired individuals are required to meet the low frequency signal requirements of Section 29.5, same as single and multiple-station smoke alarms.
The major differentiating factor between single/multiple-station smoke alarms and a household fire alarm system is the connection of the smoke detectors to a control unit.
CONTROL UNIT REQUIREMENTS
The control unit is required to be listed By UL 985 as a household fire warning system unit. UL 864 control units and accessories for fire alarm systems and UL 1730 are other listing options.
All initiating and notification appliances connected to a household fire warning system are required to be monitored and or supervised so that any single open or single ground fault in the wiring will cause a distinctive trouble signal with an audible alert at the control unit.
Control units are required to be connected to the household commercial power and be provided with a battery backup which can operate the alarm system for 24 hours in normal condition followed by 4 minutes of fire alarm. In other words, you have one full day of protection in the event of a power outage.
Personally, I do not know of anyone who has a household fire alarm system installed. However, I have plan reviewed them for mega mansions in Montecito next to Oprah and Ellen D… These types of systems are not that common.
Section 188.8.131.52 requires a household fire alarm system once the number of interconnected initiating devices exceeds 18, at that point, NFPA 72 requires supervision of the wiring connecting all detectors which would need to be connected to a control unit.
However, I have seen the more common combination system which are sold and installed by companies such as ADT. These systems incorporate both Fire and Security into a single panel.
Section 184.108.40.206 is very explicit in the fact that fire signals take precedence over any other signals or functions even if a non-fire signal is actuated first.
The key is to verify the listing of the equipment to ensure the system can be configured for household fire and burglary warning system, the control unit needs to bear the UL mark as well as the state fire marshal listing if applicable in your jurisdiction.
Combination systems are subscription based so as long as you pay your monthly bill you will be provided with 24/7 protection of any fire, carbon monoxide, or intrusion detection. The installation and maintenance of combination systems are addressed by the company so you can have peace of mind knowing your system is being monitored by professionals.
In summary, household fire alarm systems are not commercial in nature however they are very similar in the fact they employ smoke detectors as opposed to stand alone smoke alarms.
The smoke detectors are connected to and supervised by a control unit which will let you know if there is a problem with system wiring or faults. Unlike a commercial fire alarm system, they are not required to meet all of the stringent code requirements of the National Fire Alarm code, only as directed by Chapter 29.
Combination systems provide robust protection for any residence as they not only address fire and life safety, they provide protection against home intrusion. Although not as common as single and multiple-station smoke alarms, household fire alarm systems including combination systems offer homeowners an elevated option of protecting their number one asset against the devastating effects of a residential fire.
In our next video we will expand outside of just residential systems and discuss notification for fire alarm systems.
Until next time, I’m Al Yakel and this is MeyerFire University.
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Aaron Johnson, CFEI
Al Yakel, SET
Chris Campbell, PE
Chris Logan, CFPS, RSE
David Stacy, PE
Ed Henderson, PE
Joe Meyer, PE