Fire Alarm Systems – What You Need To Know

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If you’re a business owner and are looking to have a fire alarm system installed, there are some things you need to know. Fire alarm systems installation and operation are governed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and fall under the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. In addition to NFPA 72, your county also has local ordinances and requirements set forth by your local fire department’s authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).

Any work which is performed on a fire alarm system must have the AHJ involved with the process. The level of required AHJ involvement along with the fees they require will depend on your county along with several design considerations, which include but are not limited to –

  • Is it a new installation?
  • Will the existing fire alarm control panel need to be replaced?
  • If a fire alarm control panel replacement is needed, can it be replaced with an identical replacement unit?
  • Will the work necessitate a full system upgrade?
  • Will the work involve taking over an existing fire alarm system with no component replacement?
  • If this is a takeover, will any additional communications components need to be installed and/or replaced?

Below is a list of the most common scenarios with an explanation of the requirements involved in each scenario.

Change of Service – No component replacement

If Quantum FSD will be taking over as your supervising station without replacing any fire system components, you will need to get your local AHJ involved prior to any work being performed. In accordance with NFPA 72 Chapter 26 section 2.7, your local AHJ shall be notified in writing within 30 days of any scheduled change in service that results in signals from your property being handled by a different supervising station provider.

In addition to this, Quantum FSD technicians will have to perform a functional test of all zones, points, & signals and verify functionality of the local fire alarm as well as communication to our supervising station. Your current supervising station will also have to notify your local AHJ prior to terminating your current service.

New Installation – No pre-existing fire alarm system

First and foremost, you will need to have your fire alarm system designed for your facility in accordance with the most current NFPA 72 codes and guidelines as well as any local ordinances. Quantum FSD can provide you with fire alarm system design services. Once the system is designed and plans are ready to submit, you will need to apply with your local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) for a fire alarm permit.

The plans will need to be submitted and approved by the local AHJ prior to the permit being issued. Quantum FSD requires you to have a current and approved fire alarm permit prior to performing any installation work.

Once the system has been installed and tested by the installing contractor, the system will need to undergo a final inspection and acceptance test performed by your local AHJ prior to your fire alarm system being certified as being legal for use.

Replacing an existing fire alarm control panel – Identical Replacement

If we will be replacing a non-functioning fire alarm control panel with an identical unit, this is considered to be a repair and will not require a permit. Your fire system can stay in compliance with the NFPA 72 code version it was installed under and the system is considered to be “grandfathered in”. Depending on local ordinances and your local AHJ, the replacement panel may have to undergo an acceptance test once the repair has been performed.

Replacing an existing fire alarm control panel – Non-Identical Replacement

If we are replacing an existing fire alarm control panel with a non-identical unit, whether we are replacing a functioning or a non-functioning unit, this is considered to be a “tentative improvement”. The replacement of the panel will involve the same protocol as a new installation. The entire fire system will need to be redesigned and brought up to current code standards, and you must follow the same protocol as that of a new installation.