New features of NFPA 72-2013
NFPA has released updates to NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. This codes and standards article identifies some of the significant changes in NFPA 72-2013 that you will want to be aware of.
By Raymond A. Grill, PE, FSFPE, LEED AP, Arup, Washington, D.C.
Many of you reading this may be thinking why you would be concerned about what’s in the 2013 edition of NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code when you haven’t even started using NFPA 72-2010 yet. There are a few jurisdictions that are applying the 2010 edition, and that will increase as jurisdictions adopt the 2012 edition of the International Building Code, which adopts the 2010 edition of NFPA 72.
While the 2013 edition may not be adopted or applicable for some time, it provides state-of-the-art criteria for the design, installation, and maintenance of fire alarm systems and can be used as a tool to enhance the design, installation, and maintenance of fire alarm systems you are involved in. Learning the new code will also allow you to be prepared for the implementation of the new code requirements when they do become applicable for your projects.
Most jurisdictions are willing to accept design criteria based on a newer edition of the code because it is the most recent code available. Before using a newer edition of a code that is not yet adopted, you should verify with the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) that it would accept the design criteria of the newer code if it were used in lieu of the currently adopted code.
If you have seen the 2010 edition of NFPA 72, you will notice that there was a significant reorganization of the document. The new code structure has four basic sections:
- Administrative chapters
- Support chapters
- System chapters
- Annexes providing explanatory material and informational references.
This organizational change has been maintained in the 2013 edition. This article identifies some of the significant changes in NFPA 72-2013 that you will want to be aware of.
New chapter 7: Documentation
A new chapter 7, Documentation, includes all of the documentation requirements that were located in various chapters in the previous edition of the code. It also incorporates additional documentation requirements. At a minimum, the following information is required as part of the documentation for new systems and additions or alterations to existing systems.
- Written narrative describing the system and its purpose
- Riser diagram
- Floor plans showing device and control equipment locations
- Sequence of operation
- Data sheets for equipment to be provided
- Manufacturers’ published instructions and maintenance criteria
- Battery calculations (if applicable) and emergency power information
- Voltage drop calculations
- Completed record of completion
- Completed record of inspection and testing
- Site-specific software
- As-built record drawings
- Periodic inspection, testing, and maintenance documentation
- Retention and maintenance records.
When shop drawings are required, the code now specifies the minimum information that is required to be provided on the shop drawings. In previous editions of the code, guidance was provided in the annex, but requirements for the content of shop drawings were not provided in the body of the code. Shop drawings are required to include specific information, which is spelled out in chapter 7. Here’s a summary:
- Name of the owner and property information
- Installer or contractor name
- Protected premises location
- Device legend and symbols
- Issue and revision dates.
The floor plans are to include the following information:
- Floor or level identification
- Compass reference
- Graphic scale
- Specific information regarding riser locations, space designations, devices, circuits, excessive ceiling heights, and ceiling geometry
- Riser diagrams noting the system arrangement in building cross section, type and number of circuits, type and number of components on each floor, and number of conductors
- Control unit diagrams noting the location of the equipment, fire alarm primary power disconnecting means, field wiring terminals and terminal identification, as well as circuits connected to field wiring terminals and circuit identification
- Typical wiring diagrams for all devices
- Narrative description or an input/output matrix and sequence of operation
- System calculations (battery, voltage drop, and other required calculations).
Record drawings consisting of current updated shop drawings reflecting the actual installation of all system equipment, components, and wiring also must be prepared.
In NFPA 72-2010, there was a single system record of completion for the fire alarm system and supplementary forms for other systems. These supplementary forms also address documenting the power systems, notification appliance power panels, interfaced equipment, and mass notification systems.
Chapter 10: Fundamentals
Much of the material in chapter 10 has been reorganized. For example, the section titled “Installation and Design” has been moved from section 10.14 to a new section 10.4. The requirement for protection of control equipment has been inserted in section 10.4.4, which requires smoke detection to be provided at the location of each fire alarm control unit, notification appliance circuit power extender, and supervising station transmitter unless the equipment is in a constantly occupied area.
The requirements for qualifications of inspection and testing personnel have been moved from chapter 14 into chapter 10 as well. The qualification requirements for all personnel have been expanded to also be applicable to personnel working with emergency communication systems.
A reference has been added in section 10.6.7.2.1(8) regarding capacity of power supplies for two-way radio communications enhancement systems. This section refers you to section 22.214.171.124.5, which has new requirements for the power supplies for two-way radio communications enhancement systems. These requirements include two sources of power and require either 12 hours of capacity in storage batteries or 12 hours of capacity provided by an automatic starting engine driven generator plus 2 hours of battery capacity.
New paragraphs 10.7.5 and 10.7.6 allow carbon monoxide signals and pre-alarm signals to take precedence over supervisory and trouble signals.
New sections 10.8 and 10.9 attempt to clarify the perceived confusion regarding different types of signals and the system response to those signals. Section 10.8 Detection and Signaling of Conditions and 10.9 Responses address alarm, pre-alarm, supervisory, and trouble signals and responses to those signals.
A new paragraph 10.10.3 requires audible alarm notification appliances for a carbon monoxide alarm system to produce signals that are distinctive from other signals from devices that may be serving the same area but are not part of the carbon monoxide, fire alarm, or emergency communication system.
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