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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems

Published by:
National Electrical Manufacturers Association
1300 North 17th Street, Suite 1847
Rosslyn, Virginia 22209
www.nema.org
Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association. All rights including translation into
other languages, reserved under the Universal Copyright Convention, the Berne Convention for the
Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and the International and Pan American Copyright Conventions.

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Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association


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NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER


The information in this publication was considered technically sound by the consensus of persons
engaged in the development and approval of the document at the time it was developed.
Consensus does not necessarily mean that there is unanimous agreement among every person
participating in the development of this document.

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The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) standards and guideline publications, of
which the document contained herein is one, are developed through a voluntary consensus
standards development process. This process brings together volunteers and/or seeks out the
views of persons who have an interest in the topic covered by this publication. While NEMA
administers the process and establishes rules to promote fairness in the development of
consensus, it does not write the document and it does not independently test, evaluate, or verify
the accuracy or completeness of any information or the soundness of any judgments contained in
its standards and guideline publications.
NEMA disclaims liability for any personal injury, property, or other damages of any nature
whatsoever, whether special, indirect, consequential, or compensatory, directly or indirectly
resulting from the publication, use of, application, or reliance on this document. NEMA disclaims
and makes no guaranty or warranty, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of
any information published herein, and disclaims and makes no warranty that the information in this
document will fulfill any of your particular purposes or needs. NEMA does not undertake to
guarantee the performance of any individual manufacturer or sellers products or services by virtue
of this standard or guide.
In publishing and making this document available, NEMA is not undertaking to render professional
or other services for or on behalf of any person or entity, nor is NEMA undertaking to perform any
duty owed by any person or entity to someone else. Anyone using this document should rely on
his or her own independent judgment or, as appropriate, seek the advice of a competent
professional in determining the exercise of reasonable care in any given circumstances.
Information and other standards on the topic covered by this publication may be available from
other sources, which the user may wish to consult for additional views or information not covered
by this publication.
NEMA has no power, nor does it undertake to police or enforce compliance with the contents of
this document. NEMA does not certify, test, or inspect products, designs, or installations for safety
or health purposes. Any certification or other statement of compliance with any health or safety
related information in this document shall not be attributable to NEMA and is solely the
responsibility of the certifier or maker of the statement.

Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association


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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page i

CONTENTS
Page

Foreword ...................................................................................................................................vi

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Section 1
1.1
1.2
1.3

GENERAL
Scope......................................................................................................................................... 1
Referenced Standards .............................................................................................................. 1
General Definitions .................................................................................................................... 1

Section 2
2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4
2.5
2.6
2.7
2.8
2.9
2.10
2.11
2.12
2.13

BASIC FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS


General .................................................................................................................................... 13
Control Unit.............................................................................................................................. 13
Non-Coded System ................................................................................................................. 14
Zoned Non-Coded System...................................................................................................... 14
Coded System ......................................................................................................................... 14
Master Coded System ............................................................................................................. 14
March Time Coded System ..................................................................................................... 14
Selective Coded System ......................................................................................................... 14
Zoned Coded System.............................................................................................................. 15
Voice Fire Alarm System ......................................................................................................... 15
Control Unit Operation............................................................................................................. 15
Performance of Circuits ........................................................................................................... 16
Initiating Device Circuits .......................................................................................................... 17
2.13.1 Two-Wire Using Normally Open Contact Initiating Devices
and an End-Of-Line Device...................................................................................... 17
2.13.2 Two-Wire with Both Polarized Normally Open Contact Initiating Devices
and Oppositely Polarized Notification Appliances.................................................... 17
2.13.3 Four-Wire Circuit Using Normally Open Contact Initiating Devices......................... 18
2.13.4 Four-Wire Circuit with Both Polarized Normally Open Contact Initiating Devices
and Oppositely Polarized Alarm Notification Appliances ......................................... 19
Signaling Line Circuits ............................................................................................................. 19
Notification Appliance Circuits................................................................................................. 19
2.15.1 Parallel Circuits ........................................................................................................ 20
Power Supplies........................................................................................................................ 20
Supplementary Circuits ........................................................................................................... 21
Types of Control Systems ....................................................................................................... 21
2.18.1 Protected Premises (Local) Fire Alarm System (Chapter 6, NFPA 72) ................... 21
2.18.2 Auxiliary Fire Alarm System (Chapter 9, NFPA 72) ................................................. 21
2.18.3 Remote Supervising Station Fire Alarm System (Chapter 8, NFPA 72).................. 22
2.18.4 Proprietary Supervising Station Fire Alarm System (Chapter 8, NFPA 72)............. 24
2.18.5 Emergency Voice/Alarm Communications (Chapter 6, NFPA 72)........................... 24
2.18.6 Central Station Fire Alarm System (Chapter 8, NFPA 72)....................................... 24
2.18.7 Fire Safety Control Functions................................................................................... 25
2.18.8 Combination Systems .............................................................................................. 25
2.18.9 Interconnected Fire Alarm Control Units.................................................................. 25

2.14
2.15
2.16
2.17
2.18

Section 3
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6

Modern Day Fire Alarm Systems


General .................................................................................................................................... 26
Multiplexing.............................................................................................................................. 26
Circuit Interfaces (Transponders)............................................................................................ 27
Multiplexed Outputs................................................................................................................. 28
Addressability .......................................................................................................................... 30
Intelligent (Smart) Circuit Interfaces ........................................................................................ 30

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page ii

3.7
3.8
3.9
3.10
3.11
3.12
3.13
3.14
3.15

Programming ........................................................................................................................... 30
Addressable Devices............................................................................................................... 31
Multiplexing Technology .......................................................................................................... 31
Active Multiplex........................................................................................................................ 32
Digital Signaling....................................................................................................................... 32
Analog Sensors ....................................................................................................................... 32
Intelligent Systems .................................................................................................................. 33
Displays ................................................................................................................................... 34
Digital Alarm Communicator Systems (DACS) ....................................................................... 34

Section 4 INITIATING DEVICES


4.1
Manual and Automatic Alarm Initiating Devices...................................................................... 36
4.2
Manual Fire Alarm Boxes ........................................................................................................ 36
4.2.1
Non-coded Fire Alarm Boxes ................................................................................... 36
4.2.2
Coded Fire Alarm Boxes .......................................................................................... 36
4.2.3
Presignal Fire Alarm Boxes...................................................................................... 36
4.2.4
General Alarm Fire Alarm Boxes ............................................................................. 36
4.2.5
Breakglass Fire Alarm Boxes................................................................................... 36
4.2.6
Single Action Fire Alarm Boxes................................................................................ 37
4.2.7
Double Action Fire Alarm Boxes .............................................................................. 38
4.3
Automatic Alarm Initiating Devices.......................................................................................... 38
4.3.1
Classification of Automatic Fire Detectors ............................................................... 38
4.3.2
Heat Sensing Fire Detectors .................................................................................... 39
4.3.3
Smoke Sensing Fire Detectors ................................................................................ 43
4.4
Switches on Automatic Fire Suppression Systems................................................................. 45
4.4.1
Waterflow Switch on Sprinkler Systems .................................................................. 45
4.4.2
Alarm Switches on Fire Suppression Systems ........................................................ 46
4.5
Installation Wiring .................................................................................................................... 46
Section 5
5.1
5.2
5.3
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5.4

5.5
5.6

NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES
General .................................................................................................................................... 51
Alarm Notification Appliances.................................................................................................. 51
Audible Alarm Notification Appliances..................................................................................... 51
5.3.1
Bells.......................................................................................................................... 51
5.3.2
Horns ........................................................................................................................ 52
5.3.3
Chimes ..................................................................................................................... 52
5.3.4
Buzzers .................................................................................................................... 52
5.3.5
Sirens ....................................................................................................................... 52
5.3.6
Speakers .................................................................................................................. 52
5.3.7
Electronic Alarms ..................................................................................................... 53
Visible Alarm Notification Appliances ...................................................................................... 53
5.4.1
Visible Annunciators................................................................................................. 53
5.4.2
Lamp Annunciators .................................................................................................. 53
5.4.3
Drop-Type Annunciators .......................................................................................... 53
5.4.4
Strobe Lights ............................................................................................................ 54
5.4.5
Incandescent Lamp .................................................................................................. 54
5.4.6
Solid State Lamp ...................................................................................................... 54
5.4.7
Quartz Halogen Lamp .............................................................................................. 54
5.4.8
Fluorescent Lamp..................................................................................................... 54
Combination Audible/Visible Notification Appliances .............................................................. 54
Permanent Recorders ............................................................................................................. 55
5.6.1
Punch Registers ....................................................................................................... 55
5.6.2
Print Recorders ........................................................................................................ 55
5.6.3
Time Stamps ............................................................................................................ 55

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page iii

5.7

Installation Wiring .................................................................................................................... 55

Section 6 INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS FOR FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS


6.1
General .................................................................................................................................... 58
6.2
Location of System Components ............................................................................................ 58
6.2.1
General..................................................................................................................... 58
6.2.2
Control Units............................................................................................................. 58
6.2.3
Alarm Initiating Devices............................................................................................ 58
6.2.4
Audible Alarm Notification Appliances ..................................................................... 59
6.2.5
Visible Alarm Notification Appliances....................................................................... 59
6.2.6
Visible Alarm Signal Annunciators ........................................................................... 60
6.2.7
Permanent Recorders .............................................................................................. 60
6.2.8
Trouble Signal Appliances ....................................................................................... 60
6.3
Power Supplies........................................................................................................................ 60
6.3.1
Number of Sources Required................................................................................... 60
6.3.2
Primary (Main) Power Supplies................................................................................ 60
6.3.3
Secondary (Standby) Power Supplies ..................................................................... 60
6.3.4
Trouble Signal Power Supply................................................................................... 62
6.3.5
Batteries ................................................................................................................... 62
6.4
Requirements for Installation of Wiring and Equipment .......................................................... 62
6.5
Manufacturers Instructions ..................................................................................................... 62
6.6
Local Codes............................................................................................................................. 62
6.7
Types of Circuits...................................................................................................................... 63
6.8
Intermixing of Circuits .............................................................................................................. 63
6.9
Enclosed Versus Exposed Wiring ........................................................................................... 63
6.10
Selecting Conductors and Cables ........................................................................................... 64
6.11
Cable Markings........................................................................................................................ 65
6.12
Identification of Circuits ........................................................................................................... 65
6.13
Monitoring for Integrity............................................................................................................. 65
6.14
Lightning Protection................................................................................................................. 66
6.15
Outside Wiring ......................................................................................................................... 66

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Section 7 SYSTEM START-UP PROCEDURE


7.1
General .................................................................................................................................... 67
7.2
Check of Installation Wiring..................................................................................................... 67
7.2.1
Preliminary ............................................................................................................... 67
7.2.2
Test for Extraneous Voltages................................................................................... 67
7.2.3
Test for Shorts and Opens ....................................................................................... 67
7.2.4
Test for Grounds ...................................................................................................... 70
7.2.5
Visual Inspection ...................................................................................................... 71
7.2.6
Check of Power Sources.......................................................................................... 71
7.3
Normal Operation (Normal Monitoring Condition)................................................................... 71
7.4
Monitoring of Circuits for Integrity (Supervision) ..................................................................... 72
7.4.1
General..................................................................................................................... 72
7.4.2
Power Supply Circuits .............................................................................................. 72
7.4.3
Initiating Device and Notification Appliance Circuits ................................................ 72
7.4.4
Overcurrent Protection Devices ............................................................................... 72
7.4.5
Municipal Circuits ..................................................................................................... 73
7.4.6
Supplementary Circuits ............................................................................................ 73
7.4.7
Annunciator Circuits ................................................................................................. 73
7.5
Alarm Operation ...................................................................................................................... 73
7.6
Authority Having Jurisdiction ................................................................................................... 74
7.7
NFPA Tables for Test Methods and Visual Inspection and Test Frequencies ....................... 74

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page iv

FIGURES
Figure 2-1 Class B Initiating Device Circuit Using Normally Open Initiating Contacts ............................. 17
Figure 2-2 Class B Circuit with Both Polarized Initiating Devices and Notification
Appliances on Same Circuit .................................................................................................... 18
Figure 2-3 Class A or B 4-Wire Initiating Device Circuit Using Normally Open Contacts ........................ 18
Figure 2-4 Class A or B 4-Wire Circuit with Both Polarized Initiating Devices
and Notification Appliances on Same Circuit .......................................................................... 19
Figure 2-5 Parallel Notification Appliance Circuit Using Polarized Notification Appliances ..................... 20
Figure 2-6 Parallel Notification Appliance Circuit Using Speakers........................................................... 20
Figure 2-7 Local Energy Type Auxiliary Alarm System ............................................................................ 22
Figure 2-8 Shunt Type Auxiliary Alarm System ........................................................................................ 22
Figure 2-9A Remote Supervising Station Fire Alarm System Schematic Diagram .................................... 23
Figure 2-9B Remote Supervising Station Fire Alarm System Riser Diagram............................................. 23
Figure 3-1 Basic Multiplex System Block Diagram Showing Initiating Device Circuits

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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Section 8 PROPER MAINTENANCE OF FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS


8.1
Periodic Maintenance .............................................................................................................. 96
8.1.1
General..................................................................................................................... 96
8.1.2
System Performance and Integrity........................................................................... 96
8.2
Control Units............................................................................................................................ 96
8.2.1
Printed Circuit Board Assemblies of Modules.......................................................... 96
8.2.2
Relay Maintenance................................................................................................... 96
8.2.3
Battery Charger Maintenance .................................................................................. 97
8.2.4
Fuses........................................................................................................................ 97
8.2.5
Circuit Breakers........................................................................................................ 97
8.2.6
Condition of Control Unit Cabinets (Dust and Dirt Removal)................................... 97
8.3
Battery Maintenance................................................................................................................ 97
8.4
Non-Coded Manual Fire Alarm Boxes..................................................................................... 97
8.5
Coded Manual Fire Alarm Boxes ............................................................................................ 98
8.5.1
General..................................................................................................................... 98
8.5.2
Spring-Driven Fire Alarm Boxes............................................................................... 98
8.5.3
Motor-Driven Coded Fire Alarm Boxes .................................................................... 98
8.6
Automatic Transmitters............................................................................................................ 99
8.7
Automatic Heat Detectors ....................................................................................................... 99
8.7.1
Fixed-Temperature Heat Detectors.......................................................................... 99
8.7.2
Rate-of-Rise Heat Detectors .................................................................................... 99
8.7.3
Rate-Compensation Heat Detectors ........................................................................ 99
8.7.4
Explosion-Proof Heat Detectors............................................................................. 100
8.8
Smoke Detectors ................................................................................................................... 100
8.9
Sprinkler Waterflow Detectors............................................................................................... 100
8.9.1
Pressure Operated ................................................................................................. 100
8.9.2
Vane Operated ....................................................................................................... 100
8.10
Gate-Valve Supervisory Contacts ......................................................................................... 101
8.11
Open Stem and Yoke (OS & Y) Valve Supervisory Contacts ............................................... 101
8.12
Pressure Switches................................................................................................................. 101
8.13
Tank Switches for High and Low Alarm Service on Gravity Tanks....................................... 101
8.14
Differential Pressure Switches .............................................................................................. 101
8.15
Inspectors Test Valves ......................................................................................................... 101
8.16
Alarm Horns........................................................................................................................... 101
8.17
Alarm Bells............................................................................................................................. 102
8.18
Trouble Bells and Buzzers .................................................................................................... 102
8.19
Fire Drill Switches on Systems.............................................................................................. 102

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page v

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Connected to Circuit Interfaces and to a Signaling Line Circuit.............................................. 27


Figure 3-2 Basic Multiplex System Showing Notification Appliance Circuits
Also Connected to Circuit Interfaces ....................................................................................... 29
Figure 3-3 Active Multiplex System Using T-Tapped Connections .......................................................... 29
Figure 3-4 Multiplex System Where Nonaddressable Initiating Devices are Connected
to an Addressable Initiating Device Which Includes Circuit Interface ..................................... 34
Figure 4-1 Breakglass Fire Alarm Box...................................................................................................... 37
Figure 4-2 Single Action Fire Alarm Box................................................................................................... 37
Figure 4-3 Double Action Fire Alarm Box ................................................................................................. 38
Figure 4-4 Fixed Temperature Detector ................................................................................................... 39
Figure 4-5 Electrical Conductivity Sensing Element ................................................................................. 40
Figure 4-6 Heat Sensitive Cable ............................................................................................................... 41
Figure 4-7 Schematic of Rate-Compensation Detector............................................................................ 41
Figure 4-8 Pneumatic Rate-of-Rise Tubing .............................................................................................. 42
Figure 4-9 Combination Spot-Type Rate-of-Rise and Fixed Temperature Detector................................ 43
Figure 4-10 Current Flow-Through Ionization Detector Sensing Chamber ................................................ 44
Figure 4-11 Projected Beam Smoke Detector ............................................................................................ 44
Figure 4-12 Photoelectric Light Scattering Detector ................................................................................... 45
Figure 4-13 Water Flow Switch on Sprinkler System ................................................................................. 46
Figure 4-14 Initiating Devices, Correctly Wired .......................................................................................... 47
Figure 4-15 Initiating Devices, Incorrectly Wired ........................................................................................ 48
Figure 4-16 Pigtail Connections, Incorrect Wiring Method ......................................................................... 48
Figure 4-17 Pigtail Connections, Correct Wiring Method ........................................................................... 48
Figure 4-18 Incorrect Wiring Method for Multiriser Initiating Device Circuit ............................................... 49
Figure 4-19 Correct Wiring Method for Multiriser Initiating Device Circuit.................................................. 48
Figure 5-1 Incorrect Installation Wiring Method for a Notification Appliance Circuit ................................ 56
Figure 5-2 Correct Installation Wiring Method for a Notification Appliance Circuit................................... 56
Figure 5-3 Single Notification Appliance Circuit with Two Risers ............................................................. 56
Figure 7-1 Remote End of Line Device on 2-Wire Class B Initiating Device Circuit ................................ 68
Figure 7-2 End of Line Device on Control Unit on 4-Wire Class B Initiating Device Circuit ..................... 68
Figure 7-3 Polarized Diode Type Notification Appliances Connected in Parallel ..................................... 69
Figure 7-4 Speaker-Type Notification Appliances Connected in Parallel................................................. 69
Figure 7-5 Annunciator Circuit .................................................................................................................. 70
TABLES
Table 6-1
Table 7-1
Table 7-2
Table 7-3
Table 7-4

Operating Periods Required by NFPA Standards................................................................... 61


Resistance of Conductors ....................................................................................................... 70
NFPA 72, Table 10.4.2.2 Test Methods .................................................................................. 75
NFPA 72, Visual Inspection Frequencies................................................................................ 91
NFPA 72, Testing Frequencies ............................................................................................... 93

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page vi

Foreword
The purpose of this training manual is to provide text material suitable for training persons in the proper
physical installation of fire alarm signaling systems. To that end, the manual covers terminology, basic
theory of operation, installation details, system startup techniques, and general maintenance.
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While the manual may serve as a stand alone text, it is best used as a source material for either
apprentices or journeymen in a classroom environment using a qualified instructor.
The manual emphasizes installation of basic fire alarm signaling systems instead of how or when to apply
the myriad choices of systems or equipment available. Though the manual focuses on installation, the
reader is cautioned to follow the specific installation instructions provided by the manufacturer of systems
or equipment being installed.
This information is a technical guide, distinct from mandatory requirements for compliance. It will be
updated to keep current with requirements of referenced and/or quoted publications of other
organizations. Comments, questions, or recommendations are invited and should be addressed to:
Secretary
Signaling, Protection, and Communications Section
National Electrical Manufacturers Association
1300 North 17th Street, Suite 1847
Rosslyn, Virginia 22209
Phone: (703) 841-3200
Fax: (703) 841-5900
Copies of the Manual can be obtained from:
Global Engineering Documents
15 Inverness Way, East
Englewood, Colorado 80112-5776
www.global.ihs.com

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 1

Section 1
GENERAL
1.1

SCOPE

This manual, developed by the Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm Industry of the Signaling, Protection, and
Communications Section, provides technical information on basic fire alarm systems in common usage.
This edition of the manual updates the 1997 edition, which superseded the 1994 Edition Training Manual on
Fire Alarm Systems, which had superseded NEMA SB4-1985.
1.2

REFERENCED STANDARDS

The following ANSI/NEMA Standards Publication may be obtained from the National Electrical
Manufacturers Association through Global Engineering Documents, 15 Inverness Way East, Englewood,
CO 80112-5776.
ANSI/NEMA SB 3 1998 Interconnection Circuitry of Non-coded Remote-Station Protection Signaling
Systems
The following NFPA Standards may be obtained from the National Fire Protection Association, 1
Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269:

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NFPA 13
NFPA 70
NFPA 72
NFPA 1221

Installation of Sprinkler Systems


National Electrical Code
National Fire Alarm Code
Standard on the Installation, Maintenance and Use of Public Fire Service
Communications Systems

NOTES
1 In 1990, NFPA combined NFPA 72A, B, C, D, and F into one standard entitled NFPA 72-1990.
2

In 1993, NFPA combined NFPA 71, the 1990 edition of NFPA 72 and NFPA 72 E, G, and H, NFPA 74, and portions of NFPA 1221
into one code entitled NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm Code.

NFPA 72-2002 is reference in this 2003 Edition Training Manual.

Since NFPA standards and codes are periodically revised, the year of the desired edition of the particular standard or code should
be used when referencing the NFPA document involved. Two methods are in common use. One is to reference the code by stating
NFPA 72-2002. The other is to refer to the 2002 edition of NFPA 72. If a particular question comes up regarding a standard or code,
be sure to correctly identify which edition of the code may be at issue. All states or municipalities that have adopted NFPA codes or
standards by reference do not always refer to the latest edition available.

1.3

GENERAL DEFINITIONS

acknowledge: To confirm that a message or signal has been received, such as by the pressing of a button or
the selection of a software command.
active multiplex system: A multiplexing system in which signaling devices such as transponders are
employed to transmit status signals of each initiating device or initiating device circuit within a prescribed time
interval so that the lack of receipt of such signal may be interpreted as a trouble signal.

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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 2

addressable device: A fire alarm system component with discrete identification that can have its status
individually identified or that is used to individually control other functions.
adverse condition: Any condition occurring in a communications or transmission channel that interferes with
the proper transmission or interpretation, or both, of status change signals at the supervising station.
air sampling-type detector: A detector that consists of a piping or tubing distribution network from the
detector to the area(s) to be protected. An aspiration fan in the detector housing draws air from the protected
area back to the detector through air sampling ports, piping, or tubing. At the detector, the air is analyzed for
fire products.
alarm: A warning of fire danger.
alarm system: A combination of compatible initiating devices, control units, and indicating appliances
designed and installed to produce an alarm signal in the event of fire.
alarm service: The service required following the receipt of an alarm signal.
alarm signal: A signal indicating an emergency requiring immediate action, such as a signal indicative of fire.
alarm verification feature: A feature of automatic fire detection and alarm systems to reduce unwanted
alarms wherein smoke detectors report alarm conditions for a minimum period of time, or confirm alarm
conditions within a given time period after being reset, in order to be accepted as a valid alarm initiation signal.
alert tone: An attention-getting signal to alert occupants of the pending transmission of a voice message.
analog initiating device (sensor): An initiating device that transmits a signal indicating varying degrees of
condition as contrasted with a conventional initiating device, which can only indicate an on/off condition.
annunciator: A unit containing one or more indicator lamps, alphanumeric displays, or other equivalent
means in which each indication provides status information about a circuit, condition, or location.
approved: Acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction.
audible signal: An audible signal is the sound made by one or more audible notification appliances such as
bells, horns, or speakers in response to the operation of an initiating device.
authority having jurisdiction: The organization, office, or individual responsible for approving equipment,
materials, an installation, or a procedure.
NFPA 72 contains an annex item commenting on the definition for "Authority Having Jurisdiction" as
follows:
A-3.2.2 Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). The phrase "authority having jurisdiction" is used in
NFPA documents in a broad manner, since jurisdictions and approval agencies vary, as do their
responsibilities. Where public safety is primary, the authority having jurisdiction may be a federal,
state, local, or other regional department or individual such as a fire chief; fire marshal; chief of a fire
prevention bureau, labor department, or health department; building official; electrical inspector; or
others having statutory authority. For insurance purposes, an insurance inspection department, rating
bureau, or other insurance company representative may be the authority having jurisdiction. In many
circumstances, the property owner or his or her designated agent assumes the role of the authority
having jurisdiction; at government installations, the commanding officer or departmental official may
be the authority having jurisdiction.

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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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automatic extinguishing system supervisory device: A device that responds to abnormal conditions that
could affect the proper operation of an automatic sprinkler system or other fire extinguishing system(s) or
suppression system(s) including, but not limited to, control valves; pressure levels; liquid agent levels and
temperatures; pump power and running; engine temperature and overspend; and room temperature.
automatic fire extinguishing or suppression system operation detector: A device that automatically
detects the operation of a fire extinguishing or suppression system by means appropriate to the system
employed.
automatic fire alarm system: A system in which all or some of the initiating device circuits are activated by
automatic devices, such as fire detectors.
automatic fire detector: A device designed to detect the presence of a fire signature and to initiate action.
For the purpose of this code, automatic fire detectors are classified as follows.
fire-gas detector: A device that detects gases produced by a fire.
heat detector: A fire detector that senses heat produced by burning substances. Heat is the energy
produced by combustion that causes substances to rise in temperature.
other fire detectors: Devices that detect a phenomenon other than heat, smoke, flame, or gases
produced by a fire.
radiant energy-sensing fire detector: A device that detects radiant energy (such as ultraviolet, visible,
or infrared) that is emitted as a product of combustion reaction and obeys the laws of optics.
smoke detector: A device that detects visible or invisible particles of combustion.
auxiliary box: A fire alarm box that can be operated from one or more remote actuating devices.

local energy type: An auxiliary system that employs a locally complete arrangement of parts,
initiating devices, relays, power supply, and associated components to automatically trip a municipal
transmitter or master box over electrical circuits that are electrically isolated from the municipal
system circuits.
parallel telephone type: An auxiliary system connected by a municipally controlled individual circuit
to the protected property to interconnect the initiating devices at the protected premises and the
municipal fire alarm switchboard.
shunt auxiliary type: An auxiliary system electrically connected to an integral part of the municipal
alarm system extending the municipal circuit into the protected premises to interconnect the initiating
devices, which, when operated, open the municipal circuit shunted around the trip coil of the
municipal transmitter or master box, which is thereupon energized to start transmission without any
assistance whatsoever from a local source of power.
average ambient sound level: The root mean square, A-weighted sound pressure level measured over
period of time that any person is present, or a 24-hour period, whichever time period is the lesser.
bell: A single stroke or vibrating type audible notification appliance which has a bell tone.

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auxiliary fire alarm system: A system connected to a municipal fire alarm system for transmitting an alarm of
fire to the public fire service communication center. Fire alarms from an auxiliary fire alarm system are
received at the public fire service communication center on the same equipment and by the same methods as
alarms transmitted manually from municipal fire alarm boxes located on streets.

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box, fire alarm: A manually operated device used to initiate an alarm signal.
a.

non-coded: A manually operated device which, when operated, closes or opens one or more
sets of contacts and generally locks the contacts in the operated position until the box is reset.

b.

coded: A manually operated device in which the act of pulling a lever causes the transmission of
not less than three rounds of coded alarm signals. Similar to the non-coded type, except that
instead of a manually operated switch, a mechanism to rotate a code wheel is utilized. Rotation
of the code wheel, in turn, causes an electrical circuit to be alternately opened and closed, or
closed and opened, thus transmitting a coded alarm signal which identifies the location of the
box. The code wheel is cut for the individual code to be transmitted by the device and can
operate by clockwork or an electric motor. Clockwork transmitters can be pre-wound or can be
wound by the pulling of the alarm lever. Usually the box is designed to repeat its code four times
and automatically come to rest. Pre-wound transmitters must sound a trouble signal when they
require rewinding. Solid state, electronic coding devices are also used in conjunction with the fire
alarm control unit to produce coded sounding of the system's audible notification appliances.

breakglass fire alarm box: A fire alarm box in which it is necessary to break a special element in order to
operate the box.
carrier: High frequency energy that can be modulated by voice or signaling impulses.
carrier system: A means of conveying a number of channels over a single path by modulating each channel
on a different carrier frequency and demodulating at the receiving point to restore the signals to their original
form.
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ceiling: The upper surface of a space, regardless of height. Areas with a suspended ceiling have two ceilings,
one visible from the floor and one above the suspended ceiling.
ceiling height: The height from the continuous floor of a room to the continuous ceiling of a room or space.
ceiling surfaces: Ceiling surfaces referred to in conjunction with the locations of initiating devices are defined
as follows:
beam construction: Ceilings that have solid structural or solid nonstructural members projecting
down from the ceiling surface more than 100 mm (4 in.) and spaced more than 0.9 m (3 ft), center to
center.
girder: A support for beams or joists that runs at right angles to the beams or joists. If the top of the
girder is within 100 mm (4 in.) of the ceiling, the girder is a factor in determining the number of
detectors and is to be considered a beam. If the top of the girder is more than 100 mm (4 in.) from the
ceiling, the girder is not a factor in detector location.
central processing unit (CPU): An arrangement of circuitry using computer circuit techniques usually
consisting of memory elements, signal processing circuitry, and a means to input and output data at very high
speed.
central station: A supervising station that is listed by central station service.
central station fire alarm system: A system or group of systems in which the operations of circuits and
devices are transmitted automatically to, recorded in, maintained by, and supervised from a listed central
station having competent and experienced servers and operators who, upon receipt of a signal, take such
action as required by this code. Such service is to be controlled and operated by a person, firm, or corporation
whose business is the furnishing, maintaining, or monitoring of supervised fire alarm systems.

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central station service: The use of a system or a group of systems in which the operations of circuits and
devices at a protected property are signaled to, recorded in, and supervised from a listed central station that
has competent and experienced operators who, upon receipt of a signal, take such action as required by a
Code. Related activities at the protected property, such as equipment installation, inspection, testing,
maintenance, and runner service are the responsibility of the central station or a listed fire alarm service local
company. Central station service is controlled and operated by a person, firm, or corporation whose business
is the furnishing of such contracted services or whose properties are the protected premises.
certification: A systematic program that uses randomly selected follow-up inspections of the certificated
systems installed under the program that allows the listing organization to verify that a fire alarm system
complies with all the requirements of a Code. A system installed under such a program is identified by the
issuance of a certificate and is designated as a certificated system.
chime: A single-stroke or vibrating type audible notification appliance which has a xylophone-type striking bar
and/or tone.
circuit interface: A circuit component that interfaces initiating devices or control circuits, or both; notification
appliances or circuits, or both; system control outputs; and other signaling line circuits to a signaling line
circuit.
class A circuit: Class A refers to an arrangement of monitored initiating device, signaling line, or notification
appliance circuits that prevents a single open or ground on the installation wiring of these circuits from causing
loss of the system's intended function.
class B circuit: Class B refers to an arrangement of monitored initiating device, signaling line, or notification
appliance circuits, which would permit a single open or ground on the installation wiring of these circuits to
cause loss of the system's intended function.
coded: An audible or visible signal that conveys several discrete bits or units of information. Notification signal
examples are numbered strokes of an impact-type appliance and numbered flashes of a visible appliance.
combination detector: A device that either responds to more than one of the fire phenomenon or employs
more than one operating principle to sense one of these phenomenon. Typical examples are a combination of
a heat detector with a smoke detector or a combination rate of rise and fixed temperature heat detector.
combination fire alarm and guard's tour box: A manually operated box for separately transmitting a fire
alarm signal and a distinctive guard patrol tour supervisory signal.
combination system: A fire alarm system whose components might be used, in whole or in part, in common
with a non-fire signaling system, such as a paging system, a security system, a building automation system,
or a process monitoring system.
communications channel: A circuit or path connecting a subsidiary station(s) to a supervising station(s) over
which signals are carried.
compatibility listed: A specific listing process that applies only to two-wire devices, such as smoke
detectors, that are designed to operate with certain control equipment.
compatible (equipment): Equipment that interfaces mechanically or electrically together as manufactured
without field modification.

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contiguous property: A single-owner or single-user protected premise on a continuous plot of ground,


including any buildings thereon, that is not separated by a public thoroughfare, transportation right-of-way,
property owned or used by others, or body of water not under the same ownership.
control unit: A system component that monitors inputs and controls outputs through various types of circuits.
detector: A device suitable for connection to a circuit that has a sensor that responds to a physical stimulus
such as heat or smoke.
digital alarm communicator receiver (DACR): A system component that accepts and displays signals from
digital alarm communicator transmitters (DACTs) sent over the public switched telephone network.
digital alarm communicator system (DACS): A system in which signals are transmitted from a digital alarm
communicator transmitter (DACT) located at the protected premises through the switched telephone network
to a digital alarm communicator receiver (DACR).
digital alarm communicator transmitter (DACT): A system component at the protected premises to which
initiating devices or groups of devices are connected. The DACT seizes the connected telephone line, dials a
preselected number to connect to a DACR, and transmits signals indicating a status change of the initiating
device.
digital alarm radio receiver (DARR): A system component composed of two subcomponents: one that
receives and decodes radio signals, the other that annunciates the decoded data. These two subcomponents
can be co-resident at the central station or separated by means of a data transmission channel.

digital alarm radio transmitter (DART): A system component that is connected to or an integral part of a
digital alarm communicator transmitter (DACT) that is used to provide an alternate radio transmission
channel.
display: The visual representation of output data, other than printed copy.
dual control: The use of two primary trunk facilities over separate routes or different methods to control one
communications channel.
emergency voice/alarm communications: Dedicated manual or automatic facilities for originating and
distributing voice instructions, as well as alert and evacuation signals pertaining to a fire emergency, to the
occupants of a building.
evacuation: The withdrawal of occupants from a building.
NOTEEvacuation does not include relocation of occupants within a building.

evacuation signal: Distinctive signal intended to be recognized by the occupants as requiring evacuation of
the building.
False Alarm: A warning of fire danger when no danger is present.
fire alarm box: A manually operated device used to initiate an alarm signal (see box, fire alarm for added
detail).

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digital alarm radio system (DARS): A system in which signals are transmitted from a digital alarm radio
transmitter (DART) located at a protected premises through a radio channel to a digital alarm radio receiver
(DARR).

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 7

fire alarm control unit (panel): A system component that receives inputs from automatic and manual fire
alarm devices and may supply power to detection devices and transponder(s) or off-premises transmitter(s).
The control unit may also provide transfer of power to the notification appliances and transfer of condition to
relays or devices connected to the control unit. The fire alarm control unit can be a local fire alarm control unit
or master control unit.
fire alarm/evacuation signal tone generator: A device that produces a fire alarm/evacuation tone upon
command.
fire alarm signal: A signal initiated by a fire alarm initiating device such as a manual fire alarm box, automatic
fire detector, waterflow switch, or other device whose activation is indicative of the presence of a fire or fire
signature.
fire alarm system: A system or portion of a combination system that consists of components and circuits
arranged to monitor and annunciate the status of fire alarm or supervisory signal-initiating devices and to
initiate the appropriate response to those signals.
fire command center: The principal attended or unattended location where the status of the detection, alarm
communications, and control systems is displayed and from which the system(s) can be manually controlled.
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fire safety functions: Building and fire control functions that are intended to increase the level of life safety
for occupants or to control the spread of harmful effects of fire.
fire safety function control device: The fire alarm system component that directly interfaces with the control
system that controls the fire safety function.
fire warden: A building staff member or a tenant trained to perform assigned duties in the event of a fire
emergency.
fixed temperature detector: A device that responds when its operating element becomes heated to a
predetermined level.
guard signal: A supervisory signal monitoring the performance of guard patrols.
guard's tour reporting station: A device that is manually or automatically initiated to indicate the route being
followed and the timing of a guard's tour.
initiating device: A system component that originates transmission of a changeofstate condition, such as
a smoke detector, manual fire alarm box, or supervisory switch.
initiating device circuit: A circuit to which automatic or manual initiating devices are connected where the
signal received does not identify the individual device operated.
ionization smoke detection: The principle of using a small amount of radioactive material to ionize the air
between two differentially charged electrodes to sense the presence of smoke particles. Smoke particles
entering the ionization volume decrease the conductance of the air by reducing ion mobility. The reduced
conductance signal is processed and used to convey an alarm condition when it meets preset criteria.
NFPA 72 contains an annex item commenting on the definition for "Ionization Smoke Detection" as
follows:
A.3.3.180.2 Ionization Smoke Detection. Ionization smoke detection is more responsive to invisible
particles (smaller than 1 micron in size) produced by most flaming fires. It is somewhat less responsive

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to the larger particles typical of most smoldering fires. Smoke detectors utilizing the ionization principle
are usually of the spot type.
labeled: Equipment or materials to which has been attached a label, symbol, or other identifying mark of an
organization acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction and concerned with product evaluation, that
maintains periodic inspection of production of labeled equipment or materials and by whose labeling the
manufacturer indicates compliance with appropriate standards or performance in a specified manner.
leg facility: The portion of a communications channel that connects not more than one protected premises to
a primary or secondary trunk facility. The leg facility includes the portion of the signal transmission circuit from
its point of connection with a trunk facility to the point where it is terminated within the protected premises at
one or more transponders.

line-type detector: A device in which detection is continuous along a path. Typical examples are rate-of-rise
pneumatic tubing detectors, projected beam smoke detectors, and heat-sensitive cable.
Line Fault Isolators: A device designed to disconnect itself along with its associated wiring whenever a
short-circuit occurs on its supporting circuit. Depending on the wiring scheme employed, a greater level of
system operability can be maintained using line fault isolators should a short-circuit condition develop.
listed: Equipment, materials, or services included in a list published by an organization acceptable to the
authority having jurisdiction and concerned with evaluation of products or services that maintains periodic
inspection of production of listed equipment or materials or periodic evaluation of services and whose listing
states either that the equipment, material, or service meets identified standards or has been tested and found
suitable for a specified purpose.
NFPA 72 contains an annex item commenting on the definition as follows:
A.3.2.5 Listed. The means for identifying listed equipment may vary for each organization concerned
with product evaluation, some of which do not recognize equipment as listed unless it is also labeled.
The authority having jurisdiction should utilize the system employed by the listing organization to
identify a listed product.
loss of power: The reduction of available voltage at the load below the point at which equipment can function
as designed.
low power radio transmitter: Any device that communicates with associated control/receiving equipment by
low power radio signals.
maintenance: (1) Repair service, including periodic inspections and tests, required to keep the fire alarm
system and its component parts in an operative condition at all times, together with replacement of the system
or its components when they become undependable or inoperable for any reason. (2) Work, including, but not
limited to, repair, replacement, and service, performed to ensure that equipment operates properly.
manual fire alarm box: A manually operated device used to initiate an alarm signal.
master box: A municipal fire alarm box that can also be operated by remote means.
master control unit (panel): A control unit that serves the protected premises or portion of the protected
premises as a local control unit and accepts inputs from other fire alarm control units.

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loading capacity: The maximum number of discrete elements of fire alarm systems permitted to be used in a
particular configuration.

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 9

multiplexing: A signaling method characterized by simultaneous or sequential transmission, or both, and


reception of multiple signals on a signaling line circuit, a transmission channel, or a communications channel,
including means for positively identifying each signal.
municipal fire alarm box (street box): An enclosure housing a manually operated transmitter used to send
an alarm to the public fire service communications center.
municipal fire alarm system: A system of alarm initiating devices, receiving equipment, and connecting
circuits (other than a public telephone network) used to transmit alarms from street locations to the public fire
service communications center.
non-coded: An audible or visible signal conveying one discrete bit of information.
noncontiguous property: An owner- or user-protected premises where two or more protected premises,
controlled by the same owner or user, are separated by a public thoroughfare, body of water, transportation
right-of-way, or property owned or used by others.
nonrestorable initiating device: A device whose sensing element is designed to be destroyed in the
process of operation.
notification appliance: A fire alarm system component such as a bell, horn, speaker, light, or text display
that provides audible, tactile, or visible outputs, or any combination thereof.
audible notification appliance: A notification appliance that alerts by the sense of hearing.
textual audible notification appliance: A notification appliance that conveys a stream of audible
information. An example of a textual audible appliance is a speaker that reproduces a voice
message.
olfactory notification appliance: A notification appliance that alerts by the sense of smell.
tactile notification appliance: A notification appliance that alerts by the sense of touch or vibration.
visible notification appliance: A notification appliance that alerts by the sense of sight.
textual visible notification appliance: A notification appliance that conveys a stream of visible
information alphanumeric or pictorial message. Textual visible notification appliances provide
temporary text, permanent text, or symbols. Textual visible notification appliances include, but are not
limited to, annunciators, monitors, CRTs, displays, printers.
notification appliance circuit: A circuit or path directly connected to a notification appliance(s).
notification zone: An area covered by notification appliances that are activated simultaneously.
nuisance alarm: Any alarm caused by mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation, or lack of proper
maintenance, or any alarm activated by a cause that cannot be determined.
path (pathways): Any conductor, optic fiber, radio carrier, or other means for transmitting fire alarm system
information between two or more locations.
plant: One or more buildings under the same ownership or control on a single property.
positive alarm sequence: An automatic sequence that results in an alarm signal, even when manually
delayed for investigation, unless the system is reset.

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power supply: A source of electrical operating power, including the circuits and terminations connecting it to
the dependent system components.
proprietary supervising station: A location to which alarm or supervisory signaling devices on proprietary
fire alarm systems are connected and where personnel are in attendance at all times to supervise operation
and investigate signals.
proprietary supervising station fire alarm system: An installation of fire alarm systems that serve
contiguous and noncontiguous properties under one ownership from a proprietary supervising station located
at the protected property, at which trained, competent personnel are in constant attendance. This includes the
proprietary supervising station; power supplies; signal initiating devices; initiating device circuits; signal
notification appliances; equipment for the automatic, permanent visual recording of signals; and equipment for
initiating the operation of emergency building control services.
protected premises: The physical location protected by a fire alarm system.
protected premises (local) fire alarm system: A protected premises system that sounds an alarm at the
protected premises as the result of the manual operation of a fire alarm box or the operation of protection
equipment or systems, such as water flowing in a sprinkler system, the discharge of carbon dioxide, the
detection of smoke, or the detection of heat. (Definition adopted by NFPA for NFPA 72-2002 in lieu of
references to local systems).
radio alarm repeater station receiver (RARSR): A system component that receives radio signals and
resides at a repeater station that is located at a remote receiving location.
radio alarm supervising station receiver (RASSR): A system component that receives data and
annunciates that data at the supervising station.
radio alarm system (RAS): A system in which signals are transmitted from a radio alarm transmitter (RAT)
located at a protected premises through a radio channel to two or more radio alarm repeater station receivers
(RARSR) and are annunciated by a radio alarm supervising station receiver (RASSR) located at the
supervising station.
radio alarm transmitter (RAT): A system component at the protected premises to which initiating devices or
groups of devices are connected transmits signals indicating a status change of the initiating devices.
radio channel: A band of frequencies of a width sufficient to permit its use for radio communications. See
NFPA 72-2002, 3.3.30, Channel.
NOTEThe width of the channel depends on the type of transmissions and the tolerance for the frequency of emission. Channels normally
are allocated for radio transmission in a specified type for service by a specified transmitter.

record drawings: Drawings (as-built) that document the location of all devices, appliances, wiring
sequences, wiring methods, and connections of the components of the fire alarm system as installed.
record of completion: A document that acknowledges the features of installation, operation (performance),
service, and equipment with representation by the property owner, system installer, system supplier, service
organization, and the authority having jurisdiction.
relocation: The movement of occupants from a fire zone to a safe area within the same building.
remote supervising station fire alarm system: A system installed in accordance with a Code to transmit
alarm, supervisory, and trouble signals from one or more protected premises to a remote location at which
appropriate action is taken.
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Page 11

reset: A control function that attempts to return a system or device to its normal, non-alarm state.
secondary trunk facility: That part of a transmission channel connecting two or more, but fewer than all, leg
facilities to a primary trunk facility.
shall: Indicates a mandatory requirement.
should: Indicates a recommendation or that which is advised but not required.
signal: A status indication communicated by electrical or other means.
signaling line circuit: A circuit or path between any combination of circuit interfaces, control units, or
transmitters over which multiple system input signals or output signals, or both, are carried.
signaling line circuit interface: A system component that connects a signaling line circuit to any
combination of initiating devices, initiating device circuits, notification appliances, notification appliance circuits,
system control outputs, and other signaling line circuits.
site-specific software: Software that defines the specific operation and configuration of a particular system.
Typically, it defines the type and quantity of hardware modules, customized labels, and specific operating
features of a system.
spacing: A horizontally measured dimension relating to the allowable coverage of fire detectors.
spot-type detector: A device whose detecting element is concentrated at a particular location. Typical
examples are bimetallic detectors, fusible alloy detectors, certain pneumatic rate-of-rise detectors, certain
smoke detectors, and thermoelectric detectors.
standard audible emergency evacuation signal: A distinctive three pulse temporal pattern emergency
evacuation signal required by NFPA 72 for all new systems installed after July 1, 1996. For a detailed
description of this signal see American National Standards (ANSI) S3.41, Audible Emergency Evacuation
Signal.
subsidiary station: A subsidiary station is a normally unattended location that is remote from the supervising
station and is linked by a communications channel(s) to the supervising station. Interconnection of signals on
one or more transmission channels from protected premises with a communications channel(s) to the
supervising station is performed at this location.
supervising station: A facility that receives signals and at which personnel are in attendance at all times to
respond to these signals.
supervisory signal: A signal indicating the need of action in connection with the supervision of guard's tours,
the fire suppression systems or equipment, or the maintenance features of related systems.
supervisory signal-initiating device: An initiating device such as a valve supervisory switch, water level
indicator, or low-air pressure switch on a dry-pipe sprinkler system whose change of state signals an offnormal condition and its restoration to normal of a fire protection or life safety system; or a need for action in
connection with guard tours, fire suppression systems or equipment, or maintenance features of related
systems.
supplementary: As used in a Code, supplementary refers to equipment or operations not required by a Code
and designated as such by the authority having jurisdiction.

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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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temporal signal: A distinctive signal intended to be recognized by its pattern of 4 rounds of 3 in a timed
sequence of events. A timed sequence of events in a three-pulse pattern.
trouble signal: A signal initiated by the fire alarm system or device indicative of a fault in a monitored circuit
or component.
two-way fire department communications system: An electrically monitored telephone system providing
private voice communications capability between the command center or central control unit and designated
remote locations. Phones or phone jacks can be installed at the remote locations.
visible signal: A visible signal is the response to the operation of an initiating device by one or more direct or
indirect visible notification appliances. For a direct visible signal, the sole means of notification is by direct
viewing of the light source. For an indirect visible signal, the sole means of notification is by reflected light
within the room.
waterflow switch: An assembly approved for the service and so constructed and installed that any flow of
water from a sprinkler system equal to or greater than that from a single automatic sprinkler head will result in
activation of this switch and subsequently indicate an alarm condition.
wireless initiating device: Any initiating device that communicates with an associated control/receiving
equipment by some kind of wireless transmission path.
wireless protection system: A system or a part of a system that can transmit and receive signals without the
aid of wire. It may consist of a wireless control panel, wireless initiating devices, notification appliances,
wireless repeater (s), etc.
wireless control panel: A component that transmits/receives and processes wireless signals.
wireless repeater: A component used to relay signals between wireless receivers or wireless control panels,
or both.

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--```,``,,,``,,``````,,`,```,`-`-`,,`,,`,`,,`---

zone: A defined area within the protected premises. A zone can define an area from which a signal can be
received, an area to which a signal can be sent, or an area in which a form of control can be executed.

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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Section 2
BASIC FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
2.1

GENERAL

Most fire alarm systems consist of the following basic parts:


a. Control unit
b. Initiating device circuits
c. Notification appliance circuits
d. Power supply
e. Building fire safety control circuits (optional)
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The applications of fire alarm systems can be broken down into four broad categories:
1.
2.
3.

4.

Household fire alarm systems


Protected premises (local) fire alarm systems
Supervising station fire alarm systems
a. Central station fire alarm systems
b. Remote supervising station fire alarm systems
c. Proprietary supervising station fire alarm systems
Pubic fire reporting systems
a. Auxiliary fire alarm systems local energy type
b. Auxiliary fire alarm systems shunt type

Each of these categories is defined in Section 1 of this manual.


Starting with the 1993 edition of NFPA 72, the classification of "local fire alarm systems" was changed to
"protected premises fire alarm systems." The definition for "protected premises" systems makes it evident that
the system's application has not changed from what it was when it was called a "local" system and is confined
to the premises being protected. In NFPA 72 2002 edition, the requirements for protected premises (local) fire
alarm systems are in Chapter 6. Chapter 5 applies to Initiating Devices, and Chapter 7 to Notification
Appliances connected to the Protected Premises Fire Alarm System.
In addition to protected premises fire alarm system requirements, Chapter 8 also includes the requirements
for the installation of that portion of the supervising stations covered in NFPA 72 Chapter 8 located on the
Protected Premises.
Though NFPA specified the installation requirements for the four categories of systems, the requirements of
the authorities having jurisdiction must also be met. In addition, care should be taken to install equipment in
accordance with manufacturer's instruction.
2.2

CONTROL UNIT

The control unit is the brain of the system. It provides power to the system and electrically monitors its circuits.
The control unit contains the logic circuits to receive signals from alarm initiating devices and transmit them to
alarm notification appliances, building fire safety controls, and supplementary equipment. Depending on
system design, the fire alarm signaling function may provide for one or more of the following:
a.
b.
c.
d.

Notify all building occupants simultaneously


Notify occupants in certain portions of the building who are in immediate danger
Notify key building personnel
Notify the fire department

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e. Activate building fire safety control and supplementary functions during fire emergencies
NOTEThe following descriptions describe the traditional audible signals that were sounded by systems before NFPA 72 required the
standard audible emergency evacuation signal be used whenever the intent of the audible alarm signal was to notify the occupants of the
building of the need to evacuate (leave the building).

When the standard audible emergency evacuation is used, generally, non-coded, master coded, and march
time coded systems are now required to use the standard emergency evacuation signal. Coded, selective
coded, and zone coded systems, if also required to notify occupants of the need to vacate the premises,
should have their coded location signals followed by the standard audible emergency evacuation signals.
2.3

NON-CODED SYSTEM

A non-coded system is one in which a continuous fire alarm signal is transmitted for a predetermined period of
time after which the alarm notification appliances may be manually or automatically restored to normal.
NOTERestoring the system to normal, following a fire alarm, may involve the resetting of detection devices and the control unit, and is
implied in all of the following descriptions.

2.4

ZONED NON-CODED SYSTEM

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A zoned non-coded system provides for the continuous transmission of the fire alarm signal as in a noncoded system, but also incorporates an annunciator or display to indicate the exact area, or zone, of the
building from which the alarm originated.
Before continuing with the description of a variety of coded system types, it should be recognized that coded
systems use a coding device, which may be electromechanical or electronic in nature, to produce a
predetermined, patterned, and distinctive fire alarm signal. The coding mechanism may be integral to the
control unit, or it may be employed in a coded manual fire alarm box, or it may be used in a coded transmitter
device to which are connected non-coded manual and automatic fire detection devices.
2.5

CODED SYSTEM

A coded system is one in which not less than three rounds of coded fire alarm signals are transmitted after
which the fire alarm system may be manually or automatically restored to normal. (Also see "selective coded
system").
2.6

MASTER CODED SYSTEM

A master coded system is one in which the coding mechanism provides for the transmission of the same
common-coded fire alarm signal in response to the initiation of an alarm from any location in the building.
Common code (e.g. 4-4) should be selected to produce a distinctive pulsing of the system's alarm notification
appliances so that building occupants know unmistakably that a fire condition exists.
2.7

MARCH TIME CODED SYSTEM

A march time coded system is actually a non-coded system that operates much like the master coded system
except that the coding mechanism is arranged to produce a fire alarm signal at a march time rate of
approximately 120 pulses per minute.
2.8

SELECTIVE CODED SYSTEM

A selective coded system is one in which a number of code transmitters or remotely mounted devices, or
both, are used; the coding mechanism for each coded unit is systematically selected and organized to
produce its own distinctive coded alarm signal identifying its location (floor or zone) in the system. In this way,
the sounding of a fire alarm signal notifies the building occupants of an alarm of fire, and, at the same time,

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tells key building personnel, such as an in-house fire brigade, of the location from which the alarm was
initiated. Normally, four rounds of the selective code are sounded.
2.9

ZONED CODED SYSTEM

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A zoned coded system also alerts both the building occupants and key building personnel. While the audible
alarms in a zoned coded system function identically to those in a selective coded system, zoned coded
systems generally are less specific about the origin of the signal. As its name implies, the signal denotes only
the general area or zone from which one or more different detection devices may have initiated the alarm.
2.10

VOICE FIRE ALARM SYSTEM

A voice fire alarm signaling system is a system which includes emergency/voice alarm communications
service where the notification appliances are loudspeakers and can use any recorded sound and/or live or
recorded voice to direct building occupants to either evacuate the building, move to a place of safety, or
provide other information about the emergency.
Since the loudspeakers may reproduce any programmed sound, a basic system can emulate any of the
systems described in 2-3 through 2-9 in addition to having the live or recorded voice capability.
See 2.18.5 for additional information on emergency voice/alarm communications systems.
2.11

CONTROL UNIT OPERATION

A fire alarm control unit may be a simple, single-zone unit providing for one alarm initiating circuit and one
alarm notification circuit. However, most control units are modular in construction and are designed to
accommodate multiple zones of detection and alarm notification. as well as the selection of other modular
components to perform any of the system functions listed in 2.1.
Fire alarm systems must perform in an emergency. For this reason, the control unit constantly monitors
(supervises) the integrity of the primary (main) power supply, the secondary (standby) power supply, and the
installation wires and the connections of the alarm initiating devices and alarm notification appliances to the
initiating and notification circuits. The control unit will sound a trouble signal to alert operating personnel when
a fault condition exists on any of the monitored circuits which prevents normal circuit operation.
The trouble signal normally will sound to indicate any of the following types of faults:
a. Loss of primary (main) power
b. Loss of secondary (standby) power (See 6.3.1) Monitoring of the secondary (standby) power supply was
first required in the 1993 edition of NFPA 72.
NOTENFPA 72 contains important exceptions to the requirement for a secondary power supply where the building is served by, and the
fire alarm system is connected to an emergency power system meeting the requirements of Articles 700, 701, or 702 of NFPA 70, National
Electrical Code.

c. An open in a monitored wire


d. A ground on a monitored wire
e. Loss of an audio amplifier, tone generator, or preamplifier
f. A short across an alarm notification appliance circuit [NAC]
g. Loss of connection between any installation wire and any alarm initiating device wire or terminal necessary
to sense an alarm.

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h. Loss of connection between any installation wire and any alarm notification appliance wire or terminal
necessary to indicate the presence of an alarm.
Any one of the foregoing faults could interfere with the proper transmission or receipt of an automatic or
manual alarm signal.
The trouble signal is produced by an audible appliance, with a distinctive sound pattern. A visible indication
(pilot light/LED) may be provided also. Depending upon control unit design, a trouble signal silencing switch
may be provided. If the trouble can be silenced in this manner, a trouble light which must remain lighted until
the cause of the trouble is corrected must be provided. The audible trouble signal will sound if the switch is in
the silence position and no trouble exists. In addition to the foregoing trouble indications, the control unit may
contain additional trouble lamps which pinpoint the particular circuits or zones which are in trouble. Trouble
conditions also may be recorded on a system printer, if used.
It should be noted here that the requirement for a fire alarm system to monitor (supervise) the integrity of its
interconnecting wiring and connections is the major difference between the installation of a fire alarm system
and the installation of the more general wiring in a building. Most problems encountered during the startup of
a fire alarm system are traced to errors made in the installation wiring or connections, or both. It is, therefore,
extremely important to follow the manufacturer's instructions when installing a fire alarm system.
A very important requirement in NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code requires the monitoring (electrical
supervision) of building fire safety control function installation wires which are connected to the fire alarm
system to within three (3) feet of the controlled circuit or device. This requirement is of great concern to the
drafters of the NFPA 101 Life Safety Code.
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Caution should be used in interpretation of the term "supplementary". By definition, such circuits are not a
required part of the fire alarm systems and must be so specifically declared by the authority having jurisdiction
for the project involved.
More detailed information on circuits and functions that must be monitored can be found in the National
Electrical Code, NFPA 70 Article 760, and NFPA 72 for the type of system being installed.
The control unit is usually installed in a surface or flush wall-mounted cabinet, a floor-mounted cabinet, or a
desk-type console, depending upon the size of the system and the manufacturer. Normally, a lock is provided
for security of the controls.
2.12

PERFORMANCE OF CIRCUITS

Initiating device, signaling line and notification appliance circuits are classified in NFPA 72 according to their
ability to perform under a single open or ground fault, a combination single open and ground fault or a shortcircuit fault condition. Though Class A and Class B classifications are most commonly used, they are only
defined by their performance under single open or ground fault conditions. Short circuit faults are ignored,
except for notification appliance circuits. Though short circuit faults occur less frequently than opens or
grounds, their effect can be more catastrophic. A short circuit on an initiating device circuit most often results
in a nuisance alarm, which can have serious consequences when certain types of occupancies are
unnecessarily evacuated. Of even greater consequences are short circuit faults on signaling line and
notification appliance circuits, which could in certain instances, cause the loss of the entire system.
For this reason, NFPA 72 classifies these circuits both as Class A or B as well as by styles, which also take
short circuit faults into consideration. NFPA 72 divides initiating device circuits into Styles A through E,
signaling line circuits into Styles 0.5 through 7 and notification appliance circuits into Styles W through Z.
These two methods of classification are not incompatible and either can be used independently or combined
to specify the desired performance of a circuit. Where the requirements of Class A and Class B circuits are

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adequate to cover the desired performance, they can be used alone to specify the desired performance.
Where it is desired to require more stringent circuit performance characteristics, the two classification
methods can be combined to specify the required performance (e.g. by specifying Class A, Style 7, or simply
a Style 7 where it is required that a system continue to be capable of reporting an alarm condition even with a
short on a signaling line circuit).
NFPA 72 also requires that all styles of Class A circuits using physical conductors (metallic or optical fiber) be
installed such that the outgoing and return conductors, exiting from and returning to the control unit,
respectively, are routed separately. The outgoing and return conductors are not permitted to be run in the
same cable assembly (multiconductor cable), enclosure, or raceway. There are at least five exceptions to this
requirement in NFPA 72, so the appropriate exception should be referenced for the exact requirements.
2.13

INITIATING DEVICE CIRCUITS (IDCs)

Initiating device circuits are those to which automatic or manual initiating devices are connected. The
commonly used types of circuits are:
2.13.1 Two-Wire Using Normally Open Contact Initiating Devices and an End-Of-Line Device
This is termed a Class B circuit. See Figure 2-1. Monitoring of this circuit is accomplished by passing a low
current through the installation wires and end-of-line device. Any interruption of this current will cause the
trouble signal to operate.

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Figure 2-1
CLASS B INITIATING DEVICE CIRCUIT USING
NORMALLY OPEN INITIATING CONTACTS
2.13.2 Two-Wire with Both Polarized Normally Open Contact Initiating Devices and Oppositely
Polarized Notification Appliances
In this circuit, the appliances are connected on the same circuit and terminate in an end-of-line device. See
Figure 2-2. This is also a Class B circuit.

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Figure 2-2
CLASS B CIRCUIT WITH BOTH POLARIZED INITIATING DEVICES AND NOTIFICATION
APPLIANCES ON SAME CIRCUIT
2.13.3 Four-Wire Circuit Using Normally Open Contact Initiating Devices
The initiating devices are connected across two of the wires. After the last device these two wires are brought
back directly to the control unit. If the wires terminate within the control unit with only an end-of-line device, the
circuit is termed Class B. Additional circuitry may be provided which allows the operation of the circuit despite
the occurrence of a single open or ground in that circuit. With this additional circuitry, the circuit is termed a
Class A circuit. See Figure 2-3. It may be necessary to refer to the manufacturer's operating manual or
drawings to determine whether a circuit is a four wire "Class B" or a true "Class A" circuit.

Figure 2-3
CLASS A OR B 4-WIRE INITIATING DEVICE CIRCUIT
USING NORMALLY OPEN CONTACTS

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2.13.4 Four-Wire Circuit with Both Polarized Normally Open Contact Initiating Devices and
Oppositely Polarized Alarm Notification Appliances
In this circuit, the initiating devices and the notification appliances are connected on the same circuit. See
Figure 2-4.

Figure 2-4
CLASS A OR B 4-WIRE CIRCUIT WITH BOTH POLARIZED INITIATING DEVICES
AND NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES ON SAME CIRCUIT
2.14

SIGNALING LINE CIRCUITS

Signaling line circuit is defined in Section 1. In referring to the definition, one should also read the definitions
for Positive Non-interfering and Successive (PNIS) System, and Shunt Non-interfering (SNI) Coded System.
Read also 2.8.
All three of the definitions have the common intent to describe signaling from a multiple number of individually
identifiable initiating devices or circuits over a common circuit or path compared with the definition of an
initiating device circuit which deals with a single identifiable circuit of initiating devices. This is an important
concept in fire alarm signaling.

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In zoned systems, where initiating devices are connected to a system via initiating device circuits, loss of an
initiating device circuit would prevent signals from being received from only one group of initiating devices.
Where individual initiating devices or initiating device circuits are connected to a system via a signaling line
circuit, loss of the signaling line circuit would prevent signals from being received from many, if not all, the
initiating devices. For this reason system designers may specify a different style or level of installation
reliability between the two different types of circuits.
A system arranged as described in 2.8, can be simply implemented on a single wire loop. Code wheels with a
specific code for each device would revolve and interrupt the wire path of the signaling line circuit by opening
the line or by shunting its end-of-line device in accordance with its code.
2.15

NOTIFICATION APPLIANCE CIRCUITS

Notification appliance circuits are circuits which can operate a variety of appliances such as bells, horns,
chimes, buzzers, or speakers to signal an alarm condition. Visible appliances such as strobe or other lamptypes also may be used on these circuits. Appliances used in fire alarm systems should be listed for such use.
Common notification circuit types can be as follows:

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2.15.1 Parallel Circuits


These circuits normally have polarized alarm notification appliances wired in parallel and equipped with
diodes in series with each coil and an end-of-line device. Monitoring current is allowed to flow in one direction
through the end-of- line device to monitor the circuit wires. Upon reversal of the current flow, the notification
appliances are now allowed to sound or flash. NFPA 72 requires that line shorts be monitored also. Upon
interruption of the monitoring current, or a wire-to-wire short, an audible trouble signal is sounded. See Figure
2-5.

Figure 2-5
PARALLEL NOTIFICATION APPLIANCE CIRCUIT USING
POLARIZED NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES

Figure 2-6

Parallel notification appliance circuit


Using capacitor-coupled speakers
2.16

POWER SUPPLIES

Fire alarm systems are required to have at least two independent and reliable sources of electrical power, a
primary (main) power supply to operate the system, a secondary (standby) power supply to operate the
system in the event of failure of the primary (main) power supply.

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Parallel circuits are used also for speaker circuits when the fire alarm control unit is designed to sound
electronic tones or to give recorded or live voice messages. The most common method of monitoring used in
this application is to have a capacitor in series with each speaker transformer coil so as to block any DC
voltage used for monitoring. The audible signal, being ac, will pass through the capacitor and energize the
speaker coil. See Figure 2-6.

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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The secondary power supply must be able to sound trouble signals in the event of loss of the primary (main)
power. NFPA 72 does not permit a primary battery (dry cells) to be used for this purpose.
Power supplies are more fully described in NFPA 72 4.4.1 2002 Edition.
2.17

SUPPLEMENTARY CIRCUITS and devices

Supplementary circuits and devices may consist of the following:


a. Annunciators
b. Notification appliances not required by NFPA 72
c. Printers
d. Certain power-down functions
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These circuits may be unmonitored, provided the equipment to which they are connected is not required by
NFPA 72, they are designated as supplementary by the authority having jurisdiction, and a short circuit, an
open, or a ground fault in the circuit does not prevent the required operation of the fire alarm system.
2.18

TYPES OF CONTROL SYSTEMS

2.18.1 Protected Premises (Local) Fire Alarm System (Chapter 6, NFPA 72, 2002 Edition)
A protected premises fire alarm system provides alarm signal indications at the protected premises and, in
addition, it provides for one or more of the following:
a. Manual fire alarm service
b. Automatic fire alarm service
c. Automatic detection of waterflow or abnormal conditions in sprinkler systems or other fire
suppression systems
d. Automatic discharge or abnormal condition reporting of other fire suppression systems such as CO2,
Halon, or alternate gaseous or dry chemical suppressants
e. Activation of alarm notification appliances
f. Guards tour supervisory service
g. Industrial process monitoring
h. Activation of fire safety functions
i. Activation of off-premises signals
2.18.2 Auxiliary Fire Alarm System (Chapter 9, NFPA 72, 2002 Edition)
There are two types of auxiliary systems in common use. One is a local energy auxiliary alarm system that
uses power from the protected premises system to automatically trip a transmitter or master box connected to
the municipal public fire service communications system. See Figure 2-7.

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Figure 2-7
LOCAL ENERGY TYPE AUXILIARY ALARM SYSTEM
The other is a shunt auxiliary alarm system with isolated closed contacts controlled by the protected premises
fire alarm system or alarm initiating devices connected directly to a municipal transmitter or master box.
Power from the municipal system loop is used to trip the transmitter. See Figure 2-8.

Figure 2-8
SHUNT TYPE AUXILIARY ALARM SYSTEM
2.18.3 Remote Supervising Station Fire Alarm System (Chapter 8, NFPA 72, 2002 edition)
The remote supervising station system provides an alternative method of connecting a fire alarm system
directly to the municipal communications center over lines other than the municipal fire alarm circuits. Usually
this means a separate pair of telephone wires, leased from the telephone company, between each property
and the municipal communications center. Permission must be obtained from the authority having jurisdiction.
Generally, these are non-coded systems, which use individual pilot lights to identify the property from where
the alarm originated. See Figures 2-9A and 2-9B.

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Figure 2-9A
REMOTE SUPERVISING STATION FIRE ALARM SYSTEM SCHEMATIC DIAGRAM

Figure 2-9B
REMOTE SUPERVISING STATION FIRE ALARM SYSTEM RISER DIAGRAM
There are two types of non-coded remote supervising station systems. The first is the "reverse-polarity" type
in which power for the leased circuit originates at the fire alarm control unit on the protected premises. In the
event of an alarm, the polarity of the leased line is reversed energizing a polarized relay in the receiving
equipment at the municipal communications center, thereby lighting a light identifying the location from which
the alarm originated and actuating an alarm sounding appliance. The leased lines between the system at the
protected premises and the municipal communications center are electrically monitored for integrity.
The second type utilizes differential current relays or equivalent circuits. A small monitoring current flows
through the leased wire and an "end-of-line" resistor at the protected premises. When an alarm is actuated, a
relay contact shorts out the end-of-line resistor, causing the current to increase sufficiently to pick up or
energize an alarm relay at the municipal communications center. This, in turn, lights a pilot light and sounds
the alarm appliance. The system can be powered from either end of the line.
For either system, the receiving unit at the municipal communications center can be a single-station or a
multiple-station receiver with separate alarm indicators and individual pairs of wires for each protected
property. Because of the small gauge of the leased circuit wire, loop resistance is an important factor and
must be determined prior to specifying, the equipment. Long lines having up to 4000 ohms loop resistance, for
example, may require different equipment or power supplies, or both, than for a circuit of only 500 ohms loop
resistance.

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2.18.4 Proprietary Supervising Station Fire Alarm System (Chapter 8, NFPA 72, 2002 Edition)
A proprietary supervising station fire alarm system serves either single or multiple contiguous or
noncontiguous properties under one ownership. Trained operators are required to be in constant attendance
on this type of system. The operator may alert an in-house fire brigade or the municipal fire department or
both, as required by the authority having jurisdiction. All signals received by the central supervising station that
show a change of status must be automatically and permanently recorded, including time and date of
occurrence.
2.18.5 Emergency Voice/Alarm Communications (Chapter 6, NFPA 72, 2002 edition)
Fire alarm systems with emergency voice/alarm communications service are used to permit voice
communications during fire and other emergencies.
A one-way system permits emergency personnel to give voice instructions on either a selective or on an all
call basis via microphone and a system of loudspeakers. Its use came about with the advent of high-rise
buildings and other structures where immediate evacuation of the entire building might be impractical and the
fire plan called for selective partial evacuation or the relocation of the building occupants from the fire affected
zones.
A two-way system, using telephone or intercom techniques, permits communications between fire service
personnel while investigating or fighting a fire in the building. Most two-way systems use telephones located in
fire stairwells so that the fire service personnel can talk from any floor to the fire command station. These
telephones are also permitted to be used by other building occupants and are frequently installed on all floors
for use in emergency circumstances. A notification signal, distinctive from any other alarm or trouble signal is
required at the fire command station to indicate an off-hook (call-in) condition of any telephone on the system.
Emergency voice/alarm communications take two basic forms:
a. A system that stands alone and is manually controlled. Voice or tone signals can be selected and
distributed by operator choice.

2.18.6 Central Station Fire Alarm System providing Central Station Service (Chapter 8, NFPA 72,
2002 edition)
A central station fire alarm system receives signals from alarm and supervisory signaling devices at a
protected premises. Central station service is contracted for by the owner or manager of the protected
premises. The response to the signals is determined by the type of service provided. A central station fire
alarm system provides the following service elements:
a. Waterflow AlarmDispatch fire department upon the activation of a sprinkler system.
b. Sprinkler SupervisoryNotify building maintenance personnel when a fire sprinkler system has been
disabled by actions such as closing a valve.
c.

Guard's Tour SupervisoryNotify building personnel when a guard's tour is not completed on time.

d. Manual Fire AlarmDispatch the fire department when a manual fire alarm box has been activated.
e. Automatic Fire Alarm DetectionDispatch the fire department when an automatic fire detector goes into
alarm.
f.

Retransmission of alarms to the fire department.

g. Associated record keeping and reporting.

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b. A system that is integrated into a full fire alarm system. Voice or tone signals can be selected and
distributed manually or automatically.

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 25

h. Runner service.
Each service element of Central Station Service must be provided under a contract with a listed central station
or a listed fire alarm service-local company that sub-contracts the monitoring, retransmission, and associated
record keeping to a listed central station The central station shall indicate that all the requirements of the Fire
Alarm Code are met by either certification or placarding through a third party verification service.
2.18.7 Fire Safety Control Functions
NFPA 72 contains many requirements that apply to safety control equipment within the protected premises
that do not detect fires nor notify people but do make the premises safer for the occupants from the fire's
effects.
In most cases, these control functions are required by local codes and ordinances and, therefore, must have
their installation wires monitored for integrity (with very few exceptions) and meet the requirements found in
Chapter 6 of NFPA 72, 2002 Edition. The exceptions are limited to those devices that operate in a fail-safe
manner during a circuit fault to release the control device. (e.g., door release).
Elevator recall service is functionally described in detail in NFPA 72, 2002 Edition, Chapter 6, not only for
monitoring for integrity but also for sequence of operation.
In general, because of the many methods used by various manufacturers of the control devices, no specific
wiring is detailed in this manual except where the wiring makes the function required clearer. Generally, the
interface is a normally open or normally closed auxiliary relay contact on one of the fire alarm system
components. However, NFPA 72 also permits data transfer to control devices or systems through listed data
ports. NFPA 72 also requires that the control device be listed as being compatible with the control unit so as
not to interfere with the control unit's operation. It is extremely important that the installer follow the
manufacturer's installation instructions.
2.18.8 Combination Systems

Some fire alarm systems are monitored by computers that may not be a part of the fire alarm system itself. In
such cases, the removal, replacement, failure, or maintenance procedure on any hardware, software, or
circuit not required to perform the fire alarm system functions should not cause loss of any of the fire alarm
functions. These requirements do not apply where the computer equipment, software and circuitry are all
listed for the purpose.
2.18.9 Interconnected Fire Alarm Control Units
Many fire alarm installations are provided as extensions to existing systems requiring the installer to
interconnect control unit wiring of two or more fire alarm systems built by the same or different manufacturers.
For many years there have been questions about the propriety of such installations since the NFPA 72
standards basically described single systems.
NFPA 72 now specifically permits such installations but, by detailing the requirements that must be met when
two or more control units are interconnected, requires the interconnected control units to function as a single
system.

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NFPA 72 permits combination systems where the fire alarm system shares components, equipment, and
circuitry with non-fire alarm systems. The non-fire alarm equipment does not have to be listed for fire alarm
use where it does not perform a required fire alarm system function. Where common wiring is used between
the fire alarm and non-fire alarm systems, short circuits, open circuits, or grounds on the shared wiring or
within the non-fire alarm equipment must not prevent normal operation of the fire alarm system.

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Section 3
Modern Day Fire Alarm Systems
3.1

GENERAL

Section 2 dealt with basic fire alarm systems. This included the function of the control unit, the designations of
different types of systems, and details of various approaches to wiring initiating device and notification
appliance circuits.
All of the systems described and their installation techniques could be supported by control units using simple
relay circuitry. Small systems may still be best implemented that way. New technology has given
manufacturers the opportunity to apply computer-controlled devices that can work much faster and perform
more work to make people in a building safer from the danger of fire.
This new technology has given birth to a number of confusing buzz words in the industry. Some of these are
central processing unit (CPU), microprocessor, multiplexing, addressable initiating devices, addressable
control devices, analog initiating devices, wireless initiating devices, digital alarm system components and
others.
While most intelligent or smart detectors or sensors are defined in Section 1, Section 3 introduces these
subjects so that those responsible for the physical installation of fire alarm systems which use these advanced
technologies will have a working understanding of the concepts involved.
3.2

MULTIPLEXING

In addition to reading the definition for multiplexing in Section 1, the reader should also review the information
in 2.14. It can be seen that essentially, the term "multiplexing" is a modern term used to describe the operation
of a signaling line circuit and usually identifies the systems that use computer techniques for data handling
and communications between components on the installation wiring circuits.
Understanding the basic principles of a multiplex system in terms of old technology can help in the
understanding of today's new technology multiplex systems. It bridges the gap between fire alarm system
concepts with which one may be familiar and the modern hardware used in implementing multiplex systems.
The specifier and installer should be familiar with the concepts of the signaling methodology and not
necessarily the complex details of the new types of circuits involved.
Similarly, the installer should understand that where this manual makes reference to installation wiring and
various types of physical wire circuits, such circuits may actually be considered to be signaling pathways that
could be either radio or optical fiber pathways. With the new technologies, no physical pathway need to exist
for initiating and signaling line circuits and reference to the physical wire pathways is purely to facilitate the
understanding of the signaling techniques involved. Most systems now being installed still use physical wire
paths.
The new technology systems, for the most part, use the basic capabilities of computers and borrow heavily
from telephone signaling methods.
An important function that modern multiplex systems have added to fire alarm signaling systems is the
capability to construct systems that use a common signaling line circuit to gather information from many types
of input devices (such as manual fire alarm boxes, fire detection devices, and supervisory devices) and
distribute appropriate control action commands to output devices (such as relays and alarm notification
appliances) at very high speed. The new signaling technology has made the use of radio signaling paths

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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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practical because it made it possible to monitor signaling pathways with a high degree of reliability without
using wires.
In addition, the cost and size of components have shrunk so that it is possible to construct devices that
incorporate several functions, giving rise to the proliferation of addressable and analog devices as described
in subsequent paragraphs.
A basic multiplex system block diagram is shown in Figure 3-1. The signaling line circuit can use any number
of wires or other types of circuit paths. Two to four wires are most common. In addition, power supply wiring
may be required for the input (initiating) devices and output (notification or control relay) appliances.

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Figure 3-1
BASIC MULTIPLEX SYSTEM BLOCK DIAGRAM SHOWING INITIATING DEVICE CIRCUITS
CONNECTED TO CIRCUIT INTERFACES AND TO A SIGNALING LINE CIRCUIT
3.3

CIRCUIT INTERFACES (TRANSPONDERS)

The assembly that connects each of the initiating, notification and control circuits to the signaling line circuit is
known as a circuit interface. The term transponder is also used to describe this unit. A circuit interface may
have one or more initiating devices, notification appliances, or control circuits connected to it. In Figure 3-1,
circuit interfaces are shown "connecting" initiating device circuits to a signaling line circuit.
As required by the definition in Section 1, each circuit interface must have the capability of separately
indicating the status of each connected initiating device circuit. All connected notification appliance circuits
and control output circuits can be individually actuated and monitored by the control unit.
Normally, the circuit interface is an assembly of solid-state components capable of working at high speed. The
high speed permits the system to report individual alarms and other conditions in a short time, thereby,
making it possible for a large number of initiating devices, notification appliances and control circuits to be
connected to a signaling line circuit.

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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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For proprietary supervising station systems, the maximum elapsed time from sensing a fire alarm at an
initiating device until it is recorded or displayed at the proprietary supervising station may not exceed 10
seconds. Subsequent fire alarm signals must be recorded or displayed at intervals not exceeding 10 seconds
even when signals other than fire alarm are being originated simultaneously. Timing is important because fire
alarm standards permit monitoring of other functions within a building that may not be related to fire alarm
signaling. It would not be wise to have a fire reporting system that had many non-fire alarm inputs delay the
timely receipt and display of fire alarm signals. With today's components and computer techniques, the
slowest part of any system is usually a printer, if used, and the reaction time of any attendants receiving the
signals.
MULTIPLEXED OUTPUTS

Up to this point, we have described a multiplex system that has multiple initiating circuits inputting signals from
multiple locations onto the signaling line circuit and transmitting them to a control unit. Now consider that the
signaling line circuit is merely a communications path. In some manner, the circuit interfaces have placed
signals on the signaling line circuit to be interpreted at the control unit. This might be likened to a telephone
circuit where all the locations, except at a master location, have only the transmitters installed in the handsets.
People using these handsets can only be heard at the master location and the master location cannot talk
back to any of the individual locations.
Next consider a party line telephone circuit where any handset can talk to any other handset as well as the
master location and the master location can talk to any of the handset locations. Now the telephone circuit is
two-way. At each location, there is capability for input as well as output.
Similarly, circuit interfaces on a signaling line circuit can be operated in a party line mode. Addressing
information can be sent from a control unit on the signaling line that causes individual circuit interfaces on the
same line to respond with the status of it's connected initiating device circuits. Or, a circuit interface can
originate the address, type of device and status data that can be read by the control unit. The control unit can
also send address and commands to notification appliance and control circuits connected to a circuit
interface. On some more complex systems, data from one circuit interface can be read by all circuit interfaces
and cause selective action to be taken at one or more of the circuit interfaces.
Figure 3-2 shows a block diagram where both an initiating device and a notification appliance circuit are
connected to the signaling line circuit through the same circuit interface. A circuit interface can connect
initiating device, alarm notification appliance, and control circuits or combinations of the three to a signaling
line circuit. One major advantage of the new technology signaling line circuits is the reduction of installation
wire costs. Essentially, Figure 3-2 is the same as Figure 3-1 except that some circuit interfaces are shown
with output capability to actuate notification appliances or to actuate relays to perform control functions such
as fan start-up or shutdown, door release, etc.

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3.4

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Figure 3-2
BASIC MULTIPLEX SYSTEM SHOWING NOTIFICATION APPLIANCE CIRCUITS
ALSO CONNECTED TO CIRCUIT INTERFACES
Figure 3-3 is similar to Figure 3-2 with the addition of T-tapped connections on the signaling line circuit that
restricts its use to Class B applications.

Figure 3-3
ACTIVE MULTIPLEX SYSTEM USING T-TAPPED CONNECTIONS

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In most fire alarm systems, the input (initiating device circuit) transmits data from initiating devices that is
received by the control unit that interprets it and sends out data to specific circuit interfaces to actuate the
outputs. However, on more complex systems, using today's communications techniques, it is possible for data
at any point on the signaling line circuit to be interpreted and acted upon at any circuit interface location to
create a programmed output.
3.5

ADDRESSABILITY

If the signaling line circuit is constructed as a party line, how will the data messages be routed to the proper
location? This brings up the subject of addressability.
Lets go back to the simple selective coded system described in 2.8. Each code wheel sends a series of
pulses to the control unit so the control unit can determine which code wheel has been actuated. For example
a code wheel may send 2 pulses, pause, 1 pulse, pause, then 3 pulses. The control unit sees this as location
213. It is very much like a house number on a street so that the post office can properly deliver the mail,
hence the term address.
The address of the initiating device circuit sending the signal is 213. Circuitry within the control unit would
have been arranged to know exactly what receipt of the coded signal 213 means. In a simple system the
digital information received could be interpreted by the control unit both for location and status. In more
complex systems, there might be more digits transmitted with some identifying the circuit reporting (address)
and others to indicate status such as alarm, trouble, or normal and some identify the type of reporting device.
Now lets go back to Figure 3-2 where two way signaling is used. Each circuit interface and the control unit
must be coordinated and work together so that a signal originating from any actuated initiating device can be
identified by the control unit. In a similar manner, any signals sent from the control unit must be deciphered by
the proper circuit interface in a manner that permits the circuit interface to actuate the proper outputs. In some
systems, it is possible for a signal transmitted by one circuit interface to be read and acted upon by some
other circuit interface. The addressing techniques and system design used by the manufacturer make this
possible.
Another necessary signal component becomes evident when discussing addressable systems. The signals
sent and received must contain more information than just an address. There must be a component in the
signal transmitted by the circuit interface that not only identifies the location or address of the device, but in
addition, the status (condition) being sensed by the reporting device. The additional signal component is also
necessary when a control unit sends a signal to a circuit interface and the interface needs to take action. The
circuit interface must not only be told which output to affect (by its address) but also what the action is to be.
3.6

INTELLIGENT (SMART) CIRCUIT INTERFACES

If a circuit interface could be programmed to take certain actions based upon the identity (address) and status
of an input signal that originates at some other circuit interface, it could then be said to be an "intelligent"
circuit interface and the action to be taken need not be a component of the signal sent from the originating
circuit interface. Most new control units have this "intelligent" capability, but with the technology available
today, even input and output devices can be so constructed.
3.7

PROGRAMMING

Programming is a procedure that assigns meaning to the codes that instruct a system to perform certain
functions. Sometime, someplace, a person sat down and programmed the equipment to take certain action
upon receipt of specific signals. For example, in a simple relay circuit with three relays labeled A, B, and C, an
electrician could wire them in such a manner that relay C would be energized only when relays A and B were
both energized. In computer logic jargon, the circuit could be described as being programmed.

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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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Today, circuits are "wired" by commands entered into a computer from a keyboard by a "programmer." They
can be readily changed by the same method. The term "software" is applied to the finished program for a
system. The basic system programming is often done by the manufacturer but today, most systems require
some programming to be done by a factory trained technician to accommodate actual installation
requirements or changes. Software is usually easier to change than physically wired "hardware," a term used
to describe the physical parts of a system that can be seen and felt.
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3.8

ADDRESSABLE DEVICES

Suppose a manufacturer, taking advantage of the small solid-state components available to him, was to build
a smoke detector and, in the same device, include a circuit that performed the circuit interface function. He
would have an initiating device that would be capable of being installed directly on signaling line circuits since
each initiating device could be individually identified at the control unit.
Such a device is known in the industry as an addressable device. It must be compatible with the other system
devices and the control unit so that the whole system can function as required.
The addressable devices do not have to be limited to smoke detectors. They may be other initiating devices
such as heat detectors, sprinkler waterflow alarm switches, manual fire alarm boxes, etc.
The manufacturer may also incorporate an output device, such as a relay, into a single assembly with an
initiating device. He could arrange the electronics such that the relay is actuated only when its associated
initiating device is in the alarm state. Or, the relay could be controlled by data put on the signaling line circuit
from some other system component on the signaling line circuit. The combined functional device would still be
referred to as an addressable device.
3.9

MULTIPLEXING TECHNOLOGY

Remember, functionally, the signals passed back and forth in a multiplex fire alarm system permit the system
to identify the type of device reporting, its location and status. But, in the case of outputs, the signals must
direct action commands to specific locations.
There are several different methods (protocols) used by manufacturers to place their multiplex signals on a
signaling line circuit. Probably no two manufacturers use the same protocol. It is beyond the scope of this
manual to go into any of these in detail.
To understand the concept of a basic multiplex system, one could examine the operation of the simple touchtone (push-button) telephone used in the United States. The user of a telephone pushes the keypad buttons
in a sequence identifying the number being called. Using time division multiplexing, this identifies to the
system the first, second, third, fourth, and so on, digits of the "address" he is dialing. Not only must the
sequence of the digits be known, but also their value, which is signaled to the system by the tones sent on the
line when the buttons are pushed. This is called frequency division multiplexing. So the telephone uses both
time division and frequency division multiplexing.
Many multiplex systems place a tone on the signaling line and then shift the tone in accordance with some
particular code. Here again, digital or alpha characters can be sequentially represented and decoded by
various pieces of equipment along the signaling line circuit as required to perform the system functions. Other
systems may use the length of a particular tone as having some significance such as a quantitative value.
It can be seen that the signals on these modern multiplex signaling line circuits cannot be received and
interpreted without special compatible equipment designed for that purpose on the particular system involved.

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3.10

ACTIVE MULTIPLEX

Today's modern multiplex systems use what the industry refers to as "active" multiplex. Each reporting point in
the system is required to send its status signal at periodic intervals. The lack of receipt of at least an "OK" or
"normal" signal from a reporting point is interpreted by the control unit as an abnormal condition for the
reporting point. This contrasts greatly from the old mechanical systems where a spring-wound transmitter
could be bound up and unable to send an alarm signal and not cause this to be indicated by a trouble signal.
It is this feature of the active multiplex systems that in some instances permits signaling line circuits to be Ttapped. Referring to Figure 3-3, it can be seen that if each reporting point is required to send an "OK" signal to
the control unit, all the signal paths are monitored for integrity even though T-taps are used in the
interconnecting signaling paths.
However, the installer of a system must not assume all multiplex signaling line circuits may be T-tapped. It
depends on the type of system being installed and the part of NFPA 72 that states the requirements. Two
systems using equipment that looks physically identical may use different signaling techniques (protocols) and
require different wiring methods. No assumptions should be made by the installer. Always follow the
manufacturer installation instructions.
While it is relatively easy to depict fire alarm system installation wiring, or even imagine that the signaling
paths could be optical fiber cables or radio waves, it is not easy to visualize the actual signal itself in today's
new technology systems. Specialized test equipment can be used for this purpose.
3.11

DIGITAL SIGNALING

Older systems using mechanical code wheels interrupting or connecting wire paths could have their signal
made visible with a simple lamp connection, or audible, with bells or horns. These older coding systems used
digital information such as in the code 213 in the earlier example. Today's systems also use digital information
to indicate a particular reporting device's address (location), type, status, or other data. However, they do so at
high speed and normally cannot be interpreted by human observers without specialized equipment to slow
down the data and put it into humanly interpretable form. The digital data can be imposed on a hard wired
signaling path by varying the amplitude of current flow, by imposing audible or inaudible frequencies, by
varying the length of pulses, by imposing multiple tones with a separate tone for each digit 0-9, by shifting
frequency of a tone, or other techniques or combinations of the above.
Any of the methods used for encoding a signal onto a hard wire signaling path can generally also be used in
one form or another on optical fiber cable and radio signaling paths.
3.12

ANALOG SENSORS

Now that the subject of digital signaling has been introduced, a whole new concept in automatic fire detection
can more easily be understood. Heretofore, fire detection has been primarily an on/off type of function.
Normally a contact or its equivalent closed and initiated a signal indicative of a fire condition. This could be a
manual fire alarm box, smoke or heat detector, sprinkler waterflow switch or any other device capable of
detecting a fire condition.
Now, with the advent of economical components and the power of digital signaling unleashed, it is possible for
fire detecting sensors to signal how much heat (temperature) or how much smoke (percent obscuration) is
being sensed by a detection device. Such devices are known as "analog" sensors.
In the industry, the term "intelligent" or "smart" devices is frequently heard when describing these sensors.
There are two types of intelligent sensors:
a. Sensors that only send quantitative data back to a central or sub-control unit where the alarm level
decision is made. In this case, the sensing device is relatively dumb when compared to conventional
smoke detectors that can both sense smoke and decide that an alarm level has been reached.

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b. Sensors employ a microprocessor (CPU) that analyzes the signal for alarm and pre-alarm levels and
makes decisions on when or what sort of information should be sent to the central or sub-control unit. In
this type of intelligent system both the sensor and control unit contain CPU decision-makers. The benefits
of this concept are that the communications on the signaling line circuit is greatly simplified and alarm
reporting is still possible even if the control unit CPU fails.
The use of analog sensors permits using a sophisticated signal analyzer at only one location, allowing its cost
to be spread over many analog devices. In this manner, the designer can design faster detection into the
system while at the same time greatly reducing false alarms.
3.13

INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS

Assuming computer type circuitry is used in a control unit, the designer can design an algorithm, using rate of
rise, level, time delays, multiple sensor logic or a combination of some or all these techniques. With a
sophisticated control unit, a designer can provide the ability to manually or automatically shift the sensitivity of
detectors at selected locations, depending on the time of day, day of the week, or change in occupancy. For
example, sensors in a banquet room may be shifted slightly less sensitive during periods of expected heavy
smoking by the occupants. Such systems are frequently referred to as "intelligent systems."
Intelligent systems can also monitor the buildup of contaminates in a sensor and indicate the need for
maintenance (cleaning or replacement) before a sensor indicates an unwanted alarm. The algorithm used
may also improve the system's ability to give warning of an incipient alarm condition at a threshold below the
alarm level.
While used principally for heat and smoke detection, any value that can be sensed and encoded into the
signal can be sent to the control unit or any other location on a signaling line circuit where equipment capable
of interpreting the signal may be located. With the proper sensing devices, this could include such things as
the level of water in a tank, the temperature at outside loading docks or in warehouses, or the actual percent
closure of a sprinkler shutoff valve.
Figure 3-4 shows a circuit where one of the circuit interface devices is a sensor in its own right and also
monitors and reports the status of a connected subordinate initiating device circuit.
It is possible that the signal transmitted by such a device can have one address for both its own sensor and
the connected initiating device circuit. Or, it could have separate addresses for each. It depends on the
product offered by the manufacturer. A single analog sensor that included monitoring capability of a separate
subordinate initiating device circuit with the same address might be used in the same room with more
conventional detectors without sophisticated communications capabilities. In such an application, the size of
the room may not require more detailed location information than a single address.
Putting all of the above together, a system designer, using computer techniques, high speed signaling line
circuits, binary (on/off) as well as analog sensing devices, and modern information display systems, such as
color video or LCD (liquid crystal display) screens and printers, can put together a very sophisticated new
technology system.

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Figure 3-4
MULTIPLEX SYSTEM WHERE NONADDRESSABLE INITIATING DEVICES ARE
CONNECTED TO AN ADDRESSABLE INITIATING DEVICE WHICH INCLUDES CIRCUIT INTERFACE
Not all such systems are implemented with large-scale computers or even the well-known personal computer.
The small size and extraordinary power of the microprocessor and its support chips make possible
economical systems in very small packages. If the information to the operator can be displayed on an
alphanumeric indicator such as used on a hand calculator and a large number of audible or visible alarm
signaling circuits are not required, a control unit connected to thousands of sensors could be constructed in
very small space.
3.14

DISPLAYS

Most existing systems have used individual lamp or LED type annunciators. Many new systems are also
using the same technique. However, displays are available that give manufacturers the capability to display
more information in an alphanumeric format.
Primarily these displays have taken three basic forms, flat screen displays made with light emitting diodes
(LED), liquid crystal display (LCD), and cathode ray tubes (CRT). LCD units are most familiar because of their
use on the faces of digital watches. For fire alarm use, they are available in a variety of numbers of characters
and character sizes.
Using displays, the designer can present alphanumeric data describing a reporting device and graphic data
such as floor plans and building height profiles in any color the designer chooses to best communicate with
the operator.
3.15

DIGITAL ALARM COMMUNICATOR SYSTEMS (DACS)

The signaling technique used for remote supervising station fire alarm systems described in Section 2,
Paragraph 2.18.3 requires telephone lines between the protected premises and the remote receiving point.
These physical wires are becoming less and less available. The telephone service companies have steadily
been converting to optical fiber cable and radio communication links that cannot be used to carry the DC
current required by the method described in 2.18.3.

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A new fire alarm system component called a digital alarm communicator has been employed to overcome the
application problem of the disappearing physical copper paths.
A digital alarm communicator system consists of one or more digital alarm communicator transmitters (DACT)
and at least one digital alarm communicator receiver (DACR) all of which are defined in Section 1.
The DACTS are designed to connect to the standard public switched telephone networks. The DACT units
send appropriate coded signals to a remote receiving location and are designed to automatically dial up the
particular receiving station to which they are to report.
Since they are designed to use the public switched telephone network, the signals will go through whatever
type of signaling path the telephone company puts in place for its normal voice communications services. A
DACT protecting a particular area can send an alarm signal to any location that can be reached by a voice
telephone circuit.
A simple DACS could consist of a single DACT connected to a switched network telephone line reporting to a
DACR anywhere in the world. The single DACT could be monitoring fire detection devices directly or be
connected to a fire alarm system.

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Section 4
INITIATING DEVICES
4.1

MANUAL AND AUTOMATIC ALARM INITIATING DEVICES

Initiating devices for fire alarm systems are either manual fire alarm boxes or automatic detectors and are
used to initiate an alarm on a fire alarm system.
4.2

MANUAL FIRE ALARM BOXES

Manual fire alarm boxes may be of the following types: (1) non-coded or coded, (2) presignal or general
alarm, (3) break-glass or nonbreak-glass, and (4) single action or double action.
4.2.1

Non-coded Fire Alarm Boxes

A non-coded manual fire alarm box contains a normally open or closed switch that is housed within a
distinctive enclosure. The device may be surface, semi-flush, or flush mounted. Once actuated, the fire alarm
box contacts transfer and are maintained until some specific resetting of the fire alarm box restores the unit to
normal. Contact and circuit arrangements may vary to provide a number of functions simultaneously.
4.2.2

Coded Fire Alarm Boxes

Coded fire alarm boxes contain a mechanically or electrically driven motor which when activated, turns a code
wheel causing contacts to momentarily open or close to reproduce the code of the fire alarm box. The fire
alarm box is required to repeat its code a minimum of three times. The device may be surface, semi-flush, or
flush mounted. Contact and circuit arrangements may vary to provide a number of functions simultaneously.
Electronic devices may be used to produce the same effect.
4.2.3

Presignal Fire Alarm Boxes

Presignal fire alarm boxes initially cause alarm signals to sound only in specific areas. Actuation of a key
switch on the fire alarm box or the control unit will cause an evacuation signal to sound.
4.2.4

General Alarm Fire Alarm Boxes

A general alarm fire alarm box (the most common), when actuated, causes evacuation signals to sound
immediately.
4.2.5

Breakglass Fire Alarm Boxes

The term "breakglass" is applied to both non-coded and coded fire alarm boxes where the actuation of the
device to cause an alarm requires the initial action of breaking a glass or other breakable element. Fire alarm
boxes without this feature are classified as "non-breakglass." See Figure 4-1.

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Figure 4-1
BREAKGLASS FIRE ALARM BOX
4.2.6

Single Action Fire Alarm Boxes

A fire alarm box that initiates an alarm as the result of a single action by the user. The required action usually
is breaking a glass element only or actuating a lever or other movable part of the station. See Figure 4-2.

Figure 4-2
SINGLE ACTION FIRE ALARM BOX

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4.2.7

Double Action Fire Alarm Boxes

A fire alarm box that initiates an alarm as a result of two actions taken by the user. The operation of such a
station nominally requires the user to break a glass, open a door, or lift a cover in order to gain access to a
switch or lever that must then be operated in order to initiate an alarm. See Figure 4-3. The required double
action tends to discourage accidental or deliberately malicious nuisance alarms.

Figure 4-3
DOUBLE ACTION FIRE ALARM BOX
4.3

AUTOMATIC ALARM INITIATING DEVICES

Automatic alarm initiating devices may be actuated by various factors that may be present as the result of a
fire. These factors may be direct effects such as heat, smoke, flame radiation or combinations of these
effects. Devices sensing these direct effects of fire are generally referred to as automatic fire detectors.
Automatic initiation may also be accomplished as the result of detecting flow of water in a sprinkler pipe, either
by a vane deflected by the water or a pressure-operated switch mounted on a sprinkler system dry pipe valve.
In addition, pressure switches may be mounted on fixed fire suppression systems that suppress fires by
releasing such agents as Halon, Halon substitutes, carbon dioxide, dry chemicals, or foam. These devices are
generally referred to by their direct function (i.e., flow switch, pressure switch, and so forth).
4.3.1

Classification of Automatic Fire Detectors

4.3.1.1 By Combustion Product Detected


a. Heat Detector. A device that detects abnormally high temperature or rate-of-temperature rise.
b. Smoke Detector. A device that detects air-borne particles of combustion.
c.

Flame Detector. A device that detects the infrared, ultraviolet, or visible radiation produced by a fire.

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4.3.1.2 By Physical Arrangement of Detector


a. Line-Type Detector. A device in which detection is continuous along its length. Typical examples are
rate-of-rise pneumatic tubing detectors, projected beam smoke detectors, and heat-sensitive cable.
b. Spot-Type Detector. A device whose detecting element is concentrated at a particular location. Typical
examples are bimetallic heat detectors, fusible alloy heat detectors, certain pneumatic rate-of-rise heat
detectors, certain smoke detectors, and thermoelectric heat detectors.
Duct Smoke Detector. A duct smoke detector uses the velocity pressure drop across sampling tubes
located in an air stream to move air past a smoke detector. A spot type detector with a velocity shield is
also available for direct insertion into a duct.

d. Air Sampling Type Detector. A sampling type detector consists of a distribution of piping or tubing from
the detector unit to the areas or zones to be protected. An air pump draws air from the protected area
back to the detector through the air sampling ports in the piping or tubing. At the detector, the air is
analyzed for combustion products. Air sampling detectors can be arranged to sequentially sample and
analyze air from multiple zones.
4.3.1.3 By Operating Modes
a. Nonrestorable Detector. A device whose sensing element is designed to be destroyed by the process of
detecting a fire.
b. Restorable Detector. A device whose sensing element is not ordinarily destroyed by the process of
detecting heat. Restoration may be manual or automatic if the sensing element is not damaged by
exposure to fire.
4.3.2

Heat Sensing Fire Detectors

4.3.2.1

Operating Principles

4.3.2.2

Fixed Temperature Detector

A fixed temperature detector is a device that will respond when its operating element becomes heated to a
predetermined level. See Figure 4-4.

A bimetallic, snap-action disc, fixed


temperature detector. Snap action
disc is in the raised center portion of
the device.

Figure 4-4
FIXED TEMPERATURE DETECTOR

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c.

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4.3.2.2.1 Thermal Lag


When a fixed temperature device operates, the temperature of the surrounding air will always be higher than
the operating temperature of the device itself. This difference between the operating temperature of the device
and the actual air temperature is commonly referred to as "thermal lag," and is a function of the rate at which
the temperature is rising.
4.3.2.2.2 Typical Examples of Fixed Temperature Sensing Elements
a. Bimetallic. A sensing element comprised of two metals having different coefficients of thermal expansion
arranged so that the effect will be deflected in one direction when heated and in the opposite direction
when cooled.
b. Electrical Conductivity. A sensing element comprised of an electrical resistor (thermistor) whose
resistance varies as a function of temperature. See Figure 4-5.

Figure 4-5
ELECTRICAL CONDUCTIVITY SENSING ELEMENT
a. Fusible Alloy. A sensing element of a special composition (eutectic) metal that melts rapidly at the rated
temperature. It is employed to restrain operation of an electrical contact until the point of fusion is
reached.
b. Heat-Sensitive Cable. A line-type device whose sensing element comprises, in one type, two currentcarrying wires separated by a heat-sensitive insulation which softens at the rated temperature, thus
allowing the wires to make electrical contact. In another type, a single wire is centered in a metallic tube
and the intervening space filled with a substance that, at a critical temperature, becomes conductive, thus
establishing electrical contact between the tube and the wire. See Figure 4-6.

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Figure 4-6
HEAT SENSITIVE CABLE
4.3.2.3 Rate Compensation Detector
This is a device that will respond when the temperature of the air surrounding the device reaches a
predetermined level regardless of the rate of temperature rise. See Figure 4-7.

Figure 4-7
SCHEMATIC OF RATE-COMPENSATION DETECTOR
A typical example is a spot-type detector with a tubular casing of a metal that tends to expand lengthwise as it
is heated, and an associated contact mechanism that will close at a certain point in the elongation process. A
second metallic element inside the tube exerts an opposing force on the contacts, tending to hold them open.
The forces are balanced in such a way that on a slow rate of temperature rise, there is more time for heat to
penetrate to the inner element, which therefore inhibits contact closure until the total device has been heated

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to its rated temperature level. However, on a fast rate of temperature rise, there is not as much time for heat to
penetrate to the inner clement, which, therefore, exerts less of an inhibiting effect, so that contact closure is
obtained when the total device has been heated to a lower level. This, in effect, compensates for thermal lag.
4.3.2.4 Rate-of-Rise Detector
A rate-of-rise detector is a device that will respond when the temperature rises at a rate exceeding a
predetermined amount (usually 15 degrees Fahrenheit per minute).
Typical examples of rate-of-rise detectors are:
a. Spot-Type Rate-of-Rise Detector. A device consisting of an air chamber, diaphragm, contacts, and
compensating vent in a single enclosure. The principle of operation is the same as that described under
(b) below. Some spot type rate-of-rise detectors also incorporate an element using eutectic solder that is
arranged to melt at a fixed temperature and cause contacts to close. These detectors are referred to as
fixed temperature and rate-of-rise detectors and combine the two principles of operation in a single unit.
See Figure 4-9.

Figure 4-8
PNEUMATIC RATE-OF-RISE TUBING

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b. Pneumatic Rate-of-Rise Tubing. A line-type detector comprising small diameter tubing, usually copper,
which is installed on the ceiling or high on the walls throughout the protected area. The tubing is
terminated in a detector unit, containing diaphragms and associated contacts set to actuate at a
predetermined pressure. The system is sealed except for calibrated vents that compensate for normal
changes in ambient temperature. See Figure 4-8.

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Figure 4-9
COMBINATION SPOT-TYPE RATE-OF-RISE AND FIXED TEMPERATURE DETECTOR

4.3.3 Smoke Sensing Fire Detectors


For additional information on the proper use of smoke sensing fire detectors, see the following two
publications available from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association through Global Engineering
Documents, 15 Inverness Way East, Englewood, CO 80112-5776:
Guide for Proper Use of System Smoke Detectors
Guide for Proper Use of Smoke Detectors in Duct Applications
4.3.3.1 Classification of Detectors by Operating Principles

4.3.3.1.1

Ionization Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors utilizing the ionization principle are usually of the spot-type. An ionization smoke detector
has a small amount of radioactive material that ionizes the air in the sensing chamber, thus rendering it
conductive and permitting a current flow through the air between two charged electrodes. This gives the
sensing chamber an effective electrical conductance. When smoke particles enter the ionization area, they
decrease the conductance of the air by attaching themselves to the ions, causing a reduction in mobility.
When the conductance is less than a predetermined level, the detector responds. See Figure 4-10. Before
ionization detectors are placed on the market, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission performs a radiation
safety analysis to determine that detectors meet safety requirements.

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Figure 4-10
CURRENT FLOW-THROUGH IONIZATION DETECTOR SENSING CHAMBER
Photoelectric Light Obscuration Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors utilizing the photoelectric light obscuration principle consist of a light source that is projected
onto a photosensitive device. Smoke particles between the light source and the photosensitive device reduce
the light reaching the device, causing the detector to respond.
A projected beam smoke detector is a line type light obscuration smoke detector where the light beam is
projected across the area to be protected. See Figure 4-11.

Figure 4-11
PROJECTED BEAM SMOKE DETECTOR
4.3.3.1.3

Photoelectric Light Scattering Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors utilizing the photoelectric light scattering principle are usually of the spot-type. They contain
a light source and a photosensitive device so arranged that light rays do not normally fall onto the
photosensitive device. When smoke particles enter the light path, light strikes the particles and is scattered
onto the photosensitive device, causing the detector to respond. See Figure 4-12.

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4.3.3.1.2

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Figure 4-12
PHOTOELECTRIC LIGHT SCATTERING DETECTOR
4.4

SWITCHES ON AUTOMATIC FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

4.4.1

Waterflow Switch on Sprinkler Systems

Another type of alarm initiating device that may be used is a sprinkler waterflow switch of either the pressure
or vane-type. The waterflow switches illustrated in Figure 4-13 are of the vane-type and are generally used in
wet-pipe sprinkler systems. Operation of a sprinkler head causes water to flow in the system moving the vane.
After an adjustable retard period to compensate for water surges, the switch or transmitter connected to the
fire alarm system will operate. Vane-type switches should be installed in the size and type of pipe for which
they are listed.

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Figure 4-13
WATER FLOW SWITCH ON SPRINKLER SYSTEM
Vane-type waterflow switches should not be used in dry pipe systems, deluge systems, or preaction systems
because the vane and mechanism could be damaged by the sudden rush of water when the control valve
opens. A pressure actuated waterflow switch is used on these systems.
4.4.2

Alarm Switches on Fire Suppression Systems

Fixed fire suppression systems of the Halon, carbon dioxide, dry chemical, or foam type have pressure or flow
switches that actuate upon operation of the suppression system.
4.5

INSTALLATION WIRING

The primary rule of installation wiring is:


"Follow the manufacturer's instructions."
This rule cannot be overemphasized. As noted in Section 2, the requirement for electrical monitoring of the
installation wires and their connections to initiating devices and notification appliances makes fire alarm
system wiring very different from general wiring.
A manufacturer's installation wiring drawing routes wires and makes connections in a certain manner because
of the monitoring requirements. Any variance from the manufacturer's drawings might cause a portion of a
circuit to be unmonitored and, if an open or short occurred, prevent the circuit from performing its intended
function, and possibly lead to loss of life.

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The rules for monitoring installation wiring are complex. Unless an installer specializes in fire alarm system
installations, he is not likely to be familiar with them.
There are enough exceptions to the rules that an installer should not presume one particular system must be
wired in the same manner as a similar system worked on previously. It is possible that hardware that appears
to be identical in two different buildings can be wired radically different.
This may be because one building may have used a remote annunciator that was required by an authority
having jurisdiction and the other building used a similar appearing annunciator that was considered
"supplementary" to a required fire alarm system. In fire alarm signaling systems, installation wiring for
supplementary equipment is not required to be monitored. However, a set of rules requires that an open,
short, or ground on such "supplementary" equipment wiring should not affect any function of the required
system.
Since there are at least a dozen accepted exceptions to wire installation monitoring, and not all may apply to
every job, how is the installer to interpret the requirements? He uses the primary rule of installation wiring:
"Follow the manufacturer's instructions."
Now, having restated the primary rule, a word of caution. Fire alarm system installation drawings take two
forms. One form is where the manufacturer of the control unit or a qualified installer creates an installation
wiring diagram for a particular building. The other form is where a manufacturer of the control unit or other
components in the system furnishes typical installation drawings.
An installer that uses the typical drawings has responsibility for applying the typical drawings in accordance
with local code requirements. The manufacturer's drawings will show how the unit is to be connected into a
system. However, how to interconnect devices on the same floor but served by a different riser may not
always be shown. Nor may subtle differences about supplementary equipment installation wiring be shown.
Generally, installers using typical drawings should be well qualified in fire alarm system installation
requirements or be under the direct supervision of someone who is well qualified.
For initiating devices, Figures 4-15 and 4-16 show incorrectly connected devices. Figures 4-14 and 4-17 show
them correctly connected. In both cases they will operate correctly for alarm purposes. However, note that in
Figures 4-14 and 4-16, the device could become disconnected from the monitored installation wires without
disturbing the monitored circuit. In Figures 4-14 and in 4-17, none of the connections can be broken without
breaking the monitored circuit.

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Figure 4-14
INITIATING DEVICES, CORRECTLY WIRED

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Figure 4-15
INITIATING DEVICES, INCORRECTLY WIRED

Figure 4-16
PIGTAIL CONNECTIONS, INCORRECT WIRING METHOD

Figure 4-17
PIGTAIL CONNECTIONS, CORRECT WIRING METHOD

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The installer should note that in Figure 4-17, the manufacturer's pigtail wires on either circuit side of the device
are very likely "Y" connected within the device and would seem to be a contradiction to the requirements.
However, this is not true because the monitoring requirements apply to the connections made at time of
installation. The manufacturing connections are made under controlled conditions with skilled technicians,
usually soldered, and inspected. In addition, approved devices are subject to quality control procedures
acceptable to the testing authority.
Another approach for showing the difference between incorrect and correct wiring methods is shown in
Figures 4-18 and 4-19. These are shown to illustrate the effect the correct wiring method can have on the
number of wires in the riser. This also illustrates the expense that could be incurred to correct a faulty
installation.

Figure 4-18
INCORRECT WIRING METHOD FOR MULTIRISER INITIATING DEVICE CIRCUIT
The figures used show simple initiating devices. A minimum of 4 connections should be made to each device.
Some initiating devices, such as smoke detectors, may also require a power connection that also requires 4
additional connections.
Some smoke detectors have relays built in for additional functions. Depending on the application, another 4
connections may be required for the relay contacts. To show all the variations of connections to smoke
detectors is beyond the scope of this manual.
The installer need not be fully knowledgeable of all the ramifications of wiring requirements because of
monitoring, but should be aware of them as they relate to why manufacturers or other system suppliers show
their wiring the way they do.
As this section began, we restate the primary rule-of installation wiring:
"Follow the manufacturer's instructions."

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Figure 4-19
CORRECT WIRING METHOD FOR MULTIRISER INITIATING DEVICE CIRCUIT

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Section 5
NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES
5.1

GENERAL

Notification appliances provide audible or visible, or both, notification of an alarm condition to building
occupants. There are several types of alarm notification appliances:
a. Audible alarm notification appliance
b. Visible alarm notification appliance
c.

Visible alarm notification annunciators

d. Audible/visible (combination) alarm notification appliances


Alarm notification appliances should be installed in the protected premises in accordance with local codes,
architect's plans, requirements of authorities having jurisdiction, the manufacturer's recommendations, and the
basic requirements of the NFPA Standards as they apply to the installation.
5.2

ALARM NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES

All audible and visible alarm notification appliances are required by NFPA 72 to be installed on monitored
circuits. In addition to the general description of monitoring for integrity requirements discussed in Section 2, a
wire-to-wire short on an alarm notification appliance installation wiring circuit must sound a trouble signal.
There are some exceptions. One is a circuit to an alarm notification appliance installed in the same room as
the control unit where the wires are installed in conduit or equivalently protected against mechanical damage.
Another is where the appliance is installed for a supplementary purpose. An example might be when an
audible or visible, or both, appliance is mounted adjacent to a manual station to deter false alarms rather than
to indicate a need for evacuation.
5.3

AUDIBLE ALARM NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES

5.3.1

Bells

Bells may be used for fire alarm signals where their sound is distinctive and will not be confused with similar
audible signals used for other purposes. Bells may be of the single-stroke or vibrating type.
Single-stroke bells are used to provide audible coded signals. Vibrating types are used primarily for noncoded, continuous or temporal sounding applications, but they also may be used to provide coded audible
signals.
Bells may be provided with 4-inch through 12-inch gongs (in 2-inch increments). The 6-and 10-inch sizes are
the most commonly used. Bells with 4-inch gongs usually are reserved for use as trouble signals. Generally,
the larger the diameter of the gongs, the lower the frequency and the louder the audible signal (expressed in
terms of decibels [dBA]).
Bells are usually of the under-dome type and can be mounted on standard conduit boxes. When bells must
be concealed, recessed, and/or mounted flush with the wall, special boxes and grilles are necessary.

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5.3.2

Horns

Horns are provided for applications that require louder or more distinctive signals, or both. Care should be
exercised to see that circuits are electrically compatible when powering both types of notification appliances.
Horns are usually of the continuous vibrating type and may be used to provide either coded, non-coded, or
temporal audible alarm signals. They may be of the surface (grille), flush, semi-flush, single projector, double
projector, or trumpet type.
In very noisy areas, resonating, air-powered or motor-driven horns are sometimes used because of their
inherently high decibel output.
Resonating horns can be operated on alternating or direct current, produce a loud piercing tone, and coded,
non-coded, or temporal operation can be provided.
Air-powered horns using valves that are controlled by electrical solenoids powered by alternating or direct
current. Either coded or non-coded operation can be provided.
Motor-driven horns are not practical for providing coded output signals and are more widely used for
continuous signals. They are particularly effective under "rolling" conditions where power is periodically
applied and removed to vary the motor speed and the sound pitch.
5.3.3

Chimes

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Chimes are soft-toned appliances. They normally are used in applications where panic or other undesirable
actions might result from the use of loud audible alarm signals. Their use is especially adaptable to such
areas as nurses' stations in hospitals to alert only authorized personnel.
5.3.4

Buzzers

Buzzers generally are used for trouble signals, rather than alarm signals. They primarily are intended to
provide a continuous sound and seldom are used for coded signals.
5.3.5

Sirens

Sirens usually are limited to outdoor applications but are sometimes used in extremely noisy indoor areas.
Sirens are motor-driven, or electronic appliances and may be either alternating or direct current operated.
They are not very practical for use as coded audible signals.
5.3.6

Speakers

Speakers are frequently used as alarm notification appliances. Since they reproduce electronic signals, they
can be made to sound like any mechanical signaling appliance and have the capability of reproducing unique
sounds that are not practical on mechanical appliances. In addition, they may be used to give live or recorded
voice instructions. Speakers are either direct radiating cone, or of the compression driver and horn type.
Speakers are generally operated from audio amplifiers delivering standard output line levels of 70.7 or 25- volt
rms. The speakers are driven by an electronic tone generator, microphone, tape player, or voice synthesizer
and an electronic audio amplifier. Two types of audio amplifier are in wide use:
a. Integralthat type in which the tone generator, amplifier, and speaker are enclosed in a common
housing.

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b. Remotethat type in which the speaker is energized from a remotely located tone generator,
microphone, tape player, and/or voice synthesizer and amplifier.
5.3.7

Electronic Alarms

Many audible alarm notification appliances now use electronic circuitry to drive compact piezo-ceramic
transducers or speakers to produce the sounds of conventional horns, bells, chimes, buzzers, or sirens.
These electronic alarms are usually more compact and more efficient than conventional electromechanical
designs and may include the ability to change the sound selection or sound level to better fit the application.
5.4

VISIBLE ALARM NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES

Visible alarm notification appliances may be used alone or in conjunction with audible alarm notification
appliances. Visible alarm notification appliances can be effective in high noise areas, where the hearing
impaired are to be alerted, or where attention to the light unit can provide additional information.
In most applications, visible alarm notification appliances are most effective when used in a flashing mode.
For this reason, NFPA 72 requires the pulsing. The flashing cannot exceed 2 flashes per second nor be
slower than 1 flash every second.
The flashing effect can be accomplished by periodically interrupting current to the appliance, using a strobe
technique, or any combination of these methods. However, the maximum pulse duration shall not exceed .2
seconds with a maximum duty cycle of 40%.
One method of determining compliance with NFPA 72 requirements for any visible alarm notification
appliance is that the product be listed by Underwriters Laboratories in accordance with UL 1971, Standard for
Safety Signaling Devices For The Hearing Impaired.
Visible alarm notification appliances must be clear or nominally white and shall not exceed 1000 candela in
effective intensity.
5.4.1

Visible Annunciators

Annunciators can be used with either coded or zoned non-coded systems to provide indication of the initiating
device or zone from which the alarm originated.
5.4.2

Lamp Annunciators

In lamp annunciators, the devices, zones, or areas from which alarms originate are indicated by the lighting of
lamps or light emitting diodes (LEDs).
a. Lamp annunciators may be provided with different colored lenses, usually red for alarm, amber for
trouble, and green or white for power-on indications.
b. Back-lighted annunciators are used to light up information on a window or to provide illumination for a
graphic annunciator.
c.

Graphic annunciators have lamps located in a map or floor plan to provide an easier means of identifying
the particular device, area or zone affected. The area from which the alarm has been initiated can be
indicated by a bulls-eye-type lamp located within the area or by back lighting the entire affected area or
zone.

5.4.3

Drop-Type Annunciators

Drop-type annunciators use a target that drops in front of a window when the target coil is energized (or deenergized for supervisory annunciation). The target remains down until the annunciator is reset manually, thus
providing a simple means of lock-in annunciation. A particular advantage of this type of annunciator lies in its

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low power consumption requirements because, except for the monitored application, it uses power only
momentarily when operated. Drop type annunciators are no longer in common use on new installations.
5.4.4

Strobe Lights

Strobe lights operate on the energy discharge principle to produce a high intensity flash of short duration.
These lights are very efficient. The short bright flash is not only attention-getting, but is effective when general
visibility is low. Strobe appliances come in a wide range of light intensities measured in candela.
5.4.5

Incandescent Lamp

Incandescent lamp alarm notification appliances are generally not used in todays fire alarm systems because
they do not meet the requirements of UL 1971.
5.4.6

Solid-state Lamp

Solid-state luminous appliances have become the most prevalent because of high reliability, relatively low
current rating and availability in various colors. A light emitting diode (LED) lamp is an example. These are
inherently low-current appliances adaptable to solid state energizing circuits. Annunciator panel and indicating
lamps that formerly used incandescent lamps have been replaced by solid-state lamps.
5.4.7

Quartz Halogen Lamp

Quartz Halogen lamps draw relatively high current but are an efficient source of high intensity light. They must
be used in repetitive operation when used as notification appliances for the hearing impaired.
5.4.8

Fluorescent Lamp

Fluorescent lamps are used primarily as sources of distributed or diffused back lighting in continuous warning
signals that, when activated, convey a printed warning or direction message. Because of complex starting
circuits and relatively low brilliance, fluorescent signal appliances are not used in coded or flashing warning
applications.
5.5
COMBINATION AUDIBLE/VISIBLE NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES
The audible and visible functions can be combined in one unit to produce both sound and light from a single
appliance. For example, the sounder can be a horn, bell, or speaker. The light portion is generally a xenon
strobe meeting the requirements of UL 1971. Advantages of the combined signals are:
a. The visible signal identifies the particular audible alarm appliance that is operating.
b. The visible signal produces a recognizable alarm when the audible signal may be obscured by an
ambient noise level.
c.

Persons having impaired hearing can see the visible portion of the alarm signals.

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The combined signals are available in all voltages up to line voltage. Twenty-four volt DC units are the most
prevalent. Polarized versions facilitate circuit integrity monitoring. Two or four-wire connected types permit
application of either a common or separate power supply, or where it is desired to have the visible signals to
continue to operate after the audible signal is silenced.

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5.6

PERMANENT RECORDERS

Permanent recorders are used on fire alarm systems as a means to indicate the type and location of an alarm
as well as to provide a permanent record of the time and date an alarm occurred. As an indicator of the
location of an alarm, a recorder that creates a hard-copy record performs the same function as a lamp
annunciator. In many systems, the recorder may be used to record a trouble condition, and other events that
are related to the fire alarm system. Typically, these might indicate the activation of alarm notification
appliances, fan shut down, door closings, or other building fire safety functions that may have taken place
either automatically or because of operator actions.
5.6.1

Punch Registers

Punch registers follow coded current pulses to either imprint or punch the code on a paper tape. During the
receipt of the signal, the time and date is printed automatically on the tape by the time stamp.
The paper tape is on a reel. Usually, the used portion of the tape is stored on a motor-driven take-up reel.
5.6.2

Print Recorders

Print recorders have replaced punch recorders almost entirely in today's fire alarm systems. Upgrades and
extension or retrofit of older systems are likely to replace the mechanical punch recorder with an electronically
operated printer. New systems, using micro-processor or mini-computer technology, or both, will have a wide
variety of electronic printers.
Print recorders range from small hand size units similar to those found on small printing calculators up to
large,
sophisticated, high speed printers found on major computing systems.
Where no other visual means of indicating an alarm is provided, proprietary fire alarm systems require two
printers, one of which is reserved for fire alarm signals.
5.6.3

Time Stamps

Time stamps can be used with punch registers and print recorders. They provide an accurate record of the
time and date of receipt of a signal. They are usually automatically operated when an alarm signal is received.
Most new installations using print recorders generate the time and date electronically and do not use separate
time stamps.
5.7

INSTALLATION WIRING

Section 3 of this manual stated the primary rule of installation wiring as:
"Follow the manufacturer's instructions."
It is repeated here again because this rule cannot be overemphasized.
The monitoring requirements that affect wire counts and types of connections on notification appliance circuits
are identical to those for initiating device circuits. All that was said in Section 3 on installation wiring applies
and is not repeated here. The reader, therefore, is referred to 3.5, Installation Wiring. The only difference
would be in the internal construction of the connected components. Initiating devices are essentially normally
open contact switches or their electronic equivalent. Notification appliances are power-using devices. The
wire counts and method of connections are identical to the diagrams in Section 2 of this manual. Figures 5-1,
5-2, and 5-3 illustrate this equivalency and no further discussion on these points is required.

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Figure 5-1
INCORRECT INSTALLATION WIRING METHOD FOR A NOTIFICATION APPLIANCE CIRCUIT

Figure 5-2
CORRECT INSTALLATION WIRING METHOD FOR A NOTIFICATION APPLIANCE CIRCUIT

Figure 5-3
SINGLE NOTIFICATION APPLIANCE CIRCUIT WITH TWO RISERS
The form of alarm notification appliances has been changing over the years. Instead of traditional bell or horn,
electricians are finding themselves installing electronic alarms or loudspeakers. Only listed speakers bearing
labels from nationally recognized testing laboratories, indicating that the appliance is intended for fire alarm

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system use, should be installed on a fire alarm system. Such labeling is normally required by the authority
having jurisdiction and indicates that the appliance has been tested to the temperature, humidity, and life cycle
requirements considered necessary for use in life safety systems.

If an unmonitored audio system is being used to transmit a supplementary evacuation signal, it is required by
NFPA 72 that the fire alarm system provide sufficient monitored alarm notification appliance circuit capability
to perform all required alarm notification even if the supplementary audio system is disabled.
Alarm notification circuits today are becoming quite complex. This is particularly true in high-rise buildings
where each floor is usually a separate circuit. As in all fire alarm system installation wiring, the installer should
follow the primary rule of installation wiring:
"Follow the manufacturer's instructions."

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Sometimes, speaker systems are used in what are termed combination systems where the speakers are also
used for paging. Where this is the case, the nonfire use should not interfere with the fire alarm use. In
addition, a fault in the nonfire alarm system components should not cause the required fire alarm speakers to
be inoperative. The audio system should be fully operational whenever it may be needed for a fire alarm
emergency. When combination systems are used, it is still necessary to comply with all requirements for fire
alarm installation wiring and monitoring.

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Section 6
INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS FOR FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
6.1

GENERAL

National and local codes, architects' plans, or the authority having jurisdiction may specify what type of
equipment may be used, where the fire alarm system components should be located, and how the circuits
should be arranged. In addition, the information supplied by the manufacturer and the applicable requirements
of the NFPA Standards/Codes listed in the front of this publication should be followed.
6.2

LOCATION OF SYSTEM COMPONENTS

6.2.1

General

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Most fire alarm systems are installed to meet requirements of applicable laws. The authorities enforcing these
laws should be consulted for specific approval of installation methods and component locations. This manual
may not be in total agreement with their requirements because the manual reflects NFPA Standards/Codes
and trends in the industry in effect at the time of publication.
6.2.2

Control Units

The mounting location of the fire alarm system control unit and associated peripheral equipment should be
carefully chosen with consideration given to system operating requirements. Preferably, the central equipment
should be located in an area of low fire risk. For the safety of the operator, who may be required to remain at
this post after the general evacuation of the occupants, the control unit should be located on the ground floor
within easy reach of a fire exit.
The control unit cabinet(s) can be floor-mounted or installed on a vertical wall in a clean, dry, unobstructed
location. The center of the cabinet should be at a convenient height from the finished floor for ease of operator
usage. Consideration also should be given to the fact that some control units exhibit a slight hum that is
inherent in some power supplies and certain alternating current components. These types of control units
should be located where this hum will not be objectionable to others in the area.
6.2.3

Alarm Initiating Devices

Manual fire alarm boxes should be distributed throughout the protected area so that they are unobstructed,
readily accessible, and located in the normal path of exit from the area.
Where a fire alarm system is required, manual fire alarm boxes should be located as directed and approved
by the local authority having jurisdiction. Since 1979, NFPA Standards/Codes have required that an adequate
number of fire alarm boxes be provided on each floor. Also, additional fire alarm boxes should be provided so
that the travel distance to the nearest station will not be in excess of 200 feet. Each station should be securely
mounted and at a height compliant with NFPA 72 and ADA requirements. Rule of thumb is to install the
manual fire alarm box so the top is at 48 inches above the finished floor (AFF).
Automatic fire detectors should be installed in all areas where required by the building code and the
appropriate NFPA Standard/Code or as required by the authority having jurisdiction. Where total coverage is
required, this should include all rooms, halls, storage areas, basements, attics, lofts, spaces above
suspended ceilings, and other subdivisions and accessible spaces, and inside all closets, closed stairways,
dumb waiter shafts, and chutes. Inaccessible areas that contain combustible material should be made
accessible and protected by detector(s).

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Detectors should also be installed underneath open loading docks or platforms and their covers, and for
accessible under floor spaces of buildings without basements.
Exceptions to the last two paragraphs and other detailed information on automatic fire detectors are found in
Chapter 5 Initiating Devices, NFPA 72, 2002 Edition. Determining the exact location for automatic fire
detectors is one of the most critical decisions to be made when installing any fire alarm system. Whenever
possible, the type of detector to be used and the location of each detector should be determined by a qualified
fire protection engineer who has made a complete survey of the premises to be protected. When this is not
feasible, the recommendations of the equipment manufacturer should be followed. NFPA 72 gives complete
information on the minimum performance, location, mounting, testing, and maintenance requirements of
automatic fire detectors used for the protection of occupants, building, space, structure, area, or object to be
protected in accordance with the stated purpose.
Rate compensated and fixed temperature detectors having the proper set points for an area are rarely
subjected to false operations. To avoid nuisance alarms, rate-of-rise detectors should not be located where
sudden temperature changes normally occur, such as near loading platforms, furnace doors, or school
doorways.
Smoke detectors should not be located in areas where high levels of smoke (normally) are likely to occur such
as airport hangars, garages, and furnace areas.
Waterflow switches should be mounted on sprinkler risers in order to sense the flow of water in a sprinkler
system. The installation of waterflow switches should be in accordance with NFPA 13, Standard for the
Installation of Sprinkler Systems.
6.2.4

Audible Alarm Notification Appliances

Audible alarm notification appliances should be installed so as to be protected against the effects of
temperature, vermin, corrosion, humidity, and physical damage. Appliances intended for use in special
environments (such as outdoors or in hazardous locations) or where subject to tampering, must be listed for
the intended application. Where guards or covers are employed for protection, they must be listed for use with
the appliance and their effect on the appliance's field performance must be taken into account.
Audible alarm notification appliances intended for operation in the public mode must be installed so that their
sound level is at least 15 dBA above the average ambient sound level or 5 dBA above the maximum sound
level lasting for 60 seconds or longer (whichever is greater). They can be installed on walls or ceilings in
accordance with NFPA 72, 2002 Edition, Chapter 7 and the manufacturer's instructions.
6.2.5

Visible Alarm Notification Appliances

Visible alarm notification appliances are available separately or in combination with audible alarm notification
appliances. Their primary purpose is to provide hearing-impaired occupants of a building with notification of a
fire emergency.
Visible alarm notification appliances must be located so that the operating effect of the appliance can be seen
by the intended viewers. The appliances must be of a type, size, intensity, and number so that the viewer can
tell when they have been illuminated, regardless of the viewer's orientation.
Chapter 7 of NFPA 72 2002, The National Fire Alarm Code, contains detailed requirements for the installation
of visible alarm appliances, including their location, spacing, and intensity in rooms, corridors and sleeping
areas, on walls and on ceilings. The user of this manual should refer to the NFPA document and to the
manufacturer's instructions for complete installation information.

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6.2.6

Visible Alarm Signal Annunciators

Annunciators should be mounted where they are readily accessible to responsible operating personnel. The
use of an annunciator at the main entrance to a building is recommended to permit responding fire service
personnel to locate the fire quickly. NFPA 72 requires that fire alarm systems serving two or more zones,
indicate the zone of origin of the alarm initiation by annunciation or coded alarm signal.
6.2.7

Permanent Recorders

Punch registers and printers normally are located adjacent to the control unit where they can be readily
accessed by responsible operating personnel.
6.2.8

Trouble Signal Appliances

Trouble signal appliances should be located where they can be readily heard by responsible personnel and,
unless otherwise specified, should be mounted on or near the control unit. At least one trouble signal
appliance must be audible and may be supplemented with a visible indicator.
6.3

POWER SUPPLIES

6.3.1

Number of Sources Required

All fire alarm systems installed in accordance with NFPA 72 require two power supplies; a primary (main)
power supply used to operate the system, and a secondary (standby) power supply used to operate the fire
alarm system in the event of a failure of the primary (main) power supply.
6.3.2

Primary (Main) Power Supplies

The most widely used source for the primary (main) power supply is one phase of the commercial 240/120volt ac electric light and power service available in most buildings. If necessary, a properly installed enginedriven generator or equivalent may be used instead.
Connections to the power service should be on a dedicated branch circuit. The circuit and connections should
be mechanically protected. The circuit disconnecting means should be accessible only to authorized
personnel and should be clearly marked "FIRE ALARM CIRCUIT CONTROL." NFPA 72 requires that the
location of the circuit disconnecting means be permanently identified at the fire alarm control unit.
6.3.3

Secondary (Standby) Power Supplies

Secondary (standby) power supplies should be capable of operating the connected fire alarm system in the
event of failure of the primary (main) power supply for specified periods of time under maximum normal load
and alarm load conditions. The specified periods of time vary depending upon the type of system and, in the
case of proprietary systems, how the system is used.
Table 6-1 shows specified periods of time under maximum normal load and alarm load conditions required by
NFPA Standards. [NFPA 72, 2002 Edition] (Note that previous editions of NFPA 72 called for 60 hrs. of
Maximum Normal Load for both Auxiliary Systems and Remote Supervising Station Systems.)

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Table 6-1
OPERATING PERIODS REQUIRED BY NFPA STANDARDS
Maximum Normal Load
Alarm Load
Protected Premises (Local) Systems
24 hours
5 minutes
Auxiliary Systems
24 hours
5 minutes
Remote Supervising Station Systems
24 hours
5 minutes
Central Station and Proprietary
24 hours
5 minutes
Supervisory Station Systems
Emergency Voice/Alarm
24 hours
2 hours***
Communications
***For test purposes, NFPA equates 15 minutes of voice communications at full alarm load to 2 hours of voice communications at
normal alarm load.

The maximum normal load for fire alarm systems generally includes only monitoring current. NFPA 72
requires that the secondary (standby) power supply be capable of operating the system continuously for the
period of either 5 minutes or 2 hours under alarm load, at the end of the 24 hour maximum normal load
period, depending on the type of system.
Maximum normal load for central station and proprietary supervising station fire alarm systems depends on
how the system is applied. In regular fire alarm service most systems are normally dormant. Only monitoring
current (including the two-way transmissions on multiplex systems) and other continuously energized circuits
need to be considered in calculating maximum normal loads. When, however, alarms or supervisory signals
are received, lamps and peripheral equipment are frequently turned on. Printers that might get a real fire
signal once a month can get hundreds of signals an hour if guard patrols report to the system or other
supervisory services are being monitored.
Furthermore, what is normal for one installation can be below normal for another using the same equipment.
This information should obviously be resolved between the user or specifier of the equipment and the
supplier.
Systems that include emergency voice/alarm communication service also present unique problems in
calculating standby power capacity requirements. Since the function of these systems is to provide
communications to people in buildings that are deemed to be impractical to totally evacuate, it is necessary to
require that these systems remain functional beyond the usual five minutes of alarm. NFPA 72 requires this
period to be two hours. However, the nature of the use of a voice system during an emergency condition is
sporadic and the number of speaker circuits selected varies. Therefore, NFPA 72 permits 15 minutes of
operation at maximum connected load to be considered the equivalent of 2 hours of normal use.
Secondary (standby) power supplies are used in two basic forms. In one form the secondary power supply is
not directly connected to the system but is switched in when primary operating power fails. The switching can
take place either in a building system switchover point or at the fire alarm system control unit. In the other form
the primary (main) source of power is of an uninterruptable nature such as might be supplied from an
uninterruptable power source (UPS) or a float charged battery where the battery is floated across the primary
(main) power supply to the fire alarm system control unit. In either case, the trouble signal is required to
indicate loss of the primary (main) power supply. The only exception permitted by the NFPA Standards to
sounding the trouble signal upon loss of primary (main) power is when the fire alarm systems get their primary
(main) power by connection to a building power supply which is backed up by one of the emergency or
standby systems described in 6.3.1. In this case, the loss of power is usually evident and the fire alarm
system cannot monitor the loss of building power without further connections to the building system.

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6.3.4

Trouble Signal Power Supply

The trouble signal power supply is rarely a true independent source of power except on systems which do not
use a secondary (standby) power supply. In such systems the phase of the building power used for the
trouble signal power supply should be different from the phase used for the primary (main) power supply for
the fire alarm system.
Where a secondary (standby) power supply is used, it may also be used as the source of power for the
trouble signals.
6.3.5

Batteries

6.3.5.1 Storage Batteries


Storage batteries should be located or enclosed such that the equipment of the fire alarm system, including
overcurrent protective devices, should not be affected adversely by battery gases. The cells should be
insulated suitably against grounds and shorts and should be mounted in such a manner as not to be subject
to mechanical damage. Racks and frames should be protected suitably against deterioration.
Storage batteries should be trickle-charged or float-charged from a reliable power source to keep them fully
charged under all conditions of normal operation. They should be protected from damage caused by an
excessive rate of charge or from the reversal or interruption of the supply current. Provisions should be made
to prevent spraying of the battery electrolyte while it is being charged at the maximum rate.
When lead-acid batteries are used, transparent battery cases will facilitate inspection for excessive
sedimentation.
Storage batteries should be protected by overcurrent devices having a rating of not less than 150 percent and
not more than 250 percent of the maximum operating load applied to the battery.
6.3.5.2 Primary (Dry Cell) Batteries
Primary (dry cell) batteries should not be used except as the sole source of power for a low power radio
(wireless) initiating device where use requirements in accordance with NFPA 72 are met.
6.4

REQUIREMENTS FOR INSTALLATION OF WIRING AND EQUIPMENT

Refer to Article 760 of NFPA 70 for requirements for installation of fire alarm wiring and equipment.
MANUFACTURER'S INSTRUCTIONS

Installation wiring also should be in accordance with the procedures and recommendations of the fire alarm
system manufacturer. Typically, the manufacturer's instructions may recommend the use of twisted wire,
coaxial cable, microphone cable, shielded cable, or special fire retardant or low smoke producing
multiconductor cable.
6.6

LOCAL CODES

All fire alarm systems should be installed in accordance with protected premises fire alarm or electrical codes,
or both. Most local authorities have adopted the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) as their local electrical
code. Some localities have added requirements to the National Electrical Code, or have completely written
their own code. In any event, it is very important to check with the local electrical or fire inspector, or both, to
determine what the code requirements are for installing fire alarm systems.

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6.5

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6.7

TYPES OF CIRCUITS

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The majority of fire alarm systems are powered by 120 V, 60 hz. This voltage is transformed down to,
typically, 24 volts. In terms of the power and the type of wire that may be used, fire alarm circuits are broken
into two types: nonpower-limited and power-limited. These circuits also are defined in detail in the National
Electrical Code, Article 760.
Caution: Low voltage systems, as mentioned above, are generally derived through the transformation of
120-volt sources. This higher voltage is present in most control units. In addition, fan control
circuits and circuits to control other equipment may be present in the control unit. These circuits
are frequently 120 volts or more depending upon the application.

6.8

INTERMIXING OF CIRCUITS

Nonpower-limited fire alarm circuits may be run in the same enclosure, cable, or raceway with Class I circuits
(defined in Part A of Article 725 of the National Electrical Code), provided all conductors are insulated for the
maximum voltage of any conductor in the enclosure or raceway. Power supply and fire alarm circuit
conductors are permitted in the same enclosure, cable or raceway only where connected to the same
equipment. See Part B of Article 760 of the National Electrical Code, for the full requirements for the selection
and installation of conductors in nonpower-limited fire alarm circuits.
Power-limited fire alarm circuit conductors should be separated by at least 2 inches, a partition (barrier) or
other acceptable equivalent means, from electric light, power, Class 1, or nonpower-limited fire alarm circuit
conductors in the same enclosure, raceway, cable, compartment, outlet box, or shaft. Merely insulating all
conductors for the maximum voltage of any conductor in the enclosure, raceway, and so forth, is NOT an
acceptable equivalent means.
An exception exists for conductors in compartments, enclosures, outlet boxes, or similar fittings where electric
light, power, Class 1 circuit, or nonpower-limited conductors are introduced solely to connect to equipment
connected to the power-limited fire alarm system or to other circuits controlled by the fire alarm system to
which the other conductors in the enclosure are connected. In this case only a 0.25-inch separation is
required.
Power-limited fire alarm circuits may be run in the same enclosure, cable, or raceway with Class 3 circuits,
and with Class 2 circuits provided that the insulation of the Class 2 circuit conductors is at least equal to what
is required for the class 3 power- limited circuit conductors. (Class 2 and Class 3 circuits are defined in Part A
of Article 725 of the National Electrical Code.)
A circuit that could be installed as a power-limited circuit may be run with nonpower-limited and Class I circuits
under the following conditions. First the circuit must be reclassified as a nonpower-limited circuit and second,
the terminals to which the circuit is connected, must no longer be identified as a power-limited circuit. The
circuit conductors must be insulated for the highest voltage requirements throughout.
This means that if a power-limited circuit has been changed, for wiring purposes, to a nonpower-limited circuit,
it should be installed as a nonpower-limited circuit from end to end.
See Part C of Article 760 of the National Electrical Code, for the requirements for the selection and installation
of conductors in power-limited fire alarm circuits.
6.9

ENCLOSED VERSUS EXPOSED WIRING

Power and nonpower-limited fire alarm installation wiring may be installed enclosed in raceways or cable
trays. However, the National Electrical Code and many local codes permit both nonpower-limited and power-

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Where wires are permitted to be run exposed, they should be adequately supported and protected from
mechanical damage. Where mounted within seven feet of the floor, exposed cable must be securely fastened
in an approved manner at intervals of not less than 18 in. In the National Electrical Code, some exceptions are
taken to this requirement.
For nonpower-limited circuits, the National Electrical Code permits the use of specific types of nonpowerlimited cables operating at 150 volts or less. A separate power-limited series of cable is recognized for powerlimited circuit wiring. With the use restrictions and markings, as required by the National Electrical Code, these
cables may be run exposed (not in a raceway). Both types of circuits require the use of cables listed as being
resistant to the spread of fire and smoke and suitable for the purpose (power classification of circuit and
whether used for plenum, riser or general purpose applications).
It should be noted that the National Electrical Code defines the space over a hung ceiling used for
environmental air handling purposes as "other space used for environmental air," and not as a plenum.
A plenum is described in the National Electrical Code as being a ductway specifically manufactured to
transport environmental air. Listed nonpower-limited plenum cable may be used without a raceway in other
space used for environmental air but it may not be used without a raceway in the space meeting the Code's
definition of a plenum even though it may be known as plenum cable. Listed power-limited plenum cable may
be used without a raceway in spaces used for both environmental air and space meeting the National
Electrical definition of a plenum and environmental air handling space.
This is an important difference because some NFPA Standards define plenum differently and the National
Electrical Code's "other space used for environmental air" is almost universally referred to as a "plenum."
6.10

SELECTING CONDUCTORS AND CABLES

Despite, or because of, the wealth of information in the National Electrical Code Article 760, conductor
selection seems to be a major problem for both non-experienced suppliers and installers in the industry.
The National Electrical Code Article 760 spells out in detail all the requirements for wire, cable, and their
markings, and installation methods. All of this detail is not repeated here. Therefore, the user of this manual
should also refer to the NEC article 760 that governs all electrical fire alarm signaling system installations.
All fire alarm conductors and cables installed within buildings, except those installed meeting the requirements
of Chapter 3 of the NEC and/or permitted as substitutes for listed nonpower-limited cables must be listed for
fire alarm use.
Type TC (tray cable) is a popular type of cable covered by the requirements of Chapter 3 of the National
Electrical Code. Where used for fire alarm systems, the individual conductors of the cable must be in
accordance with Section 760-27 of the National Electrical Code.
Fire alarm cables fall into two basic types and each of these are broken up into three specific types. The two
basic types are classified either as nonpower-limited or power-limited.
The three specific types are classified for use based on their properties in the presence of fire. The three
classifications are for use in plenums, risers, and general wiring applications. To be listed, all these types must
exhibit resistance to spread of fire. In addition, plenum rated cables must have low smoke producing
characteristics so that products of combustion are not created within an air handling system and riser rated
cables must have low flame spread characteristics so that they do not vertically propagate flame from floor to
floor.

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limited wiring, where meeting the requirements of Sections 760-17 and 760-28 respectively of the National
Electrical Code, to be either run in raceways or run exposed on the surface of ceiling and sidewalls or fished
in concealed spaces where applicable cables, listed for the purpose, are used.

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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6.11

CABLE MARKINGS

All cable listed for fire alarm use must be distinctly marked to identify its permitted application. The markings
must include the following type designations:
Application

Nonpower-Limited

Power-Limited

For plenum use

NPLFP

FPLP

For riser use

NPLFR

FPLR

NPLF

FPL

For general wiring

Note that the marking table is for cables that are listed for fire alarm use. Any solid, stranded, or bunch tinned
copper cables meeting the requirements of Chapter 3 of the National Electrical Code and/or permitted as
substitutes for power-limited cable, may be used for fire alarm installations without being listed for fire alarm
use. Also, note that the wire classifications of general, riser, and plenum are for wire installed exposed
(outside of conduit or other raceway). Use of these classifications is not required, but is permitted, for cables
installed in conduit or other raceways.
In addition, with some limitations, the National Electrical Code permits substitution for power-limited fire alarm
cable using power-limited cable from Articles 725 and 800. The permitted substitutions are shown in chart
form in the NEC Table 760-61(d). The same chart shows a cable substitution hierarchy for fire alarm,
communications, and remote control and other signaling applications.
6.12

IDENTIFICATION OF CIRCUITS

Where fire alarm circuits are intermixed with other circuits in terminal boxes, the fire alarm circuits should be
identified.

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Attach a tag marked "FIRE ALARM CIRCUIT" to the fire alarm circuit wires. This may help prevent any
inadvertent tampering with the circuits, and also provide identification of the circuits for maintenance and
testing.
Some jurisdictions may require all conduit and boxes to be red in color.
6.13

MONITORING FOR INTEGRITY

Most fire alarm circuits, including radio pathways, are monitored for integrity, the exception being circuits
accepted as supplementary by the authority having jurisdiction. Manufacturer's instructions should be followed
when installing to ensure proper monitoring operation. Monitoring means that a fault in the installation wiring
will result in a trouble signal at the control unit. A fault condition may be either a single break (opening) in the
wiring, or a ground fault independent of whether or not it prevents normal operation of the system. In addition,
a short between the two wires of an alarm notification appliance circuit must be monitored so that the
energization of the circuit to evacuate the area is not the first indication of a trouble condition.
Monitoring is accomplished usually by passing a small amount of current through the system's interconnecting
wiring. The interconnecting wiring is generally a pair of wires from the control unit to the detection devices and
notification appliances. To ensure that monitoring is maintained to all devices, tee tapping off these circuits is
not permitted. Certain multiplex systems, however, do allow tee taps. Manufacturer's recommendations will
provide adequate instructions in this regard.

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6.14

LIGHTNING PROTECTION (Circuit Protection)

Lightning protection, when required, should be installed where the outside wiring enters the building. A ground
wire should be run from the lightning protector to a good earth ground.
Lightning protection is especially important for circuits that go outside the building, either aerially or
underground. Circuits that are on the top floors of buildings should be considered for lightning protection, with
lightning protectors being mounted on or near the floor that is being protected. Under no circumstances,
should separate lightning protection be mounted inside a control unit. Transients should be bypassed to
ground at the farthest possible distance from the control unit, and before the lightning-susceptible wires
intermix with other circuits.
This circuit protection is in addition to that which is required to be built in to the controls.
6.15

OUTSIDE WIRING

Fire alarm wiring that runs outside of a building is typically run overhead on poles or buried. Wires run
overhead should use a messenger, or support, and be constructed to withstand the strain of wind, ice, and its
own weight. They should be suitable for exposure to sunlight (UV) to avoid premature failure.
Wires that are buried should have a weatherproof casing such as polyethylene and also have a rodent barrier.
See Article 800 of the National Electrical Code. Outside wiring does not have to be listed for fire alarm use.
The NEC dictates how far (length) the outdoor cable is allowed to travel inside the building before transitioning
to indoor wiring.

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Section 7
SYSTEM START-UP PROCEDURE
7.1

GENERAL

After the installation of the fire alarm system has been completed, the system should be checked out to
ensure that it is operating properly. It is customary for manufacturers to include their recommended checkout
instructions for the system with the control unit. Where these instructions are provided, the system should be
checked out in accordance with the provided information. Where such instructions are not supplied, the
following procedures will serve as a guide. Because of the variations in system design among manufacturers
and the large number of operations that are offered, it will be necessary to select the tests that apply to the
system being checked out. The following tests are based on the assumption that the fire alarm equipment is
required to be installed in accordance with NFPA 70, National Electrical Code, and designed to meet NFPA
72, National Fire Alarm Code, and is UL listed and/or FM approved, or equivalent.
7.2

CHECK OF INSTALLATION WIRING

7.2.1

Preliminary

Prior to connecting the installation wiring to the installation wiring terminals provided on the control unit, the
wiring should be checked for extraneous voltages and shorts, opens, and grounds. All faults should be
located and eliminated before the installation wires are connected to the control unit. The other end of these
wires should be connected to the remote equipment (initiating devices, notification appliances, annunciators,
and so forth) in the normal manner. An insulation tester should not be used to check for grounds because the
predominant use of solid-state components in today's fire alarm systems may require disconnecting a large
proportion of system equipment. Consider using a volt-ohmmeter as a primary circuit tester.
Where a smoke detector is the plug-in type, the installation wiring is terminated at the detector base but the
detector itself is not plugged in until after the installation wiring tests have been completed. Since the circuits
between the base terminals are usually completed within the detector, it is necessary to short certain
terminals with jumpers to perform the installation wiring tests. These jumpers are usually installed on the base
by the manufacturer or are described in the installation instructions. The jumpers should be removed after the
installation wiring tests have been completed and prior to plugging in the detectors.
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Where the smoke detector is not of the plug-in type, the detector wires should be connected to the circuit for
the test.
7.2.2

Test for Extraneous Voltages

Each installation wire should be tested at the control unit for extraneous (stray) voltages, using a voltmeter.
Check each installation wire for stray voltage to ground and to associated wires. Some noise may be
measured during this test because of the antenna effect of unloaded wires. This type of voltage will typically
not affect circuit operation and will disappear when the installation wires are connected to the control unit. This
test should be conducted with the required end-of-line device installed.
7.2.3

Test for Shorts and Opens

Each installation wire should be tested at the control unit end for open circuits and short circuits to all other
installation wires, using an ohmmeter. The normal expected resistance between each pair of wires can
usually be determined from the installation wiring diagram and Table 7-1.

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7.2.3.1 Initiating Device Circuits


For Class B initiating device circuits, the normal resistance between wires depends on the location of the endof-line device. Where the device is located off the control unit, as shown in Figure 7-1, the resistance
measured between wires 1 and 2 at the control unit should be equal in value to the end-of-line device. Where
the end-of-line device is located on the control unit, as shown in Figure 7-2, the ohmmeter should measure
infinite resistance between wires 1 and 2 since wires 3 and 4 are not connected to the end-of-line device
during this test. The resistance between wires 1 and 4, 2 and 3, and 3 and 4 should also be infinite. The
resistance between 1 and 3 and between wires 2 and 4 should be close to zero. The actual reading should be
equal to the ohmic resistance of the copper in the wire run. To make sure that wires 1 and 3 and wires 2 and
4 are not connected in more than one place, it is recommended practice to temporarily open the circuit at the
last initiating device in each circuit. While the circuits are open, the ohmmeter should read infinity between
wires 1 and 3 and wires 2 and 4.

Figure 7-1
END OF LINE DEVICE ON 2-WIRE CLASS B INITIATING DEVICE CIRCUIT

Figure 7-2
END OF LINE DEVICE IN CONTROL UNIT ON 4-WIRE CLASS B
INITIATING DEVICE CIRCUIT
For Class A initiating device circuits, the normal resistance between wires will depend on the circuitry used to
provide the Class A operation.
7.2.3.2 Notification Appliance Circuits
Polarized notification appliances are connected in parallel as shown in Figure 7-3. However, these circuits are
terminated by an end-of-line device to permit supervision of the installation wires. The resistance between
wires 1 and 2 should be measured with the positive terminal of the ohmmeter connected to wire 1 so that
meter current will flow only through the end-of-line device and not through any of the appliances. The meter

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reading should be equal to the resistance of the end-of-line device. Sometimes the last appliance in the circuit
is installed so as to serve as the end-of-line device. In this case, the ohmmeter should read the resistance of
the appliance.

Figure 7-3
POLARIZED DIODE TYPE NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES CONNECTED IN PARALLEL

Figure 7-4
SPEAKER-TYPE NOTIFICATION APPLIANCES CONNECTED IN PARALLEL
The meter reading between wires 1 and 2 should be equal in value to the end-of-line device. Sometimes the
last speaker on the circuit is installed to serve as the end-of-line device. In this case, the ohmmeter should
read the resistance of the speaker. The capacitor blocks direct current flow through the transformer.

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Speaker-type notification appliances are also connected in parallel, as shown in Figure 7-4, and terminated by
an end-of-line device to permit supervision of the installation wires.

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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Size AWG

DC Resistance per
1000 feet (ohms)

22

16.7

20

10.6

19

8.3

18

6.5

16

4.1

14

2.6

12

1.6

10

1.0

0.65

7.2.3.3 Annunciators
As shown in Figure 7-5, the resistance reading for annunciator installation wires should be equal to the
resistance of the annunciator device(s) between the two wires.

Figure 7-5
ANNUNCIATOR CIRCUIT
7.2.4

Test for Grounds

All installation wires should be checked for grounds with an ohmmeter. If installation wires must be tested for
grounds with an insulation tester, special attention should be given to the warning in 7.2.1 before any tests are
made. All installation wires should test free of grounds, except for the grounded leg of the main power supply,
unless otherwise indicated in the manufacturer's instructions.

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Table 7-1
RESISTANCE OF CONDUCTORS

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7.2.5

Visual Inspection

Prior to turning on the power, the system should be inspected to ensure that it complies with all of the
installation instructions. All installation wires should be properly terminated and dressed. Spare (unused)
circuits should be terminated in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
All plug-in components should be fully seated. All switches should be in their normal position. All connections
should be tight. The control unit should be clean so that particles of dust or dirt cannot interfere with proper
operation.
7.2.6

Check of Power Sources

The system primary, secondary and trouble power supply terminals, if provided, should be connected to their
sources of power as shown in the system wiring diagram(s).
7.2.6.1 Alternating Current Systems (Obsolete)
For alternating current systems, the primary power supply will usually be a three phase 208/120 or a three
wire 240/120 volt AC supply having a continuous, unfused, grounded neutral conductor, with one phase or
side of the circuit used for the primary system operating power supply and the other for the trouble signal
power supply.
7.2.6.2 Low-Voltage Direct Current Systems
Low-voltage, direct current systems usually operate on 24 volts direct current obtained by rectification of
transformer-reduced 120 volts AC power. For these systems, the transformer may be mounted within the
cabinet as an integral part of the control unit, or externally.
Low-voltage, direct current systems are required to operate in a normal manner during periods of failure of the
primary system power supply. Where rechargeable batteries are used to supply secondary or trouble signal
power, the system should include a battery charger which automatically maintains the battery fully charged
under all conditions of normal operation. If the battery charger is also used to power the system, it should
have sufficient capacity to power the system and charge the battery under maximum load conditions.
The installation wiring between all direct current power supplies and the control unit should be checked for
correct polarity.
The battery charger should be adjusted for proper charging current in accordance with the manufacturer's
instructions. The battery should be tested and brought up to full charge prior to turning the system over to the
owner of the building.
7.3

NORMAL OPERATION (NORMAL MONITORING CONDITION)

After the visual inspection has been completed and any faults corrected, the control unit can be energized to
obtain the normal monitoring condition. In this condition, all monitoring circuits should be energized, all alarm
and trouble appliances should be silent, and all lamps should be in their normal condition.
Whenever a system is in its normal monitoring condition, a trouble signal should sound if its trouble signalsilencing switch is in the silence position.
Whenever a trouble signal has been silenced, a visible indication of the silenced condition is required by
NFPA 72. The use of a common trouble and trouble-silenced indication is permitted.

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Trouble signal silencing switches may be either of the toggle type or momentary contact type depending on
the manufacturer.
A toggle switch requires manual restoration to normal since the trouble signal must resound when all trouble
conditions have cleared and the switch is in the "silenced" position.
Where a momentary-contact silencing switch is used, the trouble signal silenced indication is automatically
reset (to off) when all troubles have been cleared. An important exception to this operation is the requirement
by NFPA 72 that restoration to normal of any affected initiating circuit on a proprietary supervising station
system must be acknowledged by the operator. Restoration of the trouble indications to normal are delayed
until after this acknowledgment by the operator.
7.4

MONITORING OF CIRCUITS FOR INTEGRITY (ELECTRICAL SUPERVISION)

7.4.1

General

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With the power turned on and the system operating in the normal monitoring condition, all of the monitored
circuits extending from the control unit should be tested separately for proper operation, first by introducing a
single break and then a single ground fault. In addition, a short should be introduced on each notification
appliance circuit. These fault conditions should be introduced in a manner such that no more than a single
fault exists at any one time.
When the silencing switch is returned to its normal position, the audible trouble signal should be silent and the
trouble lamp off.
After each test of a monitored circuit, the system should be restored to normal before proceeding to the next
test.
7.4.2

Power Supply Circuits

Interrupting the primary or secondary power conductors should result in a trouble signal. Restoring the
primary and secondary power should automatically return the system to normal operation.
7.4.3

Initiating Device and Notification Appliance Circuits

An open in any initiating device circuit, or either an open or short on any notification appliance circuit, should
result in a trouble signal. Restoring the circuit to normal should silence the trouble signal automatically if a
trouble signal latch-in is not provided. Otherwise, operation of the system reset will be required. A single
ground fault on any initiating device circuit or on any notification appliance circuit on an ungrounded wire in a
grounded system should also result in a trouble signal. Removal of the ground fault should restore the system
to the normal monitoring condition.
On ungrounded systems with a ground detection circuit, a ground on any monitored circuit should sound a
trouble signal.
7.4.4

Overcurrent Protection Devices

Verify that fuses match the marked ratings on equipment or drawings.


7.4.5

Municipal Circuits

Systems connected to a municipal communications center or directly to fire headquarters should not be tested
without first informing the local fire authorities that the system is being tested.

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Opening the circuit to a shunt-type municipal fire alarm box will cause an alarm on the municipal fire alarm
system. The wires to a shunt-type box should never be grounded since this would cause a ground fault on the
municipal system.
Opening the circuit to a local-energy type municipal fire alarm box should sound a trouble signal on the local
system and have no effect on the municipal system. Grounding the circuit should produce the same results
except that no trouble signal will sound for ungrounded systems without ground detection.
Opening the circuit to the municipal communications center or the fire headquarters in a remote supervising
station system should sound a trouble signal at the designated location(s). A single ground on the circuit will
sound a trouble signal only if the system includes a ground detection circuit.
7.4.6

Supplementary Circuits

Supplementary circuits need not be monitored for integrity. Unmonitored supplementary circuits should be
designed so that a fault on these circuits will not interfere with the operation of the balance of the system.
Great care should be exercised in determining which circuits are to be considered supplementary. Where
supplementary circuits are provided they should also be checked for proper operation. See 2.16 for more
details.
7.4.7

Annunciator Circuits

Annunciators not monitored for integrity meeting the requirements for supplementary circuits are permitted
only where they are located on the control unit, are not the primary annunciator, or have been classified as
supplementary by the authority having jurisdiction. Monitored annunciators should be tested in the same
manner as monitored notification appliance circuits.
7.5

ALARM OPERATION

All manual alarm initiating devices should be operated individually to test for proper operation of the system
during the alarm condition. All automatic alarm initiating devices, including heat, smoke, and water-flow
devices, should be tested in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.
The operation of any alarm-initiating device should result in a fire alarm signal.
On non-coded systems, the alarm notification appliances should sound continuously (or in temporal pattern)
until the circuit is restored manually or the time limit cutout, if provided, operates.
On coded systems, the code after each initiation should sound for a minimum of three rounds. On presignal
systems, the presignal alarm should only sound on presignal alarm notification appliances.
The general alarm of a presignal system should sound on all the alarm notification appliances. This should be
verified by listening to each appliance during any one of the alarm initiating device tests.
For both coded and zone-coded systems, a test should be made to ensure that each initiating device
transmits its correct code.
The connection to auxiliary and remote supervising station fire alarm systems should be tested at least once
with the approval of the appropriate fire authorities.
On annunciated systems, the annunciator should be checked as each initiating device is tested to make sure
that the proper point is annunciated.

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7.6

AUTHORITY HAVING JURISDICTION

Throughout this training manual, the phrase "Authority Having Jurisdiction" has been used. Also known as the
"AHJ," this is the person or organization responsible for the final acceptance of the installed system. On any
one installation, the AHJ may consist of a governmental authority (such as a fire marshal), an owner, an
owner's designated representative, an insurance authority, a hired inspection company, or any combination of
the above. To complicate matters, there is a hierarchical relationship between AHJs. For example, an owner
AHJ would not be expected to be able to overrule a government AHJ exercising his legal authority in requiring
compliance with any local, state, or federal codes.
7.7

NFPA TABLES FOR TEST METHODS AND VISUAL INSPECTION AND TEST FREQUENCIES

NFPA 72 test methods and the maximum time permitted between visual inspection and testing periods are
shown in Tables 7-2, 7-3, and 7-4.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE

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The following four NFPA tables are reprinted here from NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code,
Copyright 2002, with the permission of the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA
02269. This reprinted material is not the complete and official position of the National Fire
Protection Association on the referenced subject that is represented only by NFPA 72 in its
entirety.

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Table 7-2
NFPA 72, Table 10.4.2.2 Test Methods
Device
1. Control Equipment
a. Functions

Method
At a minimum, control equipment shall be tested
to verify correct receipt of alarm, supervisory, and
trouble signals (inputs), operation of evacuation
signals and auxiliary functions (outputs), circuit
supervision including detection of open circuits
and ground faults, and power supply supervision
for detection of loss of AC power and
disconnection of secondary batteries.

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b. Fuses

The rating and supervision shall be verified.

c. Interfaced Equipment

Integrity of single or multiple circuits providing


interface between two or more control panels shall
be verified. Interfaced equipment connections
shall be tested by operating or simulating
operation of the equipment being supervised.
Signals required to be transmitted shall be verified
at the control panel.

d. Lamps and LEDs

Lamps and LEDs shall be illuminated.

e. Primary (Main) Power Supply

All secondary (standby) power shall be


disconnected and tested under maximum load,
including all alarm appliances requiring
simultaneous operation. All secondary (standby)
power shall be reconnected at end of test. For
redundant power supplies, each shall be tested
separately.

2. Engine-Driven Generator

If an engine-driven generator dedicated to the fire


alarm system is used as a required power source,
operation of the generator shall be verified in
accordance with NFPA 110, Standard for
Emergency and Standby Power Systems, by the
building owner.

3. Secondary (Standby) Power Supply

All primary (main) power supplies shall be


disconnected and the occurrence of required
trouble indication for loss of primary power shall
be verified. The system's standby and alarm
current demand shall be measured or verified and,
using manufacturer's data, verify whether batteries
are adequate to meet standby and alarm
requirements. Operate general alarm systems for
a minimum of 5 minutes and emergency voice
communications systems for a minimum of 15
minutes. Reconnect primary (main) power supply
at end of test.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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4. Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)

If a UPS system dedicated to the fire alarm


system is used as a required power source,
operation of the UPS system shall be verified by
the building owner in accordance with NFPA 111,
Standard on Stored Electrical Energy Emergency
and Standby Power Systems.

5. BatteriesGeneral Tests

Prior to conducting any battery testing, the person


conducting the test shall ensure that all system
software stored in volatile memory is protected
from loss.

a. Visual Inspection

Batteries shall be inspected for corrosion or


leakage. Tightness of connections shall be
checked and ensured. If necessary, battery
terminals or connections shall be cleaned and
coated. Electrolyte level in lead-acid batteries shall
be visually inspected.

b. Battery Replacement

Batteries shall be replaced in accordance with the


recommendations of the alarm equipment
manufacturer, or when the recharged battery
voltage or current falls below the manufacturer's
recommendations.

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Sealed Gel-Type Batteries should be replaced 5


years from the date of manufacture. (This is a
new requirement that NFPA 72 instituted in the
2002 Edition.)
c. Charger Test

Operation of battery charger shall be checked in


accordance with charger test for the specific type
of battery.

d. Discharge Test

With the battery charger disconnected, load tested


following the manufacturer's recommendations.
The voltage level shall not fall below the levels
specified.
Exception: An artificial load equal to the full fire
alarm load connected to the battery shall be
permitted to be used in conducting this test.

e. Load Voltage Test

With the battery charger disconnected, the


terminal voltage shall be measured supplying the
maximum load required by its application.
The voltage level shall not fall below the levels
specified for the specific type of battery. If the
voltage falls below the level specified, corrective
action shall be taken and the batteries shall be
retested.
Exception: An artificial load equal to the full fire
alarm load connected to the battery shall be
permitted to be used conducting this test.

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6. Battery Tests (Specific Types)


a. Primary Battery Load Voltage Test

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The maximum load for a No. 6 primary battery shall


not be more than 2 amperes per cell. An individual
(1.5-volt) cell shall be replaced when a load of 1 ohm
reduces the voltage below 1 volt. A 6-volt assembly
shall be replaced when a test load of 4 ohms reduces
the voltage below 4 volts.

b. Lead-Acid Type:
1. Charger Test

With the batteries fully charged and connected to the


charger, the voltage across the batteries shall be
measured with a voltmeter. The voltage shall be 2.30
volts per cell 0.02 volt at 25C (77F) or as
specified by the equipment manufacturer.

2. Load Voltage Test

Under load, the battery shall not fall below 2.05 volts
per cell.

3. Specific Gravity

The specific gravity of the liquid in the pilot cell or all


of the cells shall be measured as required. The
specific gravity shall be within the range specified by
the manufacturer. Although the specified specific
gravity can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer,
a range of 1.205 1.220 is typical for regular leadacid batteries, while 1.240 1.260 is typical for
highperformance batteries. A hydrometer that
shows only a pass or fail condition of the battery and
does not indicate the specific gravity shall not be
used, because such a reading does not give a true
indication of the battery condition.

c. Nickel-Cadmium Type:
1. Charger Test

With the batteries fully charged and connected to the


charger, an ampere meter shall be placed in series
with the battery under charge. The charging current
shall be in accordance with the manufacturer's
recommendations for the type of battery used. In the
absence of specific information, 1/30 to 1/25 of the
battery rating shall be used.

2. Load Voltage Test

Under load, the float voltage for the entire battery


shall be 1.42 volts per cell, nominal. If possible, cells
shall be measured individually.

d. Sealed Lead-Acid Type:


1. Charger Test

With the batteries fully charged and connected to the


charger, the voltage across the batteries shall be
measured with a voltmeter. The voltage should be
2.30 volts per cell 0.02 volt at 25C (77F) or as
specified by the equipment manufacturer.

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7. Public Reporting System Tests

Under load, the battery shall perform in accordance


with the battery manufacturers' specifications.
In addition to the tests and inspection required
above, the following requirements shall apply.
Manual tests of the power supply for public reporting
circuits shall be made and recorded at least once
during each 24-hour period. Such tests shall include
the following:
(1) Current strength of each circuit. Changes in
current of any circuit exceeding 10 percent shall be
investigated immediately.
(2) Voltage across terminals of each circuit, inside of
terminals of protective devices. Changes in voltage
of any circuit, exceeding 10 percent shall be
investigated immediately.
(3) Voltage between ground and circuits. If this test
shows a reading in excess of 50 percent of that
shown in the test specified in (2) Readings in excess
of 25 percent shall be given early attention. These
readings shall be taken with a calibrated voltmeter
of not more than 100-ohms resistance per volt.
Systems in which each circuit is supplied by an
independent current source (Forms 3 and 4) require
tests between ground and each side of each circuit.
Common current source systems (Form 2) require
voltage tests between ground and each terminal of
each battery and other current source.
(4) Ground current reading shall be permitted in lieu
of 3. If this method of testing is used, all grounds
showing a current reading in excess of 5 percent of
the supplied line current shall be given immediate
attention.
(5) Voltage across terminals of common battery, on
switchboard side of fuses.
(6) Voltage between common battery terminals and
ground. Abnormal ground readings shall be
investigated immediately.
Tests specified in (5) and (6) shall apply only to
those systems using a common battery. If more than
one common battery is used, each common battery
shall be tested.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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2. Load Voltage Test

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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8. Transient Suppressors

Lightning protection equipment shall be inspected


and maintained per the manufacturer's
specifications.
Additional inspections shall be required after any
lightning strikes.
Equipment located in moderate to severe areas
outlined in NFPA 780, Standard for the Installation of
Lightning Protection Systems, Annex H, shall be
inspected semi-annually and after any lightning
strikes.

9. Control Unit Trouble Signals


a. Audible and Visual

Operation of panel trouble signals shall be verified as


well as ring-back feature for systems using a troublesilencing switch that requires resetting.

b. Disconnect Switches

If control unit has disconnect or isolating switches,


performance of intended function of each switch
shall be verified and receipt of an in trouble signal
when a supervised function is disconnected shall
also be verified.

c. Ground-Fault Monitoring Circuit

If the system has ground detection feature, the


occurrence of a ground fault indication shall be
verified whenever any installation conductor is
grounded.

d. Transmission of Signals to Off-Premises

An initiating device shall be actuated and receipt of


alarm signal at the off-premises location shall be
verified.

Location
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A trouble condition shall be created and receipt of a


supervisory signal at the off-premises location shall
be verified.
A supervisory device shall be actuated and receipt of
a supervisory signal at the off-premises location shall
be verified. If a transmission carrier is capable of
operation under a single or multiple fault condition,
an initiating device shall be activated during such
fault condition and receipt of a trouble signal at the
off-premises location shall be verified in addition to
the alarm signal.
10. Remote Annunciators

The correct operation and identification of


annunciators shall be verified. If provided, the correct
operation of annunciator under fault condition shall
be verified.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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11. Conductors/Metallic
a. Stray Voltage

All installation conductors shall be tested with a


volt/ohmmeter to verify that there are no stray
(unwanted) voltages between installation conductors
or between installation conductors and ground.
Unless a different threshold is specified in the
system installed equipment manufacturer's
specifications, the maximum allowable stray voltage
shall not exceed 1 volt AC/DC.

b. Ground Faults

All installation conductors other than those


intentionally and permanently grounded shall be
tested for isolation from ground per the installed
equipment manufacturer's specifications.

c. Short-Circuit Faults

All installation conductors other than those


intentionally connected together shall be tested for
conductor-to-conductor isolation per the installed
equipment manufacturer's specifications. These
same circuits also shall be tested conductor-toground.

d. Loop Resistance

With each initiating and indicating circuit installation


conductor pair short-circuited at the far end, the
resistance of each circuit shall be measured and
recorded. It shall be verified that the loop resistance
does not exceed the installed equipment
manufacturer's specified limits.

e. Supervision

Introduction of a fault in any circuit monitored for


integrity shall result in a trouble indication at the
control unit. One connection shall be opened at not
less than 10 percent of the initiating devices,
notification appliance and controlled devices on
every initiating device circuit, notification appliance
circuit, and signaling line circuit.

12. Conductors/Nonmetallic
a. Circuit Integrity

Each initiating device, notification appliance, and


signaling line circuit shall be tested to confirm that
the conductors are monitored for integrity in
accordance with the requirements of Chapter 4 and
Chapter 6 of NFPA 72 [2002]

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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b. Fiber Optics

The fiber-optic transmission line shall be tested in


accordance with the manufacturer's instructions by
the use of an optical power meter, or by an optical
time domain reflectometer used to measure the
relative power loss of the line. This relative figure for
each fiber-optic line shall be recorded in the fire
alarm control panel. If the power level drops 2
percent or more from the value recorded during the
initial acceptance test, the transmission line, section
thereof, or connectors shall be repaired or replaced
by a qualified technician to bring the line back into
compliance with the accepted transmission level per
the manufacturer's recommendations.

c. Supervision

Introduction of a fault in any supervised circuit shall


result in a trouble indication at the control unit. One
connection shall be opened at not less than 10
percent of the initiating device, notification appliance,
and signaling line circuits.
Each initiating device, notification appliance, and
signaling line circuit shall be tested for correct
indication at the control unit. All circuits shall perform
as indicated in Table 6.5, Table 6.6.1, or Table 6.7.

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13. Initiating Devices


a. Electromechanical Releasing Device:
1. Nonrestorable-Type Link

Correct operation shall be verified by removal of the


fusible link and operation of the associated device.
Any moving parts shall be lubricated as necessary.

2. Restorable-Type Link3

Correct operation shall be verified by removal of the


fusible link and operation of the associated device.
Any moving parts shall be lubricated as necessary.

b. Fire Extinguishing System(s) or


Suppression System(s) Alarm Switch

The switch shall be mechanically or electrically


operated and receipt of signal by the control panel
shall be verified.

c. Fire-Gas and Other Detectors

Fire-gas detectors and other fire detectors shall be


tested as prescribed by the manufacturer and as
necessary for the application.

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d. Heat Detectors:
1. Fixed-Temperature, Rate-ofRise, Rate-of-Compensation,
Restorable Line, Spot Type
(excluding Pneumatic Tube
Type)

Heat test shall be performed with a heat source per


the manufacturer's recommendations for response
within 1 minute. A test method shall be used that is
recommended by the manufacturer or other method
shall be used that will not damage the nonrestorable
fixed-temperature element of a combination rate-ofrise/fixed-temperature element detector.

2. Fixed-Temperature, Nonrestorable
Line Type

Heat test shall not be performed. Functionality shall


be tested mechanically and electrically. Loop
resistance shall be measured and recorded. Changes
from acceptance test shall be investigated.

3. Fixed-Temperature, Nonrestorable
Spot Type

After 15 years from initial installation, all devices


shall be replaced or two detectors per 100 shall be
laboratory tested. The two detectors shall be
replaced with new devices. If a failure occurs on any
of the detectors removed, additional detectors shall
be removed and tested to determine either a general
problem involving faulty detectors or a localized
problem involving one or two defective detectors.

4. Nonrestorable (General)

Heat test shall not be performed. Functionality shall


be tested mechanically and electrically.

5. Restorable Line Type, Pneumatic


Tube Only

Heat test shall be performed (where test chambers


are in circuit) or a test with pressure pump shall be
conducted.

e. Fire Alarm Boxes

Manual fire alarm boxes shall be operated per the


manufacturer's instruction. Key-operated presignal
and general alarm manual fire alarm boxes shall be
both tested.

f. Radiant Energy Fire Detectors

Flame detectors and spark/ember detectors shall be


tested in accordance with the manufacturer's
instructions to determine that each detector is
operative.
Flame detector and spark/ember detector sensitivity
shall be determined using any of the following:
(1) Calibrated test method
(2) Manufacturer's calibrated sensitivity test
instrument
(3) Listed control panel arranged for the purpose

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(4) Other approved calibrated sensitivity test method


that is directly proportional to the input signal from a
fire, consistent with the detector listing or approval.
If designed to be field adjustable, detectors found to
be outside of the approved range of sensitivity shall
be replaced or adjusted to bring them into the
approved range.
Flame detector and spark/ember detector sensitivity
shall not be determined using a light source that
administers an unmeasured quantity of radiation at
an undefined distance from the detector.
g. Smoke Detectors:
1. Systems Detectors and singlestation smoke alarms used in other than
one-and two-family dwellings

The detectors shall be tested in place to ensure


smoke entry into the sensing chamber and an alarm
response. Testing with smoke or listed aerosol
approved by the manufacturer shall be permitted as
acceptable test methods. Other methods approved
by the manufacturer that ensure smoke entry into the
sensing chamber shall be permitted.
Any of the following tests shall be performed to
ensure that each smoke detector is within its listed
and marked sensitivity range:
(a) Calibrated test method
(b) Manufacturer's calibrated sensitivity test
instrument
(c) Listed control equipment arranged for the
purpose
(d) Smoke detector/control unit arrangement
whereby the detector causes a signal at the control
unit when its sensitivity is outside its listed sensitivity
range
(e) Other calibrated sensitivity test method approved
by the authority having jurisdiction.

2. Single Station Detectors

Functional tests shall be conducted according to


manufacturers instructions.

3. Air Sampling

Per manufacturer's recommended test methods,


detector alarm response shall be verified through the
end sampling port on each pipe run; airflow through
all other ports shall be verified as well.

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4. Duct Type

Air duct detectors shall be tested or inspected to


ensure that the device will sample the air stream.
The test shall be made in accordance with the
manufacturer's instructions.

5. Projected Beam Type

The detector shall be tested by introducing smoke,


other aerosol, or an optical filter into the beam path.

6. Smoke Detector with Built-in


Thermal Element

Both portions of the detector shall be operated


independently as described for the respective
devices.

7. Smoke Detectors with Control


Output Functions

It shall be verified that the control capability shall


remain operable even if all of the initiating devices
connected to the same initiating circuit are in an
alarm state.

h. Initiating Devices, Supervisory:


1. Control Valve Switch

Valve shall be operated. Signal receipt shall be


verified to be within the first two revolutions of the
hand wheel or within one-fifth of the travel distance,
or per the manufacturer's specifications.

2. High- or Low-Air Pressure Switch

Switch shall be operated. Receipt of signal obtained


where the required pressure is increased or
decreased a maximum 70 kPa (10 psi) from the
required pressure level shall be verified.

3. Room Temperature Switch

Switch shall be operated. Receipt of signal to


indicate the decrease in room temperature to 4.4C
(40F) and its restoration to above 4.4C (40F) shall
be verified.

4. Water Level Switch

Switch shall be operated. Receipt of signal indicating


the water level raised or lowered 76.2 mm (3 in.)
from the required level within a pressure tank, or 305
mm (12 in.) from the required level of a nonpressure
tank, shall be verified, as its restoral to required level.

5. Water Temperature Switch

Switch shall be operated. Receipt of signal to


indicate the decrease in water temperature to 4.4C
(40F) and its restoration to above 4.4C (40F) shall
be verified.

I. Mechanical, Electrosonic, or PressureType Waterflow Device

Water shall be flowed through an inspector's test


connection indicating the flow of water equal to that
from a single sprinkler of the smallest orifice size
installed in the system for wet-pipe systems, or an
alarm test bypass connection for dry-pipe, preaction, or deluge systems in accordance with NFPA
25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and
Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection
Systems.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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14. Alarm Notification Appliances


a. Audible

b. Audible textural notification appliances


(speakers and other appliances to
convey voice messages)

Sound pressure level shall be measured with sound


level meter meeting ANSI S-1.4a, Specifications for
Sound Level Meters, Type 2 requirements. Levels
throughout protected area shall be measured and
recorded. The sound level meter shall be set in
accordance with ANSI S3.41, American National
Standard Audible Evacuation Signal, using the timeweighted characteristic F (FAST). Record the
maximum output when the audible emergency
evacuation signal is on.
Sound pressure level shall be measured with sound
level meter meeting ANSI S-1.4a, Specifications for
Sound Level Meters, Type 2 requirements. Levels
throughout protected area shall be measured and
recorded. The sound level meter shall be set in
accordance with ANSI S3.41, American National
Standard Audible Evacuation Signal, using the timeweighted characteristic F (FAST). Record the
maximum output when the audible emergency
evacuation signal is on.
Audible information shall be verified to be
distinguishable and understandable.

c. Visible

Test shall be performed in accordance with


manufacturer's instructions. Appliance locations shall
be verified to be per approved layout and it shall be
confirmed that no floor plan changes affect the
approved layout. Verify that the candela rating
marking agrees with the approved drawings. It shall
be confirmed that each appliance flashes.

a. Abort Switch (IRI Type)

Abort switch shall be operated. Correct sequence


and operation shall be verified.

b. Abort Switch (Recycle Type)

Abort switch shall be operated. Development of


correct matrix with each sensor operated shall be
verified.

c. Abort Switch (Special Type)

Abort switch shall be operated. Correct sequence


and operation in accordance with authority having
jurisdiction shall be verified. Sequencing on as-built
drawings or in owner's manual shall be observed.

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15. Special Hazard Equipment

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 86

d. Cross Zone Detection Circuit

One sensor or detector on each zone shall be


operated. Occurrence of correct sequence with
operation of first zone and then with operation of
second zone shall be verified.

e. Matrix-Type Circuit

All sensors in system shall be operated.


Development of correct matrix with each sensor
operated shall be verified.

f. Release Solenoid Circuit

Solenoid shall be used with equal current


requirements. Operation of solenoid shall be verified.

g. Squibb Release Circuit

AGI flashbulb or other test light approved by the


manufacturer shall be used. Operation of flashbulb
or light shall be verified.

h. Verified, Sequential, or Counting


Zone Circuit

Required sensors at a minimum of four locations in


circuit shall be operated. Correct sequence with both
the first and second detector in alarm shall be
verified.

i. Above Devices or Circuits or


Combinations Thereof

Supervision of circuits shall be verified by creating an


open circuit.

16. Supervising Station Fire Alarm Systems


Transmission Equipment
a. All Equipment

Test shall be performed on all system functions and


features in accordance with the equipment
manufacturer's instructions for correct operation in
conformance with the applicable sections of
Chapter 8. Initiating device shall be actuated.
Receipt of the correct initiating device signal at the
supervising station within 90 seconds shall be
verified. Upon completion of the test, the system
shall be restored to functional operating condition.
If test jacks are used, the first and last tests shall
be made without the use of the test jack.

b. Digital Alarm Communicator


Transmitter (DACT)

Connection of the DACT to two separate means of


transmission shall be ensured.
Exception: DACTs that are connected to a
telephone line (number) that is also supervised for
adverse conditions by a derived local channel.
DACT shall be tested for line seizure capability by
initiating a signal while using the primary line for a
telephone call. Receipt of the correct signal at the
supervising station shall be verified. Completion of
the transmission attempt within 90 seconds from
going off-hook to on-hook shall be verified.
The primary line from the DACT shall be
disconnected. Indication from the DACT trouble
signal at the premises shall be verified as well as
transmission to the supervising station within 4
minutes of detection of the fault.

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The secondary means of transmission from the


DACT shall be disconnected. Indication of the
DACT trouble signal at the premises shall be
verified as well as transmission to the supervising
station within 4 minutes of detection of the fault.
The DACT shall be caused to transmit a signal to
the DACR while a fault in the primary telephone
number is simulated. Utilization of the secondary
telephone number by the DACT to complete the
transmission to the DACR shall be verified.
c. Digital Alarm Radio Transmitter
(DART)

The primary line shall be disconnected


Transmission a trouble signal to the supervising
station by the DART within 4 minutes shall be
verified.

d. McCulloh transmitter

Initiating device shall be actuated. Production of not


less than three complete rounds of not less than
three signal impulses each by the McCulloh
transmitter shall be verified.
If end-to-end metallic continuity is present and with
a balanced circuit, each of the following four
transmission channel fault conditions shall be
caused in turn, and receipt of correct signals at the
supervising station shall be verified:
(1) Open;
(2) Ground;
(3) Wire-to-wire short
(4) Open and ground
If end-to-end metallic continuity is present and with
a balanced circuit, each of the following three
transmission channel fault conditions shall be
caused in turn, and receipt of correct signals at the
supervising station shall be verified:
(1) Open
(2) Ground
(3) Wire-to-wire short

e. Radio Alarm Transmitter (RAT)

17. Supervising Station Fire Alarm


Systems Receiving Equipment
a. All Equipment

A fault between elements of the transmitting


equipment shall be caused. Indication of the fault is
indicated at the protected premises shall be verified
or it shall be verified that a trouble signal is
transmitted to the supervising station.
Tests shall be performed on all system functions
and features in accordance with the equipment
manufacturer's instructions for correct operation in
conformance with the applicable sections of
Chapter 8.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

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Initiating device shall be actuated. Receipt of the


correct initiating device signal at the supervising
station within 90 seconds shall be verified. Upon
completion of the test, the system shall be restored
to its functional operating condition.
If test jacks are used, the first and last tests shall
be made without the use of the test jack.
b. Digital Alarm Communicator
Receiver (DACR)

Each telephone line (number) shall be


disconnected in turn from the DACR and audible
and visual annunciation of a trouble signal in the
supervising station shall be verified.
A signal shall be caused to be transmitted on each
individual incoming DACR line at least once every
24 hours. Receipt of these signals shall be verified.

c. Digital Alarm Radio Receiver (DARR)

The following conditions of all DARRs on all


subsidiary and repeater station receiving
equipment shall be caused. Receipt at the
supervising station of correct signals for each of the
following conditions shall be verified:
(a) AC power failure of the radio equipment;
(b) Receiver malfunction;
(c) Antenna and interconnecting cable failure;
(d) Indication of automatic switch over of the
DARR;
(e) Data transmission line failure between the
DARR and the supervising or subsidiary station.

d. McCulloh Systems

The current on each circuit at each supervising and


subsidiary station under the following conditions
shall be tested and recorded:
(1) During functional operation
(2) On each side of the circuit with the receiving
equipment conditioned for an open circuit.
A single break or ground condition shall be caused
on each transmission channel. Such a fault
prevents the functioning of the circuit; receipt of a
trouble signal shall be verified.
Each of the following conditions at each of the
supervising or subsidiary stations and all repeater
station radio transmitting and receiving equipment
shall be caused; receipt of correct signals at the
supervising station shall be verified:
(1) RF transmitter in use (radiating);
(2) AC power failure supplying the radio equipment;
(3) RF receiver malfunction;
(4) Indication of automatic switchover.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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e. Radio Alarm Supervising Station


Receiver (RASSR) and Radio Alarm Repeater
Station Receiver (RARSR)

Each of the following conditions at each of the


supervising or subsidiary stations and all repeater
station radio transmitting and receiving equipment
shall be caused; receipt of correct signals at the
supervising station shall be verified:
(1) AC power failure supplying the radio equipment;
(2) RF receiver malfunction;
(3) Indication of automatic switchover (if
applicable).

--```,``,,,``,,``````,,`,```,`-`-`,,`,,`,`,,`---

f. Private Microwave Radio Systems

Each of the following conditions at each of the


supervising or subsidiary stations and all repeater
station radio transmitting and receiving equipment
shall be caused; receipt of correct signals at the
supervising station shall be verified:
(a) RF transmitter in use (radiating);
(b) AC power failure supplying the radio equipment;
(c) RF receiver malfunction;
(d) Indication of automatic switchover.

18. Emergency Communications Equipment


a. Amplifier/Tone Generators

Correct switching and operation of backup


equipment shall be verified.

b. Call-in Signal Silence

Function shall be operated and receipt of correct


visual and audible signals at control panel shall be
verified.

c. Off-hook Indicator (Ring Down)

Phone set shall be installed or phone shall be


removed from hook and receipt of signal at control
panel shall be verified.

d. Phone Jacks

Phone jack shall be visually inspected and


communications path through jack shall be
initiated.

e. Phone Set

Each phone set shall be activated and correct


operation shall be verified.

f. System Performance

System shall be operated with a minimum of any


five handsets simultaneously. Voice quality and
clarity shall be verified.

19. Interface Equipment

Interface equipment connections shall be tested by


operating or simulating the equipment being
supervised. Signals required to be transmitted shall
be verified at the control panel. Test frequency for
interface equipment shall be the same as the
frequency required by the applicable NFPA
standard(s) for the equipment being supervised.

20. Guard's Tour Equipment

The device shall be tested in accordance with


manufacturer's specifications.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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21. Special Procedures


a. Alarm Verification

b. Multiplex Systems

Time delay and alarm response for smoke detector


circuits identified as having alarm verification shall
be verified.
Communications between sending and receiving
units under both primary and secondary power shall
be verified.
Communications between sending and receiving
units under open circuit and short circuit trouble
conditions shall be verified.
Communications between sending and receiving
units in all directions where multiple
communications pathways are provided shall be
verified.
If redundant central control equipment is provided,
switch over and all required functions and
operations of secondary control equipment shall be
verified.
All system functions and features shall be verified
in accordance with manufacturer's instructions.
The following procedures describe additional
acceptance and reacceptance test methods to verify
wireless protection system operation:
(1) The manufacturer's manual and the as-built
drawings provided by the system supplier shall be
used to verify correct operation after the initial testing
phase has been performed by the supplier or by the
supplier's designated representative.
(2) Starting from the functional operating condition,
the system shall be initialized in accordance with
the manufacturer's manual. A test shall be
conducted to verify the alternative path, or paths,
by turning off or disconnecting the primary wireless
repeater. The alternative communications path
shall exist between the wireless control panel and
peripheral devices used to establish initiation,
indication, control, and annunciation. The system
shall be tested for both alarm and trouble
conditions.
(3) Batteries for all components in the system shall be
checked monthly. If the control panel checks all
batteries and all components daily, the system shall
not require monthly testing of the batteries.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
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22. Low Power Radio (Wireless Systems)

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 91

Initial/
Reacceptance

Monthly

Quarterly

Semiannually

Annually

X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X

X (weekly)
X (weekly)
X (weekly)
X (weekly)

Batteries
a. Lead-Acid
b. Nickel-Cadmium
c. Primary (Dry Cell)
d. Sealed Lead-Acid

X
X
X
X

4.

Transient Suppressors

5.

Control Unit Trouble Signals

X (weekly)

6.

Fiber-Optic Cable Connections

7.

Emergency Voice/Alarm Communications Equipment

8.

Remote Annunciators

9.

Initiating Devices
a. Air Sampling
b. Duct Detectors
c. Electromechanical Releasing Devices
d. Fire Extinguishing System(s) or Suppression System(s) or
Switches
e. Fire Alarm Boxes
f. Heat Detectors
g. Radiant Energy Fire Detectors
h. Smoke Detectors
I. Supervisory Signal Devices
j. Waterflow Devices

X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X

1.

2.

3.

Component
Control Equipment: Fire Alarm Systems Monitored for
Alarm, Supervisory, Trouble Signals
a. Fuses
b. Interfaced Equipment
c. Lamps and LEDs
d. Primary (Main) Power Supply
Control Equipment: Fire Alarm Systems Unmonitored for
Alarm, Supervisory, Trouble Signals
a. Fuses
b. Interfaced Equipment
c. Lamps and LEDs
d. Primary (Main) Power Supply

10.

Guard's Tour Equipment

11.

Interface Equipment

12.

Alarm Notification Appliances Supervised

13.

Supervising Station Fire Alarm Systems Transmitters


a. DACT
b. DART
c. McCulloh
d. RAT

X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
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Table 7-3
NFPA 72, Visual Inspection Frequencies

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 92

14.

Special Procedures

15.

Supervising Station Fire Alarm Systems Receivers


a. DACR*
b. DARR*
c. McCulloh Systems*
d. Two-Way RF Multiplex*
e. RASSR*
f. RARS*
g. Private Microwave*

X
X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X

--```,``,,,``,,``````,,`,```,`-`-`,,`,,`,`,,`---

*Reports of automatic signal receipt shall be verified daily.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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Table 7-4
NFPA 72, Testing Frequencies

1.

2.

3.
4.
5.

6.

Component
Control Equipment Building Systems
Connected to Supervising Station
a. Functions
b. Fuses
c. Interfaced equipment
d. Lamps and LEDs
e. Primary (main) power supply
f. Transponders
Control Equipment Building Systems Not
Connected to a Supervising Station
(a) Functions
(b) Fuses
(c) Interfaced equipment
(d) Lamps and LEDs
(e) Primary (main) power supply
(f) Transponders
Engine-Driven Generator Central Station
Facilities and Fire Alarm Systems
Engine-Driven Generator Public Fire Alarm
Reporting Systems
Batteries Central Station Facilities
(a) Lead-acid type
1. Charger test (replace battery as
needed.)
2. Discharge test (30 minutes)
3. Load voltage test
4. Specific gravity
(b) Nickel-cadmium type
1. Charger test (replace battery as needed.)
2. Discharge test (30 minutes)
3. Load voltage test
Sealed lead-acid type
1. Charger test (replace battery as
needed.)
2. Discharge test (30 minutes)
3. Load voltage test
Batteries Fire Alarm Systems
(a) Lead-acid type
1. Charger test (replace battery as needed.)
2.
3.

Discharge test (30 minutes)


Load voltage test

4. Specific gravity
(b) Nickel-cadmium type
1. Charger test (replace battery as needed.)
2. Discharge test (30 minutes)
3. Load voltage test
(c) Primary type (dry cell)
1. Load voltage test
(d) Sealed lead-acid type
1. Charger test (replace battery within 5
years after manufacture or more frequently
as needed.)
2. Discharge test (30 minutes)
3. Load voltage test

Initial/
Reacceptance

Monthly

Quarterly

Semiannually

Annually

X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X

X (weekly)

X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association


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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 94

Initial/
Reacceptance
X (daily)

Monthly

Quarterly

Semiannually

Annually

(a) Lead-acid type


1. Charger test (replace battery as
needed.)
2. Discharge test (2 hours)
3. Load voltage test
4. Specific gravity
(b) Nickel-cadmium type
1. Charger test (replace battery as
needed.)
2. Discharge test (2 hours)
3. Load voltage test
(c) Sealed lead-acid type
1. Charger test (replace battery within 5
years after manufacture or more
frequently as needed.)
2. Discharge test (2 hours)
3. Load voltage test

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

8.

Fiber-Optic Cable Power

9.

Control Unit Trouble Signals

10.

Conductors Metallic

11.

Conductors Nonmetallic

12.

Emergency Voice/Alarm Communications


Equipment

13.

Retransmission Equipment
(The requirement of 10.4.7 shall apply)

14.

Remote Annunciators

15.

Initiating Devices
(a) Duct detectors
(b) Electromechanical Releasing Device
(c) Fire
Extinguishing
System(s)
or
Suppression
System(s) or Switches
(d) Fire-gas and other detectors
(e) Heat detectors (The requirements of 10.4.3.4
shall apply)
(f) Fire Alarm Boxes
(g) Radiant Energy Fire Detectors
(h) System Smoke Detectors functional
(i)Smoke Detectors Sensitivity
(The requirements of 10.4.3.2 shall apply)
(j) Single-and multiple-station smoke alarms
(The requirements for monthly testing in
accordance with 10.4.4 shall also apply)
(k) Single-and multiple-station heat alarms
(l) Supervisory signal devices (except
valve tamper switches)
(m) Waterflow Devices
(n) Valve Tamper Switches

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

Guard's Tour Equipment

7.

Batteries
Systems

Component
Public Fire Alarm

Reporting

16.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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Voltage tests in accordance with Table 10.4.2.2,


items 7 (1) (6)

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 95

Initial/
Reacceptance
X

Monthly

Quarterly

Semiannually

Annually
X

17.

Component
Interface Equipment

18.

Special Hazard Equipment

19.

Alarm Notification Appliances


a. Audible Devices
b. Speakers
c. Visible Devices

X
X
X

X
X
X

20.

Off-Premises Transmission Equipment

21.

Supervising Station Fire Alarm Systems


Transmitters
a. DACT
b. DART
c. McCulloh
d. RAT

X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X

22.

Special Procedures

23.

Supervising Station Fire Alarm Systems


Receivers
a. DACR
b. DARR
c. McCulloh Systems
d. Two-Way RF Multiplex
e. RASSR
f. RARSR
g. Private Microwave

X
X
X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X
X
X

NOTEFor testing addressable and analog-described devices, which are normally affixed to either a single, molded assembly or are a
twist lock-type affixed to a base, TESTING SHALL BE DONE UTILIZING THE SIGNALING STYLE CIRCUITS (Styles 0.5 through 7).
The addressable term was determined by the Technical Committee in Formal Interpretation 79-8 on NFPA 72D and Formal
Interpretation 87-1 on NFPA 72A. Analog-type detectors shall be tested with the same criteria.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 96

Section 8
PROPER MAINTENANCE OF FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
8.1

PERIODIC MAINTENANCE

8.1.1

General

When performing periodic maintenance on the modern fire alarm system, it will be helpful to have the
following available:
a. The manufacturers installation and user instructions for the system control unit smoke or flame detectors
and other specialized components.
b. The "as built" drawings of the system that should include the location of all devices, and appliances,
wiring methods, and the sequence of the connections between, the devices, appliances and control unit.
The appropriate NFPA Standard or Code if maintenance is being performed pursuant to a specific
standard or code. Chapter 10 of NFPA 72 [2002] specifies the frequency of testing for devices,
appliances and systems.

d. Any record(s) of tests previously performed as well as the record from tests at system start up to allow a
comparison of the electrical measurements being taken with those previously observed. Such
comparisons can be a valuable aid for rapid trouble shooting. Additionally, future faults may be prevented
by finding the source of a difference in an initiating device circuit resistance, voltage, or current at control
unit terminals, and resistance to ground.
8.1.2

System Performance and Integrity

One way to provide a thorough test of system performance and integrity is to repeat the tests outlined in the
startup procedures published by the equipment manufacturer. If not available, NFPA 72 Chapter 10 and
Section 6 and 7 of this manual can be used as a guide. Always remember that NFPA 72 Chapter 10 is the
minimum testing requirement.
8.2

CONTROL UNITS

8.2.1

Printed Circuit Board Assemblies of Modules

Most modern control units do not require periodic adjustment or field repair other than replacement of a
module, printed circuit board assembly, or adjustment of battery charging voltage.
Defective printed circuit board assemblies or modules can best be serviced at the manufacturer's plant or at
their authorized service facility.
Where the control unit uses printed circuit boards, care should be taken to clean off excessive dust. The
boards should be maintained clean and dry to ensure proper operation.
8.2.2

Relay Maintenance

The maintenance and adjustment of relays should be performed only at the manufacturer's plant or
authorized service facility, or by an organization (or person) having the necessary technical experience,
components, and equipment. A complete stock of spare relays should, therefore, be kept on hand so that an
out-of-adjustment relay, or one with burned out or pitted contacts can be readily replaced.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


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c.

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


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Covered relays seal out dust and discourage adjustment by a novice.


--```,``,,,``,,``````,,`,```,`-`-`,,`,,`,`,,`---

8.2.3

Battery Charger Maintenance

Low battery voltage is generally an indication that the battery charger or battery needs maintenance. Floatcharged and trickle-charged batteries are normally kept in a fully charged condition at all times except when
the battery provides power for the fire alarm system during primary (main) power supply failures.
8.2.4

Fuses

Fuse maintenance consists of checking the fuse holders to make sure that good contact is made with the
connectors on each end of the fuse and that they are not corroded. Hot fuses usually indicate either poor
contact or overloaded fuses, or both. A supply of fuses of each ampere size and type should be on hand so
that the equipment will not remain out of service due to a blown fuse. Fuses which exceed the ratings of those
for the circuit should not be used even temporarily.
8.2.5

Circuit Breakers

Magnetic and thermal type circuit breakers require very little maintenance. However, they should be kept free
of dust.
8.2.6

Condition of Control Unit Cabinets (Dust and Dirt Removal)

The top, bottom and face of the control unit cabinet in which the equipment is mounted should be kept free of
dust, dirt, and grime. These can cause trouble on relays or other open-contact mechanisms or be a source of
corrosion of metal parts.
Neat arrangement of connecting wires from conduits, raceways, or cables at terminating points will reduce
maintenance time when it is necessary to trace and disconnect a wire in the control unit from its terminal for
isolation and test.
8.3

BATTERY MAINTENANCE

Batteries should be located in a vented clean dry place, preferably on shelves or racks above the floor level,
or in cabinets.
The electrolyte level of unsealed storage batteries should be checked regularly. If the electrolyte level is low,
distilled water should be added to bring the level up to normal. Most tap water has sufficient metal salts or
chemical to appreciably reduce battery life. Therefore, distilled water (not tap water) should be used in the
regular maintenance of the electrolyte level.
NOTENFPA 72 Chapter 10 lists the various types of batteries in common use on fire alarm systems and includes the frequency and
methods of testing.

8.4

NON-CODED MANUAL FIRE ALARM BOXES

Maintenance on non-coded manual fire alarm boxes, with or without the presignal feature, should include
periodic operation tests, replacement of broken "breakglass" windows or breakable elements, and checking
terminal connections for loose or corroded connections. In monitored fire alarm systems, a broken connection
should sound a trouble signal.
A supply of glass rods, plates, and so forth, should be kept on hand for breakglass boxes.

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8.5

CODED MANUAL FIRE ALARM BOXES

8.5.1

General

All coded manual fire alarm boxes should be operated at regular intervals and a log kept showing the location
of the station and the date when it was last checked. Both presignal and general alarm features should be
checked. The general alarm feature is usually initiated by the operation of a key-actuated switch mounted on
the box.
Since code wheels can come loose on their shafts, they should be checked every five years.
Where coded boxes are equipped with contacts for annunciation, it may be necessary to manually restore the
contacts to their normal position after each alarm by means of a reset key or tool or by replacing the
breakglass element.
Some selective coded manual boxes are equipped with test switches that can be used during regular
maintenance. Inserting the key, plug or special tool in the test key hole or slot and turning it in one direction
will sound one tap on single-stroke bells or one blast on vibrating bells or horns; turning in the opposite
direction and holding it in that position, will permit operation of the station mechanism without sounding an
alarm.
8.5.2

Spring-Driven Fire Alarm Boxes

--```,``,,,``,,``````,,`,```,`-`-`,,`,,`,`,,`---

Maintenance of spring-driven coded manual boxes closely follows that for non-coded boxes. When this type
of selective-coded box is operated, a pull handle usually winds a clock spring. When the handle is released,
the spring unwinds and drives a gear train and a code wheel. The rotary motion of the code wheel makes or
breaks a pair of contacts that transmit coded pulses to the control unit. The spring-actuated code mechanism
is usually completely enclosed in a semi-dust-proof enclosure made of a transparent material.
In some boxes, pulling the station lever breaks a glass element and/or immediately closes or opens one or
two sets of contacts, in addition to winding the clock spring. The contacts either operate an annunciator or
prevent alarm transmission from fire alarm boxes electrically further away from the control unit by opening or
shorting the line beyond. Care should be taken to assure that these contacts function as intended.
Some fire alarm boxes are wound with a key similar to a clock key. In these boxes the pull-lever mechanism
only starts the code-sending mechanism or auxiliary shunt or annunciator contacts, or both. As with the types
in which pulling an operating lever winds a clock spring, these pre-wound fire alarm boxes cause the code
wheel to make at least three complete revolutions and sound the associated alarm signals for a minimum of
three rounds of code.
Full rewinding of key rewound spring-driven boxes after each operation should be a regular part of the
maintenance programs.
8.5.3

Motor-Driven Coded Fire Alarm Boxes

The maintenance of motor-driven coded boxes is similar to that for the spring-driven type.

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8.6

AUTOMATIC TRANSMITTERS

The maintenance problems encountered with automatically tripped mechanical transmitters are similar to
those for manual coded boxes, because their construction and methods of operation are similar. The
automatic transmitter, however, has a remotely controlled initiating circuit.
Pre-wound transmitters have either a separate pair of tripping magnets or use a relay which monitors, the
remote initiating circuit wiring and generally has a built-in mechanical linkage to trip the spring-wound
mechanism. When the trip coil is separate from the supervisory relay, the latter usually is mounted separately
in the control unit.
Transmitters which can be tripped either manually or electrically should be tested both at least once every
year or more frequently if environmental factors are severe. See the maintenance instructions for non-coded
and coded fire alarm boxes.
Like some spring driven manual fire alarm boxes, pre-wound transmitters require rewinding after operation.
This should be a regular part of the maintenance program. Some transmitters are equipped with a local
trouble buzzer, a light and silencing switch; some have trouble contacts for connection to the main control
unit; some have a combination of both. When these transmitters are checked periodically, the trouble signal
features should be tested to make sure they are functioning properly.
8.7

AUTOMATIC HEAT DETECTORS

8.7.1

Fixed-Temperature Heat Detectors

Fixed-temperature-type automatic heat detectors which use fusible elements require little maintenance. This
is true for most types of spot heat detectors. Loose or corroded terminal connections are, however, possible.
Automatic heat detectors should not be painted.
Since testing of a fusible element heat detector destroys the fusible element, there is no practical test that can
be performed in the field.
NOTENFPA 72 Chapter 10 details a test and replacement procedure for nonrestorable fixed temperature heat detectors.

Fixed-temperature detectors of the restorable bimetallic type (slow make or snap action) can be tested while
installed on the ceiling and connected to the control unit. A heat lamp (or hair dryer) held within an inch of the
detector should cause it to operate. When the lamp is moved away from the detector, the bimetal will cool and
the detector contacts will reopen and again be ready for use in detecting the heat of a fire.
8.7.2

Rate-of-Rise Heat Detectors

The tubing of line-type rate-of-rise detectors should be tested for pinhole leaks about once a year. The
manufacturer can provide an air test device to check for such leaks. The tubing system should be tested for
operation in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.
Spot-type, combination rate-of-rise and fixed temperature detectors are in common use. Rate-of-rise
detectors can be tested with a heat lamp. If a lamp is used to test a combination fixed temperature and rateof-rise detector with a fusible-element, fixed-temperature feature, the lamp should be removed quickly after
operation of the detector to prevent melting of the fusible element.
8.7.3

Rate-Compensation Heat Detectors

Rate-compensation detectors are self-restoring units that can be tested with a heat lamp.

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Page 100

Explosion-Proof Heat Detectors

Explosion-proof detectors can be of either the fixed-temperature, rate-of-rise, or rate-compensation type. They
are provided within a housing that will contain any explosion causing flame or spark to the surrounding
atmosphere. If these detectors are tested in an explosive atmosphere, an explosion-proof lamp unit should be
used to generate the heat required to actuate the detector.
8.8

SMOKE DETECTORS

Smoke detectors require periodic maintenance. All smoke detectors should be physically tested functionally at
least annually.
Calibration tests should be conducted after one year and then on alternate years thereafter if sensitivity is not
changing.
NOTEA more detailed description of calibration testing requirements can be found in NFPA 72 Chapter 10.

Warning: Smoke detectors are sensitive electronic devices. The specific detector manufacturer's literature
should be followed in performing any test or maintenance procedure. Failure to follow the
manufacturer's instructions could damage the detector permanently.
8.9

SPRINKLER WATERFLOW DETECTORS

Two types of sprinkler waterflow detectors are used.


8.9.1

Pressure Operated

Pressure operated detectors are pressure switches which usually are connected into the intermediate
chamber of the main sprinkler valve of a sprinkler system. Generally, they have either enclosed mercury-tometal or micro switch contacts, and they can be tested by opening the "inspector's test valve." This allows
water to flow through the intermediate chamber of the main sprinkler valve and to the pressure-type waterflow
detector and a hydraulically operated water motor gong, thereby closing or opening the pressure switch
contacts and actuating the control unit to which the detector is connected. Because the contacts are enclosed
in a dustproof housing, cleaning is not required. Electrical connections to the switch should be checked every
year.
Some waterflow pressure switches are actuated by a reduction in pressure and are connected to the upper
chamber of the main sprinkler valve. Such switches can be tested by first closing the main gate valve and
then opening the inspectors test valve, thereby releasing the trapped pressure in the sprinkler piping. This
causes an alarm to be sounded upon the opening of a sprinkler head even though the main gate valve is
closed and only trapped pressure is released through the sprinkler head. Make certain that the main gate
valve is reopened immediately after the test.
8.9.2

Vane Operated

Vane type waterflow switches are installed in insertion holes in the sprinkler risers. The whole assembly is
gasketed and bolted with "U" clamps to the piping. The switches generally have either enclosed mercury or
micro switch contacts which are actuated by the forward movement of the paddle lever in the riser when water
flows through the pipes. Usually there is a pneumatically or electrically operated retard with these switches to
prevent water hammer surges from operating the contacts. The retard is generally adjustable and can be set
to delay the alarm up to 90 seconds. Where waterflow switches are used to shut down elevator power upon or
prior to the discharge of water from sprinklers, the use of devices with time delays is not permitted.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Provided by IHS under license with NEMA
No reproduction or networking permitted without license from IHS

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8.7.4

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 101

Vane-type switches used as waterflow detectors can be tested by opening the inspector's test valve at the
highest point in the sprinkler system piping. In this way, the retard timing can be checked.
8.10

GATE-VALVE SUPERVISORY CONTACTS

Gate-valve supervisory contacts are switches which are actuated by the movement of the threaded valve
stem in response to approximately two turns of the gate-valve wheel in the closing direction. The load on the
contacts is usually only a fraction of the contact rating, thus, pitting and undue arcing are not likely to occur.
8.11

OPEN STEM AND YOKE (OS & Y) VALVE SUPERVISORY CONTACTS

Maintenance of OS & Y valve supervisory contacts is similar to that required for gate-valve supervisory
switches.
8.12

PRESSURE SWITCHES

Pressure switches on dry pipe sprinkler systems respond to high or low air pressure and require the same
maintenance as those used for wet pipe systems.
8.13

TANK SWITCHES FOR HIGH AND LOW ALARM SERVICE ON GRAVITY TANKS

Tank switches are actuated by a ball float, which rises and falls with the level of the water in the tank. The
switch mechanism may be a mercury-to-metal type, or an exposed heavy-duty, snap-action type switch. The
contacts are provided in a cast, nonferrous metal housing provided with a gasket to keep moisture out. The
contacts of the switch, therefore, seldom need attention and, since the exposed contacts are generally of
precious metal, corrosion is not a problem.
DIFFERENTIAL PRESSURE SWITCHES

Differential pressure switches are generally of the same type and construction as the high and low water or air
pressure switches and, therefore, require similar maintenance. They are used to start an electric pump when
the pressure in the sprinkler's stem piping is not at least 15 pounds higher than the pressure in the water
piping from the street supply. The pump builds up pressure in the system side by pumping a small quantity of
water taken from the street side of the main sprinkler valve. A second differential pressure switch sounds an
alarm whenever the difference in pressure between the street and system sides falls well below 15 pounds
(usually due to pump failure). Pump failure may be caused by the loss of power to the motor, a burned-out
motor, or a burned-out bearing on either the pump or motor.
8.15

INSPECTOR'S TEST VALVES

Inspector's test valves are the conventional hydraulic, wheel-actuated valves and require maintenance similar
to the valves used on regular water-supply plumbing systems.
8.16

ALARM HORNS

Direct current alarm horns are usually of the vibrating diaphragm type. An armature associated with the
diaphragm makes and breaks a pair of contacts connected in series with the horn coil and alternately
energizes and de-energizes the coil. Generally, a capacitor is connected across the contacts to suppress
arcing. An adjusting screw controls the armature air gap and the sound level of the horn. Periodic inspection
will disclose contact wear or pitting that may require smoothing with a fine file and a contact burnishing tool.
When a screw and lock-nut adjustment is provided to vary the contact gap, it should be adjusted to the
specification of the horn manufacturer.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association
Provided by IHS under license with NEMA
No reproduction or networking permitted without license from IHS

Licensee=Fluor Corp no FPPPV per administrator /2110503106, User=Ballesta, Joef


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8.14

Training Manual on Fire Alarm Systems


Page 102

Alternating current, vibrating-diaphragm alarm horns are similar to the direct current types, except they do not
require the contacts to alternately energize and de-energize the armature. The zero and peak voltage created
by an AC 60-hertz sine wave provides 120 beats per second. These horns do not have contacts, and have
been used in series-connected alarm notification appliance circuits. Up to ten 12-volt horns or twenty 6-volt
horns were used on a 120-volt circuit. Note that in new or renovated systems, series-connected notification
appliance circuits are no longer permitted by NFPA 72 because these circuits cannot be monitored for short
circuit faults.
Electronic horns or sirens are either of the trumpet (re-entrant) type with a metal diaphragm, or the cone
speaker type. If a cone is torn or warped, the speaker should be replaced.
8.17

ALARM BELLS

Direct current vibrating bells have contacts that alternately energize and de-energize their coils thereby
causing a striker to contact a steel gong shell and produce vibrating bell sounds. Maintenance of contacts and
gap spacing are similar to that for horns. The distance between the gong striker and the steel gong shell
require infrequent attention. Normally the bell movement is fastened to the base by two or four screws in
elongated holes thereby permitting the striker to be adjusted closer or further away from the gong shell.
Like alternating current vibrating horns, alternating current vibrating bells usually have no contacts. They are,
however, designed to operate at 60 instead of 120 beats a second by using a permanent magnet or rectifier to
cut off one side of the sine wave. This reduced rate provides a cleaner bell sound. Similar to alternating
current series horns, alternating current bells in a series connected, notification appliance circuits are no
longer permitted.
Alternating and direct current single-stroke solenoid bells or chimes usually require less maintenance than
other audible signals. Terminal connections need to be checked every five or ten years. When that is done,
any dust or dirt that has collected between the plunger and the plunger tube should be blown free with
compressed air or a bellows. These bells have no contacts and can be used in series-connected circuits.
8.18

TROUBLE BELLS AND BUZZERS

Trouble bells and buzzers may be of the alternating or direct current vibrating types, and maintenance is
exactly the same as for alarm horns and alarm bells.
8.19

FIRE DRILL SWITCHES ON SYSTEMS

Fire drill switches are generally of the conventional key-actuated lock-switch type. These switches require no
maintenance except replacement when they fail to function properly.

Copyright 2003 by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.


--```,``,,,``,,``````,,`,```,`-`-`,,`,,`,`,,`---

Copyright National Electrical Manufacturers Association


Provided by IHS under license with NEMA
No reproduction or networking permitted without license from IHS

Licensee=Fluor Corp no FPPPV per administrator /2110503106, User=Ballesta, Joef


Not for Resale, 07/22/2006 01:53:42 MDT