Fire Safety Consultants, Inc. Spring 2021 Newsletter


An FSCI update from Keith Frangiamore, FSCI President

Spring Has Sprung
Springtime is here and we are all excited to have warmer weather, budding plants and finally putting COVID-19 behind us. There is new business blooming as well, albeit in different areas of our company. Although plan reviews plateaued earlier this year, especially with the intense winter weather across the country, our consulting division has been overwhelmed. We have been able to quickly pivot to perform this work, leveraging expertise and experience of our senior staff to satisfy our consulting clients’ needs. As we escape these winter months, we expect that construction will rebound and plan review projects will return to more normal levels. We have taken advantage of the winter season by increasing our staff training frequency and intensity, for all staff but particularly for our newer plan review team members. We want to ensure every team member is prepared to provide the best service possible to our clients. We also had a little more time to realign several administrative tasks and “special” project processes as part of our continuous improvement process.

“Post” Pandemic Outlook
The federal government has promised to make the SAR COVID19 vaccine available to all Americans by the end of May 2021. This should allow the economy to improve and business to return to some semblance of normalcy. FSCI stands ready to engage all regular client activities including third party plan reviews and inspections, consulting projects, educational seminars and other activities such as conferences and vendor shows. We are also on the precipice of a revolution in the third-party plan review services industry. Please follow FSCI news closely as we work to implement Electronic Plan Review service! Please stay safe, protect each other, and help us all move toward a healthful future!

Significant  Changes to the 2022 Ed of NFPA 72 – Part 2

by Warren E. Olsen, Vice President of Building and Life Safety – Principal Member, Chapter 26, Supervising Station Alarm Systems Alternative Voting Member, Chapter 18, Notification Appliances

Following the completion of technical and correlating committee meetings in 2019 and 2020, the 2022 edition of NFPA 72 (code), The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, is nearly a finished product.  Committee members have reviewed and acted on more than 700 public inputs and comments submitted by interested parties looking to change the requirements found in the 2019 edition of the code.

Actions by the ten committees responsible for reviewing inputs and comments have led to more than 200 changes to the code.  While this may seem like a large number of changes, it is far fewer than the number of changes that were incorporated into the 2019 edition of the code.  The 2019 edition incorporated most of the requirements for carbon monoxide detection which previously were found in NFPA 720 which has now been retired by the NFPA.

This is the second installment of a two-part article that looks at many of the changes that, pending member voting at the June 2021 NFPA Virtual Annual Meeting and any resulting necessary committee action, will become a part of the next edition of the code.  Part 1 of this article can be found in the Fire Safety Consultants,  Winter 2021, newsletter which can be accessed through our website  Part 1 covered Global changes made throughout the code and Chapters 1 through 14.  Part 2 of this article will cover the changes made in Chapters 17 through 29.

Please note that the section numbers included in this article are based on information available as of the writing of this article and may change slightly when the final version of NFPA 72 is published.

Chapter 17 – Initiating Devices

Significant changes found in Chapter 17 affected alarm and supervisory initiating devices.

First Revision (FR) 5211, thru new section 17.4.4, returned to the code the requirement that initiating devices must be supported independently of the conductors that are connected to the device. This requirement, which was removed from the code for a single cycle has been included in this edition.  The requirement states that the wires to the device are not permitted to attach it to a wall or ceiling. The manufacturer’s published installation instructions should be used to determine correct device mounting.

A First Committee Revision (FCR) 16, by way of section 17.4.7, has removed the 10-foot condition for detectors installed in concealed locations prior to needing remote alarm indicators. Now, any detector that has an alarm or supervisory indicator which is not visible to responding personnel, either by its concealed location or by its mounting arrangement, must have a remote indicator. The exception to this requirement remains in section This section allows the omission of the remote indicator when the device location is identified at the FACU and a drawing is provided which shows the device’s location and its functions.

FCR 21, thru revised section, clarified that electronic heat detectors, which are field programmable, are not required to be labeled with a color marking (see Table as is required for non-field-programmable detectors.

Second Revision (SR) 5042, provides a more generic version of the long-standing requirement for duct smoke detectors and where they are to be located. Section now indicates that duct detectors shall be provided as required by NFPA 90A and section (Smoke Detection  for Air Duct System). Detector placement within the duct system, when duct detection is required, is described in section However, if your jurisdiction uses the International Mechanical Code, refer to the applicable sections related to duct detection systems.

A revision affecting Carbon Monoxide detector placement can be found in A.17.12.1. SR 5044 provided additional text that requires: 1) CO detection on the ceiling of a room where fuel-burning appliances are located, 2) Centrally on every habitable level in each HVAC zone, 3) Outside and within 21-feet of dwelling units and sleeping areas, and 4) Where required by other codes. Additionally, CO detectors that are installed within air-duct systems are not permitted to be used as a substitute for open-area detection. SR 5064, and 17.12.3 and its Annex, further explains that there is currently no product testing standard for duct-mounted CO detectors.  Additionally, air ducts are not a good location for these devices because an HVAC system is not always moving the air to be sampled through the ductwork.

Section was revised by SR 5074 and involves dry and pre-action sprinkler system pressure monitoring. Pre-action systems were added to the dry system requirements for this section. The revision also states that in addition to receiving a supervisory signal when a 10-psi increase or decrease from normal system pneumatic pressure occurs, manufacturer’s published installation instructions must be followed. This additional requirement addresses valves that operate at a lower pneumatic pressure than typical dry valves.

 Chapter 18 – Notification Appliances

The changes found within Chapter 18 affect notification appliances.

FR 5005 created a new section which applies to the use of appliances which were previously labeled “Fire”. Under normal conditions, when an appliance is labeled “Fire” it produces an audible and/or visual signal that can only be interpreted as a fire emergency. The new provision allows for the appliance to be reidentified if it is to be used for purposes other than to report a fire emergency. Field modification must occur in accordance with mnufacturer’s published instructions or signage by the appliance indicating that it will be used for multiple purposes and that it will operate for fire and other emergency conditions.

New section, created by SR 5022, now states that a notification appliance circuit must comply with the requirements of Chapter 12, Circuits and Pathways. While first intended to be in Chapter 12, the new Annex includes voltage drop calculations. The movement of the calculations to the Annex means that designers still have the freedom to provide calculations by either the center-point, point-to-point, or end-of-line method.

A revision to sections and was created by SR 5017. These sections deal with the sounding of the alarm signal and when it can be silenced. Section now states that the alarm signal shall be repeated until the fire alarm system is manually silenced or reset by authorized emergency personnel. Section indicates that the AHJ, based on an emergency plan for the building, can approve the automatic silencing of the alarm signal but, not until the signal has sounded for at least 180-seconds after it was initiated.

New Annex material has been provided by SR 5021 for A. This change attempts to clarify where the 75 dBA measurement at the pillow for sleeping rooms is required. Similar clarification was discussed for the newest editions of the IBC/IFC but was not recommended for adoption. The six locations now included in the Annex are:

  • Hotel guest rooms
  • Common spaces of a hotel suite such as living rooms that have couches, beds or sleeping furniture
  • Common spaces of dwelling units such as living rooms or dens that have couches, beds or sleeping furniture
  • Areas and rooms with Murphy beds
  • Doctor/staff sleeping rooms
  • Nap rooms or sleeping areas in any occupancy

Code users are reminded that this requirement does not apply when staff in a facility are constantly awake and can supervise the environment when individuals are asleep. This would apply in most hospital and nursing home facilities but, probably not in a hotel/motel situation.

Section, SR 5020, was as a clarification to a visual appliance’s mounting height. The minimum mounting height above the finished floor is 80-inches or, the actual height of the ceiling (on the wall at the ceiling or on the ceiling).

Consideration of obstructions, when determining visual appliance locations, has been addressed by FR 5084 in section The three sub-sections to require that consideration be given to how obstructions and other blockages may affect the light distribution (direct and indirect) from wall and ceiling mounted visual appliances. In addition, one must consider corridor obstructions and it may impact the direct viewing of the visual signals. In a corridor, indirect viewing is not permitted if the corridor spacing rules are being applied.

Finally, clarification has been provided on where corridor visual appliances can be located. FR 5029, and section, now states that visual appliances in corridors can be mounted on the ceiling, end of the corridor wall, or a side wall. When corridor spacing is being used, remember that an appliance must be located within 15-feet of the end of the corridor (or door(s) separating corridors) and not more than 100-feet apart.

Chapter 21 – Emergency Control Function Interfaces

The changes made to Chapter 21 affect emergency control functions that are intended to improve fire and life safety conditions for a building and its occupants.

A longstanding requirement held that a flow switch serving a sprinkler located in an elevator hoistway or machine room could not have a time delay. FR 5032 now allows a waterflow device serving a pit sprinkler to have a time delay if it is used to activate Phase I Emergency Recall. Revised section makes it clear that the waterflow device and the pit sprinkler must be on their own, separately valved, dedicated branch line.

FR 5027 has revised section 21.3.7 (and its Annex material) by requiring that when a waterflow switch is located within an elevator hoistway it must be located such that it is accessible for inspection, testing, and maintenance without the fire alarm technician having to enter the elevator hoistway. Ideally, the waterflow device would be located outside of the hoistway. Other sections of NFPA 72 also require that smoke and heat detectors used in an elevator hoistway be accessible from outside of the hoistway. One example of this would be to provide rated access hatches into the hoistway which could be opened to access the devices.

FR 5047 created a revision to section 21.7.2 which clarifies that when detection devices, connected to the fire alarm system, are used to cause the operation of HVAC systems, smoke and/or fire dampers, fan controls, smoke doors or fire doors, they shall be monitored for integrity. This means that the wiring and the power to the devices must be supervised.

Chapter 23 – Protection Premises Alarm and Signaling Systems

Changes made within Chapter 23 impact the requirements for protective premises fire alarm and signaling systems. Unless a system is classified as a dedicated function fire alarm system it is going to fall under the requirements found in Chapter 23.

A term change was made affecting circuits and pathways. SR 5056 created the term “optical fiber cable” which replaces previous terms like fiber optic or fiber cable. This brought the term into alignment with how the cable is referred to within the wiring and cabling industry.

FR 5082 provided a revision to section which added requirements for fire alarm Presignal when it is used. Requirements include the use of an alarm signal in accordance with the building’s emergency response plan, investigation of the presignal alarm by qualified personnel, and the use of an emergency response plan which has been approved by the AHJ.

FR 5086/SR 5059 revised requirements for Positive Alarm Sequence (PAS). Section maintains the six requirements for PAS which have been in the code for several cycles. The use of trained personnel in dealing with PAS has been revised to require qualified personnel. Formerly, PAS could only be used with automatic detection devices. Now, in response to the need to delay fire alarm evacuation signaling during possible hostile events in a building, manual fire alarm devices can also be programmed to activate PAS.

Remote access to fire alarm and signaling control equipment was addressed through FR 5111. Several new requirements were put into section including the prohibiting of remote resetting and silencing of systems without AHJ approval. During the SR, the approval of the AHJ to conduct remote access work on a system is no longer required. However, remote access must be automatically terminated after 1-hour of inactivity (this was 4-hours in the FR). Remote access requires that a qualified individual be on-site during the entire remote access process to acknowledge, silence, and reset any signals.

Similar requirements have been added to the code for executive firmware upgrades, software updates, and programming changes for remote transmitting equipment.

For those using low-power radio pathways (wireless fire alarm systems), new code language is included in section (FR 5072) which provides the operational requirements for Class A and Class B radio pathways.

Chapter 24 – Emergency Communications Systems

The chapter on Emergency Communications Systems addresses the many unique signaling systems not always associated with a typical fire alarm system. While traditional emergency voice evacuation systems are covered within the chapter, other signaling systems such as in-building and wide-area mass notification, area of rescue assistance systems, two-way firefighter phones, and firefighter radio enhancement systems are also covered.

A deletion, by way of SR 5067 and affecting 24.3.6, removes a requirement for surge protection associated with emergency communication systems. The requirement has been removed from NFPA 72. The need for a surge protection device is being left up to equipment manufacturers and, where applicable, the National Electrical Code requirements.

Chapter 24 relies heavily on risk analysis for the design of many of the systems covered by the chapter. FCR 4 adds language, as section, that requires that the risk analysis consider cybersecurity threats to any emergency communication signaling system. The code further refers the reader to Chapter 11 which covers cybersecurity.

Changes to the requirements for circuit survivability included the use of Level 4 survivable pathways in certain situations and the allowance to use Level 1 survivable circuits where partial evacuation or relocation will occur. A building’s construction type becomes a significant factor in determining what level of survivability is required in a building. Please refer to the requirements of 24.3.14 for a more detailed look at the requirements.

A much-discussed issue at the technical meetings involved the use of the alert tones for Emergency Voice Alarm Communications (EVAC) systems. SR 5090 has revised section by stating that the EVAC recorded message sequence must be repeated at least three times. The second sequence of messages must begin after a pause not to exceed 180-seconds or according to the building fire safety plan (as approved by the AHJ) until automatically reset or reset by emergency personnel. Annex A.24.8.4 now states that a temporal 3 pattern is required to be used to precede the evacuation or relocation message unless dictated otherwise by the building’s emergency response plan (as approved by the AHJ).

The remainder of the elevator communication system requirements have been removed from the code and can by found in the elevator standard, A17.1.

New and revised requirements were created by SR 5089 for two-way emergency communications systems. Section 24.10 now includes twelve requirements and additional Annex material for these systems.

Chapter 26 – Supervising Station Alarm Systems

Chapter 26 deals with the requirements for signal monitoring and the means to transmit signals from a protected premises to a communication center or fire department dispatch center.

Section was added through FR 5228 and deals with suppressing calls between a supervising station and the communications center. Supervising stations are required to continuously retransmit alarm signals to a communications center as they are received. The new requirement allows a communications center to advise the supervising station to stop alarm signal  retransmission from a particular location for up to 1-hour. This requirement reduces the volume of duplicate alarm signals during a fire event.

A new requirement involving supervising station operators working from home during a national or local emergency is working its way through the Tentative Interim Amendment (TIA) process. TIAs exist in the NFPA process to address emergency code changes. The current pandemic caused many supervising station personnel to be relocated to “at home” work locations in order for operations to continue. The TIA includes language in Section to address these types of emergency situations.

Remote programming of transmitting technologies was addressed by SR 5128 and covers all forms of transmitting equipment. A total of eight conditions were  included in section that must be adhered to if remote access to a transmitter is desired.

Section, and related Annex material, was created by FR 5245. This new section clarifies that when a DACT (digital alarm communicating transmitter) is used as the interface between a FACU and other transmission technologies, the DACT requirements found in would not apply. The code requirements for the last in line transmitting technology equipment would be the rules that must be followed.

Chapter 27 – Public Emergency Alarm Reporting Systems

Unless you are in the few areas of the country that still provide this equipment, this chapter of NFPA 72 is not commonly used.  Chapter 27 covers the transmission of alarm signals via municipal wiring networks. One of the few changes to this chapter is the elimination of Shunt-Type Auxiliary Alarm Systems. This type of system is no longer installed and it was determined by the technical committee to remove the requirements related to such systems.

Chapter 29 – Single- and Multiple-Station Alarms and Household Signaling Systems

As its name implies, Chapter 29 provides the requirements for single- and multiple-station alarms and household signaling systems. This includes detection in locations such as hotel rooms and living areas of apartments and condominiums.

Chapter 29 addressed several necessary changes brought on by smoke detector and alarm testing and listing by UL. FR 5039 revised section by making changes to where, and what type, smoke detectors and alarms could be used when in proximity to cooking equipment. The requirements refer to UL 268, 7th edition (smoke detectors), and UL 217 (smoke alarms) 8th edition. These requirements are effective as of May 1, 2022. Prior to this date, smoke detectors/alarms located 10-20-feet from stationary or fixed cooking appliances may be an ION-type with a hush button, photoelectric, or a 7th or 8th edition detector or alarm. Beginning on May 1, 2022, only 7th and 8th edition detectors and alarms are permitted.

For detectors less than 10-feet, but at least 6-feet from the cooking surface, an ION detector can never be used. Beginning on May 1, 2022, only 7th and 8th edition detectors and alarms are permitted.


This concludes Part 2 of the significant changes which can be found in the 2022 edition of NFPA 72. For a detailed look at all changes, NFPA members can go to Select the next edition tab and then select the Second Draft Report. This will take you to TerraView and you can search through each chapter of the proposed 2022 edition.

If you have any questions regarding the material in this article please feel free contact its author at [email protected].

-Warren E. Olsen, Vice President of Building and Life Safety


Employee Spotlight

Heidi Blakely

When you receive an inspection report from our Corporate Office in Elgin, that means that Heidi Blakely has reviewed the inspector’s notes, formatted the report and verified the distribution list on the municipality’s Information Sheet. As one of the Administrative Assistants in our Corporate office, Heidi assists with parts of the inspection services area and has also started to work with the seminars and consulting areas of the business. You may have also spoken to Heidi when calling the Corporate Office, as she also answers many of the phone calls when callers select option 9 to speak with a live attendant. Heidi has been with Fire Safety Consultants, Inc. for a little over a year now and seems to be getting acclimated with the many different areas of the business.

Before Heidi joined us at Fire Safety Consultants, Inc., she was an administrative assistant for a private equity firm and prior to that, she spent 11 years as a Teaching Assistant with St. Charles School District 303 and 17 years as a professional wedding photographer.

Heidi has been married for 26 years and has two adult daughters. Her family enjoys nature, travel, and hiking whenever possible.  Heidi’s hobbies include gardening, feeling the sunshine on her face, fishing and participating in new experiences.

Little Known Facts

Increasing Your Design Area Due To Unsprinklered Combustible Concealed Spaces –
Combustible concealed spaces can cause many challenges when designing a sprinkler system. Sections and 8.15.6 of the 2016 edition of NFPA 13 allows many ways to omit sprinkler protection in these areas that can help keep the cost of the required sprinkler system down. The downside to using these exceptions is that you may have to increase the size of your design area. This increase is to compensate for the anticipated delay in sprinkler activation when a fire occurs in an unprotected area. Section lists requirements that would allow you to keep your design area to the size shown in Figure When these requirements are not met, the design area must be increased to a minimum of 3,000 sq. ft. When residential sprinklers are used, the design area must be increased to include 8 sprinklers. This is only required when the design area is adjacent to the combustible concealed space. “Adjacent” does apply to the floor space above and below the concealed space, not just horizontally. When a barrier with a fire resistance rating (in minutes) equivalent to, or greater than, the required water supply duration (i.e., 30, 60, 90 minutes) fully separates the concealed space from the sprinklered area, the design area increase is not required. A common misconception is that increasing your design area size to 3,000 square feet is, in itself, an exception used to omit sprinkler protection in a combustible concealed space. This is not true. An exception found in Sections and 8.15.6 of NFPA 13 must be used to omit sprinkler protection from the combustible space.
– Michael Carnduff, Fire Protection Consultant


Smoke detector locations – NFPA 72
Doors opening from the outside into a small vestibule can lead to nuisance alarm signals when smoke detectors are located in the area. Smoke detector placement should take into consideration low or high temperatures, humidity levels and high air flows in a space. We all know the common areas like, kitchens, showers and furnace rooms are hot spots for false activation of certain types of smoke detection. However, the often-overlooked building vestibule tends to be an area that frequently receives exposure to the outdoor environments such as humidity changes, dirt and dust blowing in from the outside, and possibly vehicle exhaust leaking inside throughout the day. If detection must be installed, adjusting the smoke detector sensitivity, where possible from the FACU, can be a good option instead of replacing it with a heat detector. NFPA 72, 2019 edition, allows for the adjustment for spot-type smoke detectors stating, “field adjustment of sensitivity via a mechanical means shall have an adjustment range of not less than 0.6 percent per foot obscuration”. Prior to any changes in sensitivity, the installation manual shall be reviewed and the detector shall be marked with its nominal production sensitivity and tolerance in percent per foot obscuration.
– Ryan Case, Fire Protection Consultant


Fire Alarm Control Equipment Installation Requirements – NFPA 72
In past editions of NFPA 72 there were no clear description as to what fire alarm control equipment was permitted to be installed in either accessible or readily accessible areas. The 2019 edition of NFPA 72, 10.4.4 provides a much clearer description. Fire alarm control equipment intended to be used by the business owner or the emergency response personnel shall be installed with a visual display at a minimum of 15 inches and maximum 6 feet above the finished floor. These installation heights allow the fire alarm control equipment to be readily accessible to the emergency responders and business owners to identify the specific alarm, supervisory or trouble condition. Per, NFPA 72, A.10.4.4, although remote power supplies have signal lighting in them, the trouble signals they identify are for the technician not the owner or emergency response persons. Therefore, they would not be required to be installed as described in NFPA 72 sec 10.4.4. But, as with all fire alarm control unit equipment, a clear working space of at least 3-feet must be provided in front of the equipment in accordance with the National Electrical Code. As for the communicator, installation shall be per the equipment data sheet. In most cases it requires installation in the same room as the fire alarm control panel or within a certain number of feet of the panel. Above a drop ceiling does not constitute within the same room even if it is within the same four walls. As a final reminder, smoke or heat detector, early detection, is still required above all fire alarm control equipment, remote power supplies and supervising station transmitting equipment regardless of where it is installed in accordance with 10.4.5. This early detection will activate an alarm condition before the equipment is compromised by heat and/or fire. Yes, there are exceptions, early detection is not required where the control equipment is installed in a constantly attended location, meaning 24/7 staffing and for dedicated function fire alarm equipment which do not send signals to a supervising station.
– Angie Dayfield, Senior Fire Protection Consultant


Keep you and your staff up to date on the latest Fire, Building and Life Safety code changes and equipment by attending one of our seminars. Fire Safety Consultants, Inc. teaches seminars all over the United States, led by our experienced staff of Matt Davis, Keith Frangiamore, Brent Gooden & Warren Olsen. Whether you are a Contractor, Architect, Technician, Engineer or an Authority Having Jurisdiction, each seminar is full of practical insight and first-hand experiences to help you comply with applicable codes and standards. Fire Safety Consultants, Inc. can also provide custom seminars at your location. Be sure to check out our website to view our listing of available seminars or to check the schedule to see what we are teaching next! Contact us to learn more by emailing [email protected] or by calling our corporate office at (847) 697-1300 x223.