Fire Safety Consultants, Inc. Winter 2021 Newsletter


An FSCI update from Keith Frangiamore, FSCI President

Farewell 2020

2020 was a difficult year at Fire Safety Consultants, Inc., both for our staff and clients. The lack of personal contact with clients and customers was especially difficult as well as maintaining a separated, safe office environment. However, our team came together and rose to meet these challenges.

FSCI’s business is built on providing the best customer service in the industry, and close and lasting relationships with our clients.  This has been the most demanding year for many reasons, but most difficult of all has been maintaining consistent communication with our clients and customers.

FSCI has had to reduce daily staffing in our offices to conform with CDC guidelines, and many of our clients have had to close their offices for extended lengths of time.  Add to this, many customers including contractors, architects, engineers, etc. have been working short staffed, or remotely, affecting normal communication channels.   Our ability to speak with our clients and customers was even more difficult because of the lack of in person association meetings, vendor shows and other in person events.

While we are still facing challenges, we are proud of our staff and clients who have pulled together to make this a most memorable year.

What Does 2021 Look Like?

I think the most relevant question to ask at this time “what is next for us all going forward”.  How will our world “normalize”, and when will we be able to resume group activities both in our offices and more importantly with our clients and customers.  You can count on FSCI to strengthen our communications with clients and customers and continue to focus on providing the highest quality third party code consulting services.

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 1

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 two-part article looks at many of the changes that, pending member voting at the June 2021 NFPA Annual Meeting which will be held virtually and resulting necessary committee action, will become a part of the next edition of the code.  Part 1 of this article will cover Global changes made throughout the code and Chapters 1 through 14.  Part 2 of this article, which will be found in the Fire Safety Consultants, Inc. Spring Newsletter, 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.

Global Changes

Throughout the chapters of the code, users will see many references to cybersecurity and related requirements.  Cybersecurity became one of the most discussed topics by each of the technical committees.  Each committee was asked to determine how cybersecurity might affect the existing code requirements and the signaling system equipment covered by their chapter(s).   Most chapters now make reference to Chapter 11, new for the 2022 code edition, which addresses Cybersecurity.  We will discuss the requirements of Chapter 11 later in this article.

Chapter 1 – Administration

 There were no significant changes to the requirements found in this chapter.

Chapter 2 – Referenced Publications

The responsible committees for material found in this chapter updated the applicable edition years of previously listed publications and have added new publications as necessary based on code requirements found in the 2022 edition of NFPA 72.

Chapter 3 – Definitions

 Several new definitions have been added to the code for 2022.  Technical committees are charged with providing meaning to words used in their chapters.  Sometimes the meaning can be found in a definition already existing in NFPA’s glossary of terms.  If not, committees must craft a definition on their own.  As a reminder, when a user of the code is unable to locate a defined word or phrase in Chapter 3 of NFPA 72, the code refers the user to the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

Here is a look at several of significant definitions which have been added.

  • Accessible – Updated language extracted from NFPA 70, accessible is defined as “Capable of being reached for operation, renewal, and inspection.
  • Authorized Personnel – The term, where used in NFPA 72, is to mean “The property owner, designated representative appointed or selected by the property owner, who performs certain duties.”
  • Backbone – A term used in describing Class N circuits and pathways, the backbone is “A part of a network that acts as a common infrastructure to which the branch parts are connected.”
  • Certified – The new term which is being used by nationally recognized testing labs will be replacing the term “listed”.
  • Constantly Attended – As used in NFPA 72, the definition of the term used in several locations is intended to mean “Attended 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.”
  • Control Equipment – The term, which is used in Chapter 7, is meant to include “Equipment listed as either a control unit or control unit accessory.”
  • Cybersecurity – The increased attention by NFPA 72 to cybersecurity issues has resulted in the new definition “The protection of systems from theft or damage of data, or damage to hardware or software, as well as from unauthorized command or control or access to any information of any services the systems provide.”
  • Single-Criteria Detector – The term is now used in Chapter 14 and has been defined as “A device that contains a single sensor that responds to a physical stimulus such as heat, smoke or gas. This detector has a single listing that establishes the primary function of the detector.”
  • Emergency Personnel – A term that has been used in the code, but which was not defined “Person(s) who have been trained in emergency response.”
  • Master Control Station – A term associated with rescue assistance systems “A system component providing an operator interface to receive and view calls from remote call stations and initiate two-way communication between the master control and persons at the call station location.”
  • Remote Call Station – A term associated with rescue assistance systems “A system component providing a call button used to alert a master control station operator of a person requiring assistance, capabilities providing hands-free two-way communications between the person and operator, and visual indication of both call activation and active two-way communications.”
  • Minimum hearing distance – A term used in Chapter 18 for measuring sound pressure levels “The closest distance that an occupant’s ear can be to an audible appliance.”
  • Observation – A term added to describe something that is seen that will not affect a system’s ability to complete its intended function “A suggested correction, improvement, or enhancement to the fire alarm or signaling system that is not considered to be an impairment or deficiency.”
  • Remote Access – A term was added due to NFPA 72 now permitting remote access (off-premises) into control equipment “Communications between a remote device and a component of a fire alarm or signaling system.”
  • Supervised Notification Appliance Circuit – A new term used to clarify the circuit’s difference from a notification appliance circuit “An output circuit that is monitored for integrity and used exclusively to activate control equipment for notification appliance circuits.”

Chapter 7 – Documentation

 Changes to the chapter covering documentation were not excessive, but did include several key items that must now be reflected in plans and specifications created by system designers and engineers.

Several new requirements affect design (layout drawings).  First Revision (FR) 5079, thru sections and, requires that all design drawings include the pathway class designation (example: Class A, B, C, D, E, N, or X) for each circuit and pathway used in the system.  The same FR also requires that the level (example: Level 0, I, II, III, IV) of pathway survivability also be indicated on the drawings for all circuits and pathways.  FR 5284, thru section, added the requirement that carbon monoxide detectors be shown on design drawings as is required for any other initiating device type.

There are new requirements for shop drawings.  FRs 5080 and 5085, thru sections 7.4.5 and 7.4.6, now require that a pathway’s classification and its survivability level be indicated on all shop and riser plans.  These requirements are the same requirements that were added for design drawings.

FR 5244, thru section, has created a requirement that building owners must receive software security access, or a means of obtaining software security access, for their systems.  The purpose of this requirement is to allow a building or system owner to utilize other qualified vendors when work is required on their system.

Several changes were made to the Record of Completion and Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance forms. These changes are due to NFPA Manual of Style (MOS) issues and because of changes made necessary by FR and Second Revision (SR) code revisions.

Chapter 10 – Fundamentals

 The fundamentals chapter addressed a concern for the installation of control equipment in seismic zones through the approval of First Committee Revision (FCR) 28.  This new annex material, found in A.10.3.1, asks that control equipment be provided with a seismic certification listing when utilized in certain seismic areas.

The code has, for many editions, required the protection of control equipment.  This has typically been accomplished through the mounting of a smoke detector about the FACU, remote power supplies and transmission equipment.  FR 5341 has added new code language in that allows for the omission of the control equipment protection when a risk analysis has been conducted and where approved by the AHJ.

FR 5091 created new language found in and regarding abandoned fire alarm equipment.  The proposed new language requires abandoned fire alarm equipment to be tagged as “Not in Service” until removed.  The FR also creates a requirement that abandoned fire alarm equipment must be removed.

Revisions to several of the sections addressing secondary power supply requirements occurred.  The revisions were limited to MOS issues which limits the number of requirements for a section number to a single item.  An example would be the former requirements found in a single section that included 24-hours of secondary, non-alarm power followed by 5-minutes of the system operating with all notification appliances activated.  The requirements for 24-hours and 5-minutes remain but are now located in two different sections of

The long-standing requirement to add a 20% safety factor when doing battery calculations was revised in FCR 6.  The new requirement found in now will require a correction factor of 1.25 to account for aging and temperature effects on the battery.

The marking of batteries has been changed again in the code.  SR 5122 thru, now requires that VRLA batteries (sealed lead-acid) be either date stamped with the Month/Year of manufacture by the manufacturer or marked with the information by the installer.  Additionally, the battery must be marked with a replacement date which is to be 4-years from the date of installation.

Finally, SR 5125 makes a revision to 10.17.2 covering supervised notification appliance control circuits.  Clarification was added that these circuits must comply with the following three items:

1) They shall not service more than one notification zone;

2) They shall be monitored for integrity; and

3) A trouble signal shall occur upon a fault condition.

Chapter 11 – Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity was a topic of discussion among all of the technical committees.  The committee responsible for the chapter created FCR 3 which included new Chapter 11 text addressing cybersecurity requirements and related Annex material.  Following much public comment, and comments from the technical committees, SR 5157 resulted in the FCR code text being moved to the Chapter 11 Annex.  As a result of this action there are no requirements that must be followed on cybersecurity in the 2022 code edition.

Chapter 12 – Circuits and Pathways

The chapter on circuits and pathways will see minimal changes for the 2022 edition.  The sole significant change occurred when SR 5051 added an additional pathway survivability level.  Survivability Levels 0 thru 3 are now joined by Level 4.  Level 4 survivable circuits must be one of the following:

1) 1-hour fire-resistive, or CI cable;

2) 1-hour fire-resistive cable system;

3) 1-hour fire-rated enclosure; or

4) A performance alternative approved by the AHJ.

Chapter 24 includes the situations where the use of Level 4 circuits must be considered.

Chapter 14 – Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance

Users of the code will see several new changes located within Chapter 14.  FR 5235 has addressed the continual question for fire alarm servicing companies on how, or if, recommendations or observations should be made to the system’s owner.  The new requirements of indicate that any observations made during the testing process shall be communicated with the system owner.  The section goes on to say that the system owner shall not be required to address the observations unless the observations become an impairment or a deficiency.  This is in concert with which requires that system deficiencies be corrected.

A change to the visual inspection frequencies for water flow and supervisory initiating devices found in Table 14.3.1 now permits less frequent visual inspections.  FR 5219 has changed the visual inspection frequency for these two devices to semiannual.  Both previously required quarterly inspections.

As mentioned earlier in this article, remote programming is now permitted by NFPA 72.  FR 5288 created a new section which requires that trained personnel be located at the protected premises during remote programming of a system.  The trained personnel must meet the Chapter 10 definitions for testing, service, or programming personnel.  Additionally, testing must be provided at the conclusion of work in accordance with 14.4.2.

The testing of multi-criteria and sensor detectors was addressed in FR 5328 which has revised Table  Sub-section (17)(12) now requires for testing of these devices that:

1) The manufacturer’s published instructions must be followed;

2) Each sensor be tested individually if possible; and

3) Sensors be tested together if technology allows for it.

The testing of low powered radios (wireless systems) was clarified in Table by SR 5098.

Finally, Table was further revised by SR 5114 and now states that VRLA batteries (sealed lead-acid batteries) can be tested automatically where the FACU can perform the test while measuring the enclosure temperature.  Manual testing is still permitted.

Conclusion – This concludes Part 1 of the significant changes that will be included in the 2022 edition of NFPA 72.  Chapter 17 through 29 will be covered in the Spring edition of the Fire Safety Consultants, Inc. newsletter which will be available in April.  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

Bobbi Sharp

Whenever you receive a completed plan review packet back from our Corporate Office in Elgin, it is because Bobbi Sharp has already formatted the plan review letter, verified the distribution list on the municipality’s Information Sheet and compiled the plan review packet.  As our Plan Review Administrative Assistant, Bobbi oversees the plan review process once the plan reviewer has completed the plan review letter and it has been peer reviewed. You may have also spoken to Bobbi when calling the Corporate Office, as she also answers many of the calls when callers select option 2 for plan review status. Bobbi started with us in March of last year, right as the Pandemic began, but she hit the ground running regardless, and has been doing a great job for us with her great attention to detail.

Prior to joining the Admin team, Bobbi worked for a medical device manufacturer, Northgate Technologies, for 20 years. She started there as a Documentation Specialist processing engineering documentation and for the last 7 years, she was a Regulatory Affairs Manager. As the RA Manager, Bobbi was responsible for medical device compliance for the US, Europe and Canada as well as being responsible for FDA, notified body, and customer audits.

Bobbi lives with her fiancé Darin and two dogs, Sadie and Maddie. In the summer, they like to camp as much as possible with their 40ft 5th wheel camper. They also enjoy taking trips where they go off road trail riding in their UTV.

Employee Spotlight News

We would like to congratulate Angie Dayfield for passing her NICET Level 3 exam for Fire Alarm Systems on November 24th, 2020!

Little Known Facts

Visual Appliances in Sleeping Areas

When designing fire alarm systems for I-1 and R-1 occupancies, one of the top priorities is the need for visual notification within dwelling and sleeping units. The International Building and Fire Codes (IBC/IFC) have a great, easy-to-follow guide that breaks down the number of sleeping units required to have visual notification appliances. The number of sleeping accommodations that require visual notification is based on the total number of sleeping units within a building. For the 2018 Edition of the IBC/IFC, this table can be found in 907. The requirements for visual notification installation are found in Chapter 18 of NFPA 72.  In the 2016 edition, Section 18.5 begins the Public Mode requirements for visual appliances.  Section specifically covers the requirements for sleeping areas. When installing wall mounted visual notification appliances, the most important aspect to take into consideration is the ceiling height of the sleeping unit relative to the location of the appliance lens. This will determine the necessary candela setting for the appliance. All portions of the lens of a wall-mounted appliance must be located within a range of  80-96 inches above the finished floor. If the distance from the top of the lens to the ceiling is less than 24 inches, a minimum 177 cd setting is required. If the distance between the top of the lens and ceiling is equal to or greater than 24 inches, a minimum 110 cd setting is required. If the visual appliance is ceiling mounted, a 177 cd setting is automatically required. A good rule of thumb to follow is an 8 foot ceiling height will always require a 177 cd setting and a 10 foot ceiling height can use a 110 cd setting so long as the mounting height requirements are followed. In all cases, visual appliances shall be installed within 16 feet of the pillow.

-Amanda Herrera – Fire Protection Consultant


Commercial Kitchen Exhaust Ductwork Systems

Since acquiring the responsibilities of performing the plan reviews, as well as the inspections, of the kitchen exhaust hood and duct systems, I have found that this particular area of mechanical installation is sorely lacking in knowledgeable design and installation personnel.

The ductwork portion of these systems has been problematic as far as the needed necessary space for the code required separation space to combustible and/or noncombustible construction. Currently, to limit the separation space to combustible materials, the exhaust ductwork is required to be in a shaft or have ductwork wrapped with fire-resistant insulation. Unfortunately, architects that design the spaces rarely allow for adequate room for the installers to install the insulation wrap.

On a bright note, the manufacturers of these systems are designing and constructing systems to assist the designers and installers. Section 506.3.6 of the International Mechanical Code requires a minimum of 18-inches of clearance to combustible construction and a minimum of 3-inches of clearance to noncombustible construction. Exception #1 allows for factory-built commercial kitchen grease ducts listed, and labeled, in accordance with UL-1978. There is at least one manufacturer which provides such ductwork. The ductwork is a double wall duct system which is listed by ETL for conformance with UL-1978. This allows for the clearance to combustible construction to be from 0- to 1-inch depending on the type and size of this ductwork. It also allows for 0-inch clearance to noncombustible construction.

The use of factory-built, double-wall construction requires less space for the ductwork installation with no space needed for the installation of insulation wrap. This will allow for a quicker installation and make the inspection process to confirm code compliance quicker as well.

-Raoul Johnston, Senior Building / Life Safety Plan Reviewer


Understanding SLC Zones and Isolation Module Use

There was a change to the 2016 addition of NFPA 72 addressing a single fault condition on a pathway connected to addressable devices. The 2013 addition stated a single fault on a pathway connected to the addressable devices shall not cause the loss of more than 50 devices. The 2016 revision (and in the 2019 edition) states that a single fault on this same SLC circuit shall not cause the loss of more than one zone. Zones are typically a single floor of up to 22,500 square feet, or floor areas separated by a smoke or fire barrier.  The most common mistake seen in Class “B” SLC wiring, in an attempt to meet the requirements of 23.6.1, is to install an isolation module on each floor in multi-level buildings using a single continuous SLC run. A single short or open on the circuit will render the addressable devices located beyond the fault inoperable, resulting in the loss of more than one zone as the circuit does not include a redundant path. Figure A.23.6.1(a) in the 2016 edition illustrates the proper use of isolation modules in the same multi-level building using Class “B” circuits. An individual SLC for each floor is connected to a dedicated isolation module per floor and are all located at the fire alarm control unit. The code allows the un-isolated circuit from the control unit to be run to the isolation modules in metallic raceway for a distance not to exceed 3-feet (The code would also permit the isolation modules to be integral to the FACU). In this configuration, each of the circuits are isolated per floor. A short, or an open, on any single circuit would only effect one zone. The above explanation in the use of the isolation modules is for a Class “B” circuit. Please refer to 23.6.1 for examples of the use of these modules on Class “A” or Class “A/B” (Hybrid) isolation methods.

-Scott Kunzie, 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 x206.