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MORE ON CODE AND CO DETECTORS FROM OCTOBER 21, 2015 ARTICLE
After reading Randy Oritz's letter [in Oct 21, 2015 article] about CO detectors, I'm wondering if he read the fire codes pertaining to Carbon Monoxide Detection. Unless there has been a major change in the past few weeks that I'm unaware of, the NFPA codes are clear.
The code calls for one CO detector per living level, very much like the old code for smoke detectors. If the home has a monitored burg/fire system, then at least one of the CO detectors must be part of the system, where any detection of CO will be reported to the central monitoring station. The code allows for the other detectors in the home to be of the "plug-in" variety that you can purchase at any hardware, home improvement or big box (Costco, BJ's Warehouse, etc.) store. This of course is permissible if the LAHJ signs off on it. I'm sick to death of playing tug-of-war with the LAHJ's.
Regardless of what the code says, many of them interpret it the way they want to see it enforced. In the past, I have called John Drucker the Redbank, NJ fire marshal for advice or if I had a question, and he is the most knowledgeable person of the fire codes of anyone I know when it comes to codes and code enforcement. I say that with one caveat: Jeffrey Zwirn likely knows more about fire codes than Drucker, but he doesn't know as much about code enforcement, and you don't get to speak with him for free. Back to playing tug-of-war. I have dropped the rope. If the LAHJ wants 110V.AC interconnected hard wired smokes, rather than reading and enforcing changes in the code, I will no longer fight them. I've argued with them repeatedly about changes in the residential BOCA and NFPA codes, only to be hit with "this is the way I interpret the code and THAT is the way this job will be done." I inform my customers that if they still want monitored smoke detectors, then I will have to add one smoke detector per living level in addition to the 110V.AC smoke alarms that the electrician will install.
When they licensed the burglar and fire alarm business in New Jersey, one of the things that was stated, was that it would eliminate all of this non-sense. It hasn't.
John from NJ
John from NJ said - I have a customer who mistakenly removed a Carbon Monoxide detector from her basement ceiling. The unit signaled a tamper to the control which in turn sent the signal to the central station. The central station contacted the fire department and the operator clearly stated it was a "Tamper Signal" received from the CO detector. The local FD rolled three pieces of fire apparatus to the woman's house. ……. Clearly, if it was a smoke detector that had been tripped, or if this was a continual issue with her it might have made sense . But a tamper signal from a CO detector should not prompt any more than a "chief's car" or code enforcement vehicle to be dispatched.
It is obvious to me that John operates his company like most alarm companies in our industry. Program the panel, identify the zone type and technology associated with that zone and leave the rest to guess work by the central station. Both John and his choice of central station service provider is at fault in this example. Did John give any instruction as for what actions to take on a “trouble” signal on that zone or any other zone? Probably not. Does the central station understand the code? It does not appear to. Troubles are reported to the property representative and service company. Supervisory signals are different, such as a water flow detection device that is closed without it first the account or zone being put in test mode by an authorized user.
USA Central Station does use default zone action plans to guide the central station operator, all of the popular formats used today removes the ambiguity of zone types but we do not call the fire or police departments on KNOWN “troubles”. It appears to me that not only John, but many installers need to revisit their central station action plans for the following reasons, 1. He customer does not face a $300 fine, 2. To reduce or eliminate the unnecessary calls for service to the municipal authorities, and 3. To meet the expectations of your customer as a professional service provider.
Statement to all installing companies, if you give poor or deficient operational instructions for your accounts to the central station, you are getting what you asked for. Next, if you expect that the robots that answer the Fire Emergency phone line know the difference between an alarm, trouble or supervisory, HA, you are kidding yourself. They only know how to take an address, look up the building type and send the pre-programmed response plan, in this case 3 vehicles. Finally, if your central station can’t follow your instructions for each and every account you need to either pay them more than $2.50 a month for quality or find another central station provider.
Bart A. Didden, President
USA Central Station Alarm Corp
Port Chester, NY / Milford, CT / St. Paul, MN