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Definitive answer to paper stuffed in fire alarm control panel

June 8, 2022
Definitive answer to paper stuffed in fire alarm control panel re article on June 1, 2022

          In my response in the June 1, 2022 article to the comment on the Doc Box I wrote this:
          “The Doc Box does seem like the reasonable alternative to stuffing paper into the control panel.  I think we have sufficiently established that paper in the control panel is not a good idea and may border on, or constitute, negligence, perhaps gross negligence [grossly negligent for not reading and heeding advice in these newsletter].”
          I think fire alarm experts Joe Hayes and Larry Rietz puts this discussion to rest.  You should not leave paper in the panel; period.  If you do and it starts a fire you are likely to be found grossly negligent. Maybe only thing worse you can do is leave a pack of matches in there, moving on from gross negligence to willful misconduct.  Here are Joe’s and Larry's comments, always appreciated.
          NFPA-72 (2016) Section 7.7.2 requires a documentation cabinet for storage of record documents and test reports.  Storage of paperwork in the FACP is prohibited.
It is not impossible that heat from the power supply can dry out the paperwork and possibly ignite same.  While not applicable to older installations,
it would still be good practice to install a cabinet during system maintenance.  Better than explaining to a jury why there wasn’t one.
          My contact information is:
Joseph Hayes, CPP, PSP, SET
West Palm Beach, FL 33411-5747
        The requirement to provide a separate System Record Document cabinet has been around since the 2013 Edition of NFPA 72, where it says specifically that
           “All record documentation shall be stored in the documentation cabinet” (NFPA 72-2013 §, and the Annex A material for this requirement says that
          “The intent is that paper documents should not be stored inside the control unit because control units are not typically approved for the storage of combustible material.” 
            This applies to all types of documentation including installation documents, manuals, and annual test records.  These documentation cabinets are easily obtained from several companies (e.g., H.R. Kirkland, Space Age, etc.) and usually come with an on-board USB drive allowing electronic documents (including as-built drawings, system programming, etc.) to be stored electronically at the site.  Combustible materials, especially paper, should never be stored within a fire alarm, access control, or burglar alarm control unit.
Technical Fellow
Global Service Line Leader, Fire Detection & Alarm

          By the way, if you want to discuss any fire alarm issue give Joe a call.  I’ll let you know if he complains about too many calls.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301