FOLLOW UP ON SMOKE ALARM QUESTIONS FROM MAY 17, 2016
In response to the question raised in the May 17, 2016 article,
- If the home already has existing 120VAC smoke alarms that meet the code requirement, can I install 2 smoke detectors for auxiliary protection, 1 per level on my burg panel and still be in code?
- Also, can I make one of the programmable buttons on the keypad call the fire dept?
the code (NFPA 72) permits supplemental protection (installing smoke detectors in addition to required smoke alarms). Of course, this is dependant upon AHJ acceptance. We cover this in our Brown Book (Fire Alarm System Design & Installation).
This is from our book:
Despite the fact that household fire alarm systems and system smoke detectors are recognized as superior equipment, many residential security/fire alarm companies shy away from installing system smoke detectors as a direct replacement for smoke alarms. The two major reasons for this are AHJ objections and liability concerns.
Some AHJs use the requirement for smoke alarms as their base requirement. They will not accept system smoke detectors on a household fire alarm system as a replacement due to their personal preferences. Interpretation of the code requirements is the prerogative of the AHJ.
Some residential security/fire alarm companies consider installing system smoke detectors on a household fire alarm system as an assumption of life safety responsibility for the residence. Failure of the security system will most likely result in loss of property, failure of the fire alarm system could very possibly result in loss of life. Many security/fire companies (and their insurance providers consider this to be an unacceptable risk.
Supplemental detection is the preferred option for most residential security/fire alarm companies because it provides the most coverage at the least risk to the alarm company. By adding supplemental protection to the residence, they can provide the highest degree of protection without assuming the liability of required smoke detection.
The level of protection provided increases further if the system has supervising station monitoring. Additionally, since the coverage is supplemental, the designer has the optional of increasing the number of detectors, using fewer detectors, or changing the type of detectors.
Please feel free to share this information with those on your forum in whatever form you feel is appropriate.
I don't necessarily consider myself a "Fire Expert," but I do know that what John in Alabama asked about is permissible. As long as the 110VAC smoke alarms are interconnected and hopefully inspected, the addition of one smoke detector per living level is acceptable according to the NFPA. I have been installing the additional smoke detectors for some years just in that fashion, and have had no problems with any LAHJ's. This is obviously good, but only for existing structures.
As much as codes vary from state to state (it usually has something to do with what that state recognizes as a standard, what year of the BOCA codes or NFPA has been accepted as code), there are some quirks in the code that fire inspectors (LAHJ's) cling to older technology and standards that can drive you crazy. I have had discussions with LAHJ's about using low voltage or wireless (both supervised) smoke detectors in new construction and/or when an addition is added to an existing structure. The codes in NJ changed in 2008, allowing low voltage or wireless smoke detectors to be used in lieu of the 110VAC smoke alarms. The only caveats are that the installation must be authorized by the building owner (not renter) AND the system must be monitored by a central monitoring station. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? WRONG. Many fire inspectors will NOT accept this and insist on the 110VAC smoke alarms, even though the photo-electric smoke detectors are far superior and react faster if something "bursts into flames" like say a grease fire (the majority of residential fires start with something that smolders for a long time before reaching the incipient stage). That being said, the inspectors insist on clinging to the older technology and often will not approve anything else. Yet here is the kicker: If you have a structure that calls for more than twelve smoke alarms, you MUST use a low voltage system. How is it that for a large home requiring say 15 smoke detectors it is OK to use low voltage devices, but in a smaller home the 110VAC smoke alarms are better? One gets tired of having the same argument over and over. It is much like Einstein's definition of insanity, "doing the same thing over and over again, with! the hope of having a different outcome."
John from NJ
Ugh??.... How long has John been in business?
Anyway, How many of you New Yuckers have seen the NYS Residential Code 2010 R313.1; second paragraph; second sentence. It's been around for a while....
I would say no. If you’re asking an attorney how to do a fire alarm install/modification then, no, you shouldn’t install those smokes, in fact you shouldn’t be in this business…. I would also not recommend asking the pool cleaning guy if this mole looks suspicious, or the guy in the meat market if this is a properly drafted Will…. Maybe the unisex restroom business is something this guy should consider getting into… not many questions there to be asking.