Documentation Duplication

A reader expressed concerns over a recent New York City fire alarm project. A local alarm company executive told them they didn’t have any use for the Record of Completion (ROC) form in their NYC office since their building code states they don’t accept the ROC the NFPA 72 2010 edition illustrates in Chapter 10.

It seems the local executive found he could get by with as little effort as possible. While he is correct in noting that the city doesn’t want the official NFPA Record of Completion submitted to the Department of Buildings, that doesn’t leave him off the hook for the other AHJs involved. By claiming that it isn’t used in his Manhattan Island alarm company branch because NYC doesn’t want it is a bit simplistic. The fact remains—he is responsible for complying with NFPA 72, Section “A preliminary copy of the record of completion shall be given to the system owner and, if requested, to other authorities having jurisdiction after completion of the installation wiring tests.” Simply because it is not “requested” by NYC doesn’t excuse him from compliance. I’m surprised he has not run into a hotel chain or insurance company requiring this document. In fact, I have always promoted its use (in contrast to my own aversion to paperwork and bureaucracy) because it is a signed/witnessed affidavit which states that your code-compliant fire alarm system was turned over to the building owner in perfect working order.


Codes in educational facilities

In another instance, a 100-year-old rural high school was told to update their fire alarm system and add a sprinkler device to the auto and wood shops. The technician did a walk-through and noticed the manual ‘gongs’ were located so that someone on one floor pulling the pole up and down caused the bell on the other floor to sound as well. The technician wanted to know what to do about the systems of bells and pull rods and asked whether he should hook up a switch to activate the new alarm system whenever someone pulled the rods.

In this case, I’d tell the school board that the antiquated system of brass bells and pull rods would be removed. (If you call it a “trade-in” in your contract, you can keep all that cool old stuff.) Another reason to remove the pull rods is to use the holes to run new wiring. With asbestos in old structures, you can save a lot of trouble by not drilling or removing ceiling material. You will then use either round metal conduit or square metal raceway to route new notification appliance circuits (NAC) and smoke detector wiring between floors.

Smoke detectors are not required by the International Building Code for places of education. However, in the photos submitted by the reader, I noticed coat hooks in the hallways for students. Without metal lockers for the students to use, another rule sneaks in from the 2009 edition of the International Fire Code, 807.4.3. The first rule stated: “Clothing and personal effects shall not be stored in corridors and lobbies.” Since only the auto and wood shop spaces of the building will add fire sprinklers, you are provided an exception to this rule if the “corridors are protected by an approved smoke detection system in accordance with Section 907.” This means installing a system of smoke detectors in the corridors (which are 10 feet wide by 10 feet high). With about 400 feet of corridors, you shouldn’t have to install more than about 10 or so smoke detectors (installed on 40-foot spacing). The actual number of detectors should be determined by a qualified person with access to either a complete set of scaled plans or who conducts a personal visit.

Don’t forget to tie in all of the school’s water control valves supplying to the sprinkler system to activate a supervisory signal and each waterflow switch to cause an alarm signal. Existing schools definitely make good basic projects to get your fire alarm business growing.


Greg Kessinger is SD&I’s longtime resident fire alarm and codes expert and a regular contributor. Reach him at