Fire and Intrusion: ICC strengthens CO smoke detector codes

System Sensor’s David George looks at the ICC’s new requirements for carbon monoxide, smoke detectors

Fire alarm systems changing course

Another major change is that fire alarm systems using system-connected smoke detectors can now be the primary form of household smoke detection if they are monitored by an approved supervising station and maintained in accordance with NFPA 72.

The 2006 edition of the IRC had restricted this use under the assumption that a home would be left without smoke detection if the homeowner failed to pay the monitoring fee of a household fire alarm system because the supervising station would remotely disable the control panel or have the control panel physically removed. To the contrary, if the household fire alarm system is owned by the homeowner and the homeowner fails to pay the supervising station for the remote monitoring function, it will result in disablement of the remote monitoring function only and the smoke detection at the home is fully maintained.

Consequently, the amended 2006 IRC code, specifically section R 313.1, requires household fire alarm systems (using UL 268-listed smoke detectors connected to a UL 985-listed control panel) to continue operating and to provide the same level of protection as interconnected smoke alarms in the event the control panel is removed or the system is not connected to a central station.
The new language essentially precludes household fire alarm systems from being installed as a primary or supplementary system for smoke detection in the 14 states (Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah and Washington) that have adopted the 2006 edition of the IRC. This is because no products on the market today meet this requirement.

Furthermore, the new language in the 2006 edition is not technically possible for larger homes that require more than 12 smoke detectors. Section of NFPA 72 limits the number of multiple station alarms to be interconnected to 12 if the interconnecting means is unsupervised.

It will take several years for the household system restriction to be amended because the states that have adopted the 2006 edition of the IRC will have to adopt the 2009 edition.

Both actions are good for the industry. More importantly, they will certainly enhance public life safety. The ICC implementation will occur this month. Individual state/local jurisdiction adoptions will begin in 2010.


The requirements for UL 2034, Standard for Single and Multiple Station Carbon Monoxide Alarms cover electrically operated single and multiple station carbon monoxide (CO) alarms intended for protection in ordinary indoor locations of dwelling units, including recreational vehicles, mobile homes and recreational boats with enclosed accommodation spaces and cockpit areas.

David George is the director of Communications for System Sensor, based in St. Charles, Ill.,