The 2010 Edition of the National Fire Alarm Code Has Been Sent to the Printer!

The 2010 Edition of the National Fire Alarm Code Has Been Sent to the Printer!

Expected to be published this month, the recently approved NFPA 72, The National Fire Alarm Code, has been finalized. Barring any “emergency” amendments, you can expect to find in this new edition many improvements, corrections and several significant changes to how you’ll install both commercial and residential fire alarm systems and equipment.

In addition to some “it’s about time” rules and other “you’ve got to be kidding” requirements, there are interesting new sections covering the latest technologies and methods. Even the documentation, forms and paperwork requirements have been re-vamped. Not only are carbon monoxide detector requirements included but gas and vapor detection devices as well. Seventy-nine new definitions were added to Chapter Three. There are new rules regarding the use of elevators by firefighters. Technology for the notification of the masses--Mass Notification Systems--is also thoroughly addressed in this new edition.

The new name for the 2010 edition of the National Fire Alarm Code® will be the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Systems Code®. The name change reflects the book’s expanded use for warning people of other life-threatening conditions and not just smoke and fire anymore. Even the word “fire” has been removed from the text in the code whenever possible. This name change is due to the inclusion of the many rules and guidelines surrounding MNS. Mass notification will largely involve the use of our emergency/voice alarm communication systems. Mass Notification Systems Annex material abounds, in addition to the inclusion of the testing and maintenance requirements and the proper forms to be used for these types of systems.

This brings us to the next obvious change, which needs a good explanation, regarding the arrangement of chapters in the new edition.

In the 1993 and 1996 editions of NFPA 72, the rules for residential smoke alarms and household fire alarm systems were located in Chapter Two. However, when writing the next (1999) edition of the NFAC, it was decided that the residential chapter needed to be moved to the end of the book in case it was ever removed from the NFAC (presumably to become its own separate code book once again). This way, if it was ever removed, it wouldn’t cause the other chapters to need to be re-numbered and it wouldn’t cause a “hole.” Also, the 1999 edition of NFPA 72 pulled all the scattered rules for municipal/public fire alarm reporting systems into its own Chapter Six. The existing Chapter Six material was then moved to Chapter Four, not back a notch to seven. (Who knew that for years, this material was in the wrong chapter?) The 1999 edition was also re-numbered, and not just by moving the chapters up or down a notch. Chapter Two was replaced by leapfrogging Chapter Five over Chapters Three and Four. Chapter Four used to be Notification Appliances but it was swapped with material from Chapter Six, Remote Station. The only chapters that kept their place were chapters One, Three and Seven, and only Chapter Six was new--the material, not the number. Some users, reportedly, became confused. Really! Chapter Two is now Chapter Eight? Old-timers remember the pure pandemonium. Then, in the 2002 edition, Chapter One material was divided into four chapters, and all the rest of the chapters were re-numbered accordingly, but every chapter’s name had changed and now there were eleven chapters. There were flashbacks of the infamous 1999 shuffle. The 2002 to 2007 update saw no re-numbering or shuffling, and all was good.

There’s been a disturbance in ‘The Force.’ The new 2010 chapter format has been arranged to alleviate the suffering of the past and allow other, new chapters to be added; not just in this edition, but far into the future, and without ever having to re-number--and all while still leaving the residential chapter last. A total of 29 chapters will be used in the 2010 edition of the National Fire Alarm Code®, however, only 14 will actually have material in them. Yes, the remaining 15 will be blank. Yes, blank. Chapters One, Two and Three will remain where they are, but will be followed by six blank Chapters numbered four through nine. Material in existing Chapter four will now be called Chapter 10. It will be followed by one blank chapter (11). Chapter 12 will be called “Circuits and Pathways.” The information currently in Chapter 10, “Testing, Inspection & Maintenance” will now be the new Chapter 14 (but the 6th chapter in the book containing any content). Chapters 15 and 16 will also be blank, with the Initiating Devices chapter becoming the new Chapter 17. Chapter 18 will be Notification Appliances, (hopefully, no blank chapters between 17 and 18 will cause future re-numbering issues). Chapters 19 and 20 will be blank and Chapter 21 will become the new Emergency Control Functions and Interfaces Chapter, followed by another blank chapter. Chapter 23 is now the Protected Premises Chapter and Chapter 24 is the new Emergency Communications Systems (ECS) chapter. Chapter 25 will be blank followed by the Remote Supervising Station--Chapter 26. Municipal Fire Alarm Systems was moved to Chapter 27 followed by a blank Chapter 28. Once again, the final chapter is the Residential Chapter. With this new chapter formatting there will be (almost) no chance there will ever be a need to renumber because of a new chapter being created. Whew! Glad that “confusion” is behind us.

In future issues of this column, I will report extensively on the substantive changes in the 2010 edition of NFPA 72. I can provide insight into how we dodged bullets on some of the many proposals submitted by narrow interest groups and by both acknowledged and self-acknowledged experts. I’m thinking this 2010 edition of NFPA 72 will definitely keep me busy until the next cycle. And then, there’s the topic of adoption by the AHJ, but that’s a whole other ballgame.


At a Glance: 72/2010

Here are some of the provisions of the highly revised standard:

  • The new name for the 2010 edition will be the National Fire Alarm and
    Signaling Systems Code®.
  • A total of 29 chapters will be used in the 2010 edition of the National
    Fire Alarm Code®, however, only 14 will actually have material in them.
  • Chapter 24 is the new Emergency Communications Systems (ECS) chapter.
  • Documentation, forms and paperwork requirements have been revamped.
  • Carbon monoxide detector requirements are included, as well as gas and
    vapor detection devices.