Understanding Residential Fire Alarm Systems

Go to the codes and get up to date


Specifically, NFPA 72(07)11-7.8 outlines the parameters under which a system shall be monitored. The monitoring services shall be preformed as outlined in NFPA 72(07) Chapter 8, with the following modifications:

• The system shall only require one telephone line.
• The system shall transmit at minimum a monthly test.
• The remote monitoring station may verify the alarm signal, as long as it is does not delay fire service notification for longer than 90 seconds.

While none of these modifications are earth shattering, the installer can wade into dangerous waters if they convey to the customer that their system is reporting directly to the fire department, to the “central station,” or some other simplification of the alarm monitoring process.

As mentioned above, this industry uses many terms “generically” to describe many of the services provided.

A clear and concise understanding of NFPA 72(07) Chapter 8, will explain to the installer the dramatic differences between the various alarm monitoring functions available.  And hopefully, keep them from misleading the customer or promising services that they cannot, or do not, truly provide.

Writer’s Note: This article has attempted to provide an overview of a very unique segment of the industry. The insights and observations have been provided as a beginning guide to aid you in understanding some of the opportunities and obstacles you may face.

Given the life safety nature of the system installed, installers should take extra care to ensure that the installed system meets the applicable code requirements for their area.
All code references have been paraphrased – and the reader is encouraged to read the entire referenced code in its full context.

Additional information and understanding can be gained by furthering your formal training on this topic at one of the upcoming NBFAA National Training School (NTS) classes held across the country.

Significant portions of this article were excerpted from various NBFAA National Training School courses. With over 35,000 individuals attending NTS courses since its creation in 1985, it is clearly the “Gold Standard” for training individuals on the fundamentals of the Electronic Life Safety and Security Industry.

About the Author:
Dale R. Eller serves the NBFAA as their Director of Education and Standards. A 25-year industry veteran, Eller’s firm ITZ Solutions! provides consulting, training and management services to the NBFAA, PBFAA, NYBFAA, Installation Quality Certification Program and WISE.