Grill The Fire Expert

Grill The Fire Expert Fire Alarm Rules for the Notification of Occupants

NFPA 5000 Requirements
Q: What are the fire alarm rules for the notification of occupants required by NFPA 5000?

A: Remember, no publication (even if it uses the word "Code" as part of its title) is enforceable by a building or fire official unless it has officially been adopted into law. Only then, is it truly a "Code." The 2003 edition of NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, lists the following fire alarm notification requirements: Unless otherwise provided in through, notification signals for occupants to evacuate shall be by audible and visible signals in accordance with NFPA 72 and ICC/ANSI A117.1, American National Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, or other means of notification acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction. (See:,,, The general evacuation alarm signal shall operate in accordance with one of the methods prescribed by through (See:,,,, 5,

Of special note, where total evacuation of occupants is impractical due to building configuration, only the occupants in the affected zones shall be initially notified, and provisions shall be made to selectively notify occupants in other zones to afford orderly evacuation of the entire building.

Where occupants are incapable of evacuating themselves because of age, physical or mental disabilities, or physical restraint, the following shall apply:

(1) The private operating mode as described in Chapter 4 of NFPA 72 shall be permitted to be used.

(2) Only the attendants and other personnel required to evacuate occupants from a zone, area, floor, or building shall be required to be notified.

(3) Notification of personnel as specified in shall include means to readily identify the zone, area, floor, or building in need of evacuation.

In mall buildings complying with Chapter 27, notification within the covered mall shall be permitted in accordance with Audible alarm notification appliances shall be of such character and so distributed as to be effectively heard above the average ambient sound level occurring under normal conditions of occupancy. Audible alarm notification appliances shall produce signals that are distinctive from audible signals used for other purposes in the same building. Automatically transmitted or live voice evacuation or relocation instructions to occupants shall be permitted and shall be in accordance with NFPA 72. Unless otherwise permitted by another section of this Code, audible and visible fire alarm notification appliances shall comply with either or Audible and visible fire alarm notification appliances shall be used only for fire alarm system or other emergency purposes. Voice communication systems shall be permitted to be used for other purposes, subject to the approval of the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), if the fire alarm system takes precedence over all other signals. Alarm notification signals shall take precedence over all other signals.

Greg Kessinger, SET, CFPS, president of an alarm installing company since 1981, teaches NICET training classes to fire alarm system designers and installers and continuing education seminars for Ohio's fire alarm inspectors. You can reach Greg Kessinger at 888-910-2272; e-mail:; or visit his website at