Grill The Fire Expert

Fire Alarm Requirements for Two Phone Lines Q: I have a customer with a day care facility located in their home. What are their fire alarm requirements for having two phone lines?
S. Squarepants

A: Because your state has adopted the International Building Code (2003 edition), you will find the requirements for this use group defined in Chapter Three - Use and Occupancy Classification. You will find listed under Section 310, all the different buildings (and parts of buildings) that make up the "Residential, Group R" use type. The first main paragraph reads:

310.1 Residential Group R. Residential Group R includes, among others, the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, for sleeping purposes when not classified as an Institutional Group I.

This paragraph is saying that, if you slip between the cracks of the "R" occupancy definitions, then you will default to the "I, Institutional" requirements. Since your client has five kids they are caring for, "R-3" looks like it fits your situation:

"R-3 Residential occupancies where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature and not classified as R- 1, R-2, R-4 or I and where buildings do not contain more than two dwelling units as applicable in Section 101.2, or adult and child care facilities that provide accommodations for five or fewer persons of any age for less than 24 hours and child care facilities that are within a single-family home..."

The IBC still tends to view these as "residential" even though they are technically operating a (day care) business.

907. Groups R-2, R-3, R-4 and I-1. Single- or multiple-station smoke alarms shall be installed and maintained in Groups R-2, R-3, R-4 and I-i, regardless of occupant load at all of the following locations:

  1. On the ceiling or wall outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms.
  2. In each room used for sleeping purposes.
  3. In each story within a dwelling unit, including basements but not including crawlspaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling, units with split-levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.

A fire alarm system (with a control panel) is permitted to replace "inter-connected smoke alarms" providing the system is installed according to the residential rules of NFPA. 72. When you look up the residential rules in the 1999 edition of NFPA 72 (that's the edition year referred to by the 2003 IBC,), the installation rules are in Chapter 8 for fire alarm systems. You can start with 8-4.3. Section 8-4.3 states that Supervising Station fire alarm systems in dwelling units "only requires a single telephone line..."

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