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7.17 Fire Alarm Systems

Fire Alarm System Installation
New and replacement fire alarm systems shall be installed in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 72, the International Building Code, and the appropriate GSA fire alarm system specification.

Special Requirements: The design requirements below supersede the requirements of NFPA 72 and the International Building Code:

  • All new and replacement fire alarm systems shall be addressable systems as defined in NFPA 72.
  • All new and replacement fire alarm systems installed in buildings having a total occupant load of 500 or more occupants or subject to 100 or more occupants below the level of exit discharge shall be a voice/alarm communication system. The voice/alarm communication system shall provide an automatic response to the receipt of a signal indicative of a fire emergency. Manual control capability shall also be provided to notify all occupants either on a selective or all-call basis during an emergency.
  • Fire alarm systems shall not be integrated with other building systems such as building automation, energy management, security, etc. Fire alarm systems shall be self-contained, stand alone systems able to function independently of other building systems.
  • Each fire alarm system shall be provided with a hardwired mini-computer power conditioner to protect the fire alarm system from electrical surges, spikes, sags, over-voltages, brownouts, and electrical noise. The power conditioner shall be U.L. listed and shall have built in overload protection.
  • Wiring supervision for fire alarm systems shall be provided as defined in NFPA 72 as follows: – Interconnected riser loop or network (Style 7 – Class A) – Initiating device circuits (Style B – Class B)
    – Signaling line circuit for each floor (Style 4 – Class B)
    – Signaling line circuit for network (Style 7 – Class A)
    – Notification appliance circuits (Style Y – Class B)
  • All fire alarm system wiring shall be solid copper and installed in conduit. Stranded wiring shall not be used.
  • Conduit shall be rigid metal or electrical metallic tubing, with a minimum inside diameter of 3/4 inch, that utilizes compression type fittings and couplings.

Manual Fire Alarm Stations
Manual fire alarm stations shall be installed in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 72 and the International Building Code.

Special Requirements. The design requirements below supersede the requirements of NFPA 72 and the International Building Code:

Manual fire alarm stations shall be double-action and installed in every facility in accordance with the spacing and location requirements in NFPA 72.

Waterflow
Waterflow switch(es) shall be installed in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 13, NFPA 72 and the International Building Code.

Special Requirements. The design requirements below supersede the requirements of NFPA 72 and the International Building Code:

Waterflow switch(es) shall be installed at each floor or fire area protected by sprinkler systems.

Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors shall be installed in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 72, NFPA 90A, and the International Building Code.

Special Requirements. The design requirements below supersede the requirements of NFPA 72, NFPA 90A, and the International Building Code:

  • Smoke detectors shall not be installed in each of the following rooms: mechanical equipment, electrical closet, telephone closet, emergency generator room, uninterruptible power service and battery rooms, or similar rooms.
  • Appropriate type smoke detection shall be installed in each of the following rooms: electrical switch gear, transformer vaults and telephone exchanges (PABX).

Audible Notification Appliances
Performance, location, and mounting of audible notification appliances shall be in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 72.

Special Requirements. The design requirements below supersede the requirements of NFPA 72:

  • To ensure audible signals are clearly heard, the sound level shall be at least 70 dBA throughout the office space, general building areas and corridors measured 5 feet above the floor. The sound level in other areas shall be at least 15 dBA above the average sound level or 5 dBA above any noise source lasting 60 seconds or longer.
  • The design for the placement and location of all audible notification appliances shall be based on the applicable calculation methods contained in The SFPE Handbook of Fire Protection Engineering for calculating sound attenuation through doors and walls.
  • Where voice communication systems are provided, fire alarm speakers shall be installed in elevator cabs and exit stairways; however they shall only be activated to broadcast live voice messages (e.g., manual announcements only). The automatic voice messages shall be broadcast through the fire alarm speakers on the appropriate floors, but not in stairs or elevator cabs.

Visible Notification Appliances
Placement and spacing of visible notification appliances shall be in accordance with the requirements of NFPA 72.

Special Requirements. The design requirements below supersede the requirements of NFPA 72:

  • Visual notification appliances shall only be installed in projects that involve the installation of a new fire alarm system.
  • Visual notification appliances shall only be required to be installed in public and common areas. For the purposes of this requirement, visual notification appliances shall not be required to be installed in individual offices. Public and common areas include public rest rooms, reception areas, building core areas, conference rooms, open office areas, etc.
  • Visual notification appliance circuits shall have a minimum of 25 percent spare capacity to accommodate additional visual notification appliances being added to accommodate employees who are deaf or have hearing impairments.
  • Visual notification appliances shall not be installed in exit enclosures (i.e., exit stairs, etc.).

Fire Alarm Messages for High Rise Occupancies
Upon receipt of any fire alarm signal, the fire alarm system shall automatically activate a distinctive three-pulse temporal pattern for three (3) cycles followed by the automatic voice messages which shall be repeated until the control panel is reset (i.e., three-pulse temporal pattern - three-pulse temporal pattern - three-pulse temporal pattern - voice message; three-pulse temporal pattern - three-pulse temporal pattern - three-pulse temporal pattern - voice message; etc.).

The automatic voice messages shall be broadcast through the fire alarm speakers on the appropriate floors, but not in stairs or elevator cabs.

The “Fire Zone” message shall be broadcast through speakers on the floor of alarm origin, the floor immediately above the floor of origin, and the floor immediately below the floor of origin. In addition, the visual alarm indicating circuit(s) shall be activated on the floor of alarm origin, the floor immediately above the floor of origin, and one floor immediately below the floor of origin. A first floor alarm shall transmit a “Fire Zone” message to all below grade levels.

The “Safe Area Zone” message shall simultaneously be broadcast to all other building floors. However, the visual alarm indicating circuit(s) shall not be activated on these floors. The “Safe Area Zone” message shall activate for two complete rounds and silence automatically. After five minutes, the “Safe Area Zone” message shall automatically start and activate for two complete rounds and silence again. This sequence shall be repeated until the fire alarm system is reset. In the event a subsequent fire alarm is received at the fire alarm control panel by a floor that was previously receiving a “Safe Area Zone” message, this floor shall automatically revert to perform the actions for a Fire Zone” message.

A live voice message shall override the automatic output through use of a microphone input at the control panel. When using the microphone, live messages shall be broadcast through speakers in stairs, in elevator cabs, and throughout a selected floor or floors. All stairwell speakers shall have a dedicated zone activation switch. All elevator speakers shall have a dedicated zone activation switch. An “All Call” switch shall be provided which activates all speakers in the building simultaneously.

Messages shall be digitized voice and utilize a professional quality male voice and shall be as follows:

  • ”Fire Zone“ Message : ”May I have your attention, please. May I have your attention, please. A fire has been reported which may affect your floor. lease walk to the nearest exit and leave the building. Please do not use the elevators,“ or
  • ”Fire Zone“ Message : ”May I have your attention, please. May I have your attention, please. A fire has been reported which may affect your floor. Please walk to the nearest exit, walk down ___ floors, re-enter the building, walk onto the floor, and await further instructions. Please do not use the elevators.“
  • ”Safe Area Zone“ Message :  "May I have your attention, please. May I have your attention, please. A fire has been reported in another area of the building. You are in a safe area. Please stay in your work area and await further instructions. Please do not use the elevators."

Graphic Annunciator
All fire alarm systems shall have at least one graphic annunciator located at the entrance to the building that the fire department enters.

Survivability
Special Requirements. The requirements below are in addition to the survivability requirements specified in NFPA 72.

  • At least two vertical risers shall be installed as remote as possible from each other. A minimum two-hour fire rated assembly, shaft, or enclosure, not common to both risers shall protect one riser. A minimum one-hour fire rated assembly, shaft, or enclosure shall protect the second riser. A minimum one-hour fire rated assembly, shaft, or enclosure shall protect the horizontal interconnection between the two risers.
  • A minimum of two (2) distinct fire alarm audible appliance circuits and a minimum of two (2) distinct visible appliance circuits shall be provided on each floor.
  • Adjacent fire alarm audible and visual appliances shall be on separate circuits.

Fire Command Center
The fire command center shall be provided in a location approved by the regional fire protection engineer after consultation with the local fire department.

The equipment and contents of the fire command center shall meet the requirements of the International Building Code.

The fire command center shall be enclosed by 1-hour fire resistant construction. Appropriate lighting, ventilation, and emergency lighting shall be provided.


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