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Fire Alarm Testing

by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Jul 1, 2020 1:00:24 AM

Q: A local authority stated that when performing the annual fire alarm inspection our service contractor needs to write up areas that have no smoke detection. Smoke detection was not required in those areas when the local authority accepted the fire alarm system when it was originally installed. Is the service contractor required to inspect the fire alarm system as it is installed, or are they required to make recommendations for additional coverage that is not currently in place?

A: According to NFPA, CMS, and all accreditation organizations, your service contractor who is conducting the test of the fire alarm system has no obligation to identify any areas where smoke detection is not provided. If you are a hospital, there are very few locations where smoke detection is actually required:

  • Areas open to the corridor that are not under direct supervision
  • Near doors held open by magnetic hold-open devices
  • In the room where fire alarm control panels (including NAC panels) are located and not under direct observation
  • In elevator shafts (there are some exceptions)
  • In elevator mechanical rooms
  • In areas under specialized protected measure locks as identified under
  • In areas under a FSES equivalency request that is taking credit for smoke detection

That’s all of the areas where NFPA requires smoke detectors in a hospital. Quite honestly, you don’t want a service technician from your fire alarm contractor to be making any judgement calls regarding where smoke detectors are required, because service technicians are typically not qualified designers of fire alarm systems. In other words, they may not have the knowledge where smoke detectors are required and where they are not required in a hospital. I don’t know what your local AHJ is thinking… it may be just a personal preference on his part. Ask him to show you the code or regulation that requires it.

Topics:Fire AlarmInspection & Maintenance (Fire Detection SysteTesting (Fire Detection Systems)

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