Fire Alarm Notification
by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Jul 31, 2020 12:00:00 AM
Q: Our hospital facility is 800,000 square feet with several of our buildings connected by tunnels. We have fire alarm panels (slaves) in each of the buildings that are connected to the main fire alarm control panel located in our main hospital Security office which is staffed 24/7. Is it a requirement to notify each building occupant of an actual alarm? We also do overhead paging when the fire alarm is initiated with a coded announcement, although the paging system is only in the main hospital where fire alarm control panel is located. Is there a requirement to notify all occupants throughout the facility or only in the area of alarm?
A: Per NFPA 72-2010, section 188.8.131.52.1 & 2, the alarm notification should only be in the building that is in alarm. There are other, more subtle reasons such as the intent of hospital private mode signaling should be to alert responding staff, not occupants, but these two code references are direct:
184.108.40.206.1 Notification zones shall be consistent with the emergency response or evacuation plan for the protected premises.
220.127.116.11.2 The boundaries of notification zones shall be coincident with building outer walls, building fire or smoke compartment boundaries, floor separations, or other fire safety subdivisions.
Assuming there is a proper immediate response team in each non-evacuation building at all times, their response team isn’t coming from a different building, so you don’t need to notify other buildings. The only issue I could see is a potential of specific engineering or security staff being in a different building when an alarm is activated. However, most facilities use an in-house pager, phone or radio to alert these folks.