Class A Fire Alarm Loops
By Douglas Krantz
Photo Courtesy Integrated Fire & Security
Class A Loop wiring can be used for conventional loops, or addressable
loops. A Detection loop can be Class A, or a Notification Loop (fire horns
and strobes) can Class A.
Fire alarm systems save lives and protect property.
Fire alarm systems
also break down because they're electrical.
Class A or Class B wiring loops help the fire alarm panel to find these
breakdowns (faults) before a fire, while there is time for repairs.
Class B Loops
Class B Loops
, all devices are daisy-chained together. By watching a small electrical
current passing through the wires, the panel supervises them, and to limit
this supervising current, at the end of the daisy-chain is an end-of-line
resistor. The panel constantly watches for this current.
Normal Class B wiring - All devices are supervised and working.
Open Fault in the Class B wiring. Supervision tells the panel that the wiring does
not go through, but also the devices further from the panel don't work.
stops flowing, the panel assumes a wire is broken (an open fault), and displays
a trouble. When a wire breaks in Class B, the devices closest to the panel
will still work, but because of the wire break, the devices further from
the panel are cut off.
Class A Loops
Normal Class A wiring - All devices are supervised and working.
Under normal conditions, Class A Loops are similar to Class B Loops, but with an
To keep more devices working, Class A uses a second path from the fire alarm
panel; a redundant wire loop goes around the broken wire. A fire can still
be detected, because, using this redundant path, most, if not all, devices
on the loop remain connected to the panel.
Class A wiring takes error detection further than Class B. If a wire breaks, the
panel uses a redundant wire path to maintain communication with devices
beyond the break. Here even though a wire is broken, all devices work.
when the fire alarm panel
detects an open wire
in the Class A Loop, it automatically switches tousing two separate
un-supervised Class B loops. The first one is the original Class A loop,
and second one back-feeds on the separate pair of wires to make the second
Class B loop.
Most of the devices on the original Class A loop will be on either the first
or the second Class B loop.
Separation on Class A Wiring Routes
True Class A wiring schemes, though, make sure to protect this redundant loop path
by routing it through the building on a separate route.
The concern here is that whatever breaks a wire in the first loop might
break all the wires in the same bundle. An example: A forklift tears through
all the wires in a bundle at once. If both wiring routes use the same wire
bundle, and the whole bundle of wires is broken, and all the devices beyond
the break will not communicate with the panel.
In that case, Class A wiring will not be any better than Class B.
The NFPA Code does allow for some exceptions, but mostly the code says the
outgoing wiring path and the incoming wiring path should be separated by
Resetting Class A Troubles
Most fire alarm panels automatically restore trouble messages when the trouble
is repaired. However, because the Class A Loop isn't supervised the same
way as Class B Loops, the fire alarm panel can't detect corrections.
In these cases, after correcting the open fault, resetting the panel will
clear the trouble message.
Bottom Line for Class A
Class A Loop wiring uses both a primary wire path, and a redundant secondary wire
When a wire breaks, by using both paths, devices are still able to communicate
with the fire panel.
Ken said -
On a class a system, how far can you run a SLC circuit in the same conduit (there
and back) to pick up 1 smoke device? I believe it's 10' from panel to
j-box to where you split and go your different ways, but not positive
about a single device. Also, redundant conduit has to be either 4' horizontal
or 1' vertical? Is that correct?
Douglas Krantz -
According to NFPA72 2007 18.104.22.168.2, the wiring to and from devices from the fire
alarm panel cannot run in the same cable, enclosure, or raceway. The
idea behind using Class A over Class B is a higher level of survivability:
even when a single wire is broken during a fire, Class A wiring provides
the fire alarm system the ability to fully function.
The exceptions talked about in the question above, are for the wiring
inside conduit, not for free-wiring inside walls or ceilings. The wiring
to a single smoke detector does not seem to have a distance limit, because
the loss of all four conductors in a single conduit during a fire would
spell the loss of only a single smoke detector.
Allowing for practical wiring while still providing the protection of
Class A, the 1', 4', and 10' limits are common sense exceptions.
I'll Send You the
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Douglas Krantz | Technical Writer -- Describing How It Works
6520 Irving Ave So, Richfield, MN, 55423, USA | firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone / Text 612/232-1835
Copyright 2011-2015 Douglas Krantz Technical Writer -- Describing How It Works