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Is There a Law Requiring Removal of Abandoned Fire Alarm Devices?

By Douglas Krantz | Life-Safety

Is There a Law Requiring Removal of Abandoned Fire Alarm Devices?

Is There a Law Requiring Removal of Abandoned Fire Alarm Devices?

Greetings Douglas,

I'll get right to my question. What NFPA code reference requires the removal of a retired/non-functional device from an Automated Fire Alarm system. I have believed over the years that "IF" a Fire Alarm system is no longer in use, then it must be physically removed from the system.

I have not been unsuccessful finding any reference in the IBC, NFPA 1, 72, nor 101.

My example would be, if the manual pull stations in elevator lobbies are disabled from the fire alarm system, and a fire emergency occurs, the inactive pull stations are useless because they produce no results. Then the facility is destroyed, and people who are not notified and could die. What IFC, NFPA or IBC code reference provides guidelines for this condition? Please advise.

Thank You, MG

To understand this, the actual fire alarm authority structure needs to be understood.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the International Building Code (IBC) are publications. By themselves, they are not rule making authorities. Instead, the government is the authority making the rules we have to live by.

The government has a representative - the fire marshal. If the fire marshal says that something needs to be fixed, that becomes an issue for the owner of a building. This is because the fire marshal can say, "Fix it or move out."

Also, the publications from the NFPA and the IBC are aimed at new construction. Besides being concerned with new construction, the fire marshal is concerned with fire protection in currently used and occupied buildings.

Job Functions

The issues here have bottom-up solutions.

The first step is carried out by the fire alarm service technician or the technician performing the Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM). When a device, like a pull station or manual call point is found not to work, that device should be treated like any other fire alarm device that doesn't work: it has failed the inspection.

The failed device should be written up in the CYA paperwork. It doesn't matter why the pull station doesn't work; the pull station doesn't work. By writing it up in the CYA paperwork or inspection report, the technician has protected themself in case something goes horribly wrong.

Next, the fire alarm company gives the written estimate to the owner in the CYA proposal. By proposing to correct the failure, in writing, the fire alarm company has protected itself in case something goes horribly wrong.

Usually, by this time, the owner sees that this is in writing.

You are correct, though. The problem isn't with the paperwork and litigation; the problem is with people's lives. It would be nice if the building owner thought of protecting people's lives by removing the abandoned pull station, but some people don't want to do things unless there's a law.

Besides the NFPA and the IBC, there's a whole lot of other publications, and a whole lot of government laws regarding the abandoned pull station. This is important. And the fire marshal, being concerned with life-safety and property protection, knows all of the laws.

If the owner has decided not to correct a written problem with the building (an abandoned pull station is a problem with the building), there's not much you can do because you are not the law. You'll have to leave it up to the fire marshal to enforce the government's law.

Douglas Krantz
Life Safety
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