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Is There a Reference Book that Shows Fire Alarm Layout?

By Douglas Krantz | Life-Safety

Is There a Reference Book that Shows Fire Alarm Layout?

Is There a Reference Book that Shows Fire Alarm Layout?

Greetings Douglas,

Can you suggest a book that gives example of addressable fire alarm layouts and the rules behind them? I'm mostly interested in multi-family.

Examples I am hoping to learn are things like where horn strobes, strobes, heat detectors, CO [Carbon Monoxide] detectors are required.

Top of stairs, bottom of stairs and the landings in between, bedrooms, hallway, kitchens, basements and things like that....

I have all the NFPA code, but I am a draftsman who does drawings for a master electrician who has no time to train.

He pulls the permits so he has to check my work and make changes, but no time to explain the rules.

I am slowly catching on and a good book on the subject would be really helpful.

Thank You, SA

A book that provides example addressable fire alarm layouts does not exist, as such. There're just too many variations on buildings, there are too many manufacturers and the manufacturers have too many variations on their systems, and the standards are changing far too often to try to publish generic examples that can be used universally for many years.

Helpful Reference Books

As references that you have, the International Business Code (IBC) and the National Fire Protection Association's NFPA 101 are good references to show the kind of fire protection is needed in the different occupancies. When studying these, pay particular attention to the exceptions; the brief exceptions can affect far more than the long descriptions.

The NFPA 72 and the International Fire Code (IFC), along with the NFPA 70 National Electrical Code (NEC), are all good references detailing several different types of fire alarm systems.

Both the NFPA 72 and the NFPA 70 (NEC) are available in a handbook. The handbooks cost more, but I find the handbooks far better than just the code. (I can understand the handbooks.) The handbooks are available right next to the actual code books on the NFPA website. The Code is just a list of laws, but the handbooks explain the Code.

Keep in mind that there are several different fire alarm types, and the IBC or the NFPA 101 is used by fire departments to show what kind of fire alarm system types are needed in a particular type of occupancy.

On the NFPA web site,, other books are available. They also have a new service called NFPA Link. I haven't tried it, but it does look at least a little interesting.

Fire Marshal

The fire marshal represents the law of the land. In general, what the fire marshal says, goes. The National Fire Protection Association, Inc. is a book publisher, the NFPA's books can easily be overruled by the fire marshal.

See if it's possible to tag along with the fire marshal on the inspections that occur for the Certificate of Occupancy. You can learn a lot of what the fire marshal is looking for.

IBC and NFPA 101

The IBC (International Building Code) and NFPA 101 are what the fire marshal is looking at before considering the NFPA 72 or NEC. Whereas the NFPA 72 and NEC show what is needed for a particular fire alarm system, the IBC and NFPA 101 show what kind of fire alarm system is needed for a particular type of occupancy.

For the fire marshal, the IBC or NFPA 101 comes first, and then the NFPA 72 and NEC.

Douglas Krantz
Life Safety
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