Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works

Do the Lights have to Turn On if the FACP is in Trouble?

Whereas this requirement isn't exactly written into the NFPA Code, according to the NFPA's definition of the AHJ, if any AHJ requires it, it is required according to the NFPA Code.

Do the Lights have to Turn On if the FACP is in Trouble?

Do the Lights have to Turn On if the FACP is in Trouble?

Greetings Douglas,

I recently have been told that the lighting at my church project has to interlock with fire alarm system. When the Fire Alarm Control Panel (FACP) panel goes into trouble, the house lights have to turn on to 100 percent. I can't find this code anywhere. . . Can you help?

Thank you, MM

This isn't the answer you want, but it's the best answer I can give.

First off, this is the first time I've heard of this particular requirement. I can imagine, though, why it's being required, especially knowing about the sound-shutdown-on-alarm requirements for auditoriums.

However, even if the requirement to ramp up the lights isn't anywhere in the NFPA Codes, there are some considerations that need to addressed before pointing the omission out to the fire marshal.

The NFPA Codes in and of themselves are not the law, and they don't show the best way to protect from fire.

NFPA and the Law

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) isn't a rule making authority; the NFPA is a non-profit publishing house. They gather people together to write guidelines showing the minimum needed to provide good fire protection, and then print some books.

Laws, on the other hand, are formed by the government. Most governments have figured out that the guidelines published by the NFPA far exceed whatever the government authorities can come up with by themselves, and therefore, the governments say that the NFPA's guidelines shall be the law. Many times, because they can, governments will add to the NFPA's guidelines, subtract from the NFPA's guidelines, or change parts of the guidelines.

The fire marshal serves as the government's interpreter for the law. Basically, regardless of what the NFPA prints in its guidelines, what the fire marshal says is the law.

Guidelines are the Minimum Protection

The NFPA's guidelines aren't the best way to do anything; the NFPA's guidelines are the minimum needed to accomplish fire protection. Beware, because the NFPA's guidelines are so complete, missing something shown in the NFPA guidelines is missing something in fire protection.

Keep in mind also, there are better ways to protect from fire. The NFPA allows these better ways to protect from fire to be done.

See: Just Who Is the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)?


In the end, you are not imposing this requirement to ramp-up-the-lights-on-fire-alarm-trouble on the building owner; the government, through the fire marshal, is imposing this requirement on the owner. You are merely helping the owner follow the requirements that the government is putting on the owner.

Douglas Krantz
Life Safety
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