Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
Get the Book Make It Work - Convetional Fire Alarms
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Does an Extra Monitoring Method Require a Permit?

Does an Extra Monitoring Method Require a Permit?


Does an Extra Monitoring Method Require a Permit?


Greetings Douglas,

I thought I would reach out to you with a question that has stumped me.

I have a large corporate campus that wants to network all of the FACPs [Fire Alarm Control Panels] for each individual building to their central private security location. Their individual systems at each building are not affected and they continue to be monitored as required by code. If their private network were to fail - it would not affect the primary alarm systems.

I can find nothing applicable in NFPA 72. I'm wondering - "Do they even need a permit for this?"

I value your opinion and expertise. If you have time - I would appreciate your feedback.

Thank you, D P - County Plans Examiner

The National Fire Protection Association, Inc. (NFPA) is a non-profit publishing house. The NFPA doesn't make laws, laws are made by governments, the NFPA prints books.

The NFPA, however, gets together groups of people who are interested in fire protection. These people figure out minimum requirements to make an adequate fire alarm system. The NFPA prints these minimum requirements in a "Legal Code" format that can be used in government law-codes. Governments then say, "We can't do any better; we'll make this our law."

Because these are minimum requirements, fire alarm systems can always be made better. Any Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) can require more than the NFPA has shown in the legal code; sometimes the AHJ can just allow more than the NFPA has in the legal code. The NFPA itself talks about who qualifies as an AHJ.

See:

Just Who Is the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)?

From what you say, this "private network" is in addition to an outside monitoring station, and it isn't relied on as the primary means of communicating alarms to the fire department.

You, as an AHJ representing the government, can:
  1. Require this system to follow the rules set out in the NFPA 72 "Proprietary Supervising Station Fire Alarm System"
  2. Forbid this system because, in the future, the campus owners might quit using the regular monitoring system
  3. Say that this is a good idea, but it requires a permit of some sorts to make sure the system is kept up
  4. Say that this is a good idea, no permit is required, but as long as the system there, keep it working

You also might have other ideas.

Just remember that the NFPA itself says that you as an AHJ have freedom to require more than the "Code", or allow more that the "Code". This is because the "Code" doesn't show the best means of protecting from fires, the "Code" only shows an adequate means of protecting from fire. You, as an AHJ can require more than the "Code", and you as an AHJ can allow more than the "Code".

Douglas Krantz


Mr. Krantz

Perfect. Your answer helped me focus and set priorities. Really appreciate it.

Thank you, D P - County Plans Examiner

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facpdoug@douglaskrantz.com
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