Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
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How can I Learn and Understand the NFPA 72 Code Book?

By itself, the NFPA Code book is hard to read, it's written in legal-ease. The NFPA provides help in understanding the legal-ease in the form of a Handbook.

I have a question about something


Greetings Douglas,

I have been working with fire alarm system for some years now. I know what is required for some jobs based on experience from previous installations.

I am interested to learn and understand the how to use NFPA 72 code book.

I am from the Caribbean where the are currently using the 2007 version of NFPA72. I have some basic questions that I need answers for, like:
  • What are the different types or classification of fire alarm system? I am not speaking about conventional and addressable.
  • What are the requirements for each classification of system?
  • Where can I learn how to understand and use NFPA 72 properly?

Once I have the plans, I can install a system, but I need to know more about what is needed when and where.

Looking forward for your help thanks much in advance.

Thank you, K L

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code Books are really legal code that can be written into governments' laws. The Code is written to show the minimum requirements to make an adequate detect-and-warn fire alarm system.

I find the NFPA Code books to be extremely difficult to apply to real life situations. Yes, the code needs to be "complied with", but it is written so that lawyers, lawmakers, and those enforcing laws can understand it.

The NFPA Code becomes easy to understand when you know what the intent of the Code is and some of the thought of the writers of the Code. That information is included in the NFPA's Handbook.

Recommended Reading

I recommend purchasing the "NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code Handbook". It has the complete official NFPA Code, and included along with the Code are lots of explanations about what the Code means.

Basically, explaining what the fire alarm system should look like, the NFPA 72 Code itself is legal-talk; explaining what the NFPA means with the legal-talk, the Handbook has added comments (using terms that even I can understand) to help show what the Code means. They even use illustrations.

Yes, the Handbook is more expensive. However, to get an understanding of what is meant by the legal terms shown in the codebook, the added explanations are worth much more than the extra expense.

The Handbook is available in hardbound, in softbound, or even in electronic form for desktop or mobile devices on the official NFPA website --- https://catalog.nfpa.org.


The Handbook is where I found out what is meant in the different Classifications of the Signal Path, and how the paths are supposed to operate.

Douglas Krantz
Mr. Krantz

Thank you for your responses. I will purchase the hand book and provide you with a feedback.

Thank you, K L

Based on his electronics training, and his understanding of Life Safety, Douglas Krantz has compiled his knowledge of Conventional Fire Alarm Systems into the book Make It Work - Conventional Fire Alarms. The book covers the basics of the Conventional Fire Alarm System, and shows how Life Safety and internal supervision affects the fire alarm system.

Douglas Krantz -- Fire Alarm Engineering Technician, Electronic Designer, Electronic Technician, Writer

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