Could the professionals in the group let me know how your fire departments are interpreting NFPA 72 "Central Station Service" requirements. Some of our cities and counties in Florida are requiring "Central Station Service" for all commercial fire alarm installations. Their interpretation is that all commercial fire alarms must be UL or FM certificated or placarded in order to comply. Even though UL & FM are not licensed. Your ideas and comments are welcome. Thanks
They like paying the extra costs? That means the company installing must be capable of issuing a "certificate" on the system. Baltimore County here in Maryland has the same requirement (although usually this is an insurance company request). It's great, it's limit's installation's to about 3 area companies, jacks up the price, and triples the annual cost of monitoring and maintenance. It's a great money maker for companies who have the money to comply. Doesn't do shit for reality, if the city/town/county is capable of doing their job. It's a way for AHJ's to say "I'm out of the picture once it's installed correctly". Sort of like a Union Install, with recurring revenue. ;-)
As one of those stupid jackasses at NFPA, I'd like to respond. I don't work for NFPA, I'm a volunteer on a technical committee along with thousands of other volunteers who spend their own time and money on a regular basis to improve codes and standards. A butt load of us are in Orlando this week to work on the 2007 version of NFPA 72.
You're right badenov, it's a terminology problem. It has to do more with history than anything else. Committee members have improved the verbiage and continue to do so, but we need your help. You're a smart guy (I assume or you'd use natasha) and I challenge you and all naysayers who spend time wailing and gnashing your teeth when trying to apply code language to the real world. I challenge you to submit proposals to change the language. To make it easier to use. In the back of every NFPA standard is a form to submit a proposal. Heck, I'll fill the form out for you. Just email the exisitng code language to me along with your proposed change and I'll prepare the document with your name on it and submit it for you.
It's not a rotten system and it doesn't mainly benefit UL, NFPA, and large alarm companies. It (our system of building codes and installation standards) is the result of our industry's consenus as to how to balance life safety and property protection with available resources. If you don't like it, fix it! Propose changes, make comments to proposed changes, vote, and participate!
I feel better now. Thanks.
-- Michael B. Baker, SET Michael Baker & Associates, Inc. PO Box 737 Gladstone, OR 97027-0737
Well hey there. We finally got one of them to admit it.
Yeh sure. That's just the first thing that anyone wants to do. Is sit down with a bunch of fat, cigar smoking good ol boys, with american flags on their sleeves and baseball caps, who are out to pat themselves and each other on the back for screwing up the alarm trade year after year. Isn't this the Credo:
Wah ifen we-all kin save ONE leif by mekin up a nue rool, wah we-all are jus gunna do it. Jus you-all niver mine how muchin it cos enyone to foller those there rools, er how much it cos the en user, Price is no limit. We jus gots to keep on mekin them up, so we kin keeps on selen them rools. Dowin mek no difrence ifin they meks cense er not, jus keep mekin them up. Yehp uh huh. Oh yeh, an the more dificult we meks em, the more we can gets the money to go to them there big compneys on the board. Uh huh Uh huh You betchm.
It's a terminology problem. Too many fire marshals fail to understand that there is a difference between a system that is monitored by a central station, and "central station fire alarm service." They hear the system is monitored by a central station, they turn to the "central station" section of NFPA 72, and they start asking for certificates. They can read the code, but they don't understand what they are reading. They don't realize that most fire systems that are monitored by a central station are actually remote station systems.
I blame the stupid jackasses at NFPA for continuing to use this confusing terminology.
For readers who aren't familiar with the code, real "central station fire alarm service" requires dispatching runners (guard, service tech, someone other than the property owner) within two hours on things like a closed sprinkler shutoff valve. Repairs must begin within four hours after a trouble signal is received. This gets expensive, and it tends to cut the smaller dealers out of the fire alarm market.
It's a rotten system, and it mainly benefits UL, NFPA, and large alarm companies.
No Bill, there's nothing wrong with it. You have to understand, these codes, and the other code books, are guidelines. They're not the hard core directives...but they can be. Perception often can get taken out of context, and some people can often refer to them as mandated. The biggest problem I see in the Fire Alarm Industry is not the NFPA, but the failure to communicate with local AHJ's. They need that warm and fuzzy, and rightfully so. There are a lot of idiots out there installing equipment with no clue of even what the guidelines are. Perception, and assumption can be dangerous words in this environment.
I'm more familiar with electrical codes, and in that case, you need to buy the code book to read the codes (so far as I know). Some small town libraries can't afford to buy the latest codes each year.
There are a lot of people these days who seek information on the internet. I feel it would be better if people could read the codes on the internet for free.
I guess the funding for these organizations comes from the sale of the code books?
Anyway I feel that more people would follow the codes if certain sections could be quoted on internet forums.
Then after quoting the code, the person requesting the information will say "That's a silly rule!".
Then other more experienced people can at that point say "Hey, that rule is in place because x number of people have died in the past due to not having that safety feature in place, etc. And that these codes are in place to protect YOU basically, etc.
Some of these people do not get permits or get their work inspected, but when it is pointed out *why* they should follow certain codes, I think they do so for their own safety.
So I think if the goal is protection of life and property, then the codes should be very accessible to the public at large (internet).
Perhaps funding for these organizations could come from another source such as a surcharge or tax on building permits?
Are you familiar with electrical codes? Or just where to find them...
Yes, I agree...everything in life should be free. Forget our Heritage, values, education, experience...it would end poverty, racism, un-equality, and put all the nutbars in the world on the same playing field.
Not for Profit. An ugly American term for benefiting equality, and the under priviledged.
Not so. You'd have every Tom, Dick, and Harry implementing his interpretation of guideline for safety. Some people actually aquire years of experience, and education before becomming successful at it.
80% of the population would end up killing themselves, or others interpreting, what is silly.
That's all they're there for. Do you have any idea how many Americans died while installing the high voltage power lines of the early days? How many homes were lost to electrical incidents? How many people lost their lives before smoke detectors were mandated? The codes were writen to provide "minimum" safety standards. They illustrate how things should be safely, and correctly installed. They are "enforcecable"** guidelines.
They are. So are law books. Does that mean we should all be priviledged to practice law? Why not? The books are available...
Move to Missouri, you can pay a tax for everything associated in your life...and I mean everything!
No secrets. I'll assume that the rule in question, in this case, is the difference between these two definitions found in NFPA 72-2002 Chapter
3.3.27 Central Station Service. The use of a system or a group of systems in which the operations of circuits and devices at a protected property are signaled to, recorded in, and supervised from a listed central station that has competent and experienced operators who, upon receipt of a signal, take such action as required by this Code. Related activities at the protected property, such as equipment installation, inspection, testing, maintenance, and runner service, are the responsibility of the central station or a listed fire alarm service local company. Central station service is controlled and operated by a person, firm, or corporation whose business is the furnishing of such contracted services or whose properties are the protected premises. (SIG-SSS)
184.108.40.206 Central Station Fire Alarm System. A system or group of systems in which the operations of circuits and devices are transmitted automatically to, recorded in, maintained by, and supervised from a listed central station that has competent and experienced servers and operators who, upon receipt of a signal, take such action as required by this Code. Such service is to be controlled and operated by a person, firm, or corporation whose business is the furnishing, maintaining, or monitoring of supervised fire alarm systems. (SIG-SSS)
Yes Jackcsg, your're right, model building codes and NFPA standards are guidelines, but as you say, they can be hard core directives. In my state (Oregon), the International Building Code, International Fire Code, et al is the model building code that was modifed, supplemented, and adopted as statutory law by the legislature. The IBC references several installation standards, including NFPA 70 and NFPA 72, which by reference, becomes Oregon state law.
Regarding communication, again, your'e dead on! Communicating with your local AHJ is paramount to your success. For example, you've got to meet the requirements of your building, electrical, elevator, and fire inspector before the building official issues a certificate of occupancy for that new building that you're installing a fire alarm system in. Unless you communicate early and often with your AHJ, your'e not going to know what their requirements are!
A recent US supreme court ruling (or lack thereof) indicates to me that state building codes (and electrical codes, and mechanical codes, etc.) are considered to be in the public domain and therefore should be available for free, plus delivery costs (printing or downloading or whatever). As you suggest, a small local surcharge on building permits should be able to make local building codes available on line.
I think public and easy internet access to building codes would be a good thing.
Of course the people who know how to properly and safely build/wire buildings, have easy access to building codes. But those who need it the most (the do-it-yourselfer), do not currently have easy access to these codes.
I'm always preaching to these people that building codes are there to protect you, your family, and your property. And that getting a building permit is a very inexpensive way to get expert advice, and to have someone double-check your work to be somewhat sure it is constructed in a safe manner
FYI - Following is an OSHA link for safely using a "chainsaw" and logging work. I like this type of "instruction" for the internet. It might save a few lives if something similar could be done with building codes too. (Click on an area of the picture to get life saving advice...)
I've submitted code changes before, via the formal procedure. Never had one adopted. Back when I was young, I actually believed people would care about my opinions, if they were well thought out. In my old age, I've come to the conclusion that nobody gives a damn about my opinion. So be it, I won't waste my time making proposals.
I used to be a member of NFPA, until I discovered that I wasn't allowed to vote unless I traveled to wherever the NFPA convention was. Otherwise, some damn fireman who traveled at taxpayer expense gets to vote, but a working alarm dealer who can't take a week off and travel to the other side of the country is disenfranchised. Screw that!
And take a look at how the size of NFPA 72 has grown in recent years. You know it's never going to get any smaller. A hundred years from now, the standard will be the size of a dictionary, and we'll all have to be lawyers to understand it.
That's really the crux of my dissatisfaction with the NFPA: it's run by anal-retentive people who love to impose detailed requirements on other people. It's not about life safety, it's about micromanaging. And you've succeeded in co-opting the fire service, so your micromanaging gets turned into law.
Now, you want to micromanage burglar alarms. You have the idiotic idea that if you write detailed standards and inspect the hell out of everything, false alarms will vanish from the face of the earth.
But getting back to "central station service" vs. "central station monitoring," the solution to this confusing terminology is to come up neutral names for the type of service provided. For example, in short form:
Class C1 fire alarm monitoring: Monitoring of alarm, supervisory, and trouble signals by a UL listed or FM approved central station. Upon receipt of an alarm signal, the central station shall transmit the alarm to the fire department and notify the property owner or his designated representative. Upon receipt of a supervisory signal, the central station shall notify the property owner or his designated representative. Upon receipt of a trouble signal, the central station shall notify the alarm company that is contractually obligated to provide repairs, and also the property owner or his designated representative.
Class C2 fire alarm monitoring: (insert current definition of "central station service", without calling it that.)
By all means, submit that. For all the good it will do.
wrote in message news: email@example.com...
And the biggest question is: What year code books are they currently implementing? Without question, this lack of communication is what gets many dealers in trouble, and makes them flee from doing commercial fire alarms. But the other problems arise out of the education process of being able to submit this information ahead of time. I can't often for the life of me figure out why so many dealers just can't grasp the concept of submitting cheap paperwork, before commiting to the installation of expensive equipment. I think the process should be better defined. I know it has little to do with safety in conjunction with the codes, but I feel that many AHJ's are lacking in providing the guidanance of an effective process. It is a simple process to implement, and I've seen various forms of it across the Nation. Anywhere from requiring UL certification, NICET certification, Engineering certification, to nothing at all, pay me later. Problem is that word "experience". It's starting to mean very little, and sometimes, rightly so. I've gotten to the point where I just say "show me". I've also learned that AHJ's often function at the same way of thinking, "show me". Having a layer of communication with an AHJ builds trust, regardless of all the "experience", and "certifications" a company can invest in. It all starts by submitting your professional intentions, conversing with AHJ's, and implementing a safe and viable solution for the protection of life and property.
Absolutely. Is the NFPA documentation the only code book needed for a fire alarm installation? What does a Fire Inspector know about electrical wiring? What does a Wiring Inspector know about device location? Battery loads? Wire sizing? etc. etc.
I believe the process is simple. Want to do a professional fire alarm installation: Contact the AHJ, introduce yourself, and notify him of the intentions. Submit a Scope of work. A master device location plan. Riser diagrams. Cut sheets on the devices, and FACP. Be on the same page as the AHJ before the installation. Do the same with the customer. Make sure the installation goes hand and hand with your submittals. Submit a Test and Acceptance Report, and As-Built drawings with your final submittal. Stay in contact with the AHJ for the life of that system insuring it's maintained properly according to NFPA guidelines. Get involved...Stay involved.
8.2 Fire Alarm Systems for Central Station SERVICE ...
3.3.27 Central Station SERVICE. The use of a system or a group of systems in which the operations of circuits and devices at a protected property are signaled to, recorded in, and supervised from a listed central station that has competent and experienced operators who, upon receipt of a signal, take such action as required by this Code. Related
activities at the protected property, such as equipment installation, inspection, testing, maintenance, and runner service, are the responsibility of the central station or a listed fire alarm service local company. Central station service is controlled and operated by a person, firm, or corporation whose business is the furnishing of such contracted services or whose properties are the protected premises.
Central Station Service includes these 6 items:
4) Record keeping
6) Runner service
Items 2, 3, & 4 can be provided by a listed central station.
So you see, a central station system is not central station service, however, central station service may include a central station system.
Another way to put it is some AHJs require the moon and the sun so to cover their butts if "anything" should go wrong. I wonder whether they'd rethink their position on this if they had to pay out that kind of cash for a fire alarm system. Perhaps they'd think twice about making others do it when it's not really necessary.
I'm all for fire safety, but I'm not especially keen on throwing dollars needlessly at an installation just so an AHJ can feel comfortable at night when they go to bed :-). At the same time, I've seen AHJs who require very little. There ought to be a balance (while still observing code) with a good helping of common sense thrown in to boot.
Who do "you" think would be more incline to cut corners/cost at the time of install? There might be a reason why the $99.00 fire alarm installation doesn't exist. I don't think (most) AHJ's are out to rule the world.
I did a fire alarm install (subcontract) in the District of Columbia about ten years ago. The prime contractor decided there wasn't a need to get the AHJ involved. I spent 3 weeks installing a commercial grade fire alarm in a donated existing house that was going to be used for housing autistic teenagers. It failed inspection! It failed because the entire system needed to be installed in either pipe, or red striped MC cable, even if the wires were fished up the walls, and un-exposed. DC also does not allow electronic horn/strobes, they must be motorized bell, including one placed on the outside of the building. Down side: There were 6 houses I did before the request for inspection. Three weeks at each house...Needless to say "I" have a good relationship with that inspector. Fail to communicate...pay the price. The customer didn't feel a thing.
Thanks for all your comments. Getting opinions by the professionals of this group is a big help. We here in the State of Florida are being challenged by some local municipalities when it comes to commercial fire alarm systems. The AHJ's in these south Florida cities and counties are requiring UL or FM listing on every commercial fire alarm system, because of the way they are interpreting NFPA 72. Seems they think that NFPA 72 requires all systems to have "Central Station Service" and that means Certificated or Placarded. They also know that State law does not allow them to require more than a State license, but they don't care about Florida statutes that covers the license holders. Are there any other States that are faced with this type of certificated or placarded requirements, enforced only by the AHJ's?