The NFPA 72-2019 edition marks the most sweeping changes to this standard in decades. More than 200 updates are included, ranging from minor edits of terminology to major new processes. The broad reach of NFPA 72 impacts architects, engineers, contractors and building owners/managers. Whether your jurisdiction has already adopted the 2019 edition of NFPA 72, or is planning to soon, it’s important to know what updates have been made. Here are some of the most significant changes that you need to know:
Elevator Recall and Evacuations
As buildings become smarter, they create new opportunities to use elevators for evacuation in emergencies. Because of this, the sections for both Fire Service Access Elevators and Occupant Evacuation Elevators (OEEs) were extensively updated. Emphasis is placed on the programming and interface between the fire alarm and the elevator controller. The systems now need to convey greater details such as which smoke alarms are active, how the fire is progressing in an area and whether the fire has spread to another floor or compartment. This data will help to improve the evacuation process.
Likewise, the elevator controller needs to start providing greater details to the fire alarm system including location of the elevator car and how long will it take to get to the landing. This information is used to provide voice instructions to various floors as well as textual displays indicating when the elevator will be arriving.
The requirements for elevator recall, power shutdown and fire service requirements have been modified as well to harmonize with the elevator standards. There have been a few changes with verbiage and those have been aligned with the ASME A17 elevator and escalator code set.
Tighter integration of fire alarm and elevator systems will result in a greater demand on the type of maintenance and testing. Building owners will now need to coordinate with both fire alarm and elevator inspectors to be on site at the same time in order to test all systems as an integrated solution.
Carbon Monoxide Detection
NFPA 720 Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment was first published in 1998 with many editions that followed. The similarities in NFPA 72 and NFPA 720 required additional coordination of both the NFPA 720 and NFPA 72 Technical Committees. Because of this, the Standards Council decided to halt the development of NFPA 720 and place all carbon monoxide requirements into NFPA 72 – creating a single standard for carbon monoxide detection, notification and signaling content.
Integrating requirements for life safety and carbon monoxide within one standard allows designers, installers and inspectors to reference a single document for the information they need. It also clears up any correlation issues between the two standards.
Reducing Nuisance Alarms
Effective January 1, 2022, NFPA 72-2019 requires that all newly installed household smoke alarms meet UL Listing specifications to distinguish between smoke generated by routine cooking and smoke generated from potentially serious sources, such as furniture. The update is in response to research showing that people frequently disable smoke alarms due to false alarms caused by cooking. In more than half of reported fires where smoke alarms do not operate, the batteries are missing and the system is deactivated.
This change is pushing manufacturers to design smoke detection sensors that are more discriminating between different types of smoke so fewer occupants feel the need to disable their devices. The update is in support of the new listing requirements from UL 268 and UL 217 and marks the most significant lifesaving change to smoke alarms and smoke detectors since the 1960s when they first came to market.
The 2019 edition of NFPA 72 also mandates that as of January 1, 2022 any smoke alarm installed within 20 feet (10 feet for photoelectric alarms) of a stationary or fixed cooking appliance must be specifically listed for installation in close proximity to cooking appliances. NFPA 72 provides requirements on where to locate (and not locate) smoke alarms to minimize unwanted alarms.
Mounting Fire Control Units
Prior to the 2019 edition, there was no guidance on how high or low a fire alarm control unit could be placed on the wall. This resulted in installation where control units were mounted very high, placing them out of reach for some occupants. Therefore, it is important to define the maximum and minimum mounting heights for an average user to be able to interact with the system.
Because of this change, it is more important than ever that wall space for fire alarm control units be blocked out or identified in the early stages of the design process. Designers currently indicate where smoke detectors and audio/visual units are to be placed. Now the fire alarm control unit needs to be defined as well. Every bit of space should be accounted for and documented to avoid confusion and ensure the proper amount of space is allocated for the fire alarm control unit.
Guidance for Class N Pathways
A Class N circuit includes two or more pathways that have their operational capability verified through end-to-end communication. The redundant path is intended to compensate for ethernet wiring that cannot meet the fault monitoring requirements that normally apply to traditional wiring methods used for fire alarm circuits.
Along with the technology requirements of how Class N is to function, other aspects of implementation were included. Some of the additions involved how the deployment plan is documented, how the routers or hubs are distributed, what ports will be used as well as how to identify ports.
Within NFPA 72, there are options regarding how life safety systems can be integrated with the building network. This is referred to as shared pathway designations. The benefit of having pathway sharing rules/restrictions is to permit the incorporation of other systems to share information and possibly act on that information. A fire alarm system will still need to be on its own network, but Class N can now authorize an installation, allowing the fire alarm to transmit all data required for HVAC, lighting control and elevator control. This data transmission can be accomplished on a network rather than traditional hardwired relays.
Where to Begin?
The changes to NFPA 72-2019 are both significant and far-reaching. In addition to the areas listed above, there are numerous other updates to sections covering supervising stations, inspection, testing and maintenance and more. NFPA offers a variety of training classes for system designers, installers, contractors, project managers and AHJs. For additional resources to help you comply with standards and protect your buildings, visit autocall.com/resources.
For more information, go to www.autocall.com/resources