your proposal, you should understand that, if the only CO-generating appliance in their home consists of a vehicle in a garage, you still should include
CO detection in the overall system design. Recent research reports show
that CO generated by a vehicle in an attached garage will penetrate gypsum
walls, and the occupants will feel the effects.
To design and install security and fire alarm systems, you still need to
completely understand the customer’s protection goals. The customer will
know generally what features he or she wants, but you will need to present
them with all of their protection options.
For example, they may desire the life safety protection afforded by the
fire alarm system, and they may want to ensure the system design provides more complete protection to minimize their property losses. Adding
detection will often help you achieve this goal—don’t forget the attic and
garage—but detection by itself may not limit the losses enough to satisfy
the owner’s property-protection goals. In order to judge whether or not you
can meet these goals, you will need to understand the water availability
and fire departments’ capabilities and their response time. This information—which you need to know prior to sitting down to discuss options
with the owner—will help you to better judge if more early detection will
compensate for any negative fire department- or water-related aspects..
Early in the selling process, you want to establish yourself as the go-to
person for all protection, so now may be a good time to recommend the
owner purchase a residential sprinkler system. I am not advocating that you
become a sprinkler system designer and installer, rather I’m suggesting you
team up with a company that matches your good reputation. Then, when
you are in front of the customer, you will have the necessary answers. One
of the answers you can give when the customer expresses concern over
water damage from a sprinkler system is that your fire alarm system will
monitor the sprinkler system, so any inadvertent water discharge will report
through your system to the supervisory monitoring company.
The owner may have other low-voltage systems that he or she would
like to have installed such as temperature monitoring and control, or at
least low-temperature monitoring, to avoid frozen pipes during a winter
cold snap with concurrent power loss. You also can add devices to the
security/fire alarm system to monitor water leakage.
To comply with the code, you need to understand the requirements for
combination systems as defined in NFPA 72. Typically, a combination system includes “a fire alarm system in which components are used, in whole
or in part, in common with a non-fire signaling system.” As mentioned
previously, you may combine a fire alarm system with nonfire systems that
include a security, access control, background music, paging and building
automation to name a few. In many cases, the nonfire systems connect to
the fire alarm system, and the nonfire system reacts to signals from the
fire alarm system.
In many cases, with systems such as CO detection, fire extinguisher
electronic monitoring devices, emergency communication (mass notifica-
tion), or intrusion, one benefit of combining systems comes from using
The code states in the annex that, “If the equipment in the combination system is of equivalent quality to fire alarm equipment, and the
system monitors the wiring and equipment in the same way as fire alarm
equipment, then sharing of wiring is permitted. If the equipment is not
of equivalent quality, isolation between the systems would be required.”
Therefore, ensure that the equipment you include in the combination
system within the residence meets both the owner’s protection goals and
the code requirements. This way, you provide economic benefits to the
owner as well.
Another design issue you need to consider when planning combina-
However, the code does require that signals from CO detectors and CO
tion systems stems from the requirement that fire alarm signals must be
distinctive, clearly recognizable and be indicated in descending order of
priority, except where otherwise required by other governing laws, codes
or standards, or by other parts of the code as follows: “( 1) Signals associ-
ated with life safety, ( 2) Signals associated with property protection, ( 3)
Trouble signals associated with life and/or property protection, [and] ( 4)
All other signals.”
As with any sophisticated system, avoid providing confusing information
to the first responders. The code allows the authority having jurisdiction
to permit only the display of required fire alarm system information as a
priority at the remote annunciators and fire alarm control units.
detection systems transmitted to a fire alarm system shall indicate as “Car-
bon Monoxide Alarm” on the fire alarm system control unit or annunciator.
So, depending on the customer’s sophistication, you have the opportunity to increase your overall sales package by specifying a code-complying
combination system whenever such a system will best meet the customer’s
wishes and protection goals. As a top-rated contractor, it becomes a part
of your job to know the code requirements and to fully understand the
systems technology available to do the job.
MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent
speaker and an expert in the life safety field, is a past chair
of the NFPA 72 Technical Correlating Committee. Moore is
a principal with Hughes Associates Inc. at the Warwick, R.I.,
office. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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