FIRE/LIFESAFETY BY WAYNE D. MOORE
We have seen evolutions in code and
standard installation requirements due
to fire experience and technology. Today,
the processes surrounding code application have changed. New requirements
have little to do with the equipment contractors install.
For example, NFPA 72 2016, National
Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, has
expanded the requirements for risk analysis when determining the type of mass
notification system (MNS) a customer
needs. It also has expanded the messages
that must be included to meet those
needs. In addition, the code requires the
risk-analysis approach when evaluating a
public address system for use as an MNS.
The move to risk-informed decision
making as part of the design process continues. In addition to MNS requirements,
the risk-analysis requirements apply to
the healthcare codes. Nonfire systems
in government and healthcare segments
already use a risk-based approach to
inspection, testing and maintenance.
The creation of the 2015 edition of NFPA
99, Health Care Facilities Code, presents
the concept of risk-based codes, which
shifts more responsibility to the stakeholders than in a prescriptive code. Risk
categories have replaced occupancy designations. Collaboration between owners,
users, designers, safety consultants,
builders and authorities having jurisdiction becomes essential in risk assessment
for the procedures, care or treatments
that will occur in the building.
Already emerging are examples of airports using the risk-analysis process to
evaluate the opportunity to use their site-wide paging system as the notification
component for the fire alarm and MNSs.
“Airports are also evaluating new concepts for occupant notification, both for
normal circulation and exiting for use in
emergency events. Interest in dynamic
signage systems to improve occupant
flow has increased, along with other
technologies such as cell phone applications that enable exiting assistance and
provide instant alerts during emergency
events,” according to “Trends in Fire
Protection and Life Safety for the Global
Built Environment,” a recent white paper
from Baltimore-based Jensen Hughes
fire protection consulting firm.
According to the paper, the airline
industry is focusing on developing successful Operational Readiness and
Airport Transfer (ORAT) programs for
commissioning all of a new airport’s systems, including life safety systems. Given
the recent development of NFPA 3, Recommended Practice for Commissioning
of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems, there is an opportunity to include
NFPA 3 recommended practices into the
The NFPA has established a technical committee to develop NFPA 1616,
Mass Evacuation and Sheltering. This
committee is reviewing electronic
internet-protocol-based systems that can
track evacuee status, provide check-in systems at shelters and fulfill other related
searchable system functions. These systems would relay information on the
health and welfare of evacuees.
The technical committee also is look-
ing to accommodate the evacuation of
patients with mobility, hearing or visual
impairments, as it pertains to access and
functional needs, as well as service ani-
mals and household pets.
Of course, we continue to discuss the
Internet of Things (Io T) and its effect
on our industry by bringing fire protection to the virtual, wireless world. It has
become obvious that network security
is paramount. Fire protection system
design will need to include the understanding of how the systems interface
with the network. Those responsible
for network security, usually the user’s
information technology (IT) department, will need to become key partners
in the implementation. Contractors will
need to know these IT professionals and
include them in discussions regarding
fire alarm and MNS installations.
Of course, the Io T consists of sensors
and controls to enable equipment monitoring for use and operational reliability.
For example, I have smartphone apps to
arm and disarm my own security system,
monitor its status and control my garage
In the commercial market, large
process-driven equipment operates in
a similar fashion. Not all of these functions will interface with or be controlled
by the fire alarm system and its network.
However, the network will ease connection to other nonfire sensors and control
devices, so it makes sense for a contractor to understand how to interface with
the Io T-driven technology.
As the codes and standards evolve,
we will see continued movement toward
accepting Io T technology. Are you ready
for the challenge?
Challenging changes to the codes and standards
FOR MANY OF US, these are technologically challenging times. Just when I think I
have mastered the latest smartphone, it changes. Prepare yourself, because, just like
mobile devices, the codes and standards are morphing in ways you might not expect.
MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and life-safety expert, is a
principal member and past chair of NFPA 72, Chapter 24. He is a vice president with Jensen
Hughes at the Warwick, R.I., office. He can be reached at