Low frequency fire appliances more audible, meet new code

Hotels and other commercial sleeping places must now have such devices to help alert heavy sleepers and the hearing impaired of a fire
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

LAS VEGAS—When a fire alarm activates during a fire, the high-frequency sound it emits can be insufficient to alert some hearing impaired individuals or even just sound sleepers. But System Sensor has some new low frequency notification appliances that address that problem because they’re easier for such people to hear, according to David George, the company’s director of marketing communications.

The low frequency sounders and sounder strobes, which were among products the St. Charles, Ill.-based manufacturer of fire and notification devices was touting at the ISC West show, held here last week, have made a very timely debut.

That’s because a new requirement regarding low frequency appliances took effect Jan. 1 for states or localities that have adopted the 2010 or 2013 editions of NFPA 72. Those editions require that all new commercial sleeping places must have an audible device that produces a low frequency tone centered around 520 Hz, according to a System Sensor news release.

But George told Security Systems News that even some AHJs in the locations that have adopted the newer versions of the code aren’t aware of the low frequency appliance regulation. “It’s an issue with codes changing and compliance taking months, if not years, to kick in,” George said.

As a result, he said, System Sensor has launched an education campaign to get the word out, and also to let those in the affected regions know that the company’s new SpectrAlert Advance low frequency notification appliances meet the requirement.

The company describes the appliances as the “first low frequency sounders and sounder strobes on the market that integrate directly with fire alarm control panels. [Features include] a plug-in design and onboard shorting spring that simplifies installation and reduces costly ground faults.”

Rebecca Peterson, System Sensor product marketing manager, explained in the news release why the code was changed.

“Studies have shown that a lower frequency is more effective at waking sleeping individuals, including individuals with mild to severe hearing loss, when compared to the 3 Kilohertz tone found in residential smoke alarms,” Peterson said. “We see these devices being used most often in spaces like hotel rooms, dormitories, assisted living and nursing home facilities just to name a few.”