NFPA 72 update discusses warning systems

At request of the Air Force, NFPA to include mass notification systems recommendations
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Monday, November 1, 2004

QUINCY, Mass.- As the proposal phase for the 2006 edition of NFPA 72 closes this month, one of the biggest potential changes is the inclusion of recommendations to recognize mass notification systems.

Including mass notification systems to the latest update to NFPA 72 – National Fire Alarm Code came at the request of the U.S. Air Force, according to Lee F. Richardson, staff liaison for the committee working on the 2006 edition.

The U.S. Air Force is now working on implementing these types of systems at their bases. The U.S. Air Force sees a potential conflict to NFPA 72 as it is now written and the way they would like to move forward with the inclusion of the mass notification systems.

“We are really just at the beginning of this,” explained Richardson on the advent of these newer systems and how NFPA 72, a document that discusses protective signaling systems and issues related to installation and maintenance of such systems, addresses them.

Mass notification systems are used to notify occupants of building and campus environments of the presence of danger through a series of hardware devices including audio speakers for spoken voice alerts.

The driving force behind the systems, according to Richardson, are not exclusive to fire alarms but other emergencies, such as terrorist threats and natural disasters.

After the proposal phase ends, the association will present its report on proposals in June 2005, followed by a comment period that concludes a few months later in September.

The 2006 revised edition will be issued in the summer of the following year, after the report on comments is finalized.

The goal of recognizing mass notification systems in the 2006 edition of NFPA 72 is not to mandate new codes, but to avoid conflicts with pre-installed systems. In the future, further development would take place to address the elements for a system, developing rules for a system and coordinating with a fire system.

“This is not a done deal until July 2006,” said Richardson. “All you can do is one step at a time and see how it evolves.”