When Is Automatic Fire Detection Required?

Feb 28, 2020

A fire detection system is a good idea for your property, and many insurance companies offer discounts based on your level of protection. While voluntary in your private residence, the law requires automatic fire detection in a wide array of other facilities. 

Local Building Code Requirements

Your state's building code will spell out the requirements for fire protection, depending on your building's classification. For instance, retail space requires less protection than a building that houses people overnight. Nursing and assisted living facilities requirements are much more stringent than commercial buildings. 

It is essential to check with your local Authority Having Jurisdiction for the requirements for the classification of your building. In most cases, the AHJ will visit your building or look at the drawings proposed for your construction and provide you with the requirements. However, they will not design the system for you.

The next step would be to hire a reputable fire alarm company familiar with the code requirements in your municipality. Do not skip this step in the building process. You won't receive your occupancy permit if there is no fire protection, and it will cost you significantly more to get it installed at the last minute.

When hiring a local alarm company, it is vital to ensure they are state-licensed to install fire alarm systems and that their technicians hold a minimum of NICET II certifications. 

Any reputable fire alarm company will have a similar process to the following: 

  • design the system

  • provide drawings

  • get approval from the local or state Authority Having Jurisdiction

  • install the system

  • program and test the system

  • complete the final inspection with the Authority Having Jurisdiction as part of the project

Ensure that these items are in the scope of work provided by the alarm company. If not, you may want to seek additional proposals.  

It is crucial to keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so going with the lowest estimate price is not always the best option.

In most municipalities, it is not necessary to hire a fire protection engineering firm.

The Two Main Types of Fire Detection Systems:

Manual Fire Alarm Systems

Manual Fire Alarm Systems are comprised of mainly manual activation components such as pull stations/boxes and water flow switches.

These systems are mostly reserved for smaller facilities, retail, manufacturing, etc. These systems typically only require manual pull stations at the exits and water flow switches on the risers. However, manual systems do require full notification throughout the facility and are required to be monitored by a Central Monitoring Station.

Automatic Fire Alarm Systems

Automatic Fire Alarm Systems are comprised of smoke and heat detectors, detectors in the ductwork, and manual system components.

These systems are typically used in larger facilities that house persons overnight. Additionally, the requirements for spacing of smoke and heat detectors are stringent. Automatic systems require detection equipment to be connected to the network, not the battery-operated detectors purchased at the home improvement store. These systems also require full notification throughout the facility, along with monitoring from a Central Monitoring Station.

If you're unsure whether your business needs automatic fire detection or want to learn more about how to get it set up, give the experts at FSS a call!


Speak with a Fire System Expert

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