There is more to a fire alarm system than detecting smoke, making noise and alerting emergency services. To keep track of all the nuances of fire systems, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) updates the fire codes every three years. The NFPA is devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards and is the leading provider of information and knowledge. The 300 codes and standards are designed to minimize the risk and effects of fire by establishing criteria for building, processing, design, service and installation around the world. Some revisions in the upcoming 2022 code revisions include updates to NFPA 72 on cybersecurity, remote access and survivability and NFPA 13 on sprinkler density and elevator shaft protection.
NFPA Code 72
NFPA 72 focuses on the ability of the system to communicate to emergency services and allow for emergency services already inside to be able to communicate with each other. This update will include new guidance on cybersecurity, remote access and survivability. In recent years, cybercriminals have made alarms and other connected building systems popular targets for hacking. They are increasingly breaching security and gaining access to servers and other sensitive targets with the intention of installing ransomware or stealing whatever sensitive data they can find. This led to a provision for equipment, software, firmware and tools to protect against such attacks.
In addition to the recommendation of equipment to protect against cybersecurity issues, there is now an allowance for fire alarm and signaling systems to be accessed remotely to perform certain tasks. Across the industry, more and more systems are now connected in some way to the internet, a communication infrastructure, or a central hub, and the use of remote access technology would allow manufacturers to install updates and technicians to monitor and maintain the equipment more efficiently, but also increase the cybersecurity risk.
The third major change to NFPA 72 requires the wiring and components of an alarm and signaling system to be able to do its job while surviving fire for two hours or more. It added an adjustment for certain situations where the building has a lower construction rating and doesn’t merit a two-hour requirement. The general thought here is if the system can survive that long, the building has a better chance of surviving a fire.
NFPA Code 13
NFPA 13 includes updates to sprinkler density, rack storage requirements and increased elevator shaft protection. Previously, the standard for the installation of sprinkler systems used a density/area curve to calculate the volume of water necessary in a certain amount of time in a certain area. Users could pick any density along the curve for their systems. In the updated code, the curve method of density calculation would be eliminated and replaced with a single-point method of density calculation. The intent is to improve sprinkler performance by selecting the highest possible discharge density.
Another change will mandate a maximum rack depth for storage facilities. The limit attempts to prevent warehouse fire spread. While everyone agrees that more fire suppression is best, some say this requirement will mean that more warehouses will need to invest in in-rack fire suppression to continue to safely store everything they need.
The last major adjustment to NFPA 13 is about the placement of sprinkler systems in elevator shafts. While some believe that the risk of fire is low in elevator pits, it will be required that they contain sprinklers due to the accumulation of debris and occasionally hydraulic fluid which can create a fire hazard.
The NFPA codes are very in-depth and staying up to date on this information is extremely important. The survivability of your business could be at stake if you do not keep up with the changes coming to the fire codes. This can be a lot for the average business owner, but compliance is made easy when you can lean on knowledgeable companies in the field like Millennium Fire & Security who have 20 years of experience and training in the National Fire Prevention Association Codes and Standards. Hiring a company committed to keeping your current and future systems compliant with all fire codes takes a weight off your shoulders and into the hands of those passionate about safety. Let Millennium Fire & Security take care of keeping up with the codes and keeping you, your family, and/or your business safe from fire catastrophes. Request a quote today!
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