Code Changes – NFPA 72, IBC, and NFPA 101

If you are a NICET test taker, your focus is on specific editions of the codes that are used in the exam. NICET currently tests on:

  • NFPA 72 – National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, 2016 Edition
  • IBC – International Building Code, 2015 Edition
  • NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code, 2015 Edition
  • NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code, 2014 Edition

In the real world, your AHJ may be using these code editions, or they may be using the newer editions. The current editions of these codes are:

  • NFPA 72 – 2019 Edition
  • IBC – 2018 Edition
  • NFPA 101 – 2018 Edition
  • NFPA 70 – 2020 Edition

In this article, we will look at some of the significant changes that occurred in the newer editions of these codes.

NFPA 72 (2019 Edition)

Control Unit Mounting

Control unit display, visible indicators, and controls shall be mounted so that the highest switch, indicator, or display does not exceed 6 feet above the floor and is not lower than 15 inches above the floor. (10.4.4)

NAC Extender Control Circuits

Control circuits used to control NAC extender panels shall comply with: (10.17.3)

  • NAC extender shall not serve more than one notification zone
  • Control circuit shall be monitored for integrity
  • Fault on control circuit shall indicate a trouble signal

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection

NFPA merged the CO detection requirements of NFPA 720 into NFPA 72. Chapters 10, 17, 18, and 29 now include CO detector requirements.

Unmonitored CO detection systems require 24 hours standby and 12 hours alarm time (

Monitored CO detection systems require 24 hours standby and 12 hours alarm time (

CO with built in sounder may be silenced locally if status displayed at control unit (10.13)

CO detectors are required (17.12)

  • One the ceiling in the same room as permanent fuel burning appliance
  • Centrally located on each level and in every HVAC zone
  • Outside each dwelling unit, guest, and sleeping room within 21 feet
  • Environmental: above 32° F, below 100° F, below 93% humidity

CO detectors shall produce a four-pulse temporal pattern (temporal 4) and be synchronized (18.4.3)

CO detection systems shall provide occupant notification throughout the premises (

Household CO detection (29.7)

  • Outside each sleeping area within 21 feet
  • On every level, including basement, excluding attics and crawlspaces
  • In sleeping units with fuel burning appliances
  • Located on wall or ceiling
  • -Multiple detectors shall be interconnected

Elevator Recall

Initiating devices in a hoistway shall be accessible from outside the hoistway (21.3.7)

High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) Fans

Where required by NFPA 13, all HVLS fans shall be interlocked to shut down on waterflow (21.8)

Dedicated Function Fire Alarm Systems

Dedicated function fire alarm systems provide specific fire safety functions where a building fire alarm system is not required. These control units are most commonly used for elevator recall and sprinkler monitoring, and do not perform occupant notification

Dedicated function fire alarm systems do not require a smoke or heat at the control unit (10.4.6)

Dedicated function fire alarm systems do not require a pull station (

IBC (2018 Edition)

IBC changes primarily revolved around additional occupant load requirements for specific Use Groups.

Group A – Assembly

Manual fire alarm required where occupant load is 300 or more, or where more than 100 above or below level of exit discharge

Group E – Educational

Pull stations not required if occupant load is 50 or less

Voice evacuation not required for occupant load of 100 or less

Group R-2

Future support for visible notification by one of following

  • Interconnection of building fire alarm with unit smoke alarm
  • Replace audibles with combination audible/visible
  • Extension of existing wiring from smoke alarm to location of visible appliances

High Rise

Occupied floor more than 12 feet above fire department vehicle access requires multi-channel voice evacuation system (ability to delivered different messages to different notification zones)

Battery Rooms

Smoke detectors required in areas with capacitor energy storage systems

NFPA 101

NFPA 101 asked requirements for risk analysis for mass notification systems in specific occupancies based on occupant loads.

High Rise – occupant load 5000 or more, highest occupiable floor more than 420 feet above access

New Assembly – occupant load of 500 or more

New Hotel and Dormitory – Dormitory for K-12, college, or university with occupant load greater than 100

New Mercantile – all new malls

New Business – containing classroom, or owned, rented, or leased by college or university

Integrated Fire Protection Systems

Occupancies with two or more integrated fire protection systems shall be tested to verify proper operation and function. When a system is tested, the integration shall be tested. After repair or replacement of equipment only the functions initiated by the repaired or replaced equipment shall be tested.

NFPA 4 Testing – systems in high rise buildings and systems that include smoke control shall be tested prior to issuance of CO and at intervals not more than 10 years

CO Detection

New Assembly and Residential Board and Care (New and Existing) – per NFPA 72 requirements, plus spaces with communicating attached garage, unless the garage is open or is mechanically ventilated

New Educational – centrally located in occupiable space with attached garage and separation of gypsum wallboard, and in rooms with fuel burning appliance. Units in rooms with fuel burning appliances shall transmit an alarm signal to on-site or off-site location.


There were no significant changes in recent editions of NFPA 70 in the chapters that are concerned with fire alarm systems.

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