NICET will be transitioning to newer codes in their exams in “mid-October 2018”, specifically:
- NFPA 72 – 2016
- NFPA 70 – 2014
- IBC – 2015
- NFPA 101 – 2015
While it is likely NICET will continue their policy of allowing any edition into the exam, having the specific edition that NICET is testing on will yield better results.
The changes between the two editions are not as significant as we have seen in previous code updates. NFPA 72 added qualifications for plans examiners and inspectors, added a new class of circuits, and new requirements for SLCs. IBC changed requirements for Group E (educational), added new requirements for smoke alarms near kitchens and bathroom, and requires addressable systems except for smaller projects. NFPA 101 added smoke alarm requirements like IBC’s (for kitchens and bathrooms), as well as CO detection requirements for New Educational. NFPA 70 did not make significant changes in Chapter 3 or Article 760, the main sections for fire alarm.
NFPA 72 – National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code – 2016 Edition
NFPA 72 sets forth qualifications for plans examiners and inspectors, specifically saying they must be qualified to perform the they do. The qualifications can be registration, licensing, or certification by local AHJ, or assigned by local AHJ. However, NFPA 72 also mentions NFPA 1031 (Standard for Qualifications for Fire Inspector and Plans Examiners). NFPA 1031 identifies CFI (Certified Fire Inspector) or CFPE (Certified Fire Plans Examiner) certifications as the qualifications.
Chapter 12 introduced Class N circuits (for Ethernet network equipment). Class N pathways requires two or more pathways over the network with physically separate cables. A loss of signal or lack of operation must indicate a trouble, and individual open, ground, or short cannot affect other pathways. Class N circuits to individual devices (called endpoints) only require a single cable. Class N circuits can also terminate to non-Ethernet devices as well, like an audio amplifier used to drive speakers. Chapter 23 (Protected Premise) sets forth even more specific requirements for Class N devices and shared pathways.
Chapter 23 changed the requirements for SLC’s (addressable) circuits from a single fault affecting no more than 50 devices to the loss of no more than one zone. Annex A further explains that a zone can be designated by floor, by floor area, by fire or smoke barrier, and maximum circuit length.
Chapter 23 now requires that multiple interconnected fire alarm control units be resettable from a single location, with the reset procedure document at each control unit and annunciator. It also requires AHJ approval for resetting and silencing from other than protected premise.
Chapter 24 added new mounting requirements for Local Operating Consoles (LOCs) for emergency communications systems based on the mounting height and horizontal reach. Mounting 36-48” AFF is permitted when reach is less than 10”, while 28-42” is required when reach is 10 – 24”.
Chapter 24 added a section for Stairwell Communications system (as required by other codes). Remote call points are typically located every fifth floor where the doors are locked. The system may be integrated with other two-way emergency communications systems, such as area of rescue and elevator emergency communication). The remote location and central control point requirements are very similar to those for area of rescue. Remote stations require braille signage and audible/visible call indication, and central control must communication off premise of not in a constantly attended location.
IBC – International Building Code – 2015 Edition
The IBC (International Building Code) changed two important requirements for Group E (Educational). First, the threshold for manual fire alarm system went from 30 to 50. Second, voice evacuation is not required in occupant loads of 100 or less when manual fire alarm activates approved occupant notification.
Smoke alarm requirements for Groups R-2, R-3, R-4, and I-4 changed based proximity to kitchens and bathrooms. Ionization smoke alarms are not allowed within 20’ of a permanent cooking appliance, 10’ if it has a silence switch. Photoelectric smoke alarms cannot be less than 6’ away. Smoke alarms are also not allowed within 3’ of a bathroom with tub or shower. All the above apply unless it prevents a smoke alarm from being installed in a sleeping area.
The IBC also clarifies that smoke detectors are an acceptable alternative to smoke alarms in sleeping or dwelling units when they are part of a building fire alarm system, activate notification in the unit, and does initiate notification outside the unit.
The IBC also requires specific initiating device identification (addressable systems), except in smaller applications. Exceptions include: single story less than 22,500 s.f., systems with only pull stations and waterflow, and not more than 10 initiating devices, special initiating devices that do not support individual identification, and replacement of existing systems.
NFPA 101 – Life Safety Code – 2015 Edition
NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code) sets forth smoke detection requirements similar to IBC, but their requirements apply to both smoke alarms and smoke detectors. NFPA 101 does not permit smoke detectors or alarms within 10’ if stationary or fixed cooking appliances. It does allow smoke detector or alarms to be between 10 – 20’ if they are photoelectric and equipped with alarm silencing. It does permit photoelectric devices greater than 6’ from the cooking appliance where the 10’ exclusion would prevent compliance with a smoke detector or alarm requirement from another part of NFPA 101 or NFPA 72. NFPA 101 also does not allow smoke detectors or alarms closer than 36’ from a bathroom with shower or tub, unless listed for proximity installation.
NFPA 101 also added carbon monoxide (CO) detection requirements in New Educational occupancies with permanent fuel burning appliances and communicating attached garages. CO detection is required on the ceiling in the room with the fuel-burning appliance, centrally located in space served by fire air supply register from the fuel-burning appliance, and centrally located for spaces adjacent to communicating attached garages.
NFPA 70 – National Electrical Code – 2014 Edition
NFPA 70 (National Electrical Code) did not make significant changes to the sections of major concern to fire alarm professional and NICET test takers. Chapter 3 (Wiring Methods) and Article 760 (Fire Alarm Systems) have remained static for several editions.
Want to Learn More?
The NTC Orange Book (Fire Alarm Code Handbook) covers both editions of the fire alarm codes, and highlights changes between editions. The Orange Book is an excellent reference for identifying code requirements and changes, as well as understanding the codes. The NTC Brown Book (Fire Alarm Systems Handbook) explains fire alarm systems and code requirements in plain English and is loaded with pictures and illustrations.
You can also download a PDF detailing new and changed code content here.