Partial Fire Alarm System to monitor sprinklers?

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    • #13278
      John WilsonJohn Wilson
      Participant
      • Department Name: Perth Fire Services

      Ok folks, I need some help from all you fire alarm experts. FYI, the Code references below are OBC

      We’ve got a current construction project here where where sprinklers are being installed under two OBC exemptions for sprinklers in lieu of roof rating (3.2.2.17.) and sprinklers in lieu of public corridor separations (3.3.1.4.). The building is not otherwise required to be sprinklered being classified as 3.2.2.53 (95% sure that’s the right one). The building occupant load does not meet any of the thresholds of 3.2.4.1. to require a fire alarm system.

      The sprinklers in lieu of roof rating exemption says the sprinkler system shall be electrically supervised per 3.2.4.10.(3) which says “If a fire alarm system is installed in a building, an automatic sprinkler system shall be electrically supervised to indicate as supervisory signal on the building fire alarm system annunciator for each of the following…” This is where things go sideways. The CBO and I are in agreement, the Architect is fighting us.

      The Architect is convinced that the building does not need a full fire alarm system but only the parts to annunciate the sprinkler system. The CBO and I are of the opinion that it needs the full fire alarm system as how can you have annunciation on the fire alarm panel if you don’t have a fire alarm panel. If you have a fire alarm panel, you have the fire alarm system to go with it.  We are also only aware of S542 installations and S537 verification for full systems, not a hap-hazard partial system. I also think from an annual maintenance perspective,  it will be impossible to get someone (reputable) to do partial S536 maintenance.

      Any of you fire alarm experts care to share your thoughts?

    • #13280
      Kevin MeijerinkKevin Meijerink
      Participant

      Hi Jon,

      You indicate the threshold for installation under 3.2.4.1 is not met. Therefore a fire alarm system is not required. If the presence of a sprinkler system did require a fire alarm system, it would be provided as a prescriptive requirement here.

      In my opinion since a fire alarm system is not required any installation of such would be above the code requirements. However, if the architect did specify a fire alarm system be installed, the electrical supervision of the system via the fire alarm system would then be required per your reference of 3.2.4.10.(3).

      S524 does not provide any information on what is required in a fire alarm system – those requirements are in the building code (eg. installation of pull station at principle entrance and near every required exit) . 524 provides how the system must be installed (eg. pull station mounting heights and distance from doors).

      Hope this helps?

      Kevin

    • #13307
      John WilsonJohn Wilson
      Participant
      • Department Name: Perth Fire Services

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for pointing out the OBC vs S524 difference for the installation of the components.

      The sprinkler system requires annunciation on the fire alarm panel but since a fire alarm system is not required, how do you have a fire alarm panel without a fire alarm system? Yes, it’s very convoluted.

      It’s not the Architect saying the fire alarm system is required. It’s the CBO and myself. The Architect is proposing to supervise the sprinkler system components and annunciate & transmit notification to the FD with something other than a true fire alarm panel. What that ‘something’ is, we have no idea, nor to what standards its installed to (but it has to meet S561 for the transmission part) and also no information on maintenance standards.

      I think they’ve spent more time and effort trying to figure out a way to not install a dozen or so pull stations and a couple extra smokes than it would have taken to just install them and be done with it.

    • #13314
      Kevin MeijerinkKevin Meijerink
      Participant

      I am thinking that the architect is proposing a monitoring panel for the sprinkler. It will be that – simply a panel that monitors and sends signals. This could be a security panel, or other type of dialer. (I had a pile of Silent Knight 5207 panels with customers in a past career). The electrical contacts from the various sprinkler components (valves, flow switch, low pressure) would connect to this panel and it would simply dial out when something is “not normal.”

      I’m going to try to walk myself through this written here. Based on facts given, I am with the architect on this one from a facts point of view (although will always encourage the early warning and going above the code to provide better protection to buildings and occupants)

      Under 3.2.4.1 a determination of whether a fire alarm system is needed or not is make. If we say yes, we continue to apply all of 3.2.4. If we say no, 3.2.4 is gone – we can’t selectively apply certain parts of that section.

      The monitoring under S561 is indicated in 3.2.4.8(4), but we have already been kicked out of that because we don’t require a fire alarm (although, again, if a fire alarm system is installed, I feel that this level of monitoring would be required.)

      3.2.4.10.(3) also requires the fire alarm to be be there before we can use this. As with the monitoring the presence of a sprinkler system does not require a fire alarm system to be there, however, if the fire alarm is there, the sprinkler must be connected. Once we connect sprinkler, we monitor. Kind of a vicious cycle.

      As for the time and effort – It’s many hours of electrician time for installation. A 3rd party verification. Somewhere in the area of $1000 a year for 561 monitoring. Integrated system testing under ULC S1001 at time of occupancy, after year 1 and 5 years after that. With this in mine, it’s worth the architect to avoid installing this fire alarm.

      Feel free to hit me with an email if needed. [email protected]

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