New IFC & IBC Fire Alarm Changes for 2009

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                                                                  By Greg Kessinger, SET, CFPS

New IFC & IBC Fire Alarm Changes for 2009
                IN SPITE OF THE FACT that the entire Fire                      installed).
             Alarm and Detection Systems sections in Chapter              •    The maximum sound level of a building now
             9 of the recently published 2009 International Fire               cannot exceed 110dBA, 907. This is
             Code (IFC) and International Building Code (IBC) have             10dBA lower than the previous maximum
             vertical lines along each page, indicating that every-            sound level allowed and is now in line with
             thing changed, it mostly amounts to a reshuffling                 NFPA 72, 2007.
             of existing rules and their renumbering. Upon close          •    Average ambient sound pressure of 95dBA is
             examination, you’ll notice some of the changes are                now the point where strobe lights must be added
             simple clarifications of existing wording. Most of                in lieu of adding more audible devices (instead
             the remaining new changes represent the inclusion                 of 105dBA); again to be in line with NFPA 72,
             of existing rules taken from NFPA 72, which were                  2007 requirements, see 907.
             already required. Only a few of the changes indicat-
             ed in the IFC and IBC actually affect how we install       New sections in the 2009 IFC/IBC might
             fire alarm systems and smoke alarms.                       affect installations
                                                                          • The cab of airport traffic control towers do
             NFPA 72 existing rules present in new IFC/IBC                    not have to have audible notification appli-
              • Strobe lights are not required in elevator                    ances installed (907.2.22 exception).
                  cars: see 907.5.2.3.                                    • Protective covers installed over manual pull
              • A smoke or heat detector is required to be                    boxes cannot project more than the four
                  provided at the location of each fire alarm                 inches, as allowed by section 1003.3.3.
                  control unit, notification appliance circuit            • Voice evacuation systems were only allowed
                  power extenders and supervising station                     to be used for non-emergencies when per-
                  transmitting equipment, see 907.1.2(4).                     mitted by the local code official. Now they
              • One advantage of taking this requirement                      are allowe
Description: The IBCs Fire Alarm and Detection Systems section is in sync with the exception that the IBCs fire alarm section ends with a rule that states that the test, inspection and maintenance rules are contained in the IFC. The IFC fire alarm section is longer than the IBC since it includes the ongoing test, inspection and maintenance rules, with a special mention (and duplication) of NFPA 72 's sensitivity testing requirements.
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