One of the requirements for removing manual pull stations is "Occupied portions of the building should have access to a central point for manual activation of the evacuation signal". Can you provide more details? Examples?
Example: School office area that can receive an intercom or other notification, or can be readily accessed to activate the fire alarm manually? This of course requires the back-up plan of the sprinkler system discharging and activating the alarm system.
Of particular concern for this is that many areas of a school are used for after school activities and yet the school isolates them from the central office by means of locking-off corridors. Gymnasiums, Auditoriums (and their associated support spaces like shops, control booths, dressing room), Black Box Theateres, and Cafetoriums are particularly subject to this. Providing an FACP in the ticket office (House Manager's Office) or near the Stage Manager's workstation backstage is particularly prudent IMHO.Also be aware that if the Stage is equipped with a Fire Curtain, then it is frequently interlocked to the Fire Alarm System so if the Fire Curtain is released (manually or automatically) then a signal is sent to the FACP. The Fire Curtain is required to have manual curtain release station at both sides of the proscenium (Ref: NFPA 80), so simply eliminating the Pull Stations does not eliminate the ability for a nefarious person to activate the Fire Alarm. IMHO, an auditorium should have pull stations in the control booth (a common point where the auditorium activities can be observed from, and usually manned with more responsible people) and backstage as a minimum, as the concentration of people in an assembly space is very high. Similar conditions exist in Gymnasiums, except they don't usually have control booths or 'backstage' areas.
This has been an ongoing issue in one of our local schools, where they have a non-reporting fire alarm system and the office is not open after regular school hours, but of course there are after school programs nearly every day and then many summer program where the office is not staffed. Thus when the alarm system activates, no one knows they need to call 911 and when someone finally does they complain about how long the FD took. Thankfully no real fire issues have occurred during these times that would allow the fire to reach an advanced condition. All of this is soon to be eliminated with a major overhaul of the building and systems, but a real issue that does occur.
I would say that if someone is relying on the "constantly attended locations" they better be able to show a plan for absolute coverage of that activation device.
I agree with rfdacm02's interpretation of the code. If there is an area where the intercom system is being installed, such as a school's front office, and the fire alarm system can be manually activated from this location, I feel this configuration meets the intent of the code. The most critical component of NFPA 101 Section 220.127.116.11.3.1 and Section 18.104.22.168.3.2 is the enhanced fire alarm system or fire sprinkler system used to justify the omission of the manual fire alarm boxes. The NFPA 101 Handbook reiterates the importance of these systems with the following:
"By relying on the automatic initiation that is provided by the detection system addressed in 14/22.214.171.124.3.1(1) through (3), equivalent protection is provided. By relying on the fire control that is provided by the automatic sprinkler system addressed in 14/126.96.36.199.3.2, equivalent protection is provided."
The central point for manual activation of the evacuation signal appears to be required by code in case these automatic detection systems fail. The school will most likely use a public address (PA) system to communicate with classrooms and NFPA 72 permits emergency voice/alarm communication systems to be used for public address if emergency messages have priority. It's my understanding that these systems are typically installed in the front office of the school but it may be different for your project.
While I believe this option meets the intent of the code, your AHJ may have a more conservative or lenient interpretation. I would coordinate with the design team to determine where they are planning to install the PA system. Then I would contact your AHJ to see if they're comfortable with treating this area as the central location providing the requirements established by NFPA 101 Section 188.8.131.52.3.
Good luck with your project!
I would agree with everyone if the assembly areas in the educational occupancies were the same occupants that were regularly present. Otherwise, the education occupancies could be separated by fire barriers and has independent exit access in accordance with Section 6.1 from the assembly occupancies where different occupants are not regularly present in the building. The separated assembly occupancy must comply with 12.3.4.
Rfdacm has made a good point because of the mixed use of school buildings. Educational Occupancy from 8 AM to 4 PM Monday - Friday. Then Assembly Occupancy from 4 PM to 10 PM and Saturday 8 AM to 10 PM.
Educational occupancies primarily include the large numbers of young people found inschool buildings.
Assembly occupancies generally contain large numbers of people who are unfamiliarwith the space and are, therefore, subject to indecision regarding the best means of egress in anemergency.
Shouldn't the building comply with the most restrictive applications of NFPA section 14.3.4 or 12.3.4?
My 2 sense!
It does look to me like the Educational requirements are equal or more restrictive than the Assembly ones, so I suspect this covers the issue? At least with regard to alarm systems...
Yes. All the bases have been covered.
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