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Visual notification devices in individual units (NFPA 101 Ch31 Apt)

Question asked by ffz290 on Mar 6, 2020
Latest reply on Mar 8, 2020 by milt.werner

In NFPA 101 (2018) Chapter 31 Existing apartment buildings it has the word designed in regards to units for hearing impaired persons. Notification. 

Occupant notification shall be provided automatically in accordance with Section 9.6, and all of the following shall also apply:

  1. (1)

    Visible signals shall be installed in units designed for the hearing impaired.

  2. (2)

    Positive alarm sequence in accordance with shall be permitted.

  3. (3)

    Existing approved presignal systems shall be permitted in accordance with


    Does the word designed mean that only those units that were designed when they were built or should it be interpreted as occupied. Would a apartment complex have to put in visual notification devices for an apartment rented out to a hearing impaired person?

    After reading the following handbook commentary it appears as though the answer would be yes. 

    9.6.3 Occupant Notification. 

    Unless otherwise provided in through, notification signals for occupants to evacuate shall be by audible and visible signals in accordance with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, and ICC/ANSI A117.1, American National Standard for Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities, or other means of notification acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction. 

    Areas not subject to occupancy by persons who are hearing impaired shall not be required to comply with the provisions for visible signals.

    Visible alarm devices, in addition to audible alarms, are needed in buildings occupied by persons who are hearing impaired. The provision of recognizes that not all buildings are subject to occupancy by those who are hearing impaired. For example, in a high hazard industrial occupancy where, due to employee safety concerns, an adequate hearing level has been judged to be a legitimate condition of employment, there should be no life safety need for visible signals in addition to the audible signals. As the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities, 18 discussed in the commentary associated with 7.2.12, receive wider implementation or are expanded in scope, few locations will exist where it is certain that persons with hearing impairments will not be present.


    I was hoping to see what the rest of this community's thoughts were in reference to this or if anyone had any prior experience with this situation previously.


    Thanks in advance!!!!