Fire Alarm Design NFPA Compliant

Superior NFPA Compliant Designs

Our superior fire alarm designs are compliant with NFPA codes and standards, including the Fire Code and National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

Effective Fire Alarm Systems

The fire alarm systems we design are effective in all eventualities from restaurant kitchen fires to terrorist events and the full range of related emergencies.

Alarm Systems to Meet Your Needs

Our solutions cater for the full range of needs including household, protected premises, supervisory alarms, and public emergency alarm reporting systems.

Get In Touch

Building & Fire Codes

Firefighter training

Legislation That Governs Structural Fire Safety

Building codes and more specific fire codes, as well as other legislation including local laws, govern the design, assembly, and installation of fire protection systems including fire alarms. Legislation applicable to New York includes the International Fire Code (IFC), Fire Code of New York State, the NYC Fire Code, and the NYC Building Code. Other cities and states have similar legislation.

Two other definitive pieces of legislation relating to fire in New York are the NYC Local Law 26, first published in 2004, and the NYC Local Law 33, adopted in 2007.

LL26 effectively made changes to the existing NYC Fire Code, promoting and enhancing fire safety in the City by adopting fire safety regulations that were more modern and comprehensive. A long-term final deadline of July 1, 2019, was set for the mandatory inclusion of sprinkler systems in all high rise buildings over 100 feet that house businesses.

LL33 involves all the City’s construction codes, viz. the NYC Plumbing, Building, Mechanical, and City Fuel Gas Codes and relates to all issues relating to fire safety in these codes.

Creation of both these local laws relied on the International Code Council’s “model codes.”

National codes and standards, including the Fire Code and others formulated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), are often cross-referenced in other codes. One of these, NFPA 72, the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, is a 418-page document that focuses more specifically on fire alarm systems. Compliance with this code is vital for fire alarm design.

Fire & Building Codes

The International Fire Code is a flexible model code that has established minimum regulations for fire protection and fire prevention systems using provisions that are prescriptive and performance related. Its principles are broad-based and allow for the possibility of using new, alternative, and innovative materials and system designs. The most recent IFC was published in 2018 and the next version will be released in 2021.

The Fire Code of New York State, which is based on the IFC, applies to everything regarding fire and fire hazards that relate to processes, premises, structures, and includes safeguards. All matters related to the construction, extension, alteration, repair, or removal of alarm and fire suppression systems are also included in the Code.

The NYS Code also governs or specifies:

  • Systems that relate to fire and smoke prevention, including smoke barriers designed to restrict the movement of smoke in a building, and fire walls that prevent the passage of fire.
  • Standards for the inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire protection systems including fire alarm systems, water-mist systems, fire extinguishers, and various other fire-extinguishing systems. These are all NFPA standards (see NFPA Compliance below).
  • Fire alarm shop drawings including the locations of devices that initiate alarms, alarm notification appliances, fire alarm control units, and power connections.
  • Various factors relating to emergency voice/alarm communication systems, manual fire alarm boxes, automatic smoke detection systems, duct smoke detectors, manual fire alarm systems, and smoke alarms in relation to various buildings and premises.

The NYC Fire Code also covers everything related to fire and fire prevention and, amongst other things, has sections that provide:

  • General precautions against fire to both prevent fire and the spread of fire.
  • Regulations for fire protection systems including:
    • Sprinkler systems.
    • Fire extinguishing systems, some of which incorporate audible and/or visible alarms and warning signs, particularly where automatic-extinguishing agents might be hazardous to occupants of a building.
    • Fire alarm and detection systems that include manual fire alarm boxes, pre-signal systems, fire extinguishing systems, and automatic telephone-dialing devices that are used to transmit emergency alarms.
    • Emergency alarm systems for specific occupancy types.
    • Smoke control systems.

As mentioned above, NYC Local Law 33 resulted in the adoption of new construction codes, including a new building code that was based on the International Building Code.

While the current NYC Building Code relates primarily to construction, it also several sections that cover fire, including:

  • The smoke and protection features of buildings.
  • Fire protection systems, including fire alarm and detection systems that must be designed and installed in accordance with NFPA standards, as well as emergency alarm systems.
  • Modified NFPA national standards for automatic sprinklers, standpipes, fire pumps, and fire alarm systems.

Get Pricing On a New MEP Design Proposal in Fewer than 24 Hours

Request a proposal →

NFPA Compliance


NFPA Codes & Standards

The NFPA, established more than a century ago in 1896, is a self-funded nonprofit organization that is dedicated to eliminating death, injury, and any form of property or economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. Widely known as a codes and standards organization, it has produced more than 300 consensus codes, which leave the final determination of the provisions in codes to public safety officials with no vested financial interests. These are approved by the American National Standards Institute.

The NFPA is also regarded as the premier resource for fire data analysis and research. Many NSPA standards are regarded as industry benchmarks and are referenced in legislation, including the codes listed above.

But even though the NFPA establishes rules and administers the process of developing codes and standards, the Association does not independently test, evaluate, or even verify the accuracy of any of the information contained in NFPA standards.

Furthermore, the NFPA doesn’t have the power to enforce compliance with its codes and standards. But there are various enforcing authorities that are responsible for enforcing its standards. These are known as the authority having jurisdiction (ASJ). For example:

  • The Fire Prevention Organization & Deployment committee is responsible for enforcing NFPA 1730: Standard on Organization and Deployment of Fire Prevention Inspection and Code Enforcement, Plan Review, Investigation, and Public Education Operations
  • The Fire Reporting committee is responsible for enforcing NFPA 901: Standard Classifications for Incident Reporting and Fire Protection Data

The NFPA requires users of its codes and standards to consult applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. These specify when NFPA standards, including anything relating to fire alarm design, must be complied with.

The NFPA Fire Code

The NFPA 1 Fire Code of the National Fire Protection Association was initiated in 1971 in response to the need for a document that covered all aspects of fire protection and prevention including what was used in other developed NFPA codes and standards. Its declared purpose is to “prescribe minimum requirements necessary to establish a reasonable level of fire and life safety and property protection from the hazards created by fire, explosion, and dangerous conditions.” Fire alarms systems are only a part of this but, nonetheless, a vital part.

While many changes have been made to the Fire Code over time, the current NFPA 1 Fire Code 2018 is a lengthy 801-page document that references more than 130 other NFPA codes and standards, including many that are considered to be industry benchmarks. It will be valid for a total of three years until the next version is published in 2021.

In a nutshell, the NFPA Fire Code provides a comprehensive, integrated approach to hazard management and fire code regulations by tackling fire and life safety for both the public and first responders, as well as protection of property.

Absolutely everything regarding fire prevention and protection is covered in the Fire Code including:

  • General safety requirements from fire protection markings to building evacuations.
  • Building services that relate to electrical fire safety, HVAC, elevators and escalators, heating appliances, smoke control, and more.
  • Fire protection systems that include:
    • detection, alarm, and communications systems
    • automatic sprinklers
    • fire pumps
    • standpipe systems
    • water supply
    • portable fire extinguishers
  • Means of egress including door openings, protection of stairs, emergency lighting, and secondary means of escape.
  • Fire Department access and water supply.
  • Occupancy fire safety for different types (as in occupancies) of buildings.

Other NFPA Codes & Standards

There are more than 300 consensus codes and standards published by the NFPA that are administered by more than 250 technical committees that involve about 8,000 volunteers.

Some of the benchmark codes and standards that are referenced in the Fire Code include:

  • NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
  • NFPA 101: Life Safety Code
  • NFPA 54: National Fuel Gas Code
  • NFPA 58: Liquefied Petroleum Gas Code
  • NFPA 30: Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code
  • NFPA 13: Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems
  • NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Services

These, and another 143 are mentioned in the Fire Code and are considered to be a part of the Code. Of these, 52 are referenced for extracts in mandatory sections of the Code.

Additionally, a number of other publications are referenced. These have been published by a wide range of relevant associations, agencies, commissions, committees, institutes, and laboratories: the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Petroleum Institute (API Publications), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), ASTM International, the Compressed Gas Association (CGA), the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), FM Global, the International Electrotechnical Commission (ETC), the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors (NBBPVI), the National Railroad Freight Committee (NRFC), the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the Steel Tank Institute (STI), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC), the United Nations (UN) International, and the U.S. Government.

Several of the publications produced by ANSI and/or UL include standards that relate directly to fire safety and fire alarm design. For example the Standard for Antitheft Alarms and Devices.

Looking for an MEP Engineering Design Services?

Contact Us →

National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code


The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, NFPA 72-2019, focuses on fire alarm systems and deals with everything that relates to fire detection, signaling, and emergency communications. It also provides specific requirements for design.

The Code contains chapters on:

  • Fundamental, including alarm signals and emergency voice/alarm communications systems.
  • Inspection, testing, and maintenance.
  • Initiating devices that text heat, smoke, fire, gas, and/or carbon monoxide.
  • Notification appliances that may be audible, visual, textual, graphical, or tactile.
  • Alarm and signaling systems for protected premises.
  • Emergency communications systems.
  • Public emergency alarm reporting systems.
  • Single- and multiple-station alarms and household signaling systems.

Additionally, there is an engineering guide for automatic fire detector spacing, a system performance and design guide, wiring diagrams and a guide for testing fire alarm circuits, and guidelines for emergency communication strategies for buildings and campuses.

The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code classifies alarms as well as emergency communications systems.

  • Fire alarm systems are classified as household or protected premises.
  • Supervisory station alarm systems include:
    • Central station alarm systems
    • Remote alarm systems
    • Proprietary alarm systems
  • Public emergency alarm reporting systems:
    • Local energy type
    • Shunt type
  • One-way and two-way emergency communication systems.

More specifically, an alarm is described as, “An indication of the existence of a condition that requires immediate response.” Four types are singled out:

  1. Carbon monoxide alarms with single or multiple stations.
  2. Manual fire alarm boxes that are manually operated devices used to initiate fire alarm signals.
  3. Master alarm boxes that are publicly accessible and can be operated by remote initiating devices or an auxiliary alarm system that is used to send an alarm to the communications center.
  4. Publicly accessible alarm boxes that house manually operated transmitters that send an alarm to the communications center.

In addition, this code has information on mass notification systems for fire and weather emergencies, terrorist events, and biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies.

Clearly, there is a myriad of codes and standards required to ensure that any fire alarm design is NFA compliant. You can rely on New York Engineers to make certain that your fire alarm system is not only compliant but works the way it should to effectively save lives and property.

Have an MEP Engineering Project? Talk To Us.