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Apr 18, 2022

On this episode we are speaking about manual fire alarm boxes. Codes standards, definitions, and installation details are all discussed in this solocast.



Hello. Welcome to the solo cast of fire code tech in these episodes. It's just gonna be me, your host, Gus Gagliardi. There's gonna be a range of topics, but I'm gonna talk about specific technologies, installation, standards, codes, and how they work as well as some other interesting topics that don't neatly fit inside of the context of a normal interview.

Welcome to episode 33 of fire code. On this episode, we're talking about manual poll stations. Yes. Our first episode ever of the solo cast series was about duct detectors, which was a bit of a deviation from a lot of the other episodes that I've done in the solo cast series, where we look at a really broad topic like fire alarm systems or fire sprinkler systems, and then just kind of.

Broad overview, but I wanted to talk about manual pool stations in much the way that we talked about duck smoke detectors in the first solo cast episode. In this episode, we're going to be talking about codes and standards around manual pool stations. When these systems are required. As well as installation details of manual fire alarm boxes.

Before we get started with the show, don't forget to subscribe. So you never miss an episode and follow us on social media. Also, if you could give us a five star review on apple podcast, that would be a big help. NFPA 72 defines what a manual fire alarm box is. So I wanted to frame our discussion with this definition to get us started off.

It's pretty broad. It states in the 2016 version of NFPA 72 section 3.3 point 12.3 manual fire alarm box says a manually operated device used to initiate a fire alarm signal. You can also commonly hear these devices referred to as pool stations. There are a couple different types of pool stations.

Usually there are. Single action or double action. Uh, if it's single action that is just a pull or just a push. And if it's double action, it's two steps. So it could be, uh, lift and pull or a push and pull. So there are a couple of different styles of devices. And depending on the codes and standards used, you may be required to use the double action manual pool station.

If you're working on UFC 3, 600 0 1 compliant jobs, you would be required to provide double action type manual pool stations and all, except for a couple very specific locations, uh, like hazardous areas, we, and dam locations, things of this nature. You can take a look at. Nine dash 18.7 0.4 and UFC 3, 600 0 1, uh, change six.

So that is for military projects for commercial projects in order to determine where these manual. Pool stations are required. You would look in the international building code for where these systems are referenced. There are a couple of different places you can look that might require manual pool stations, but specifically I would recommend first taking a look at the occupancies that are prevalent in your building.

And then going to chapter nine more specifically, section 9 0 7. Um, which is for fire alarm systems and take a look at the specific occupancies within your building and the thresholds for manual pool stations or manual fire boxes as, as they are called in the building code. Let's take a look at group a occupancies in 9 0 7, specifically 9 0 7 0.2 0.1 in the international building code.

So this section says a manual fire alarm system that activates the occupant notification system in accordance with section 9 0 7 0.5 shall be installed in group a occupancies where the occupant load due to assembly occupancy is 300 or more, or where group a occupant load is more than a hundred person.

Uh, above or below the lowest level of exit discharge. So I'm not gonna read this whole section, but I wanted to go over this first piece to show you that it not only requires a fire alarm system, but a manual fire alarm system. So that tells you that. This is not just the automatic components of a fire alarm system, but a manual means of initiation is required.

When this section is invoked. There's an exception to this section and it says manual fire alarm boxes are not required where the building is equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with 9 0 3 0.3 0.1 0.1 and the occupant notification appliances will activate through.

The notification zones upon sprinkler water flow. This is an important caveat to the requirement in 9 0 7 0.2 0.1 for group a occupant. This means that if you have a sprinkler system with water flow devices that initiate notification upon water flow, you can exclude manual fire alarm boxes. It really depends on the occupancy that you are looking at, and then you need to read very closely.

Um, if these manual fire alarm systems are required, and if you take a look at occupancies like EI and R, there are more detailed requirements for manual fire, alarm boxes, uh, that go maybe above and beyond a business or a. Different less hazardous occupancy. Oftentimes there are provisions even where manual fire alarm boxes are excluded due to exceptions that one be provided in a constantly attended location or one be provided for the facility in order to provide manual fire alarm initiation for the facility manual fire alarm box is mentioned 25 times in section 9 0 7.

So. Do go back and read the specific provisions for manual pool stations or manual fire alarm boxes. When you're designing these for your facilities, let's talk about installation or location features in considerations for manual pool stations or manual fire alarm boxes, as they're referred to in the building code.

9 0 7 0.4 0.2 titled manual fire alarm boxes states where a manual fire alarm system is required by another section of this code, it shall be activated by the fire alarm boxes installed in accordance with sections 9 0 7 0.4 0.2 0.1 through 9 0 7 0.4 0.2 0.6. Location manual fire alarm boxes shall be located not more than five feet from the entrance to each exit in buildings, not protected by automatic sprinkler systems.

Additional manual fire alarm boxes shall be located so that the distance travel to the nearest box does not exceed 200 feet. So, this is a very important consideration for the location of manual fire alarm boxes. You want to provide these near the exit and optimally on the. If it is a swing type door with a knob or a handle, you want to put it on the handle side so that it is in the natural reaching position of the individual who is exiting the building.

Mounting height is critical. That's why we're gonna take a look at 9 0 7 0.4 0.2 0.2 in the international building code, which states the height of manual fire alarm boxes shall be not less than 42 inches and not more than 48 inches measured vertically from the floor level to the activating handle or level of the box mounting height and the location in regard to the door.

Extremely critical when locating manual pool stations, um, beware that some states like California have additional ADA requirements that might, uh, make 48 inches too high for a manual pool station. So, um, there are additional requirements for manual pool stations, depending on your jurisdiction and, um, ADA compliance as well.

Another consideration for fire alarm manual pool stations is that there are occupancies in which you need to not make manual fire alarm boxes accessible to the general public, like a bank or a institutional occupancy, like a prison in which the, uh, Nuisance activation of a manual pool station might prevent a safety incident of greater concern.

These are malicious false alarms, and this provision is detailed in section 9 0 7 0.4 0.2 0.5. Protective covers. Another, you know, comment about the location of manual poll stations is that you want to provide them for your points of egress. If you just have a one off mechanical room that you have in a portion of your facility and.

It is not, uh, it exits straight to the exterior from the mechanical room. You probably will not be located in a manual pool station in this portion of the facility. Really it's unless it's a, uh, government job, um, then there's a decent chance you would be, but. Very similar to fire extinguishers. You want these manual fire alarm, pool stations, conspicuously located and unobstructed.

So you don't want signage or things in the way that is, uh, a problem that is very prevalent at facilities will have these obstructed or obscured. So definitely something to think about when, um, locating these devices. Chapter 17 in NFPA 72. Is where you will find requirements for manual pool stations.

And that is chapter 17 is initiating devices. So there are a lot of mirrored requirements from the building code, um, in an FPA 72. So, um, as far as location, five feet from the door, um, 200 feet travel distance, and some other features are a mirror from the building code, but some additional information.

That's gonna do it for this episode of the solo cast series of fire code tech, but thank you all for listening and we'll see you next time. Thanks for listening everybody. Be sure to share the episode with a friend, if you enjoyed it, don't forget that fire protection and life safety is serious business.

The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are by no means a professional consultation or a codes and standards interpretation. Be sure to contact a licensed professional, if you are getting involved with fire protection and or life safety. Thanks again. And we'll see you next time.