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more on grandfathered fire alarms
May 31, 2017
more on grandfathered fire alarms from May 20, 2017
    I love reading all your info. So informative!  I'm not one to comment but the "key switch" thing is killing me here.
    First off what state and county?  The AHJ is really the one to dictate what must be done but there are still the basic rules to follow.
    The term "grandfathered" means it was installed in accordance with the laws at that time and is still acceptable but if there is significant change in the use of the building or major construction than the system must be brought up to code.  Replacing old equipment for new is usually accepted for repairs as long as the functionality is the same.
    The poster said he was quoting an upgrade. I'm assuming adding, replacing and reusing devices. First off a new control panel must be cross listed with all devices connected, period.  Can't image the non-ul key switches will qualify.  Second what moron decided a silence switch in each apartment was a good idea?  That person, the Salesman, Building Owner, Installer, Inspector and Service person should all be fired.  "The stupid fire alarm is going off just hit the switch and we can go back to bed". Who the heck would sign off on that and sleep at night besides the dead tenants? Also is there a fire warden, Evacuation plan, Fire drills?  The building sounds large enough that these things should to be in place.
    The upgrades suggested are the current code and I can't see how those silence switches could or should stay under any code.
    Probably should add CO detectors too if not already mandated.
Matt Imken
APS Security
    Wow, a whole lot to unpack there.  Here are my thoughts:

  • If the FACP can be replaced with the exact same model of panel, then to me this is a maintenance issue and not a permit issue.  Granted, that the entire system should be tested per NFPA 72 to confirm that the programming was correctly transferred and/or recreated.  I would update the Record of Completion (RoC) to reflect this change, as new firmware/software revs likely apply.
  • In your case, you are replacing the panel with a different system, and thus new documentation (as-builts, calcs, and RoC) needs to be created, and this should be done under a permit (in my opinion).
  •  Since you are pulling a permit, can you be made to upgrade to current Code requirements?  This has a lot of variables to it, but the bottom line in my opinion is yes.  My questions for the AHJ would be do they have the requirement in writing as a locally adopted ordinance?  Is he/she enforcing it whether as a "opinion Code" or ordinance uniformly in the Jurisdiction?  If not, is there a specific reason why they deem this particular building to be in need of upgrade?  - note that I do not agree with allowing horn and LF sounders in the same dwelling unit.  I think the best practice is to use horn/strobes in the common halls/corridors, etc... of the building and LFS in the entire dwelling unit.
  • I agree, some jobs are just better to walk away from.

    As I close this, another path forward on future projects occurs to me.  Have the Owner invite the AHJ to review the building, if it is not already on their radar, and ask the questions as I have basically outlined above.

  • If replacing with same make/model, what is the process?
  • If replacing with a different system, what is the process?
  • They should ask for the AHJ to respond in writing, so that the Owner can pass that information to all firms that may be bidding the project.  Note that the open ended question makes it incumbent on the AHJ to note what upgrades, if any they will require.

    If the Owner will do this, you will have a level playing field moving forward, and you can make a go/no go decision on whether to bid.
    (As a shameless plug, I am always available to help Owners navigate the process for a small fee..... contact info below.)  Hope this helps.
Dave Miller, SET
MCG Design Services
    Your plug is not shameless and anyone who needs fire alarm assistance would be wise to contact you.  Everyone is encouraged to participate on this forum and I know that many appreciate the advice provided.


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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
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