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more on NFPA 72 and passwords November 13, 2017

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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more on NFPA 72 and passwords 
November 13, 2017
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more on NFPA 72 and passwords 
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Ken,
     If requested by the OWNER of the fire alarm system, a registered firm in Texas must provide the passwords UNLESS the registered firm in turn asks the owner to sign a liability waiver. The contents of the liability waver is not specifically specified. If the OWNER refuses, then the registered firm does not have to supply said passwords.  see http://www.tdi.texas.gov/fire/documents/fmstatalarm.pdf
   Sec 34.616 (b)(6)
Upon request of the owner of the fire alarm system, a registered firm must provide all passwords,
including those for the site specific software, but the registered firm may refrain from providing that information until the system owner signs a liability waiver provided by the registered firm.
     Thanks Ken, for the work you do. Please keep my reply 
ANON
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Ken,
      Hope you have your flak jacket handy. NFPA-72 requirements are not suggestions they are requirements wherever NFPA-72 is enforceable, which is almost every state in the USA. The fire alarm codes and referenced standards are developed to protect lives and property and if some entity installs a fire alarm system that is not code compliant and there is a major loss, serious injury, or death involved, I don’t think a contract will protect the installer in front of a jury. Even if a protected premises fire alarm system is nonrequired but installed to meet specific goals intended by the system owner the fire alarm system and components must still meet the requirements of NFPA-72.
    NFPA-72 is the “National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.” NFPA-72 applies to new systems and changes to systems as well as existing systems for inspection, testing, and maintenance. The specific edition of NFPA-72 that becomes enforceable depends on the edition of the building code or fire code that is adopted by the State, Municipality, and City.
  The International Building Code and International Fire Code are the most commonly USA State adopted Building and Fire Codes followed by NFPA-5000 and NFPA-1.
     When dealing with fire alarm systems it is critical to understand the hierarchy of the rules and requirements. From State administrative codes, to adopted codes, to referenced codes and standards, to published manufacturers installation and maintenance instructions the specified requirements can be different.  
    Once NFPA-72 is referenced by the applicable building or fire code, It provides the REQUIREMENTS, not suggestions for how fire alarm systems are to be installed and maintained. In the body of the NFPA-72 the word shall is not debatable. In the Annex section which is not a part of the NFPA-72 requirements, there is some flexibility where the word should is used, but it may be difficult to battle with a fire official if you are not prepared to explain why you don’t want to comply with what should be considered. 
     The  Site-Specific software and passcode requirements of NFPA-72 have drastically changed, and it is critical that if you deal with fire systems, you know what edition of NFPA-72 you must comply with. The NFPA-72 2016 edition is very specific under section 7.5.7 regarding passwords to access site-specific software. The NFPA-2002 edition only includes the word “password” two times , once regarding enabling alarm verification and once in the annex regarding waterflow switches used to shut down elevator power.
     In New Jersey the currently adopted IBCNJ 2015 for new fire alarm systems and changes referenced standard is NFPA-72 2013, While the currently adopted IFCNJ 2006 for fire alarm system maintenance referenced standard is NFPA-72 2002. Each state and municipality can vary.
    Once you know the right adopted code and referenced NFPA-72 edition it is not too hard to figure out exactly what is required. Also make sure the fire alarm system site-specific software is stored on-site in a non-volatile, non-erasable, non-rewritable memory.
Carl Willms CFPS, SET
Fire Safety Consultants, Inc
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Response
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    Both comments are correct.  Texas law does require that the password be provided upon request to the subscriber for a fire alarm system, but the alarm company can require a full release before it reveals the password.  I am not aware of any other jurisdiction that requires revealing the password.
NFPA 72 is often adopted by the AHJ; only then does it become a law.  AHJs do not change the law yearly so the NFPA adopted is probably not the latest version.  You need to use the version adopted when complying with local building codes.  
     A building code specifies construction standards, material, design and standards.  Whether a passcode needs to be revealed seems to me to be beyond the scope of a building code.  In any event, a provision in NFPA that requires revealing the password will contravene the terms of the Standard Fire All in One, which does not require turning over the password or other programming codes.  
     Anyone know of any jurisdiction that requires turning over the passcodes?  Does NFPA require the passcode be given to the subscriber or the AHJ?
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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
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