Chicago is a city known for high rise construction and some of the world’s largest buildings. City building codes and requirements include very specific instructions for the placement and types of fire detection systems. Architects and building managers are required to meet very specific standards for fire alarm types, performance and maintenance frequency. As the compliance guide for fire alarm inspection process for fire detection and warning systems, the National Fire Prevention Association has issued a set of guidelines known as NFPA 72. This handbook of requirements provides detailed guidance in every aspect of high rise and other building fire prevention elements.
Fire Alarm Audibility
Fire detection and notification systems that are not working properly are a life-threatening hazard. During a fire alarm inspection, inspectors in Chicago focus much of their attention on the audible volume of fire alarm systems to ensure that every occupant of a building is plainly aware of a potential fire event taking place in the building. The inspectors focus specifically on both the volume of the equipment as well as the number and location. In Chicago, NFPA 72 requires that the alarm system must be heard in even the most remote locations at a level well above normal ambient sound levels. The measurement should reach a level of 15 decibels over ambient temperature.
The key issue here is to define what the ambient noise level may be, given that in some apartments, say, a TV may be blaring and other noise taking place. So the inspectors may require considerably higher volume levels that 15db in some situations.
Fire Alarm Speakers
For Chicago buildings over 800 feet in height, fire alarm speakers are required to direct individuals to the proper areas for evacuation. These speakers should be placed in elevator lobbies and other areas over 5,000 square feet to allow central control personnel to manage a safe evacuation of the building. These keep stairways from becoming overly clogged at any one time and allows for an orderly evacuation of the building. The volume of these notification devices must also be strictly controlled.
Fire Alarm Inspection by High Rise Security Systems (HRSS)
In Chicago, fire-related devices should be inspected and tested regularly by a professional licensed company. Malfunction can mean a life-endangering event. Testing the detection capability, fire suppressants and sprinklers systems, and all warning systems such as alarms and voice command apparatus must be done regularly.