Security Business

JUN 2019

Find news and information for the executive corporate security director, CSO, facility manager and assets protection manager on issues of policy, products, incidents, risk management, threat assessments and preparedness.

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40 Security Business / / June 2019 Back to School SECURITY Fire & Life Safety BY GREG KESSINGER, SET, CFPS, IMSA, CDT, ICC School EVAC System Rules A fire alarm system primer for new educational occupancies New schools are graduating to modern emergency notification methods – also known as EVAC (emergency voice/alarm communication) systems – and the fire alarm system you install will be providing the primary backbone. With the ability to broadcast emergency messages both automatically and manually, our fire alarm voice EVAC systems may aid in the effort to keep schools safe; in fact, any new school building with an occupant load of more than 30 persons now requires an EVAC fire alarm system. Here’s a closer look at some of the codes you should be aware of: IBC Rules for EVAC Systems The EVAC requirements are found a few pages after the fire alarm requirements based on occupancy in Section 907 of the International Building Code. This section requires you to follow the rules in NFPA 72 for the design and installation of EVAC systems. There are additional optional features and functions that are listed, but not required by NFPA 72; and Section 907 addresses this by providing a few paragraphs indicating which of these features and functions they want applied. Upon receipt of a fire alarm signal, the system must first sound an alert signal (tone) to get everyone’s attention. After the tone has sounded (which is used for measuring the audibility level), an approved recorded voice message is to be broadcast throughout the building. Schools generally do not have “staged evacuation” as described by NFPA 72, but will normally sound a “general evacuation” message that will be in accordance with the building’s fire safety and evacuation plans – as required by the fire code. Schools must submit their emergency evacuation plans, which must be approved by the state/local fire officials. Ask for a copy of the school’s state-approved fire safety and evacuation plan before you program the EVAC messages, and how they will be initiated – as they must be in accordance with those pre-approved emergency plans. Manual Pull Boxes Your customer may choose to eliminate the installation of manual pull boxes at each exit if the building is equipped with smoke detectors in the hallways and heat detectors (or any other suitable type) installed in the auditoriums, cafeterias, gymnasiums and similar student areas. If there are shops or laboratories where dust or vapors are found, then these rooms must also be protected with heat detectors or other automatic detection methods. If they choose all of these solutions, you may omit all but one manual pull box – as manual pulls are often omitted when malicious activation by the student population may be a concern. The choice can be made by the school district and not the code official, since the automatic detection “exception” is a pre-approved equal. In case you were wondering, the one manual pull box still required by the building code may not to be installed in a riser room, as is the norm with sprinkler monitoring systems. In this case, it is intended that any building occupant have access to it, if necessary. This is why it is not permitted for this lone manual pull box to be installed in the attendance office or any other space that is locked during after-school hours for club or intramural sports activities. Even if just a single teacher or janitor is present, the pull box must be accessible. If the school has chosen to install a fire sprinkler system in the building, you may still eliminate all but one manual pull box – although it will present no real savings for the school Schools generally do not have "staged evacuation" as described by NFPA 72, but will normally sound a 'general evacuation' message that will be in accordance with the building's fire safety and evacuation plans – as required by the fire code.

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