Emergency Communication Systems: Building Code Requirements

Posted by Zach Nelson on May 21, 2021 11:35:47 PM

During the 2015 Seminar Series titled Trending Now! #FireProtection: Technologies Impacting the Future, Lee Kaiser spoke about emergency communications in fire alarm systems. In the video excerpt below, you can watch as he explains the step-by-step process to find the building code requirements as needed for new buildings.

Want Access to the Full Video?

There is much more information available in the full video than we will be releasing in our blog series. Don't miss out! If you'd like to watch the entire Emergency Communication Systems portion of the seminar, click here to receive the full video. 


Lee: So, you maybe have the question, "If I was going to build a new building, how do I find if a voice alarm system is required or not?" So, let's step through that.

This flow chart sort of shows us how to do that. First, we'd have to figure out what code's applicable for our new building, and let's just assume that's the 2012 International Building Code. Inside of that code, you start to research what occupancies are part of my building. So, I'd look at Chapter 3, which is the occupancy chapter, and figure out which occupancies are appropriate.

I take that information and go into the fire protection system's chapter, which is Chapter 9, and then I determine whether or not a voice fire alarm system is required. If I find that one is, my job's not done. Now I need to set the performance requirements for that system by working with the building owner, and from there flow into what features I'm going to specify for that system.

Let's see where those systems are actually required out of the code. So, again to step through it, 2012 International Building Code Chapter 9 is where all the fire protection system requirements are. Section 907 is where we have fire alarm and detection systems. And then for those emergency voice alarm communication systems—is what that code calls it—these are all the different locations, building types, occupancies where voice alarm systems are required. So, let's just pick a few out of there; assembly occupancies with occupant loads in excess of a thousand people; educational occupancies including K through 12 schools and daycare facilities.

Now, one thing you won't see on that list is colleges and universities. That's because the code looks at those buildings as business occupancies and business occupancies don't require voice alarm systems, except that they're pretty popular for those occupancies anyway. And then high-rise buildings—we see a lot of voice alarm systems in high-rise buildings because those can be pretty complicated places to egress. And so, voice alarm systems can help in those types of buildings.

This is the fifth video in our Emergency Communications video series. Watch the other parts at the links below:

 You can also watch our previous series on Trending Technology Clean Agent Systems and on Dialer and Communicator Technology Changes at the links below.

Trending Technology Clean Agent Systems:

Ask an Expert

Topics: Technology Changes, Emergency Communications

Featured Download

Subscribe to the Fire Protection Blog