Q: I can’t seem to find anything in NFPA 72-2010 that says a facility is required to transmit a fire alarm signal to an off-site supervisory station. Our health care facility currently does not contract with an off-site station, and our procedure is to contact the fire department directly by phone when an alarm is received. Can you comment and provide some insight on this please?
A: Wait… what? This does not sound very good… What kind of healthcare facility are you? A hospital? An Ambulatory Surgical Center? According to the 2012 LSC, section 220.127.116.11.2.1 for hospitals, and section 18.104.22.168.2.1 for ASC, you need to comply with section 9.6.4 in regards to fire department notification. Section 22.214.171.124 requires that you communicate the fire alarm signal to the local fire department in one of the following methods:
- Auxiliary fire alarm system
- Central station fire alarm system
- Proprietary supervising station fire alarm system
- Remote supervising station fire alarm system
What you described is a manual transmitting system, which is not permitted for hospitals or ASCs. What I’ve observed most hospitals use is the Central Station Fire Alarm System which uses a modem to communicate to a central monitoring station that automatically relays any fire alarm signals to the local fire department. What you have described is a serious violation and one that CMS would consider to be a trigger for an Immediate Jeopardy decision. I suggest you get this resolved ASAP.