Class A Wiring for Fire Alarm Systems

Q: Is Class ‘A’ wiring required in new construction for new fire alarm systems?

A: Per NFPA 72-2010, chapter 23.4.3.1, unless a class of wiring is determined by a local AHJ or the owner, it’s a design decision, based on an evaluation of site specific conditions and the needs of the facility.  There’s nothing in NFPA 101, 72 or 70 that mandates a particular pathway class must be used in a particular occupancy for fire alarm systems.  The only mandates are what devices go in (based on the LSC); where they go in (based on NFPA72) and the physical attributes of the conduit & conductors, along with their mounting methods (based on NFPA 70).

Many times healthcare notification circuits are subject to survivability requirements because they do not have general evacuation, but the intent of survivability is to provide continuity of service through physical protection of the conductors from attack by fire rather than to ensure continuity of service due to any circuit break.  Some design engineers equate survivability with Class A wiring, but that’s a mistake.  Class A wiring may be used in conjunction with other factors such as sprinkler coverage as a performance means of achieving survivability in lieu of the prescriptive method, but it’s not required.

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.