Fire Alarm Transmission Times

Q: What is the requirement in time that a fire alarm needs to be transmitted to the fire department? Our fire alarm communication automatic dialer takes nearly 3 minutes to transmit an alarm to the monitoring company, and we are concerned this is too long.

A: Section 19.3.4 (18.3.4 for new construction) of the LSC requires the fire alarm system in the hospital to comply with section 9.6, which in turn requires the fire alarm system to be installed, tested and maintained according to NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code (1999 edition). Section 5-5.3.2.1.4 of NFPA 72 requires the digital transmitter (automatic dialer) to communicate with the digital receiver at the monitoring company in no more than 90 seconds. NFPA 72 requires the transmitter to retry a minimum of 5 times and a maximum of 10 times if the dialer fails to communicate with the receiver. Each retry is only allowed 90 seconds as well. According to 5-2.6.1.1 and A.5-2.6.1.1 the time to transmit the alarm signal from the monitoring company (central station) to the local fire responding unit (fire department) also is 90 seconds. You may be cited by an AHJ if the signal transmission process takes more time than allowed.