BCAB #1435 - Fire Alarm Annunciator Visibility, Sentence, Two Buildings Controlled From One Fire Alarm Control Panel

February 19, 1997

BCAB #1435

Re: Fire Alarm Annunciator Visibility, Sentence, Two Buildings Controlled From One Fire Alarm Control Panel

Project Description

The project in question consists of an office building and a classroom building connected by a covered walkway between their respective entrances. An electrical room serving both buildings is located underground below the walkway and is accessible by an exterior doorway and an interior door from the office building. There is a fire alarm system in both buildings with a single control panel in the electrical room and an annunciator panel at the entrance to each building. Activation of the alarm in either building will sound the alarm in both buildings.

Reason for Appeal

The building official has requested a fire alarm control panel for each building and that the annunciator panel for the classroom building be visible from outside the main entry. It is currently located inside the entry area and not visible from the exterior because of the tinted glass used in the entry area windows.

Appellant's Position

The appellant contends that the single control panel and the annunciator for the classroom building comply with code. Sentence permits spaces on either side of a 1 hour fire separation to be considered separate buildings for the purposes of installing a fire alarm system but does not indicate each space must have its own control panel. It should be acceptable to consider two connected buildings with a common electrical room the same way. As for the annunciator, there is no requirement for it to be visible from the exterior of the building. Sentence only requires it be in close proximity to the building entrance.

Building Official's Position

The building official maintains that each building must be served by its own fire alarm system and control panel. Subsection 1.1.3. defines "alarm signal" as an audible signal transmitted "throughout a building." This seems to imply one signal to one building, not two or more buildings. Activation of the alarm in both buildings will lead to confusion for occupants and apathy toward evacuation. It is also noted that fire alarm installation standard, CAN/ULC-S524, does not identify that two buildings may be served by one control panel.

The building official considers the office building annunciator location to be acceptable because it is located for "convenient viewing and operation" as required by CAN/ULC-S524. However, the classroom building annunciator is not considered to comply with this requirement because one must enter the building lobby to view and operate it.

Appeal Board Decision #1435

It is the determination of the Board that the location of the annunciator panels is acceptable and the fire alarm systems in both buildings are permitted to be controlled from a single control panel. There are no requirements in either the code or the fire alarm installation standard that the annunciator panel be visible from outside the building. Neither the code or the standard prohibit two systems from being controlled from a single control panel.

George R. Humphrey, Chair