When is a Fire Alarm System Required?


When is a Fire Alarm System Required?

Most buildings contain some type of battery-operated smoke detector or fire alarm to protect occupants. While this may be adequate for a single-family dwelling or home workshop, commercial and multi-family residential properties are required by fire and building codes to have commercial fire alarm systems installed.

The professionals at Newport Network Solutions, Inc. can help you determine when a fire alarm system is required for your commercial property and the importance of proper installation and maintenance. 

IBC Requirements for Commercial Fire Alarm Systems

The International Building Code (IBC) outlines the types of structures requiring commercial fire alarm systems to safeguard life and property from fire and explosion hazards. According to Section 907.2: 

An approved fire alarm system installed following the provisions of this code and NFPA 72 shall be provided in new buildings and structures per Sections 907.2.1 through 907.2.23.

Sections 907.2.1 through 907.2.23 refer to the types of buildings required to install fire alarm systems for code compliance professionally. 

Offices & Service Providers (Group B)

Group B includes office buildings and those that house service providers such as:

  • Ambulatory care facilities
  • Professional services (architects, dentists, physicians, attorneys, etc.)
  • Print shops
  • Electronic data processing
  • Barber and beauty shops
  • Motor vehicle showrooms
  • Dry cleaners and laundries

A commercial alarm system is a code requirement in buildings classified under Group B if one or more of the following apply:

  1. The combined occupant load for all floors is greater than or equal to 500.
  2. The occupant load is more than 100 persons at the lowest level of exit discharge.
  3. An ambulatory care facility is contained within the fire area.

The storage of records and accounts also falls under Group B.

Retail Stores (Group M)

Facilities considered part of Group M include, but are not limited to:

  • Retail and wholesale store
  • Markets
  • Drug stores
  • Department stores
  • Sales rooms
  • Gasoline stations
  • Plant nurseries

If one or more of the following is true, retail stores and merchandising facilities must install a fire alarm system.

  1. The combined occupant load on all floors is greater than or equal to 500 persons.
  2. The occupant load is more than 100 persons above or below the lowest level of exit discharge.

Manual alarm boxes are not required when a building is equipped with an automatic sprinkler system installed per IBC Section 903.3.1.

Places of Assembly (Group A)

Places of assembly holding 50 or more people are classified under occupancy Group A. 

  • Movie theaters
  • Places of religious worship
  • Libraries 
  • Museums
  • Stadiums
  • Indoor swimming pools
  • Nightclubs
  • Art galleries

Buildings under group A require a commercial fire alarm system if one or more of the following is true:

  1. Assembly occupant load is 300 or more.
  2. The occupant load is more than 100 persons above or below the lowest level of exit discharge.

Manual fire alarm boxes are not required if an automatic sprinkler system is installed.

Other Commercial Facilities

Additional facilities requiring commercial fire alarm systems depending on occupancy include:

  • Group E – Schools
  • Group F – Low Hazard Industrial Facilities
  • Group H – High Hazard Manufacturing Operations
  • Group I – Institutional Facilities (daycares, correctional facilities, hospitals)
  • Group R – Residential Properties, including dormitories and hotels
  • Group S – Storage Facilities

Newport Network Solutions provides comprehensive fire alarm systems to protect businesses, employees, and customers from fire hazards. 

Commercial Fire Alarm System Requirements in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, Act 270 establishes a uniform commercial building code. Municipalities are allowed to grandfather fire detection, suppression, and prevention ordinances related to construction, alteration, or addition to a public building or place of employment.  

Fire Alarm System Testing, Inspection, and Maintenance

NNS Inc. provides commercial fire alarm system installation, monitoring, and maintenance to meet the needs of businesses. Our experienced team of dedicated professionals will work with you to design a custom fire alarm system created to meet your specific needs. We will install a fully functional code-compliant system onsite to NFPA 72 standards.

Post installation, NNS Inc. technicians will service your fire alarm system regularly with testing, inspection, and cleaning of the system. If any problems are detected, appropriate personnel will be dispatched to resolve the issue. Monitoring and emergency service are provided 24/7.     

For more information or to request a quote, contact Newport Network Solutions, Inc. in Southeastern Wisconsin today.

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