Don’t Know the Code? Decipher It Here.

By Mark Snodgrass, Fire Alarm System Designer, NICET-IV, Checkview Corporation

Know Fire Code

Do you have a fire alarm system or sprinkler monitoring system in your building? If so, the National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) requires that your system be tested and inspected in order to stay in proper working order. NFPA 72 is the standard that has been adopted by every jurisdiction in the United States. Furthermore, insurance companies also require compliance with the NFPA 72 standards. Even though technology related electronic systems are not designed to last forever, you still want the most out of your system and your investment. With certainty, a properly maintained system will last much longer than one that's been neglected. Whether you need help with NFPA 72 compliance or help with protecting your system, you need to know the code.

Know the Difference

Often times, the terms "inspection" and "testing" are confused with one another. Do you know the difference? It is important to understand the difference between each to ensure you are compliant with NFPA 72 standards.


Inspection is a visual spot check of a device to verify:

  1. The device appears intact and functional
  2. Nothing in the surrounding environment has changed that may affect the device's ability to operate properly

For example, if a device has become detached from the wall or ceiling and is just hanging by the connecting wires, this obviously is not right. If a strobe is blocked because a vending machine has been moved in front of it, this is also not right. Both examples are situations that would result in an 'out of compliance' violation.


Testing is a functional method of operating a device to verify the device works the way it is designed to work. Possible tests may include:

  • Spraying canned smoke into a smoke detector
  • Running inspector's test valve on the sprinkler system to flow water
  • Turning a sprinkler valve, etc…

You need to be aligned with a service provider who is prepared to handle the high demands of the NFPA 72 inspection and testing. NFPA 72 inspection and testing frequencies vary depending upon the type of fire alarm device. Some will have to be tested and inspected more frequently than others. Intervals of testing and inspection are not optional; they are required.

A typical fire alarm system will require four scheduled site visits per year, one per quarter, in order to stay in compliance with NFPA 72 requirements. Inspections will be performed during all four site visits, while two of the four site visits will also include device testing.

Take the headache out of deciphering fire code compliance, and let a competent service provider such as Checkview maintain your fire alarm system in accordance with the NFPA 72 inspection and testing requirements. The best resource is available nationwide with highly trained technicians who are ready to help you know the code to stay in compliance. No deciphering necessary.


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