NFPA & IFC Code Requirements

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) was founded in 1896, with a focus on sprinkler technology and electrical safety, the body has since broadened its scope to include numerous items of concern. Many, if not most, firefighters are familiar with NFPA standards such as 1901, which covers fire apparatus; 1001, which covers firefighter professional standards; and 1971, which relates to structural and proximity gear. But with more than 300 codes and standards from which to choose, it stands to reason that certain documents may not be universally familiar.

One such set of regulations is NFPA-1221: Standard for the Installation, Maintenance, and Use of Emergency Services Communications Systems. While lesser known than many standards, 1221 has a direct impact on every department and on every call. Contained within the pages are best practices on everything from computer-aided dispatch (CAD) to staffing and facility design. Also included are sections covering communication and signal wiring, operations, telephones, dispatching systems, testing, records, data security and public alerting systems.

It is important to note that NFPA-1221 does not require an emergency communication system to be installed. Rather, it provides the design, installation, and maintenance requirements and guidelines for systems (if they are required by local codes or other governing authorities or if an owner decides to voluntarily implement an emergency communication system within a building or area.)

The requirements vary by building type and occupancy, and the local jurisdictions may have additional requirements. Always check with the local code enforcement office and/or fire marshal’s office.

Certain states or jurisdictions have adopted the NFPA-72/1221 code which requires specific Public Safety standards be met to support two-way radio communications within buildings. (Additional requirements may be mandated by the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction)

It is important to note that the NFPA/IFC codes do not require an emergency communication system to be installed. Rather, it provides the criteria for testing, design, installation, and maintenance requirements and guidelines for systems if they are required

The requirements vary by building type and occupancy, and the local jurisdiction may have additional requirements. Always check with the local code enforcement office and/or fire marshal’s office.

Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)

  • Definition: “An organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing the requirements of a code or standard, or for approving equipment, materials, an installation, or a procedure.” This is usually the local Fire Marshall or designator.
  • AHJs vary in their strict adherence to code and their level of enforcement. Many jurisdictions have codes in place that go beyond those set by the NFPA/IFC, so it is important to partner with a fire protection provider that understands the specific regulations.
  • The AHJ is the ultimate authority of the NFPA/IFC codes
  • The design of the system shall be approved by the AHJ