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Example of noise analysis and alarm/alert signal design.

NFPA 72 permits a more precise design of audible alarm and alert signals when an octave or one-third octave band analysis of the noise is performed. This allows a designer to specify one or more specific frequencies for the signal to overcome the ambient noise level at specific octave or one-third octave bands. The human ear can discriminate distinct frequency bands. These bands can be thought of as pickets in a fence. The noise levels in each band must be adjusted to account for a masking effect. To know that the fire alarm signal is there, we need only “see” one of its pickets behind the adjusted noise data (threshold masked level).  This option allows an alert or warning signal to be "designed" for both audible efficiency and for maximum detection and discrimination by the human ear and brain.  We have the precision equipment to conduct detailed noise surveys and the software to process, display and design signals.  The linked document is a sample report for a measurement location. 

Strategies and Tools for Planning, Design and Use of Emergency Communications Systems

This file contains handouts from a presentation by Robert P. Schifiliti, P.E. at the 2011 NFPA Conference & Expo.  Effective communication in an emergency is a lot more than just in-building voice systems and telephone calling/text message systems (distributed recipient mass notification is the term used in NFPA 72.)  Emergency Communications Systems (ECSs), which include Mass Notification Systems (MNSs) continue to rely on the use of voice as the primary messaging and communication strategy.  However, there are other communications channels that can and must be used during the different stages of an event and to communicate with different target audiences.  There has been a tremendous advancement and evolution of communications needs, strategies, codes, standards and delivery platforms.  The changes have been rapid and have permeated disciplines and industries that previously had little or limited need, knowledge or contact with emergency communications and ECSs.  It’s no wonder that planners, designers, authorities, installers and users are struggling to understand and apply the changes.  This presentation focuses on tools, options and strategies, including those in the 2010 edition of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, that planners, designers, authorities and users can use to affect the implementation of a quality and compliant ECS.  A structured quality process for planning, design, installation and use is emphasized as a means to ensure effective performance of the systems when they are called upon.  Emergency communication is a lot more than just in-building voice systems and telephone calling/text message systems (distributed recipient mass notification is the term used in NFPA 72.)  See why a single event might require 90 different messages delivered using five different communications channels.

Speech Intelligibility Engineering

This file contains handouts from a presentation by Robert P. Schifiliti, P.E. at the 2011 NFPA Conference & Expo. The presentation given was based on a program prepared for NFPA as a “Web Extra” (now called NFPA Journal Live) follow-up to a Nov./Dec. 2010 article in the NFPA Journal titled “Can you Hear (and Understand) Me Now?, 10 key issues affecting the intelligibility of voice communications”. This presentation focuses on how to calculate the spacing of loudspeakers for an Emergency Communications System (ECS) to achieve a desired uniform sound pressure level – a key to reducing reverberation effects on intelligibility. The presentation also reviews the 10 key issues from the article and then presents a strategy and tool for preparing effective emergency messages.

NFPA members can click here to read the full article.
NFPA members can click here to view the presentation on NFPA’s web site.
 

Intelligent Notification Communication –
Using Emergency Communications Systems to Alert, Notify and Inform Occupants and Emergency Forces

This file contains handouts from a presentation by Robert P. Schifiliti, P.E. at the 2010 NFPA Conference & Expo.  To be effective, fire alarm systems and emergency communications systems (ECS) need to do more than make noise and flash lights.  They need to reliably alert people.  They ought to convey information about what has happened and, combined with training and preplanning, they must effect a desired behavior.  The systems include people – both the emergency forces that use them and the people that are the intended recipients of the instructions and information.  This presentation outlined strategies for planning, design, installation, testing and use that help ensure that the whole system performs as needed during various stages of an event.

Intelligibility – Extended Bibliography  UPDATED: Revised November 2010.  The original speech intelligibility bibliography was compiled in January 2002 with the help of William Keezer, WJ Keezer Associates, Inc. Sherborn, MA.  This updated bibliography contains almost 100 references including the latest codes and standards by the International Standards Organization (ISO), American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Elevator Fire Safety  UPDATED.  2013 NFPA 72 UPDATES COMING SOON   2010 update on elevator fire safety and the coordination of related codes and standards.  This update references current codes and standards that you need to know about to achieve safe operation of elevators during fire emergencies.   Written by Robert P. Schifiliti, P.E.  Keywords: elevator safety fire alarm fire safety fire sprinkler shunt trip elevator recall elevator power shunt.

This paper summarizes, then discusses in detail, the requirements for elevator recall and elevator power shutdown (also called power shunt or shunting).  Included are detailed citations from model codes and standards current as of October 2010.  The ASME A17.1 elevator safety code and the other model codes and standards form a coordinated approach to elevator fire safety.  They must be applied together to assure success.  The paper addresses the requirements for sprinkler protection, fire detection requirements, Phase I elevator recall, elevator power shutdown and elevator in-car warning signals.  The other codes and standards that affect elevator fire safety and that are detailed in the paper include:

bulletANSI/ASME A17.1, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
bulletNFPA 101, Life Safety Code, 2009 edition, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
bulletNFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
bulletNFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems, 2010 edition, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
bulletNFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, 2010 edition, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
bulletNFPA 70, National Electrical Code National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
bullet2009 International Building Code (IBC), International Code Council (ICC)
bullet2009 International Fire Code (IFC), International Code Council (ICC)

 Elevator Fire Safety  Old version.  See updated version above.  Discussion of elevator fire safety and the coordination of related codes and standards.  This paper has not been updated to reflect minor changes in methods.  However, it serves to show how several different codes and standards are carefully coordinated to reach the desired goal. 

The Strobe Project  Looking for information on the application of fire alarm and emergency or mass notification strobe lights for occupant notification in large volume spaces such as big-box stores, departments stores and warehouses?  Click here.

The Top 10 Reasons for Walking Away from the First Scheduled Acceptance Test of a Fire Alarm System.  It's great when a test goes well.  There will almost always be a few problems that need to be taken care of.  This list can be used by contractors pre-test to be sure some of the most common mistakes are fixed before the big day.  This list applies to fire detection and alarm systems as well as Emergency Communications Systems, which includes Mass Notification Systems.

The Top 10 Reasons for Rejecting the First Set of Submittals for a Fire Alarm System.  In most cases, a submittal is the first chance for a contractor and vendor to tell an engineer how they interpreted the design documents and how they intend to meet the project requirements.  Attention to detail shows your competence.  A poor submittal is not a good start for a project and might predict overall performance.  Of course, this assumes that the engineers did their job in communicating the project needs in the first place.  This list applies to fire detection and alarm systems as well as Emergency Communications Systems, which includes Mass Notification Systems.

It's Not Your Father's Fire Alarm Code Anymore  Presentation at the 2007 AFAA Annual Breakfast during the NFPA World Safety Congress and Exhibition.  Discusses the history of fire alarm codes and standards and the possible future for signaling system standards. 

Understanding 15/75 cd Strobes  This short paper discusses the origin and performance of fire alarm and emergency or mass notification strobes that are rated as 15/75 cd.  The paper also points out issues with NFPA 72 strobe tables versus the performance based methodology in the code. 

NFPA 72, 2002 Notification Appliances, Chapter 7, Changes, Handouts from the National Fire Protection Association's World Fire Safety Congress and Exposition, May 21, 2002.  The presentation highlighted major changes going from the 1999 edition of NFPA 72 to the 2002 edition.  

Understanding Supervision of Fire Protection Systems  What is Supervision?  The building and fire protection communities have adopted the word supervision to mean the oversight of fire protection systems.  What is supervision?  How does supervision contribute to fire protection goals?  What are the goals of supervision?  What are the requirements for supervision of fire protection systems?  How is supervision achieved?  This is a draft paper and has not peer reviewed as of this posting.

“Fire Detection Modeling, The Research – Application Gap”  Slides and notes for presentation at the 12th International Conference on Automatic Fire Detection, AUBE ’01, 28 March 2001, by Robert P. Schifiliti, P.E.
NOTE:  The paper published in the conference proceedings was edited due to size restrictions. 

“Understanding Speech Intelligibility and the Fire Alarm Code”, by Kenneth Jacob, Chief Engineer, Bose ® Professional Systems, May 2001.  Keywords: fire alarm emergency communications system mass notification system voice intelligibility speech intelligibility. 

Sample Fire Alarm System Calculations  A set of examples showing ways to calculate loop resistance, wire size, voltage drop and battery capacity.  Note:  These calculation methods have not been updated for U.L.'s  latest revisions that include "regulated" and "special application" power supplies.

Audibility and Audible Signaling, Selected Bibliography.    Keywords: Fire alarm audible signaling audibility sound pressure level loudness.

To Leave or Not to Leave: That is the Question!  Slides and notes for presentation at the National Fire Protection Association's World Fire Safety Congress and Exposition, May 16, 2000.

To Leave or Not to Leave: That is the Question!  Outline/handout for presentation at the National Fire Protection Association's World Fire Safety Congress and Exposition, May 16, 2000.

Complex Ceilings - NFPA 72 Smoke Detector Spacing  A short set of slides and notes regarding the evolution of smoke detector spacing requirements from 1993 to 1999. 

 

Restricted Documents:

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Last modified: January 08, 2016

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