Fire Detection Systems

Policy

All fire detection systems shall be inspected, maintained, and tested in accordance with this policy.

Back to top

Authority and Responsibility

Departments responsible for coordinating the fire detection program are:

  1. Environmental Health and Safety;
  2. Facilities Operations; and
  3. The University Architect’s Office for new construction.

Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for:

  1. Reporting any questionable conditions discovered during the annual fire/general safety review to the responsible department;
  2. Training appropriate personnel in fire watch procedures; and
  3. Reviewing the policy and procedure to ensure regulatory compliance.

Facilities Operations - Electric Shop is responsible for:

  1. Scheduling and coordinating the required inspection, maintenance, and testing of fire detection systems in Facilities Services managed buildings;
  2. Taking the fire detection system out of service;
  3. Restoring the fire detection system to its normal operating condition after maintenance, testing, or alarm activation;
  4. Notifying Environmental Health and Safety of any fire detection system shutdowns greater than eight hours;
  5. Notifying Environmental Health and Safety when the impairment is corrected;
  6. Providing a fire watch when a fire detection system is impaired;
  7. Notifying the University Police to inform them of fire detection system impairment;
  8. Notifying the appropriate monitoring station (Central Station or City of Chicago's Fire Alarm Office) to inform them of fire detection system impairment; and
  9. Retaining all documentation related to fire detection system testing, maintenance, and inspections.

Licensed contractors are responsible for:

  1. Performing appropriate inspection and maintenance of the fire detection systems when scheduled by appropriate department; and
  2. Providing documentation for appropriate departments when appropriate inspections and maintenance is complete.

Contractors and sub-contractors are responsible for complying with these procedures.

Back to top

Fire Detection System Components

This policy shall cover all components of fire detection systems including, but not limited to:

  1. Fire alarm panel;
  2. Fire alarm annunciator panel;
  3. Detection devices, such as heat and smoke detectors; and
  4. Manual pull stations.

Back to top

Where Fire Detection is Required

Fire alarm systems are installed as needed on a per building basis. Buildings classified as institutional, schools, hotels, dormitories, and high-rises (greater than 80 feet) are required by City of Chicago code to have fire alarm systems installed.

Back to top

Alarm Sounding Devices

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) under NFPA Chapter 72, Section 6-3.4, the National Fire Alarm Code, requires the following for sleeping areas which shall be adopted by the University of Chicago:

  • “Where audible appliances are installed to signal sleeping areas, they shall have a sound level of at least 15 dBA above the average ambient sound level or 5 dBA above the maximum sound level having a duration of at least 60 seconds or a sound level of at least 70 dBA, whichever is greater, measured at the pillow level in occupiable area.”

Back to top

Monthly Inspection and Testing

All fire detection systems shall be inspected and tested monthly. The monthly inspection and testing of fire detection systems shall be in accordance with Chapter 72 “National Fire Alarm Code” of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Back to top

Annual Testing

All fire detection systems shall be tested at least annually by a designated departmental employee (e.g., building engineer or electrician) or private contractor knowledgeable in the operations and function of the system.

Criteria for the annual testing shall be in accordance with NFPA Chapter 72 “National Fire Alarm Code”.

The following test shall be conducted at 15 years and every five years thereafter.

Two fixed temperature detectors for every 100 present shall be removed and tested by an approved testing laboratory. The two fixed temperature detectors removed for testing shall be replaced with two new fixed temperature heat detectors. If the tested fixed rate temperature heat detectors fail, all fixed rate detectors in the building’s fire detection system shall be replaced.

Back to top

Fire Detection Impairment Policy

All fire detection systems and their components that require being shut down due to maintenance and/or testing shall follow the appropriate notification and fire watch procedures according to this policy and the Fire Alarm Maintenance Shutdown/Reactivation Procedures.

Before Shutdown

Before the shutdown of fire detection equipment, the project manager, facility manger, or supervisor shall put in a work request with Facilities Operations 24-hours in advance to request fire detection be taken out of service. Shutting down fire detection equipment shall be planned and limited to an eight hour time period. All requests in excess of eight hours shall be reviewed and approved by Environmental Health and Safety. 

Notification Process

For fire detection system shutdowns greater than one hour, a representative from the electric shop shall:

  1. Notify the University Police to inform them of fire detection system impairment; and
  2. Notify the appropriate monitoring station (Central Station or City of Chicago's Fire Alarm Office) to inform them of fire detection system impairment.

For fire detection system shutdowns greater than eight hours, the project manager, facility manger, or supervisor shall also notify Environmental Health and Safety.

During the Shutdown – Fire Watch

For all fire detection system shutdowns in excess of four hours in unoccupied buildings, a fire watch shall be implemented by the original person requesting the fire detection system shutdown.  All University employees performing the fire watch shall be trained by Environmental Health and Safety in Fire Safety and Evacuation.  When outside contractors are performing the fire watch, they shall be knowledgeable in the following:

  1. Portable fire extinguisher procedures;
  2. Procedures for reporting an emergency;
  3. Evacuation procedures; and
  4. Hazard recognition.

The fire watch shall consist of the following during the impairment:

  1. Periodically inspecting the areas and rooms within the affected building(s) to ensure hazards do not exist;
  2. Ensuring adequate fire protection equipment is available and in working condition; and
  3. Limiting hazardous work practices such as welding, cutting, brazing, or the usage of open flame.


Restoring the System

Upon completion of the work, the electric shop shall:

  1. Restore all fire detection back into automatic service;
  2. Reset the fire alarm system in normal operating condition;
  3. Notify the University Police to inform them of the reactivation of the fire detection system;
  4. Notify the applicable monitoring station (Central Station or City of Chicago's Fire Alarm Office) to inform them of the reactivation of the fire detection system; and
  5. Notify Environmental Health and Safety that the system has been restored.


Documentation

All documentation related to monthly inspections, annual testing, and/or maintenance of fire detection systems shall be maintained by Facilities Services - Electric Shop.

Back to top

Fire Alarm Deactivation/Reactivation Procedures

All fire detection systems shall be turned off and reset in accordance with procedures found in Fire Alarm Deactivation/Reactivation Procedures.

Reviewed: February 2015

Back to top