Bid Requirements vs. NFPA 72 Standards for Fire Alarm System Monitoring

By Andrew Erickson

September 3, 2023

Any effective fire alarm system needs comprehensive design, adherence to industry standards, and robust installation.

As you work on any project related to fire alarm monitoring, bid requirements for any recently completed project are a great way to learn. Delving into the bid requirements for a fire alarm system provides us with a roadmap of essential components and underlying standards in the fire code.

Today, I dug up a 2021 bid for fire alarm monitoring. Let's explore its requirements and compare it with the text of NFPA 72, 2010 edition (the edition the bid spec mentions).

NFPA 72 Code Paragraphs & Their Application to This Bid Document

The bid introduces its project scope with an overriding statement: "Design and installation of a complete fire alarm system in compliance with NFPA 72, 2010 edition." This inherently emphasizes the cardinal role of NFPA 72 in shaping the blueprint of the fire alarm system.

NFPA 72, 2010 edition: " The system designer shall provide evidence of their qualifications and/or certifications when requested by the authority having jurisdiction."

The bid mentions this: "Plans must be stamped by an appropriate design professional (225 ILCS/446)." This aligns with NFPA 72's emphasis on having registered professionals overseeing the system's design, ensuring that the system is compliant and effective as an emergency-management tool.

The core of the fire alarm system, as per the bid, encompasses many components, from an analog addressable fire alarm control panel with backup power, system annunciators, various detectors, pull stations, power supplies, strobes, modules, and more. Professional installers are needed to make these systems work correctly in concert as a cohesive alarm system.

NFPA 72, 2010 edition: " Fire alarm system and emergency communications system plans and specifications shall be developed in accordance with this Code by persons who are experienced in the proper design, application, installation, and testing of the systems."

The bid indicates that while the provided list is a reference, additional devices or services might be necessary. This alignment with NFPA ensures that the system isn't just a one-size-fits-all solution tailored to specific needs, codes, and manufacturer recommendations.

The bid also underscores the importance of robust wiring, necessary electrical connections, a one-year warranty on labor and materials, permits, and submittal packages. A point that stands out is the need for a "lift or lift rental," highlighting the probable complexities in installation, requiring specialized equipment for accessibility.

NFPA 72, 2010 edition: "10.3.2 System components shall be installed, tested, and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's published instructions and this Code."

This emphasizes the need for adherence not just to the NFPA 72 code but also to the manufacturer's guidelines.

One of the significant aspects highlighted in the bid is the "Connection to the door access system." This showcases integrating fire alarm systems with other safety and security systems. That makes sense when you consider that a fire alarm must reach all locations in a building. That makes its communication network a nice place to run other services like door control.

NFPA 72, 2010 edition: " All new systems shall be inspected and tested in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 14."

Ensuring that the fire alarm system integrates seamlessly with other systems, like the door access, is obviously crucial. This streamlines evacuation processes in emergencies and ensures fire containment measures can be activated before the fire spreads unnecessarily.

Alarm Monitoring & Communication

The bid underscores the significance of a "Cellular communicator" and emphasizes a full year of monitoring that must be included. This modern approach ensures uninterrupted monitoring, irrespective of conventional communication line failures.

It's worth noting that proprietary (in-house) fire alarm monitoring systems that include mesh radio nodes offer the same wireless advantages without ongoing service fees like the annual fees mentioned in this bid document.

By integrating cellular communication, the system aligns with the NFPA's emphasis on swift annunciation of faults. It's a step beyond traditional communication mediums, ensuring faster and more reliable transmission of crucial fire alarm event data.

System Redundancy & Power Management

A focus within the bid is the clear emphasis on power redundancy. From a backup power supply for the control panel to multiple batteries of varying capacities, the system is poised to ensure continuous operation, even during power failures.

With its provision for 60 hours of standby power and multiple batteries, the fire alarm system required in this bid aligns with NFPA 72 rules. The dedication to ensuring the system remains operational during power disruptions reflects a comprehensive approach to system reliability and responsiveness.

Documentation, Compliance, and Training

The bid emphasizes a "System document box" and clarifies that the scope of work includes permits and the submittal package. This emphasis on documentation underscores the system's alignment with regulatory and compliance standards.

The bid further highlights the importance of installation, startup, and training, indicating cost parameters and coordination. This ensures that stakeholders are equipped to operate, maintain, and respond to the system efficiently post-installation.

By ensuring proper training and maintaining meticulous records, the system not only adheres to NFPA standards but also ensures the fire alarm system's longevity, efficiency, and responsiveness.

Understanding NFPA 72 as it Applies to Real-World RFPs is a Key Aspect of Your Job

The bid document we've reviewed here provides a comprehensive framework for the design, components, and installation of a fire alarm system. Its alignment with NFPA 72 (the 2010 edition in this case) standards ensures that the system isn't just compliant on paper but is geared to offer optimal protection when needed most.

As you navigate the world of fire safety, understanding these details and ensuring that you correctly implement them properly can make all the difference between mere "code compliance" and genuine safety.

Talk to Digitize About Your Project

As proprietary fire alarm monitoring system manufacturers, we live and breathe NFPA 72. While many fire codes relate to our equipment, 72 is the most important.

If you have questions, Digitize engineers have the answers. Give us a call at 1-800-523-7232 or email

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and...Read More