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NFPA 72-2010 and Its Implications for the AV Industry

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Type: Article, Report or Whitepaper

Topics: Audio; AV Equipment; Standards; Video

Date: November 2011

Building codes have existed for almost 4,000 years. To this day, building and safety codes dictate construction practices. But codes have only become high priority for AV professionals over the last 50 years, as AV equipment migrated from the movable rolling cart to permanent installation in public and private buildings.

Fire detection and prevention also has a long history. But the intersection of building codes with fire detection and AV equipment is a much more recent trend. For years, fire alarm notification was limited to bells, horns and telegraph messages. Only in the latter half of the 20th century have we seen the use of visible notification devices and commercial loudspeakers in fire-alarm notification systems. Even then, these devices have been primarily special-purpose devices such as strobe lights and low-fidelity (but very loud) loudspeakers or combination devices.

The requirements for use of these devices, along with all other elements of a fire alarm system, were assembled in a collection of documents which eventually became the National Fire Alarm Code (or NFPA 72), first published by the National Fire Protection Association in 1993. But it wasn’t until the most recent revision of NFPA 72 that code-compliant commercial/professional-grade audio systems and video displays were recognized as legitimate components of an emergency communications system.

The 2010 edition of NFPA 72 has been called the most significant revision of the National Fire Alarm Code since its creation. Among the changes in the 2010 edition is a new emphasis on the design, installation and performance characteristics of audio and video components and systems.  Many areas of expertise we normally associate with audiovisual professionals are now clearly linked with the life-safety and construction industries.

Adoption of the revised code is still in the very early stages. The “inter-industry” exposure that this code revision represents will likely result in increased opportunities for AV professionals. Taking advantage of such opportunities requires knowledge of the relevant revisions. This InfoComm International® white paper reviews the important new changes to NFPA 72 as a result of the 2010 revision, and the potential implications for the AV communication industry.

To read the entire white paper, download it now.