Direct Visual Signaling as a Means for Occupant Notification in Large Spaces

Project Partners
Test Plan
Test Locations
Test Participants
Test Results & Analysis
Proposals & Comments
Performance Calculations
Test Protocol
Consent Form
Pre-Test Survey
Test Note Card
Post-Test Survey
Photos and Videos
Docs & Links
Contact Information

2.             Introduction

The NFPA 72 Technical Committee on Notification Appliances recognized that the effectiveness of the prescriptive and the performance based requirements for visible appliances had not been tested in large volume spaces.  The Fire Protection Research Foundation was asked to consider sponsoring a project to address some of the committee’s concerns [i]


A two-phased research initiative was proposed.  This project represents only Phase 1.  In Phase 1, testing was done in large warehouse stores to test the hypothesis that the current performance based approach provides sufficient direct alerting of occupants.  The principle goal of this project was to test the effectiveness of strobe systems in large volume spaces designed and installed using the performance based approach of NFPA 72, 2002.  A secondary goal was to understand if occupant alerting was the result of direct or indirect signaling.  The main objective was to draft text for inclusion in the Annex of the 2007 edition of NFPA 72 that would provide designers, installers and authorities some guidance on how to configure systems to provide effective alerting in these challenging spaces.   


Phase 2, if approved and funded, will be a separate project.  Phase 2 will extend testing to other large spaces such as malls and atria.  The principle goal of Phase 2 is to test the performance based methods in more challenging visual environments.  A second goal is to gather sufficient data to permit drafting of code text permitting or limiting the performance based approach as an acceptable method of occupant notification in large volume spaces.  This may potentially move Annex text on suggested design and installation issues into the body of the code.  Phase 2 may also consider other visible signaling methods or performance criteria. 


This project (Phase 1) was intentionally designed for quick, but meaningful results.  The project began in mid July 2005 and needed to be substantially complete by the end of October to provide feedback to the code committee.  The project did not seek to define all variables and their required parameters for success.  Instead, the systems were studied as a whole to determine if they were effective.  Engineering analysis of the tests resulted in the identification of several variables that affect the success of the systems in alerting occupants.  This allowed some information on design and installation practices to be proposed for inclusion in NFPA 72.


The Fire Protection Research Foundation formed a Project Technical Panel to monitor project progress, review and comment on any interim or draft reports and to release the final project report.   The Project Technical Panel consisted of:


Robert  Boyer

GE Security

Ray Grill

Arup Fire (Chair of the NFPA 72 NAS TC)

Dan Grosch

Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.

Rein Haus

Wheelock, Inc.

Jeffrey Klein

System Sensor, Inc.

David Lowry

Boulder Fire Department

Issac Papier

Honeywell Life Safety

Jack Poole

Poole Consulting Services, Inc.

Lee Richardson

National Fire Protection Association, NFPA 72 Liaison


[i] The idea for the testing program was first considered by the Fire Detection Institute (FDI), a non-profit corporation dedicated to improving the fire detection and alarm standards through testing programs and research.  The FDI is working with the Fire Protection Research Foundation to leverage efforts to improve fire detection and alarm systems through research and codes. 


Home | Introduction | Project Partners | Test Plan | Test Locations | Test Participants | Test Results & Analysis | Discussion | Proposals & Comments | Recommendations | Conclusions | References | Performance Calculations | Test Protocol | Consent Form | Pre-Test Survey | Test Note Card | Post-Test Survey | Photos and Videos | Docs & Links | Contact Information

 Copyright © 2017 R.P. Schifiliti Associates, Inc..
Last updated: 01/13/17.