NICET Study Guide – NFPA 72 Chapter 4 Fundamentals of Fire Alarm (Part 1)

NFPA 72 – Chapter 4 Fundamentals of fire alarm systems

These are few notes from my previous study that I have kept since my initial Level I NICET Certification Exam. They are the most important requirements in Chapter 4, Fundamentals of Fire Alarm Systems – NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code. I have revised and updated a few of the codes for the 2007 edition. These requirements should be read over and over until memorized. This post will be a first in a series that I will post regularly.

  • The Purpose of fire alarm system is to alert the occupants, to summon aid and to control fire safety functions.
  • Equipment shall be listed for the purpose for which it is used.
  • Fire alarm system plans and specifications shall be developed by persons who are experienced in design, installation and testing.

The designer shall be either Factory trained for the specific type and brand of fire alarm system or certified by nationally recognized organization like NICET acceptable to the AHJ or registered and licensed by state or local authority.

  • Power supplies shall be installed per NFPA 70 National Electrical Code.
  • Minimum of two power supplies shall be provide, one primary and one secondary.
  • Primary power supply shall be a dedicated branch circuit (Commercial light and power, or an engine driven generator)
  • The dedicated branch circuit shall be mechanically protected.
  • Circuit disconnect means shall have a red marking and identified as “FIRE ALARM CIRCUIT”
  • Location of the circuit disconnect means shall be identified at the fire alarm control panel.
  • Secondary power supply shall operate the system for 24 hours in standby plus 5 minutes in alarm.
  • Secondary Power supply in voice evacuation systems shall operate for 24 hours standby plus 15 minutes  alarm.
  • Secondary power supply for supervising station shall operate for minimum of 24 hours.
  • Secondary power supply in protected premises  shall automatically provide power within 10 seconds when primary power fails.
  • Secondary power supply in supervising station shall automatically provide power within 60 second when primary power fails.
  • Batteries shall be marked by month and year of manufacture.
  • Batteries shall  recharge within 48 hours of single discharge.
  • Remote batteries and charging system location shall be identified at the control panel.
  • Batteries shall be trickle charged or float charged.

Trickled charged batteries are offline and waiting to be put under load on power loss, fully  charged batteries are fully charged and connected across the output of the rectifiers to smooth the output and to serve as a standby power on line power loss.

  • Fire alarm, supervisory signals and trouble signals shall be distinctively and descriptively annunciated.

A supervisory signal sound shall be permitted to be used to indicate a trouble condition only if the distinction between signals shall be other means such as visible annunciation.

  • Self -Restoring supervisory signal shall be automatically indicated within 90 seconds.
  • Latching supervisory signal shall be indicated within 90 seconds.
  • Trouble signals and their restoration to normal shall be indicated within 200 seconds.
  • A means for silencing Alarm, Supervisory or Trouble notification appliance shall be key-operated, located within locked enclosure. or similar protection against unauthorized use.
  • Audible trouble signal shall automatically re-sound every 24 hours or less until trouble restored to normal.
  • Alarm signal Deactivation means shall deactivate both audible and visible notification appliances
  • Subsequent actuation of initiating device shall cause the notification appliance to reactivate.

if permited by the AHJ subsequent activation of another addressable initiating device of the same type in the same room or space shall not reactivate the notification appliances.

  • A means that is left in the silence position where there is no supervisory or trouble condition, will cause the trouble signal to sound.
  • A means that is left in the off position where there is no alarm, will cause a trouble signal to sound.

I will have to break this post into two parts to ease the absorbing of the materials. There is also a section about power supplies that I think I should dedicate a separate post for. It is one of the hardest and most confusing sections of the code.

Look for part two and the continuation of this chapter.

Happy studying and cheers!


by John

24 comments… add one

  • Thanks very helpful

    • You’re welcome Geo, let me know if you are looking for specific thing to wtite about in this blog. Happy studying.

  • Great Site….. More Video on how to navigate through the books (NFPA 72, NEC 70, IBC 2006) would be helpful. Also more questions and examples are always a plus. Good Job John…

    • Thanks for the feedback Sean. I will definitely be doing more videos and contents as time allows. Also practice exam and sample questions are in the works, it will probably be based on individual tasks and levels. Cheers!

  • I wanna take my nicet level 1-3 but I don’t know where to start or what books to study for each level any suggestions

    • Jose,

      That was exactly the challenge I was faced with. Where to start and what books to get. Unfortunately there are is no specific book(s) that cover each level. You need to familiarize yourself with few books that are essential. Check this post I go in details on which books you need to study. I will write more posts on each level and try to cover the tasks on these levels.

      Let me know if you have any questions. Please check back for new posts.

      Cheers and happy studying.

  • I’m a nicet 3 fire alarm project engineer, my boss tells me to tie in 120VAC fans, monitors, cabinet lights, and laptop receptacles on the same branch circuit that feeds the power supply for the FACP. I’ve protested this is an illegal design and not up to NFPA 72, but he persist and I’ve reached my ethical boundary.

  • Introduce him to your friend NFPA 72 2007 Edition, and the word DEDICATED Primary Power Supply. Dedicated Branch Circuit. A dedicated branch circuit
    of one of the following shall supply primary power.

    Sometimes you need to show them the words written in a book.

  • Great stuff John. This is a very informative website. Look forward to more posts.

    • Hi Chris, glad you found it helpful. I’ll be adding new posts as my time allows. Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you need any help.

  • I emailed you today, but was also wanting to comment too. I just received my Nicet level 1 with the help of your study guides. I was curious if you have study guides available for Level 2. Thanks

    • Hi Gary,

      Congratulations on your Level 1. That is a great achievement, soon you will be on your way to level IV and significant improvement in your career.

      I am glad that I was able to help. Level 2 guides are in the works. I will be posting them as soon as my time allows.

      When are you planning to take level 2?

      Can you share which part of this site was most helpful to you.?

      Again Congratulations and keep studying.


  • Thank you, for taking your valuable time for making these notes!
    greatly appreciated!

  • This site is absolutely great. Thank You for thinking of others.

  • Thanks for the info. I’m a electrician and I struggled for months to find what I needed study for in order to past the state electrical masters test. The national company that administers test doesn’t have a practice test. I eventually found the Mike Holt teaching series and passed my test.
    Looking at the NICET certification, I thought I would once more be in the same boat. Lost in a maze with no advice on how to navigate it. Thanks for taking the time to help out the “next guy” who is trying to improve themselves.

    • I really appreciate your kind words. I have not been very active in updating the site due to some personal issues. I will try to add new materials very soon. please check back often

  • You are a great man for doing all of this and may God bless you

  • John,
    I am really struggling with the Nicet level II and was checking to see if you have a study guide for level II yet. I am the worst test taker. If you can help with this, I would appreciate it alot. I just took and did not pass. I struggled with the Submittal preparation and layout, Installation, as I am a inspector and don’t do any of that stuff. I replace items that I have in the truck, but do not do service related stuff.


  • hey john is the nicet test the same as the fire alarm test where they ask you insurance confused

  • how close is “too close” for mounting a rate-to-rise heat detector next to an air supply unit?

  • MUHAMMED SHAMVIL E July 16, 2017 12:54 pm

    Its Great stuff to learn about basics of Fire alarm system.

    I have doubt regarding the time delay of notificatio.
    Can you please clarify that how we will decide the requirement of time delay for annunciation and how time we will set each type of device.

    Thanks in advance…!


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