CODE ACTUALLY REQUIRE AN ALARM SYSTEM? BUT DOES
W R I TT E N BY S H AW N B E R G E R O N
ou’re going to ask the question, go ahead, get it out of your system; “Does my little distillery really need that alarm system? Is this really required, or just something that new fire guy wants me to waste money on?” As in the past, it’s the trail of the code books that answers that question, so let’s begin down the trail. From our past experiences, you already know that you’re working with flammable liquids and in doing so your distillery is most likely a “hazardous” (H) occupancy. When determining if that dreaded alarm system is required, here in good old U.S. of A. we look to the series of International (ICC) and National Fire Protection (NFPA) requirements, as these are the regulatory folks that might mandate an alarm system be installed. In addition to those that can mandate, don’t forget to review what our friends at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) have to offer as their publication. “Recommended Fire Protection Practices for Distilled Spirits Beverage Facilities” should be on your twice-each-month reading list. Although the DISCUS publication is “A Suggested Guide,” it is very helpful, as it is specific to this industry, developed by industry professionals, and developed with your best interests in mind. This “guide” is so respected that I’ve been able to use its wisdom to sway the decision-making process of confused code officials when other reasoning fails. Let’s begin this study WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
with DISCUS first. as such the requirements of Chapter 66 of Section 4-7 of DISCUS is titled ALARM NFPA 1 is where we have to start. Section SYSTEMS AND WATCH SERVICE, and 188.8.131.52 tells us that “an approved means it opens by saying “Fire and evacuation for prompt notification of fire or emergency alarm systems should be considered for to those within the plant and to the fire department shall be provided. “Shall” each facility.” “Evacuation alarm”…. what is that? Remember that the codes are is not optional… the “notification” is a generally not developed to save buildings mandate… everyone inside your distillery but to save the lives of the people that are needs to be made aware that something in the building in the event of bad is happening and something bad happening. In the Remember simultaneously the fire case of your little distillery that department needs to be that the notified. means you, the distillery dog/ cat (almost all distilleries seem Going further in NFPA 1, codes are to have one), your employees Section 184.108.40.206 requires and the customers in the tasting generally not areas inside your distillery room. The “evacuation alarm” where a potential exists developed for a flammable liquid is the part of the system that audibly and often visually tells to be monitored to save spill everyone there’s a problem and “as appropriate” and it’s time to leave. Like you always buildings but provides three methods did for your mother, follow its for monitoring. The first to save the direction. method is personnel Beyond the recommendations observation or patrol. lives of the of DISCUS we move into the Sure, your crew can mandates of the regulatory people that personally observe and folks. There’s no “should be “on patrol” when they are in the are present. The second be considered” in the Fire Protection or Building codes; building in method is processmonitoring equipment your alarm system is either required or it’s not. Let’s begin the event of that will indicate a spill or leak. This seems to at the NFPA 1, Uniform Fire something be pushing us towards Code to see what that tells us. From the past, you already know bad something that’s not human: “processthat your incredible hooch is an happening. monitoring equipment.” incredibly flammable liquid and
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