Public Safety

Fire Alarm Construction Standards

The following information shall be included in specifications prepared for use on all University of Cincinnati projects. This information is supplemental and not intended to be a complete specification.

General Standards

Product Standards

Execution Standards

Residence Halls

General Standards

Summary of Work

All new systems must be Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) Listed as part of the Johnson Controls (JCi) Simplex Network System.

Design a complete system, including controls, stations, speakers, heat detectors, smoke detectors, flow switches, door releases, and any other devices that are electrically a part of the system. All components of the system shall be of an approved type and shall be installed in accordance with the provisions of the latest revisions of the Ohio Basic Building Code (OBBC) and all Referenced Standards (NFPA 72) accepted by the OBBC listed in 4101:1-35-01 Referenced Standards and the American Disability Act (ADA). Each piece of equipment shall be approved and carry an UL label. Each control panel shall provide alarm and trouble locations at both the building control panel and the Public Safety Emergency Communication Center. The system in use at the University of Cincinnati is a JCi Simplex Network system.

Project Conditions

Auditoriums or other areas of assembly with an occupancy greater than 300 will have a separate voice announcement control unit with microphone to serve that area of assembly.  This unit will be for the sole purpose of emergency evacuation instructions, and will not be used for routine announcement purposes.  The control will be located at the stage manager's console, or other point, staffed by responsible personnel during use of the area.  The control will allow emergency instructions to be given in the assembly area, while allowing the normal evacuation message to play simultaneously in the remainder of the building.  In areas of assembly with permanently installed public address systems, the fire alarm will be interfaced with those public address systems.  The interface may allow the fire alarm to override the public address with the emergency announcements, or may simply shut down the public address system during emergency announcements, depending upon the space and audibility requirements.

Renovation of Occupied Buildings

When occupied buildings are being renovated, fire alarm devices that have been physically removed due to the renovations, shall also be removed from the fire alarm system immediately or no later than one week after removal.

Project Warranty

ACCEPTANCE BY THE UNIVERSITY: The system shall be demonstrated in the presence of the University’s Project/Construction Manager in conjunction with the Department of Public Safety (Fire Prevention and Protection Systems), State of Ohio fire/building representative(s), and appropriate municipal fire/building representative(s).  The system will not be accepted until all components are determined to be operating properly with the University of Cincinnati's campus wide fire alarm monitoring system.  The system shall report alarm, supervisory and trouble signals by point. All functions shall remain in service once the system has been accepted by the UC Fire Prevention Office and/or the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Product Standards

Product Manufacturers

The system shall be a JCi Simplex voice alarm.

Product Requirements

Pull Stations shall be surface mounted or semi-flush mounted as conditions dictate.  Pull stations shall be red in color and shall be push-pull double action, and individually addressable.  

Pull stations in locations exposed to weather or high levels of moisture under normal conditions, specifically parking structures, shall be protected with an appropriate weather cover that’s UL listed for the purpose. 

Pull stations in residence halls, or other high risk locations for false alarms shall be protected with an appropriate false alarm deterrence cover, that’s UL listed for the purpose.

Alarm Indicating Devices shall be speakers and strobes.  Speakers shall be located so that their operation will be heard clearly in all areas regardless of the ambient noise level.  Speakers shall provide a minimum sound pressure of 15 dBA above the average ambient sound level in every occupied space in the building.  Particular attention shall be paid to areas that are subject to high ambient sound levels as a normal part of their operation (arenas, auditoriums, recreational areas, server rooms, etc.). The system shall be designed to provide adequate warning under all normal operating conditions.  Typical ambient sound levels are 55 dBA for business occupancies, 85dBA for mechanical rooms, and 55 dBA for places of assembly.  The minimum sound pressure shall be 70 dBA in buildings of Use Group R and I-1, 90 dBA in mechanical equipment rooms, and 60dBA in all other use groups.  The maximum dBA shall be not more than 115 dBA (OSHA Regulation) for audible alarm indicating devices. This shall be tested and verified by the contractor after installation.

The standard audible shall be a 4" speaker, adjustable from 1/4 Watt to 2 Watts that can be installed by itself or in conjunction with a visual strobe. It shall typically be wall mounted unless coordinated with University’s Project/Construction Management and the Department of Public Safety (Fire Prevention Supervisor and Protection Systems Manager) for project conditions.

The high output audible shall be a speaker, adjustable from 2 Watts to 15 Watts and that can be installed by itself or in conjunction with a visual strobe.

Speaker/strobe units designed for exterior use shall be located outside each main entrance to the building, or other entrance that may serve as a congregation area for persons evacuating the building during an emergency. Outside speakers shall be on a separate circuit.  If the building interconnects with other buildings, strobe devices with signage stating, “DO NOT ENTER insert building name WHEN FLASHING” shall be placed outside each connecting door to prevent inadvertent entry into the building during an emergency. The speaker in the immediate proximity to the fire alarm control unit and microphone shall be silenced or on a circuit by itself when the panel microphone is activated.

The system shall be capable of voice communication via site microphone from the main fire alarm panel, and from the annunciator panel (if used).  The system shall be capable of voice communication from the Public Safety Emergency Communication Center utilizing the existing Campus Emergency Warning System.  This capability is only possible with the JCi Simplex control.

Visual indicating devices shall be provided to meet current National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and ADA standards.  The system shall be designed to allow for expansion of additional audio/visual indicating devices and circuits in public areas without a major upgrade of the electrical or wiring components in order to comply with changing ADA requirements.  At a minimum, a separate audio and visual circuit shall be run for each floor. Visual strobes shall be coordinated for disabled residential occupancy, to ensure that they are tied into room smoke detectors.

The standard visual signal shall be a Xenon strobe.

The visual and audible signals used will be the JCi Simplex True-Alert addressable signals.

The system will be programmed to allow silent testing of visual and audible signals utilizing the True-Alert feature.

Heat Detectors shall be of the combination rate of rise, fixed heat type, unless environmental conditions require a fixed heat type.  The detectors shall be rated properly for the prevalent environmental conditions at the installed location.  They shall be tied into the fire alarm system, and shall be of the addressable type.  Heat detectors shall be installed to comply with all requirements of NFPA 72, and other applicable code.

Gas Detectors shall be incorporated into the design for any lab/building/kitchen/etc.…using gas. They shall activate the building fire alarm system.

Carbon monoxide and Gas Detector locations shall be coordinated with project requirements for such devices. If there is gas in an area, it will be required to have both gas and carbon monoxide detectors. In the case of an activation a Priority 2 shall be initiated and transmitted to Central Dispatch, and the building fire alarm shall activate.

Protective Housing:  Audio/visual units located in residence halls, or in other areas where there is a high risk of physical damage (gymnasiums, mechanical rooms etc.) shall have a protective wire housing over the device, UL listed for the purpose installed. 

Water Flow Alarms, Sprinkler Tampers, and other sprinkler supervisory switches shall comply with NFPA 72, NFPA13 and other appropriate NFPA codes regarding the installation, locations, and sensitivity of flow alarms and sprinkler supervision.  All such switches shall provide specific point annunciation.

Monitor Modules shall be used to monitor a dry contact device, water flow, tamper, etc. and convert the signal to a specific point in the system.

Control Relay Modules shall be used to provide a dry contact activation of a function such as Air Handling Unit (AHU) shutdown.

Magnetic Door Holders shall be of the 24VDC type, used in conjunction with JCi Simplex True Alarm Smoke Sensors. Door holders will be released by the use of a control relay module.  Smoke check door closer type devices, or other stand-alone type devices shall not be used.

Sprinkler Pre-Action/Suppression shall be controlled by the building FACP.

Control unit shall be installed in a suitable steel cabinet with hinged cover, secured with lock and key.  The control panel shall be a JCi Simplex 4100ES type with audio voice capability, and shall include:

  • Line terminals for 120 volt single phase power.
  • The secondary power supply shall be a battery back-up system provided by the fire alarm manufacturer that conforms to Section 2702 OBBC and appropriate NFPA codes, and shall be capable of operating the system under maximum normal load for 24 hours and then be capable of fifteen minutes operation in full evacuation mode.
  • Reset switch, password protected.
  • Signal silence switch, password protected.
  • Signal selection and bypass switches, password protected.
  • Modules as necessary, including:
    • Master Controller
    • Modular Network Interface Module
    • RS-485 Media Card (wire)
    • Fiber Optic Media Module
    • Notification Appliance Circuit Module
    • 4-DPDT Auxiliary Relay Module
    • Expansion Power Supply
    • Mapnet Addressable Module
    • Dual RS232/2120 Comm. Module
    • Single Channel Audio Controller 
    • Pre-Action/Suppression Releasing 
    • 100 Watt Amplifier 
    • Microphone and Enclosure
    • Standard Evacuation Message
    • Speaker Selector Switch Module
    • AHU hand off auto switch module
    • 6 Unit Package with Glass Door

The quantity of these modules will be determined based upon the individual needs of each building, other modules may also be added to meet the needs of a particular building.

Product Coordination

Smoke Detection Systems shall comply with NFPA 72 requirements for smoke detection.  Smoke detection devices in any one building shall be of one manufacture (JCi Simplex) and shall be connected as a part of the fire alarm system.  Smoke detectors shall be addressable with adjustable sensitivity (from the control panel).  The fire alarm system shall include relays for output signals to shut down fans, close dampers, and operate door releases, where required, as a result of smoke detector operation.  These smoke detectors shall be:  JCi Simplex True Alarm Smoke Sensor, JCi Simplex True Alarm Smoke Sensor Base, JCi Simplex True Alarm Smoke Sensor Base with Relay, used in conjunction with the Smoke Sensor when a programmable relay would be needed, such as to release door holders. Smoke detectors shall typically be ceiling mounted unless coordinated with the University’s Project/Construction Management for project conditions. Ceiling mounted smoke detectors shall also be at least 4 inches from the wall.

Pull Stations shall be placed on each floor near each stairway entrance. 5.13.6 NFPA 72 “Manual fire alarm boxes shall be located within 5 feet of the exit doorway opening at each exit on each floor”.

Smoke detectors shall not be located in areas subject to high humidity, steam, or other expected potential nuisance alarms.  If alternate placement of the smoke detector is not possible, the use of combination heat/rate-of-rise detectors should be considered for these locations. Smoke detectors shall not be located directly in the airstream of supply registers. The detectors shall be placed at least 3 feet from the supply register.

Duct Smoke Sensor.  Duct smoke detection shall be provided where required by addressable, analog duct smoke detectors connected to the building fire alarm system. Duct smoke detectors shall not be used to replace area smoke detection, and are not to be used as life safety devices. Their primary purpose shall be to shut down air handling equipment in order to prevent or control the spread of smoke through the building. Duct smoke detectors shall be installed in accordance with NFPA 72 and all other applicable codes. Duct smoke detectors shall be programmed as supervisory points, and generate a supervisory signal at both the building control panel and at the Public Safety Emergency Communication Center. When remote indicators or test switches are used for duct smoke detectors, the switch or indicator shall be mounted in a remote location that is accessible and visible near the detector.

Low Oxygen Sensor. When a low oxygen sensor is required in an area, it will be monitored by a system that is independent of the building fire alarm system unless approved by The Department of Public Safety.

Smoke Detectors in Electrical Rooms shall be placed in electrical rooms for early detection of smoke in the event that switchgear equipment is in danger of exploding.

Alarm Signals: Unless otherwise specifically approved by the Department of Public Safety (Fire Prevention Supervisor and Protection Systems Manager), all buildings will be designed for full evacuation on any fire alarm. The standard alarm signal shall be the standard University of Cincinnati evacuation message. The system will also incorporate the University of Cincinnati standard all clear and weather alert messages.

Access to the fire control functions shall be protected by passwords, and shall be controlled as follows:

  • Alarm Silence                                                              Level 2
  • System Reset                                                              Level 2
  • Set Time and Date                                                      Level 3
  • Control Key 1 (Campus bypass)                                 Level 3
  • Control Key 2 (Elevator bypass)                                Level 3
  • Control Key 3                                                               Level 3
  • Control Key 4 (Weather Alert)                                   Level 1
  • Control Key 5 (ORL room smoke reset)                    Level 1
  • Enable/Disable Points                                                 Level 3
  • On/Off/Auto                                                               Level 3
  • Clear Trouble Log                                                       Level 4
  • Clear Alarm Log                                                         Level 4
  • Walk Test                                                                    Level 3
  • Clear Alarm Verification Tally                                   Level 3

Passwords will be programmed as defined by the Department of Public Safety Protection Systems Manager.

The location of the fire alarm control panels and subsidiary panels shall be installed in environmentally controlled spaces. They shall not be placed in a breezeway that enters or exits a building from the outside. They shall not be installed in environments that will go below 32oF or above 113oF. They shall not be in a space that prevents reasonable access. The location of the control panel and/or annunciator shall be coordinated with the Department of Public Safety (Fire Prevention and Protection Systems) by the University’s Project/Construction Manager. Control panels are typically located by the building main entrance.

The use of a separate fire control room off of the main lobby area is required for high rise buildings and preferred, provided that it is dedicated to that purpose, for all other buildings. The placement of the control panel in the main lobby area is acceptable in buildings that are not considered a high rise building. Multiple remote annunciator locations may be required for large complexes, or buildings with multiple main entrances. The remote annunciator shall have the same functions as the main control panel.

This remote annunciator panel shall consist of:

  • Remote LCD Display
  • Remote Microphone and Enclosure
  • Speaker Selector Switch Module
  • 4 Unit Package with Glass Door

ELEVATOR RECALL: Elevator recall shall be provided where required, by system smoke detectors connected to the building fire alarm system. Elevator recall shall be installed in accordance with the OBBC Elevator Code, and all other applicable codes. Elevator recall detectors shall be addressable analogue photoelectric smoke detectors with control modules used for relay outputs. Weatherproof heat detectors are acceptable in unheated elevator lobbies such as in parking garage.

FIRE DEPARTMENT ACCESS: The University’s Project/Construction Manager shall meet with the Department of Public Safety (Fire Prevention) for review of the fire department access and any necessary coordination with the fire department, prior to final plan approval.

FIREFIGHTER COMMUNICATION: The University has an emergency responder radio communication system installed on two of the three campuses located in the City of Cincinnati. This system shall be utilized whenever an emergency responder communication system is required in the City of Cincinnati. The Project/Construction Manager is responsible to coordinate the incorporation of the new building into this system, including pre-planning with the Department of Public Safety (Fire Prevention). Prior to acceptance, the new system must be tested and certified by a certified radio communications vendor and the City of Cincinnati Fire Department.

Bi-Directional Amplifiers (BDA) may also be used in buildings to provide emergency responder radio communication coverage. The Project/Construction Manager is responsible to coordinate the possible need and installation (if necessary), into the new building, including pre-planning with the Department of Public Safety (Fire Prevention). Prior to acceptance, the new system must be tested and certified by a certified radio communications vendor and the City of Cincinnati Fire Department.

Extra Material

Spare parts shall be provided in the amount of 6% (100 devices = 6 Spare) of each device used being no less than 2 of each type of device installed. Spare parts shall be turned over to the Department of Public Safety, Protection Systems Manager.

Execution Standards

Installation - General

DEVICE IDENTIFICATION: Install address plates on all addressable components, indicating the address of the device. Labels are to be of a permanent type, 24 point height, black letter on white tape, with clear laminate overlay. Hand lettering is specifically not acceptable.

All wiring shall be run in at least 3/4 inch conduit. Metal raceway (wire mold type) may be used in exposed locations.

WIRING AND BOX COLOR CODES: All wiring and boxes shall be color coded as specified in NFPA 72 and the National Electrical Code. All pull and junction boxes will specifically be painted red.

Wire shall be color coded as follows:

Orange 14 AWG - 24VDC Power

Brown 14 AWG - Door Holder

Fire Alarm cable shall be manufactured by Anixter, Belden, West Penn or equivalent. Provide submittals for fire alarm cables along with the fire alarm equipment submittals. The approved Anixter cables are as follows:

  • Data Loop Circuit                   Red                  #18 twisted pair, FPLR         
  • 24VDC Device Power            Orange             #14 twisted pair, FPLR
  • Strobe Circuit                          Yellow             #14 twisted pair, FPLR                     
  • Speaker Circuit                       Blue                 #16 twisted pair, FPLR                     
  • 24VDC Door Holder Power   Brown              #14 twisted pair, FPLR
  • Audio Riser Circuit                 Red                  #16 twisted pair, FPLR
  • Remote Test Switches            Red                 #16 twisted pair, FPLR         

Any wiring above 14 AWG shall be stranded.

Wiring and devices shall be under constant electrical supervision. An open or ground in any wire shall cause a trouble signal to operate at the building panel. The trouble signal shall also operate on loss of AC power. The system shall be supervised, and all trouble signals will also report to the Public Safety Emergency Communication Center.

Provisions for silencing the trouble signals shall be included on the control panel. The trouble signal shall sound until manually silenced, or the trouble condition is corrected.

Access to all fire alarm equipment must not put personnel at risk and shall not require that personnel bring equipment such as ladders or lifts unless approved by the University’s Project/Construction Management plan review. When fire alarm equipment is installed in a manner in which it would be inaccessible to personnel, a lift or equivalent shall be provided by the project for maintenance, repairs and testing of the inaccessible equipment. If having a lift available in the building is not possible, please provide specifications for the kind of lift and/or special equipment that would be appropriate to use in the building that would not cause any damage to the building.

Installation - Accessories

KEY AND DRAWING CABINET: Provide a cabinet for storage of system documents and keys next to the fire alarm control or annunciator in the building lobby. The cabinet shall be constructed with using 18-gauge steel and coated with a durable RED epoxy powder coat finish. It shall measure 37” H x 5” W x 4.25” D. It shall feature a full-length stainless-steel hinge, one-inch-tall lettering silk-screened with permanent white indelible ink on 2 sides providing a full 180 degrees of viewing for immediate identification to emergency responders. The cabinet shall have an industry standard key lock and an additional retainer inside the box to hold drawings securely upon opening the door. The cabinet will also allow space to store other critical disks, USB drives, keys and contact information for the system.

Keys for all pull stations, control cabinets, and other system components which are locked shall be turned over to the Department of Public Safety, Protection Systems Manager.


Off Campus Fire Alarm System Communication: To obtain the communication needed for off campus fire alarm systems going back to the Public Safety Emergency Communication Center, a GetIt order shall be submitted to Digital Technology Solutions by the University’s Project/Construction Manager @  This should be completed early in the project to ensure that everything is in place when the building is set to go online.

Power Sources

All fire alarm panels including, the main fire control panel, annunciator panels and transponder panel should all be on a dedicated emergency circuit. When using a modem or DEMARC from Cincinnati Bell or another outside source, for off campus buildings, the modem or DEMARC shall be installed on an emergency power circuit.

Testing & Commissioning

ACCECPTANCE OF SYSTEM: Electrical contractor shall pretest the system and complete the Protection Systems Technician’s Acceptance Test Checklist alongside the Protection Systems Technicians.  Contact the Department of Public Safety Protection Systems Technician Manager to get the latest version applicable to the project.

DRAWINGS AND SUBMITTALS: The following shall be submitted to the University, and turned over to the Department of Public Safety (Emergency Services):

Typical layout of all wall mounted equipment, either flush or recessed, accurately dimensioned. Each possible method of installation shall be illustrated. Three sets.

Schematics and wiring diagrams showing all interconnection wiring. Three sets.

A single line drawing showing the physical location of each device, its system address, and the type of device. A single line riser diagram of the system. Complete list of points on system, and all programming data for panel. Three sets.

Layout of all equipment as it will be installed in the control panel(s). Three sets. 

Bill of material of all equipment. Three sets.

Detail description of system operation as it will be installed, with only those features included that are used. Three sets.

Reduced size (8.5"x11") laminated single line drawing(s) on multiple sheets if necessary to preserve legibility, and list of points. One set in three ring binder, permanently labeled with the building name. To be placed in key and drawing cabinet.

AutoCAD compatible (.DWG) files of all drawings, point list file, and panel programming description, acceptable to the University. Two sets.

Service manuals for all components of the system. In three ring binders, three sets.

General catalog sheets shall not be submitted in lieu of shop drawings. When illustrative of a series of products or variations of products, the one model or type intended to be used shall be clearly highlighted, and all non-pertinent description shall be crossed out.

A record of completion as specified in NFPA 72, section 7. Three copies.

Cleaning & Protection

(No standards for this section.)

Residence Halls – Typical R Occupancy

General Standards

Sounder Bases: Every residence hall dorm room shall have smoke detectors with 520Hz sounder bases.

Smoke detectors shall be programmed as supervisory points and generate a supervisory signal at both the building fire control panel and at the Public Safety Emergency Communication Center.

Speaker Strobes: Every room shall have speaker strobe units. If the room is suite style, there should be a speaker strobe in each individual room to meet ADA compliance, except for special circumstances

Where speakers, strobes or speaker strobes or any type of initiating device are used in restrooms with showers, the units shall be weatherproof.

Strobes in sleeping areas shall be 185 candela for ADA compliance.                       

Interconnected rooms and suites: When a smoke detector is activated in a room, the sounder base shall sound and the strobe shall flash while the detector is in alarm. If there are multiple detectors in the room, all sounder bases shall sound simultaneously when one detector is in alarm. When rooms are interconnected, if a detector sounds in one room, it shall also cause the detector(s) in the interconnected room to sound as well along with the strobes to meet ADA compliance.

Protective Housing:  Audio/visual units located in areas where there is a high risk of physical damage (gymnasiums, mechanical rooms etc.) shall have a protective wire housing UL listed for the purpose installed over the device.