Automatic fire alarms

Requirements for fire alarm systems

A fire alarm.Before installing a fire alarm system, a fire protection permit must be obtained. The permit application must include a floor plan showing device locations and specification sheets on all equipment. Further fire alarm system requirements include:

  • When central station notification is required, or otherwise provided, it must be through a UL-listed communicator.
  • Alarm systems using smoke detectors must be fully addressable and panel must be analog.
  • Smoke detectors must be analog and self-diagnosing. 
  • Both two-wire and four-wire-supervised systems are acceptable.
  • Alarm panel and communicator must have an independent ground.
  • Alarm verification is required for all systems using smoke detectors.
  • Smoke detectors must be able to be field tested without the use of real or artificial smoke.
  • Smoke detectors required by the mechanical code and not by the fire code must not sound a general fire alarm or indicate fire alarm at panel. They may send a supervisory signal.
  • Pull stations must have pre-alarm covers unless otherwise approved by the Fire Marshal.
  • Health care, day care, and assembly occupancy notification must be by chimes or recorded voice, unless otherwise approved by the Fire Marshal.
  • All systems using standard horns or speakers must be set for temporal coding “march time” or “slow whoop” notification.
  • A telephone number for 24-hour service must be posted on fire alarm panel.
  • A full-function annunciator must be provided, if the control panel is remotely located.
  • The Minnetonka Fire Department must be contacted for final inspection of the completed job. The final inspection will include
    • Test for proper operation of each device.
    • Random testing for system trouble.
    • Random testing for ground fault trouble.
    • Random testing for system verification on smoke detector zones.
    • Correct operation on battery or standby power.

Before servicing a fire alarm or fire sprinkler system in the city of Minnetonka, the monitoring company must be notified and the system should be placed in a “test” status. Before any work is done the servicing technician must call the monitoring company and confirm that the system is in test status.

Automatic Fire Alarm
Response Fees

Effective March 1, 2004, a $250 service fee is assessed by the Minnetonka Fire Department in response to an automatic fire alarm initiated by a private alarm monitoring company. This fee does not apply to general 9-1-1 calls, alarm calls where the first notification of the alarm is a 9-1-1 call from the affected property, or alarm calls originated by an automatic fire sprinkler system.

Ladder truck 3 departs the fire station.“Our fire department has a general duty to respond to emergencies that occur within the city,” said Fire Chief Joe Wallin. “Fire alarm systems with central station service are a contract between a private party and a vendor, resulting in a service being performed by an uncompensated third party—the fire department. This level of service constitutes a ‘special duty,’ which is not available to everyone unless they contract with a private alarm company.

“Because the Minnetonka Fire Department is primarily a paid-on-call department, there are definite costs associated with each call for service, in contrast to a full-time department which has a fixed payroll cost whether responding to calls or not,” concluded Chief Wallin.

Using response statistics for the previous three years, the $250 fee reflects the average additional cost incurred for each response to a fire alarm. It is significant to note that, according to Minnetonka Fire Department records, there has never been a case where an automatic fire alarm was the first notification of an actual fire, other than an automatic fire sprinkler alarm. In the unlikely event that the fire alarm system is the first notification of a true fire emergency, the ordinance provides a mechanism for the fire chief to waive the fee.

As a general guideline a fee can be reduced when at a minimum, all of the following are met:

  • The alarm system is registered with the City as outlined in ordinance.
  • The alarm holder and the city agree to a future corrective action plan.
  • There has not been an alarm from the site in the previous 365 days.
  • The alarm system is registered with the City as outlined in ordinance.

As a general guideline the fee can be waived when one or all of he following are met:

  • The alarm holder had taken appropriate proactive steps to avoid alarm calls.
  • The alarm holder had previously worked with the fire department to resolve ongoing issues with the alarm system.
  • In the opinion of the Chief a true emergency existed.

If you have any questions about this ordinance change, call Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Fox, Minnetonka Fire Department, at 952.939.8339 or e-mail kfox@eminnetonka.com.