Notification Devices

Fire alarm systems use a variety of devices to alert building occupants and fire authorities within the protected area as well as outside that an event or fault has occurred. These devices include:

  • audible alarms (horns, bells, buzzers, chimes, etc.)
  • visual alarms (strobes, etc.)
  • remote enunciators
  • communications systems
  • data display and output devices (CRT’s, printers, etc.)

What Are Visual Alarms?

Visual alarms are flashing lights used as fire alarm signals.

The terms visual alarm signal, visible signal device, and visible signaling appliance are used relatively interchangeably within the fire protection community; the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) calls them visual notification appliances.{/slide}

Why are Visual Alarms Required?

One American in a hundred has a severe hearing loss; nearly one in ten has a significant loss. A visual alarm provides persons with hearing loss the same warning delivered to hearing persons by an audible alarm.

In passing the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, Congress specifically directed the Access Board to provide greater guidance regarding communications accessibility. Thus the ADA Accessibility

Guidelines (ADAAG) require that where emergency warning systems are provided in new or altered construction, they must include both audible and visible alarms that meet certain technical specifications.