Can we get a variance on our fire alarm system?

Fire alarm systems are strictly regulated and must meet minimum requirements. However, in some cases, the local authority will allow for exceptions or variances from current code requirements. While this is generally not recommended, there are some circumstances where it may be worth exploring a variance. Possible exceptions include:

  • Voluntarily upgrading a grandfathered fire alarm system where a complete upgrade may not be economically feasible, but a significant partial upgrade is desired.
  • Upgrading only part of a property, as the rest of it is unaffected by renovations.
  • Meeting requirements specified in code that is more current than that adopted by the local authority. Local authorities are generally not using the most recent code and, in some cases, you may want to install a system or devices that meet more recent code than the authority recognizes (e.g., wireless devices).
  • Or, if full code compliance is not practical or feasible. This process often involves a dialog with the local inspectors. In this case, you will want to work with a firm that has the right resources and relationships.