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Fire alarm system certification Listing process

This page provides the information necessary for an alarm service company to obtain and maintain a Listing that enables issuance of Central Station, Local, Auxiliary, Remote Station and Proprietary certificates. These categories are defined by the National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72). Since UL does not have published requirements for these categories, the evaluation of the installation, maintenance, and service will be conducted to those requirements found within the National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA72). The initial evaluation will be conducted to those requirements found in the current code edition.

However, local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) may apply previous editions of the Fire Alarm Code as adopted by local code or ordinance. In these cases, you need to be aware of these requirements and apply those within the various jurisdictions.

Initial Listing process

To qualify for a Listing, your company is evaluated for its ability to manage the installation and maintenance of systems for compliance with NFPA 72. To obtain a Listing under this category, contact the UL office that services your area.

Next, request an application for listing. Once you receive the application, complete and sign it, then return it to the UL office along with the required preliminary deposit. Costs to conduct an initial evaluation are updated annually to reflect current costs for time and expenses, with travel and living expenses additional.

When UL receives the properly completed application and deposit, one of our auditors will contact you to schedule the evaluation. The auditor will ask you to complete and return the preliminary alarm system evaluation forms to provide more information about the systems to be inspected. These forms are similar to the descriptions that you will complete after you are Listed and wish to issue certificates.

Generally, four fire alarm systems will be inspected, although one large fire alarm system covering a variety of fire alarm equipment may be sufficient. The inspection will include a field evaluation and the required documentation (see the Documentation section below).

Please be prepared to have staff available who are familiar with the sites and can conduct the inspection with the UL representative. Your staff must be equipped with proper tools to inspect all parts of the systems, including ladders, test smoke, heat guns/dryers for testing heat detectors, keys, etc.

After the inspection, the UL representative prepares a report that will include any requirements for corrective action for areas of noncompliance. Upon satisfactory clearance of the report, UL establishes a Listing that allows your company to issue certificates under this category.

You will receive a certificate of compliance specifying the UL category in which you are Listed. A certificate of compliance is printed annually and sent to you upon receipt of payment for UL's annual services. This certificate of compliance is indication of the Listing category.

Some jurisdictions require that you submit a copy of your certificate of compliance every year.

Annual inspection process

Once your alarm service company has established a Listing, it is subject to annual audit by UL personnel. A UL auditor schedules the inspection at least 10-14 days in advance.

Prior to the inspection, the UL auditor reviews the previous two years of inspection files to determine which systems will be field inspected. The auditor randomly selects systems that were not inspected in the previous two years and may also select some of those previously inspected to verify that defects found during the previous inspection have been corrected. During the annual audit, it may also be necessary to inspect systems that an AHJ expressed concern about.

During the annual audit visit, the UL auditor also reviews the required documentation for the certified systems. (See the Documentation section below.)

After inspection, the UL auditor provides you with an inspection report that covers any defects found and the required corrective action. You will need to provide documentation of the corrective action taken to address the defects within the required time period indicated on the UL report.

Should the annual inspection determine that you are not providing code-complying fire alarm systems, a special investigation will be opened. A new work assignment will be opened with costs for the assignment billed directly to your company. Travel and living expenses will be billed as a separate cost. If this special investigation also shows that your company fails to maintain an acceptable level of compliance with the requirements of the appropriate standards, the ability to issue new certificates may be suspended, existing certificates may be withdrawn by UL, and Listing for the service under the investigation may be withdrawn.

Re-qualification process

Service centers that have not issued a certificate during a three-year period are required to undergo a re-qualification inspection during the fourth year. Each year during the three-year time period, you will have been contacted by a UL auditor to offer a courtesy visit to discuss current requirements and remind you of the re-qualification process. The re-qualification audit will be essentially the same as the initial Listing investigation. During this audit, the UL auditor investigates a sampling of your company's work to determine whether your company can provide code-complying alarm service. It may be sufficient to look at one system. However, where possible this system should consist of various types of fire alarm services (AFA.WF, SS, MP). As with the initial Listing investigation, system documentation is also reviewed.

Documentation

Since documentation requirements for fire alarm systems are considered a critical component, this area will be given attention during all phases of your company's Listing, and during annual and any re-qualification audits. Documentation can be separated into two areas:

Completion documents

  • Record of Completion (NFPA 72 form or as allowed by AHJ)
  • Owner's manual and installation instructions covering all system equipment
  • Record drawings
  • Initial acceptance tests

Inspection and Testing/Maintenance and Repair Service documents

  • Responsibility documents --The National Fire Alarm Code requires that the fire alarm system's owner or designated representative be responsible for inspection, testing and maintenance, and alterations or additions to the system. UL requires that this delegation be in writing so that all parties have a common understanding or responsibilities for code compliance. A copy of such delegation shall be provided for the AHJ and is subject to review by the UL auditor. Should a person or organization other than the system owner perform these duties, a written contract is required and subject to review by the UL Auditor.
 Note: the above requirements can be found in NFPA 72 1999 edition pars. 7-1.2 and 7-1.2.1. Should system owners provide their own inspection, testing and maintenance or alterations, there must also be documentation as to the qualifications of the person performing these tasks. Requirements are found in par7-1.2.2 of NFPA 72, 1999 Ed.
  • Repair, maintenance, inspection and testing records -- Records shall be retained until the next test and for one year thereafter. The inspection and testing record found in the National Fire Alarm Code should be used for this documentation. However, the AHJ may allow for use of another form. Information required for proper completion of these forms can be found in NFPA 72 99 ed. Par. 7-5.2.2.
Any system defects or malfunctions during routine inspection/testing or maintenance visits require notification of the system owner within 24 hours of the discovery. The UL auditor will review this documentation. Disposition of the problem is also documented.

Service areas

Each alarm service company is assigned a service center area. This service area will include an area within three hours (by car) from the Listed service center address. This service center will be defined by U.S. Postal Service ZIP codes as provided to the UL auditor upon initial listing evaluation. ZIP codes are reviewed for accuracy by the UL auditor during the annual inspection process.