Policy Advisory Approved: April 22, 2004
Planning of Fire Alarm Systems
To clarify the extent to which the planning of fire detection devices and fire alarm systems is considered the "Practice of Engineering," as defined in Section 2, Definitions, of the Texas Engineering Practice Act.
This policy statement has been developed with the assistance of an ad hoc committee of engineers and professionals in the fire protection industry, appointed through the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. The intent is to clarify engineering functions in the planning of fire alarm systems. The State Fire Marshal's Office currently issues licenses to qualified persons to plan fire alarm systems. The Texas Board of Professional Engineers issues licenses to qualified persons to engage in the practice of engineering in Texas. Primarily, assurance that qualified persons are responsible for the planning of these systems in accordance with all local, state, and national codes prompted the discussion and clarification. Where the fire safety codes and installation standards are prescriptive they require little, if any, engineering judgment for an acceptable installation.
The Planning of fire detection devices and fire alarm systems performed by or under the direct supervision of a licensed individual is not considered the "Practice of Engineering" if:
1. The layout is within the scope of the applicable prescriptive code or standard,
such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 72 "National
Fire Alarm Code" when specified by an engineer or adopted by the state
or local jurisdiction; and
2. The licensed individual currently holds a "Fire Alarm Planning Superintendent" license (APS) issued by the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office in accordance with the Texas Insurance Code Article 5.43-2; and
3. The licensed individual is certified to a minimum level III, in the subfield of "Fire Alarm Systems", through the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET); and
4. Upon completion of the installation a licensed individual, where given the specific authority by Texas Statute, will perform an on-site inspection and certify in writing that the installation meets the standards provided for by law and/or is in compliance with the plans of the licensed fire alarm planning superintendent or licensed professional engineer.
Professional Engineer's Responsibilities
Engineering for fire detection devices and fire alarm systems by a Texas licensed professional engineer shall be limited to:
1. Engineers who are competent in Fire Protection Engineering by passing the
fire protection exam, education, or demonstration of significant experience.
2. Licensed Professional Engineers who maintain continuing education and familiarity with the applicable codes and standards in this area of expertise.
Licensed professional engineers who specify (by writing in lieu of plans) the installation of fire detection devices and fire alarm systems should, as a minimum, identify on the construction plans and documents:
1. The applicable prescriptive codes and/or standards; and
2. The specific building use and/or occupancy classification (as designated in the applicable building code or as interpreted by the Building Official); and/or
3. Describe the function, placement, performance, and operation of the devices or system by which to correctly plan the system(s).
Licensed professional engineers, who plan the installation of fire detection devices and fire alarm systems, shall as a minimum:
1. Prepare construction plans and documents that depict the required components
and devices for a complete fire detection devices and fire alarm systems in
accordance with the applicable codes and standards; and
2. Sign, date, seal, and prepare plans in accordance with the Texas Engineering Practices Act; and
3. Be responsible for the complete design in compliance with applicable codes subject to sanctions by the Board of Professional Engineers.
The Board will aggressively enforce, levy sanctions and/or recommend restitution for infractions of the Texas Engineering Practice Act, when engineers sign, date, seal, and distribute design plans and documents for the installation of fire detection and fire alarm devices and systems, in which the engineer did not endeavor to comply with applicable national, state, or local building and fire codes.
The Board encourages building and fire officials, who review plans in Texas municipalities, to file a complaint with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, whenever they review plans, signed, dated, and sealed or stamped by an engineer, which are not in compliance with the applicable state or local codes. Complaint forms are available on the Board web site at www.tbpe.state.tx or by calling the enforcement division at (512) 440-7723.