aren't malls required to have fire alarm systems?

i would think they are required to based on their size. however the local mall (a large two-story mall) has no sign of a fire alarm system in the main mall area. no nas, pull stations or smoke detectors. they just have sprinklers. the big stores in the mall have fire alarm systems.

Some places see malls as collections of separate stores, rather than one big building, meaning each store is responsible for its own fire alarm system. Also, if a system is old enough and uses an older version of fire and building code, it can get away with not having a fire alarm system if the old code didn’t require it.

I thought for the longest time my local mall didn’t have a system, until one day I spotted a Simplex 4904 remote strobe high on the ceiling. Then suddenly all the rest became visible.



I’ve noticed the same phenomenon is other malls as well. With so many signs, advertisements, lights, etc., the alarms themselves just start to blend in. Until you see one and then know where to look, they can be hard to spot. Especially when it comes to ceiling mount devices.



As for the pull stations, that’s a different story. They likely don’t have any in the public corridors in order to prevent an incessant stream of false alarms. The sprinklers you mentioned likely take the place of smoke detectors, as they will trip a waterflow switch if activated and sound the system.

maybe the PA speakers in the mall double as fire alarm speakers, however this would not be ADA compliant. there’s no strobes anywhere in the main mall area.

That actually wouldn’t be completely out of the realm of possibility, however. Depending on when the mall was constructed, strobes may not have been a requirement yet and thus only standalone speakers were installed.

The concept of a mall without pull stations is a bit weird to me, as New York requires them. Never seen a mall here without a full compliment of visible fire alarm equipment.


My local mall (which is probably going to go out of business soon) has pulls all over the freaking place. The pulls are closer to each other than they are in DestiNY, even though my mall is much smaller.

Pyramid (the company that owns DestiNY USA) likely reduced the number of pulls in their “newer” (relatively speaking) malls due to a high rate of false alarms. Crossgates Mall in Albany (also Pyramid) has SIGA 270s all over the place and there are false alarms constantly. I’ve been there during at least 5 false alarms. MT4s and ASes on continuous with the occasional Genesis on Code 3. Plenty of videos on YouTube.


Well, I don’t think DestiNY is that new (compared to my mall) given that the system is not ADA-compliant (while my mall’s is, with the exception of Macy’s and Sears).

There’s a reason I said “relatively”. It opened in 1990, compared to the early 80s. ADA didn’t become fully active until 1992-3.

Malls have always been kind of random in how their fire alarm systems are designed. But it’s usually due to the majority of malls being built before current codes. And quite frankly, the concept of an enclosed shopping mall is dying, so new ones aren’t being built. Malls are also different than traditional buildings in that the anchor stores are usually isolated mechanically from the core mall - the fire alarm in the anchor may not trip the fire alarm in the mall. I can think of a few examples locally, each are different…



Mall A - Originally built as an partially enclosed mall with the idea of small stores in one section and several medium to large anchors, but ended up being taken over by mostly medium sized national chains and a couple of businesses carved out large office spaces. The “mall” has a fire alarm system but out of the 15 tenants, 7 have their own fire alarm panels. Nobody is interconnected, even though you will have tenants literately on top of each-other (the building is two levels). One tenant even has their fire alarm system covering the retail store with the mall fire alarm covering the stock room. Nightmare for anyone not knowing in advance how this place is designed.



Mall B - Typical enclosed shopping mall with anchor stores - the mall has a fire alarm panel that covers the common areas, but every individual tenant is required to have their own fire alarm panel with smokes, pulls, and notification. There are two modules in the back of the store from the mall panel - one monitors the tenant panel for alarm (reports as supervisory), the other one fires off the notification in the store (notification not wired to the tenant panel but directly to the module).



Mall C - Typical enclosed with anchors - original mall fire alarm only monitored sprinkler and service hallways (no stores), 90’s addition ended up having devices added to tenant spaces and all common areas in addition only (original mall left untouched). As tenant spaces get renovated in original part, FM requiring smokes and notification added to those spaces only. So you will have a random store in the old part with fire alarm devices, neighbors with nothing. One anchor (part of the 90’s addition) is connected to the mall panel but just activates a supervisory.



Mall D - Typical enclosed with anchors - built in the late 70’s but considered a “dead mall” in that half the mall is now closed off and the open part is mostly vacant. The only fire alarm is a Radionics panel in a back hallway with a single 24V bell above that monitors the fire sprinkler risers.

Jesus. With all of the different configurations a mall could have for a fire alarm, it seems like its a big headache trying to figure out how each mall has their systems set up.

It can be but it’s also part of the fun! When you walk into a place for the first time the disclaimer is always I will try my best to not cause any issues but I cannot be held accountable for things that haven’t been documented. And in multi-tenant buildings it has happened when testing or working on an alarm in one part, trips an alarm in another part. Two examples from above - in Mall “A”, when our company took over the contract, the previous company had marked on the wall in each sprinkler room which waterflow switch tripped which panel. I guess when they found out they lost the contract, they came back and wrote over the information with a black marker. Didn’t work because you could still make out some of the information, but there were a couple we weren’t sure about until we checked them. And in Mall “C”, Macy’s thought it would be a good idea to install a smoke detector in the mall right above their mall entrance, same style as the mall detectors. Well, when we were testing one day, tested that smoke and set off the alarm in Macy’s. There’s a note at the panel now but we weren’t aware. Luckily it was before hours so didn’t disrupt their operations.


IIRC, if a building is fully covered by sprinklers, only one is required right by the panel.





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Of course, that depends on the state. I know for a fact that New York requires them by all exits (things you learn as a civil engineer).



Almost every mall near me has individual systems for each store plus a main mall system, sometimes tied together:



Mall A: I referred to this one upthread, but the main mall has an EST system, older stores typically have Simplex systems and newer ones EST. An activation in the main mall sets off that system only. An activation in a store sets off that store and the main mall system, but the main system can be silenced while the store continues to go off.



Mall B: Notifier EVAC system for the main mall that is mostly tied into the PA with remote strobes. Separate systems again, but each store has one Wheelock speaker/strobe tied to the mall system at the entrance.



I’ve seen a few malls in this state (none around me) that have an annunciator for each store next to the mall entrance.