Disconnected Pull Stations

I’ve been wondering for some time whether it’s legal to leave disconnected pull stations mounted. There is a middle school in my area that has several pull stations that have “disconnected” written on them in pen, which I would assume means they are non-operational in some way. This could be a serious life-safety issue in the event of a real emergency, where that pull station may be the only way to let people know of an emergency.

I doubt it’s illegal, but I could be wrong. It actually very well might be a code violation that they’re not working. That school might be forced to replace them soon.

I saw this at a college near me. They had Chevrons with “OUT OF ORDER” written on tape over the handle. This wasn’t that bad, however, as there were active BG-12s next to them.

As always, the AHJ probably has the final say on disconnected pull stations.

That’s common during system upgrades. If the panel is being replaced complete with new NAs and initiating devices, the new pull stations will be taped over until the new system is activated, at which point the old ones are taped over until removed. I saw this quite a bit during undergrad, as several buildings were upgraded when I was there, usually from a Simplex 2001 system or similar (panels were behind locked doors) to an EST3.

It’s funny because I looked through 72 tonight and couldn’t find anything that directly referenced this. But I swear I remember seeing that somewhere in the code - about how “orphaned” devices shall be physically removed. It is possible that is a local code I am thinking about and not in NFPA 72 or it’s even possible it’s in another code like NFPA 101. Related to this but I believe there is something in the code that states you cannot use a fire alarm device (like gut out a 2W-B smoke detector) as a covert camera. But again, that might be local AHJ that is enforcing that.

For me, if I come across an orphaned device I tell the customer it needs to be removed. Especially pull stations. Last thing you need is someone pulling a pull station in an emergency that’s not going to work. Huge liability there! Even if it can’t be removed right away, bag it or cover it up somehow so it is no longer visible.

Okay, thanks. The pull stations at the middle school are Simplex chevrons, and they have been disconnected since the system was replaced in 2012 with EST genesis horn/strobes. The “new” system doesn’t have any pull stations.

Are you sure they didn’t just reuse the existing pull stations on the new system? I believe Siemens still manufactures Chevron pulls so they are still a viable model for devices on the system. It’s hard to imagine that the new system would have no pulls.

International Building Code:

907.2 Where required-new buildings and structures. An approved fire alarm system installed in accordance with the provisions of this code and NFPA 72 shall be provided in new buildings and structures in accordance with Sections 907.2.1 through 907.2.23 and provide occupant notification in accordance with Section 907.5, unless other requirements are provided by another section of this code. [F]

A minimum of one manual fire alarm box shall be provided in an approved location to initiate a fire alarm signal for fire alarm systems employing automatic fire detectors or waterflow detection devices. Where other sections of this code allow elimination of fire alarm boxes due to sprinklers, a single fire alarm box shall be installed.

I installed a number of systems with one manual station. It doesn’t seem right but codes allow it when the other requirements are met.

It’s theoretically possible that there are pull stations in the main office and mechanical rooms off-limits to students. I think New York requires pull stations next to every exit, so I’ve never seen such a case in person, but I could see a school doing that if allowed to limit false alarms.

Chester School District in Pennsylvania does this. They place one pull station in the main office and one in the boiler or mechanical room. That’s it. The rest of the building has smoke detection or sprinklers. But again, it’s Chester and if anyone on here knows Chester, you know why!

No explanation needed. Chester is one of those places I do everything possible to stay away from.

Most systems we put in these days only have one pull station, usually next to the FACP in a locked room somewhere. As long as the building’s fully sprinkled it’s okay, but I think it depends on the use group of the building.

It is possible that there are pull stations somewhere in the building that are connected, but these chevroms have “disconnected” written on them, and they are the Simplex variant. Obviously, the only way to know for sure is by pulling the alarm, and i’m not terribly fond of that idea, so I will likely never know the deal behind why the pull stations are all supposedly disconnected.

To me that’s surprising you guys are allowed to do that. In the Ontario Building Code (OBC), it states that we have to install a pull station near every principal entrance and required exit.

Retired STR-SG already posted the section of the IBC code permitting it. It’s been that way since… 2002 maybe? A very long time at any rate.

I think the general theory is automatic detection and water flow’s from a fully sprinkled building should be more than enough to set off an alarm in the event of a true fire. Pulls are seen as more of a nuisance by most building owners.

Say if it’s a school, then is it required?

I’ll answer your question with a quote:

A lot of it depends on jurisdiction. Some states/localities require pull stations by every exit in most (if not all) building types. New York is one of these. I have seen very few buildings in this state with a full alarm system that do not have pull stations by every exit and stairwell (definitely not new ones), schools included. Pennsylvania obviously does not have this requirement.

It’s not required in the IBC (doesn’t mean local codes don’t override it). I didn’t check the NFPA 101 but they’re usually similar.

Interestingly enough in the IBC, a voice/evac system IS required in schools these days.

[F] 907.2.3 Group E. A manual fire alarm system that ini-

tiates the occupant notification signal utilizing an emer-

gency voice/alarm communication system meeting the

requirements of Section 907.5.2.2 and installed in accor-

dance with Section 907.6 shall be installed in Group E


There’s some other stuff basically saying pull stations can be eliminated if it’s fully sprinkled OR if all of the corridors, common areas (gyms, cafeterias, etc), shops, and labs are protected by heat or smoke detectors.

Just by browsing through it, it looks like almost all occupancies can have the pulls removed. High Hazard groups were the only real exception I saw.

These are all basic guidelines of course, each building/jurisdiction/etc end up with their own specific rules. The military has their own codes (the UFC Codes, and even those vary by branch), VA hospitals have their own, and it seems like a lot of states have additional hospital codes. I didn’t really research what all a college requires, but there is specific language in the IBC pertaining to college dorms.

(can’t edit the above post)

the nfpa101 has similar language, also requiring a voice/evac system. it’s much easier to read and follow than the IBC for anyone interested in looking this stuff up too.*Manual fire alarm boxes shall be permitted to be

eliminated where both of the following conditions apply:

(1) The building is protected throughout by an approved,

supervised automatic sprinkler system in accordance with

Section 9.7.

(2) Provision is made at a central point to manually activate

the evacuation signal or to evacuate only affected areas.

So in a fully sprinkled school you’re only required to have 1 pull station is how that would be interpreted. The central point would normally be at the fire alarm panel wherever it’s located, usually near the front desk or admin area.

I thought it was in the code somewhere too but also can’t find it. It’s one of those things you’ll run across a year from now and think “why didn’t I look here before???”. :roll: :lol: The NEC specifically says cabling must be labeled or removed if abandoned, but that’s about all I could find.

Some instances I can think of where pull stations were not installed or removed - and these are all places with legitimate fire alarm systems with a listed panel, notification devices, monitoring, etc.

1.) The Chester schools example I gave earlier. This was done because students were maliciously activating the alarm. So they put the manual activation of the alarm in areas not accessible to students. And from what I understand, other schools have done this.

2.) There is a 1.2 million square ft shopping mall in the area with a total of two pull stations - one at the FACP and one in the security office. The pull stations at the exits were removed because of false alarms. There is also an ABORT button in the security office that will suppress the activation of the notification. If a smoke detector in the mall is activated, security has to press the button within a fixed time or the building goes into full alarm. This gives them a chance to verify the alarm. Waterflows or pull stations have no alarm delay.

3.) A multi-residential building with no common area corridors where there is a panel to monitor the sprinkler system. At the panel you will have a smoke detector and sometimes a pull station mounted next to it. But no other smokes, pulls, etc other than notification in the residential units. More likely than not the panel (with the pull station) is in a locked room where the residents don’t have access.

And one “bonus” - because although there are pull stations located throughout, they are generally not usable to anyone other than building staff

4.) Detention or mental health facilities. Usually this is accomplished with key activated pull stations (FCI MS-2L or Simplex 2099-9762 for example) where staff members have a key to activate the pull station, but anyone else including visitors don’t have the ability to manually activate the alarm.

Ultimately, whether manual pull stations get installed in a building or not, depends on if the AHJ wants them installed or not. And the AHJ has the right to deviate from NFPA72 or local codes as they see fit. Usually in these cases the building owner has gone to the AHJ and asked for pull stations to be removed or not installed to begin with. There could be cases where there has been so many false alarms that the AHJ had demanded they be removed, but I would figure that is rare.