What kind of cable can I use?

I just bought 500 feet of 22/4 security system cable. Is this fine to use in a fire alarm system (for actual life safety) or not?

What are you planning on using it for?


Wiring up my system. Everything pull stations, alarms, etc.

Right, but you mentioned it was for an actual life safety application. Where is this system going to be installed?

At my house, we only have 1 working smoke alarm and its somewhere no one really is.

I don’t want to be “that guy”, but I’d recommend against installing commercial fire alarms in your house for life safety purposes. It’s technically considered unlicensed work and could cause issues down the road if the FD was ever called to your house and your homeowner’s insurance provider found out. If unlicensed and uninspected fire alarm work was found, they could deny your claim. It’s better to stick with battery-operated or 120VAC interconnect smokes and keep the fire alarm system in one room. Installing it on a board makes it easy to take down if you sell your house or have it inspected.



That being said, it’s up to you. If you decide to go ahead with the installation, 22/4 would theoretically work. That’s not what’s used in licensed installs, but then again, nothing about your install is licensed! :mrgreen:

Household fire safety devices are “smoke alarms”. Houses don’t need fire alarm systems. Just interconnected smoke detectors. Fire alarm systems should not be used for houses as they could start a fire themselves.

Not necessarily. Yes, fire alarm systems can be faulty BUT if installed by a licensed professional, there should be no problem. There are some instances in which a house will need a real, working fire alarm system that runs 24/7. But in most of our cases, that’s not required.

I hope you realize I’m doing this for a reason, I’m not doing the wiring my uncle that has been working in electricity and has even wired up voltages as high as 480 is wiring this up. I did get permission by the fire department. They didn’t want me too but assumed that it was fine. I’m not that stupid to just do something without permission. Everything will be purchased brand new. I know how to do this kind of stuff… At least I know. And the system is staying up forever (or until the house falls apart since it’s been here for 119 years.

You really should just hire an alarm company to just install a security system with fire alarm features, where it is guaranteed to work 24/7 and be monitored by professionals. You and your uncle are not certified professionals and of course you might need permits for the installation and having such a system installed in a residential environment.

The fire department is not who you need permission from. The AHJ has the final say on whether a household fire alarm system can replace battery-operated or interconnect detectors required in most municipalities. During renovations, I was planning on installing a Ademco Vista 32FB fire/burglary system in our home, but read through the local codes for new construction and could not find any addendum that would allow such a system to replace the required 120VAC interconnect detectors. I didn’t want to fight the AHJ on it, so I went with a residential DSC security system and Gentex 120VAC’s. Because this can be pre-wired by any electrician, the wiring passed inspection and all was well.



But when you install a household fire alarm system, it’s a whole different ball game. Assuming the building code allows it or you are granted a variance, the system now must be installed by a licensed low-voltage electrician and be NFPA 72 compliant. That means fire-rated wiring, proper supervision, proper smoke coverage, notification coverage and sound levels, primary power on a dedicated non-switched circuit, etc. The system must also be inspected, maintained, and monitored by an approved service company. Read R314.2 of your local residential building code for more info.



In a nutshell, it can be done as long as you follow the letter of the law, but prepare for a lot of headaches and unexpectedly high costs. Best of luck!

What kind of high costs will I get? And In response to I think ryan, I’m not installing anything other than the backboxes and wire mold. He’s connecting everything.

The high costs are the legal way of installing a household fire alarm system: system design + professional licensed installation + inspection + monitoring + service.



Here’s the thing: you can install whatever you want in your own house and it’s relatively unlikely that any trouble will come from it. Some members on here have full systems in their house and have yet to encounter any legal issues. BUT, technically speaking, it’s illegal. So is a lot of electrical work done in homes everyday. Again, technically. Most of the time it’s not a big deal as long as anything illegal gets fixed or removed before the home is inspected and sold. My goal isn’t to rain on your parade; I just wanted to give you all the facts so you know what you’re getting into.

I have a question on the legality: are non-life-safety applications that are experimental and in a house that is up to modern code technically illegal? For example, Andrew’s house: assuming that his house has “standard” household fire protection that is currently legal, and assuming he’s not a licensed technician, is his system illegal, even though it’s not being used for life safety purposes?

Hard to say since there’s really no precedent on “experimental” fire alarm systems, but one could argue that once basic residential code has been met, anything after that is not considered life safety and thus not subject to code. One could also argue that it’s unlicensed electrical work regardless of what type of system it is. Technically it’s illegal, but any AHJ could care less unless they’re inspecting new construction. It should be removed before trying to sell the house though.


Well after a bit of thinking. I might just do what Andrew did. MAke a system in my house but not use it for life safety. Also that seems easier to do then buying alarms brand new, a panel brand new. Fire alarm cable brand new, etc. But thank you thedsx for helping me and telling me what I shouldn’t do and what could happen!

Just adding my to cents. Even though its still not “legit” be careful how you wire it. Use conduit where needed (concrete walls) and back-boxes for each device (especially notification appliances). Make sure ALL connections are in a junction box or back-box and that connections are secure. You want to reduce your risk of fire as much as you can since if there was ever a fire caused by a system you wired (life safety or play) there is a HUGE chance the insurance company wouldn’t cover the insurance company would not cover he damages if it was your fault. Just be safe, and smart with your setup :wink:




I think I might do what Andrew did. His system does look nice too…