Allow me to take a step back from the Facts, Figures, Codes and Standards of the Fire Alarm Industry and take you back 36 years, for just a moment or two. It was February 27th, 8 AM in 1978 when I first walked into the manufacturing plant at Fire Control Instruments, Inc. on California St. in Newton, Massachusetts. It was a small, single story building behind Kings Department Store nestled in next to the Charles River which formed the border between Newton and Watertown. 

When I walked in on the first day, I was handed 4 little pamphlets NFPA 72A, 72B, 72C, and 72D. This is how NFPA 72 was first organized (Local, Proprietary, Remote Station and Central Station) or the Alphabet Soup Version. 

After having a few weeks to digest this I was as lost about the meaning as when I started, new job, new industry (I was a Marine Biology Major prior to this) and I just couldn't put the code I read into any context my mind could follow. 

That was until I was handed a copy of the 1976 NEMA Training Manual for Fire Alarm. Here was a book written in plain English that married the concepts that the Code espoused and the physicality of the Fire Alarms we were building, as well as the parts that were connected to the alarms after we shipped them out the door (Smokes, Heats, Pulls, Horns, Lights and Bells). 

I read that manual and I got it, from Marine Biology to Alarm tech in no time - and by April of 1981 I was in the front office answering Tech Support calls from Techs in the field and understanding and helping those poor guys get their systems up and running. 

Fast forward to 2016 and a lot has changed. NFPA 72 is now one book with 29 Chapters covering the old Conventional Systems I cut my teeth on right up to today's Microprocessor based Mass Notification Systems that integrate with all sorts of intelligent building systems. 

And right there is NEMA, not only with an up-to-date Fire Alarm Training Manual, but with more.

The list of training guides is as follows: 

SB 2 NEMA Training Guide on Fire Alarm Systems
SB 7 2013 Applications Guide for Carbon Monoxide Alarms and Detectors 
SB 11 2011 Guide for Proper Use of System Smoke Detectors 
SB 13 2012 Guide for Proper use of Smoke Detectors in Duct Applications 
SB 40 Communication Systems for Life Safety in Schools 
SB 50 Emergency Communications Audio Intelligibility Applications Guide 
The Changing Communications within Fire Alarm System Reporting 

All equally applicable in today's High-Tech Fire Alarm environment and each as plain and understandable as the original was 40 years ago. 

I advise all who are entering the field to download these manuals and learn the lessons within. You will see that short of 10 years in the field, they are the best method for putting the codes and Standards into perspective. Download them from our site at and sign up for updates on the NEMA site. Best of Luck!!!!