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Emergency Generator Signaling Requirements

Date: May 21, 1999 -- DSL-BQA-99-007

To:   Nursing Homes NH - 3, Community Based Residential Facilities CBRF - 3, Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled FDD 03

From: Rita Prigioni, Interim Director, Bureau of Quality Assurance


Bureau of Quality Assurance Life Safety Code surveyors have observed that facilities with emergency generators do not have a means of alerting staff of problems with the emergency generator. Although we have noted this problem, we are not currently citing this as a deficiency in older facilities.

In reviewing the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code (LSC) requirements, we have determined that the requirement for remote notification of trouble has been in place since the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) adopted the 1967 edition of the LSC as a certification requirement on October 28, 1971.

The LSC references the National Electric code for annuciation function. Compliance with the National Electrical Code (NEC) has also been a continuing requirement of the State of Wisconsin Building Code.

In reviewing the 1965/1968 edition of the NEC, we find the requirement for annunication (derangement) in Article 700-12 (NEC):

700-12. Derangement Signals. Audible and visual signal devices shall be provided where practical for the following purposes:

(a) To give warning of derangement of the emergency or auxiliary source.

(b) To indicate that the battery or generator set is carrying load.

(c) To indicate when the battery charger is functioning properly.

We have determined that compliance with this requirement may be accomplished for minimal cost. We have also received a formal interpretation from NFPA which indicates a single warning light and audible sound at a 24-hour nursing station or 24-hour supervised work station would be acceptable in meeting this requirement in existing buildings.

Nursing home facilities constructed after June 1, 1976, which must meet the 1973 or 1981 or 1985 or 1991 edition of the NFPA 101 Code are required to have a generator warning system. The warning system shall be in accordance with NFPA 76, NFPA 99, NFPA 110, and the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) referenced by the edition of the code under which the building was built.


Please note that any new or replacement generator has to meet the requirements of the 1991 edition of the LSC. This requires compliance with the edition of NFPA 99, NFPA 70 and NFPA 110 referenced in the LSC, which will indicate the standards for complete warning systems for generator sets. The warning panels are to be located at 24-hour staffed locations. The signals can be extended to include the nursing station. It should also be noted that the plans for the new installation would have to be submitted to the Bureau for approval prior to the beginning of construction.


Community based residential facilities (CBRFs), which are not on municipal water systems, may require a generator to provide back-up power to a fire pump connected to the water storage system for the sprinkler system. When back-up power is required, signals to indicate malfunction for these generators are required.


As a part of Year 2000 readiness, all providers are expected to test and ensure that all of their equipment, including the generator, annuciator and related devices, will continue to be operational into the next millennium.

If you have any questions regarding new installation, please contact your BQA engineer.

Romaine Anderson, Western Regional Office (Eau Claire), (715) 836-6751

Ganesh Shrestha, Southeastern Regional Office (Milwaukee), (414) 227-2004

Keith Weitner, Southeastern Regional Office (Milwaukee), (414) 227-2003

George Gunderson, Southern Regional Office (Madison), (608) 243-2376

Kevin Joyce, Northeastern Regional Office (Green Bay), (920) 448-5256

John Rutt, Northern Regional Office (Rhinelander), (715) 365-2803

Tom Ankeny, Central Office (Madison), (608) 243-2029

Jon Cechvala, Central Office (Madison), (608) 243-2037

Ron Hoffland [replaced by Richard Batchelder, Milwaukee, (414) 220-5306]

David Soens, Central Office (Madison), (608) 261-5993

Lynn Wallace, Central Office (Madison), (608) 243-2069

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