Deciphering the MNEC Code

by Mary Bakija

Revisions made to Chapter 24 of the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (commonly referred to NFPA 72) have changed how those serving the commercial audio and life-safety markets, or looking to grow into these areas, have to work. Learning what training is required, what’s driving the market, and what sales strategies and funding is available is key to success.

Yesterday’s Mass Notification & Emergency Communications (MNEC) Summit, presented by NSCA, helped get people on the right track. A major concern expressed by the panel was whether or not certification will be needed.

“According to the code, system designers, installers, and maintainers need only to be ‘qualified and experienced,'" says Merton Bunker, president of Merton Bunker & Associates. “How that’s interpreted will vary based on the local jurisdiction where you’re working. But the adoption of codes is a patchwork, and is not done everywhere at once.”

Panel moderator Chuck Wilson, NSCA executive director, explains that audio contractors who have to make a shift from audio intelligibility to codes will need to determine if the risk/reward value proposition is worth it.

From the manufacturer’s perspective, intelligibility and codes go hand in hand. “These systems are beginning to require higher and quantifiable levels of intelligibility,” says Paul Chavez, director, systems applications, Harman Professional. “For the designer this means that they will have to provide a design that is broad enough bandwidth and appropriate for the acoustical environment in order to meet the intelligibility levels required.” As such, the need for professional UL-rated loudspeakers, such as JBL’s Control Contractor 25AV-LS and the 26CT-LS, continues to grow.

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