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In-Field Testing Requirement by NFPA 720-2012 Edition

Blog by Mark K Goldstein, Ph.D. March 1, 2013

What do the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) ‘s new in-field carbon monoxide (CO) testing requirements mean to the average person with one or more standalone CO alarms? 

You do not need to test your alarms.  Not yet.  Only if you have a system carbon monoxide alarm connected to a central panel.  Then you must be sure your installer tests the alarm(s) after installation and annually thereafter.

What does the NFPA 720 requirement mean for professional installers of system carbon monoxide alarms?

More business and more profit will result if you learn how to run these tests.  Quantum will be offering free training on how to conduct these tests at ISC West 2013, Booth #14,143; the date is April 10, 11 &12, 2013 in Las Vegas, NV.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is a non-profit, standards writing organization established in 1896, made up of over 70,000 members of fire protection and other life safety experts that write standards on the installation of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms along with installation and maintenance of most life safety equipment.  NPFA headquarters is located at 1 Battery March, Quincy, MA 02169-7471 with phone 617-770-3000 and fax 617-770-0700.  NPFA’s mission is to “reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.”

The new NFPA 720 code specifies that system installers must conduct in-field testing with carbon monoxide after installing alarms and annually thereafter.  This can be done using a carbon monoxide test kit.  There are several types out there.  Most are simple to operate.  Websites and carry the product kits that are often used for smoke.  In many cases these tools will work for carbon monoxide alarm in-field testing as well if you replace the smoke can with a can of CO.  However, there are special cases that may require training.  You are welcome to email me to learn more about these special cases at  Please put in the subject “In-field CO testing” and I will get back to you quickly.