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Manual Pull Station Removal in Schools
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Manual Pull Station Removal in Schools
Forrest Williams, Supervisor, Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division

In today’s school security climate, many are concerned with the potential for an active shooter to use a fire alarm pull station to draw students and staff out into the egress corridors. 

Although the national model fire and building codes are now recognizing this concern, the Minnesota State Fire Code (MSFC) has included, for several years, a state amendment that eliminates the need for most pull stations in educational occupancies. The fact is that most fire alarm pull stations in schools are not required, and thus can be removed if so desired. In this respect, Minnesota has been ahead of the curve. And even though the original intent of our amendment was to prevent unwanted alarm activation by students, it has become even more relevant due to modern-day school security concerns. 

There are currently two exceptions that would permit the removal of the common-access pull stations that are typically located at building exits. Most schools in Minnesota will qualify for one of the exceptions below: 

  • Exception 1:  Buildings protected with a fire sprinkler system only require a pull station in the main office and in the custodial office.
  • Exception 2: For buildings without a fire sprinkler system, but having fire alarm smoke detection coverage throughout the egress corridors, pull stations are only required in the main office, custodial office, and at exits from chemistry and physics laboratories, boiler rooms, industrial shops, and kitchens.

Additionally, the next edition of the State Fire Code, which is scheduled for adoption in the spring of 2020, will likely include a revision that merges these two exceptions, thus requiring manual pull stations only in the main office and in a custodial area as long as the building has sprinkler protection or corridor smoke detection. The intent is for manual pull stations to only be accessible to staff within relatively secure locations, such as administrative and maintenance offices. In response to the concerns of school officials, the SFMD is already allowing schools, by policy, to remove pull stations under this new revision. 

Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association • 6737 W. Washington St. Ste. 4210 Milwaukee, WI 53214
MSFCA Office • 800-743-0911 •
Jennifer Rzepka, CAE •

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