A mass notification system (MNS) is designed to clearly communicate with people during a catastrophic disaster or threat, steering them away from danger and toward safety. There are two MNS classifications: wide-area, providing real-time information to outdoor areas, and in-building, providing information and instruction to people inside a building by way of intelligible voice communications and often, visible signals, text, and graphics.
This article will focus on a specific aspect of the in-building MNS, the voice communications of an emergency communication system (ECS) that provides fire alarm, public address, fire fighter, area of refuge, and elevator communications during an emergency. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) provides code requirements for a MNS and ECS used for these purposes, as well as weather emergencies, terrorist events, biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies, and other threats. The NFPA code referred to in this article is the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code 2010 and 2013 editions.