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Manual Pull stations - You've seen them before!

Manual Pull stations - You've seen them before!

I’m sure you have seen red boxes, usually written “Fire,” in virtually every building you have visited. That’s because the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 Life Safety Code requires at least one manual fire pull station per construction. The code states that a building should not entrust life safety to only one safeguard, which means that even with automatic systems, manual pull stations are required.


The manual fire pull stations have not changed much over the last 50 years or so. The design and functionality are pretty much the same and it continues to be an important part of Life Saving solutions. There are two types of fire alarm pull stations:


Simple in their design — they are fitted in a wall without any coverings or special activation mechanisms. These pull stations are activated by pulling the handle down.


Activated through a two-step process. They are similar to single-action pull stations, except they have safeguards in place, designed to discourage mischief or accidental activation.

A dual-action pull station is usually encased in a glass box requiring the person activating the alarm to break through the glass to get to the handle. These pull stations may also feature a two-step alarm activation sequence, such as lifting a cover over the handle before pulling it down to activate the alarm.

No matter the type of fire alarm pull station, the alarm must be manually turned off after the area is determined to be safe. Typically, a specific key is required.


The number of pull stations required in each building depends on its size and occupancy rate. The NFPA code directs that the pull station should be no more than 200 feet from the nearest occupied room and within 60 inches from every exit. It means that a building will have as many pull stations as there are exits. These requirements are provided in NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.

Manual fire alarm pull stations must be tested annually per the manufacturer’s instructions. Annual testing is also required by NFPA 72.

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