New England Section

Municipal Boxes and ADA

Question: What is a Public Emergency Alarm Reporting System?​ 

Answer: Public emergency alarm reporting systems shall consist of alarm boxes and alarm processing equipment that communicate on a wired or wireless network(s), one-way or two-way, meeting the requirements of this chapter. This shall include systems that use a communications infrastructure that is publicly owned, operated, and controlled. The requirements of this chapter shall apply to systems and equipment for the transmission and reception of alarm and other emergency signals, including those from auxiliary alarm systems, connected to the public emergency alarm reporting system. (NFPA 72 - 2010).

Question: I would like to know if a municipal fire alarm box installation falls under any ADA guidelines and if so, please reference which ones.

Answer: Provided by Lois Thibault (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Coordinator of Research. United States Access Board, 1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-1111

Call boxes, sidewalk telephones, and other pedestrian features are covered by title II of the ADA (State and Local Governments). There are three basic 'requirements':

1: Newly-installed boxes must meet accessibility provisions for access to them, operating force, reach range, and clear ground space at controls; they cannot be protruding objects;

2: Altered boxes need to meet newly-installed requirements to the maximum extent feasible; and

3: Existing inaccessible boxes need to be prioritized for improvement under your transition plan.
Here is a link to the current standard:; see 4.2-4.5 and 4.27 for specific provisions. (about 1/4 of the way through the document.)

Also, here’s more information from the ADA website:
Excerpt from the Accessible Rights-of-Way: A Design Guide:

3.6.7 Miscellaneous Items

Other items commonly found on sidewalks—fire pull-stations, mailboxes (including curbside receptacles for overnight delivery services), information and sales kiosks, and fixed vending machines—should meet basic accessibility requirements for approach, reach range, and operating force and control. Sidewalk passage should not be narrowed by the placement or installation of such items, particularly at turns and ramps and in places that require additional maneuvering space to operate an element or feature.

Other than having the manufacturers come into compliance with ADA requirements, fire boxes can be mounted parallel to sidewalks (but watch out for reach restrictions). Also, an empty box or some other item (flower pot) can be strapped to the base section within 0” – 27” for a person with a cane to detect the obstacle, again, not protruding further than the fire box itself.