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ALARM 2.0 Users Manual: Minimizing Compliance Costs of the Life Safety Code for Prisons



S F. Weber, L I. Schultz


ALARM, Alternative Life Safety Analysis for Retrofit Cost Minimization, is a software tool that helps prison facility managers and fire safety engineers achieve cost-effective compliance with the widely-used Life Safety Code of the National Fire Protection Association. The latest version of the software (2.0) supports analysis of Detention and Correctional Occupancies. Through a special provision of the code, ALARM implements a goal-oriented, or performance-based approach to code compliance. The user specifies the current safety level of the facility for each of 13 life safety parameters and then enters quantity and size data on each of the safety improvements to be explored. The software indicates whether the current safety level is in compliance with the code and, if not, quickly finds the least cost compliance strategy and its estimated construction cost. The software takes into account the special conditions in the code that preclude finding solutions by hand. A practice file with data from a sample facility, extensive help with a step-by-step tutorial, and a report utility for viewing and printing results are included. The optimization method used in ALARM has been field tested in 89 hospitals (17,898 beds). For this sample the least-cost solution identified by the software was on average 41 percent less expensive than the prescriptive solution--a potential cost savings of $2.116 per bed or over $37 million.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6807
Report Number


correctional facilities, economic analysis, fire safety, life safety codes, linear programming, optimization, prisons


Weber, S. and Schultz, L. (2001), ALARM 2.0 Users Manual: Minimizing Compliance Costs of the Life Safety Code for Prisons, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed April 18, 2024)
Created November 1, 2001, Updated February 19, 2017