AFCI and Smoke Detectors

My colleague and I were doing a home inspection today and got into a debate about whether or not NEC 210.12 requires, permits or prohibits smoke detectors to be on an AFCI protected branch, and what should be reported in the report. He seemed to feel there were recent changes to NEC that affect this. Any comments?

It looks like nothing has really changed with the code requirements of fire alarm systems. They are still required to be AFCI protected, unless run as a dedicated circuit in EMT, rigid or flex. If done that way, then you don’t need the AFCI protection.


Thanks, but I am not sure that answers the question. How would a HI know whether or not the smoke detector is on a dedicated branch? You can’t always trust a panel legend and it is impractical to test every receptacle in an occupied dwelling. So back to the original question - are smoke detectors required to have AFCI protection, prohibited from being on an AFCI circuit, or permitted to be on one, and how do you report that to your client?

What is your colleague’s argument? As I stated there is no change to the NEC that directly affects the requirement of smokes on an AFCI circuit. They are required to be protected unless they are installed per the exception rule.
Report that AFCIs are present in Service Panel protecting bedroom, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, etc according to panel legend.
You can’t trace back all the wiring. You can, but adjust your bill and time accordingly. EMT is easily seen in the attic and coming out of the panel. We only report what we see, not what we discover when we troubleshoot.