Why use a document cabinet?
When your state or jurisdiction adopts the 2010 edition of NFPA 72, the use of a document cabinet is optional!
10.18.2.1.2.3 A preliminary copy of the record of completion shall be given to the system owner and, if requested, to other authorities having jurisdiction after completion of the installation wiring tests.
10.18.2.1.2.4 A final copy of the record of completion shall be provided after completion of the operational acceptance tests.
10.18.2.1.2.5 One copy of the record of completion shall be stored at the fire alarm control unit or other approved location.
10.18.2.1.2.6 This copy shall be updated to reflect all system additions or modifications and maintained in a current condition at all times.
10.18.2.1.2.7 Where not stored at the main fire alarm control unit, the location of these documents shall be identified at the main fire alarm control unit.
10.18.2.1.2.8 If the documents are located in a separate enclosure or cabinet, the separate enclosure or cabinet shall be prominently labeled FIRE ALARM DOCUMENTS.
When your state or jurisdiction adopts the 2013 or the 2016 edition of NFPA 72, the use of a document cabinet with new installations will no longer be optional; it will be required!
7.7.2 Document Accessibility, from NFPA 72:
188.8.131.52 With every new system, a documentation cabinet shall be installed at the system control unit or at another approved location at the protected premises.
184.108.40.206* All record documentation shall be stored in the documentation cabinet.
220.127.116.11 Where the documentation cabinet is not in the same location as the system control unit, its location shall be identified at the system control unit.
18.104.22.168 The documentation cabinet shall be prominently labeled SYSTEM RECORD DOCUMENTS.
22.214.171.124 The contents of the cabinet shall be accessible by authorized personnel only.
Does NFPA 72 require that the owner supply you with all of the fire alarm system documentation required by Chapters Seven, Ten, and Fourteen?
And what if your company didn't install the system originally? (Answer below)
Answer: NFPA 72, "14.2.5 System Documentation. Prior to system maintenance or testing, the record of completion and any information required by Chapter 7 regarding the system and system alterations, including specifications, wiring diagrams, and floor plans, shall be provided by the owner or a designated representative to the service personnel upon request."
It doesn't matter who the original contractor was, these documents belong to the owner, but must be given to you upon request so that you are able to more effectively service the fire alarm system.