Fire alarm systems are designed to protect people and their property from fire and smoke, but they cannot be relied upon unless they are routinely inspected by professionals. Regular inspection and maintenance also reduce expenses by preventing unbudgeted emergency repairs and costly false alarms.
Fire Alarm Systems Can Be Damaged
Commercial fire safety systems can be damaged, causing your fire alarm to malfunction or not work at all. To help keep your building and occupants protected, ensure your fire alarm system is protected against:
- * Dirt, dust, and other contaminants
- * Vandalism
- * Remodeling
- * Improper maintenance
- * Degraded electronics
Fire Alarm System Age & Maintenance
Another important aspect of commercial fire safety is keeping tabs on the age of your fire alarm system. That’s because the age of your system will dictate it’s maintenance needs as well as let you know what problems to keep an eye out for:
- * Less than 5 years old- Requires little effort to maintain. In these new systems, problems are usually caused by improper installation, such as bad grounding, or environmental factors, such as voltage transients.
- * 5 to 10 years old- May experience component breakdown caused by harsh, but normal, environmental factors. Voltage fluctuations, temperature, and humidity may cause system failure or nuisance alarm problems.
- * 10 to 15 years old- Can still provide an appropriate life-safety response. However, systems this old require close attention, even with proper maintenance procedures in place. If the system has a history of poor maintenance (or none at all), it’s likely that failure of components will occur.
- * Older than 15 years- Maybe beyond their technological life expectancy. The system may continue to work satisfactorily if properly maintained, but it will require testing and inspection by trained specialists to ensure that proper system response will occur in an emergency.
Commercial Fire Safety Inspections
Few property inspectors are qualified to inspect fire alarm systems, and the International Standards of Practice for Inspecting Commercial Properties does not require inspectors to inspect fire alarm systems. However, some basic knowledge about systems outside of the scope of a general inspection can be helpful.
In addition, commercial property inspections give you the opportunity to educate your client about the importance of maintaining fire protection systems in a commercial building. Your client needs to know that a fire alarm system requires periodic maintenance and an annual inspection by a licensed contractor, as required by code.
Commercial Fire Safety Documentation
You should advise your client to obtain the documentation of the previous annual maintenance inspections, which should be kept on site. They should indicate the items inspected, such as:
- * Smoke detectors
- * Pull stations
- * Horn/strobes
- * And more
This documentation should also indicate the condition they were in at the time of the inspection, and any repairs made to the system.
Fire Alarm System Inspection Process
The following steps are generally taken by contractors trained in fire-alarm system inspection:
- * Set the sensitivity. This requires an understanding of the particular system, the specific application, and fire detection theory.
- * Simulate inputs, and test the annunciators. This requires specific knowledge of the system under testing.
- * Test and calibrate the alarm sensors, such as flame and smoke detectors, per the manufacturers’ specifications. This requires knowing about the different sensors—and their testing requirements, failure modes, and re-installation requirements.
- * Coordinate with the local fire department to test the input to their system.
- * Check the battery for corrosion and expiration date, and then take appropriate action, if necessary.
Check Your Fire Alarm With The BricKicker
Commercial fire safety is an important topic, and well-maintained fire alarm systems are essential, life and property-saving systems. Have your fire alarm system checked by the experts at The BrickKicker today to make sure that it’s well-maintained and working properly. Contact us to schedule your appointment!