Important Fire Alarm Maintenance Procedures for Your Office Building
How well does the fire alarm in your commercial building work? If you aren’t conducting regular fire alarm maintenance, chances are you don’t even know.
Fire alarms can degrade over time. A fire alarm’s performance can also be compromised by dirt, dust or vandalism. If you’re currently remodeling your facility, fire alarms may also be degraded by debris and accidents. Inspection, testing and maintenance can help you overcome these problems, ensuring you have a fire alarm that works properly.
How Old Is Your System?
Do you know your system’s age and maintenance history? A system under 5 years old doesn’t usually require much maintenance, and if it does malfunction, it’s likely due to poor installation procedures or voltage transients. A fire system between 5 and 10 years old may develop problems due to environmental factors. Temperature and humidity, as well as voltage fluctuations, can create false alarms.
A system between 10 and 15 years old can provide viable protection if it’s scrupulously maintained. If it hasn’t been well maintained, system malfunction is likely. However, a system that’s nearing 20 years old is a definite risk, as it may be approaching the end of its usefulness. If it’s well maintained, you may continue to get use out of it.
Maintaining a Fire Alarm System
Here are some procedures you’ll want to adapt for maintaining your alarm system:
- Check daily to ensure the system is working correctly. Record faults and failures, and fix then them.
- Test at least one detector call point weekly, as well as smoke and flame detectors. Make sure to calibrate alarm sensors.
- With systems that have numerous zones (more than 13), test more than one zone weekly.
- Check the automatic release of fire doors weekly. Also, on a weekly basis, check for disconnections of alarm sounder or transmission signals.
- Make a weekly report of defects, and alert the appropriate person to fix any problems.
- Examine batteries and connections quarterly, and replace as needed.
- Check alarm functions of indicating and control equipment quarterly. Also, test the alarm sounders quarterly, as well as links to independent monitoring companies.
- Every four months, make sure there are no obstructions around detectors.
- Ensure that a competent individual reviews your system on an annual basis, even if quarterly procedures have been carried out. This includes checking detectors for correct operation.
- Arrange for an annual inspection of cable fittings and equipment, confirming they’re secure and protected, not damaged.
- Obtain a certificate of testing after it’s determined that all of the above inspections and corrections have been made.
The National Fire Protection
Association publishes the National Fire Alarm Code, which may be consulted as a guideline for installation, maintenance and testing of fire alarm systems. Local authorities with jurisdiction, as well as insurance companies, also publish recommendations for life safety systems.
Also, remember that standards are sometimes set for minimum fire alarm maintenance and safety. Depending on the conditions your fire alarm system must function under, you may want to take more stringent measures.
Unless you have the budget to keep a trained fire safety expert on staff for fire alarm maintenance, your system may not be getting the attention it needs. Facility staff seldom have the necessary training to competently test these systems. You might consider contracting the service. Make sure technicians are certified by the National Institute for Certification of Engineering Technologies, with a specialization in fire alarm safety.
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