Think Ahead: Schedule Fire Alarm Testing for Your Building
Fire alarms improve overall facility safety, meet important requirements for insurance, and help ensure that employees and customers can avoid injury or even death if a fire occurs. Regular fire alarm testing is necessary to ensure these devices are working properly and will function without problems in case of a fire. As part of your overall facility operations plan, make sure that fire alarm testing is scheduled and conducted according to local or state requirements.
Many state and municipal fire safety organizations adhere to the standards of the National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA-72). This code provides detailed standards and techniques for ensuring fire safety in commercial settings. It also identifies the most important reasons for regular fire alarm testing:
- Saving lives and property: A fully functional fire alarm that operates correctly will give employees and customers plenty of notice in case of a fire. This allows for fast and efficient evacuation and notification of fire departments. Quick response by local authorities can mean the difference between minor facility damage or total destruction.
- Meeting local fire codes: Local and municipal building departments, city engineering offices, and fire prevention authorities usually establish codes and requirements for fire alarm use. Regular testing and inspection ensures that your buildings’ fire alarms meet these local requirements.
- Meeting insurance requirements: Insurance companies often require regular fire alarm inspection as a condition of paying claims. Fire alarm neglect could cause rejection of an insurance claim.
- Limiting legal and financial liability: A well-maintained and tested fire alarm system will limit the liability you might incur if a fire causes injuries to employees or customers in your business facility.
- Reducing false alarms: Regular inspections reduce the chance that your fire alarm system will send an erroneous alarm to local fire departments. This limits the likelihood of nuisance alarms or false alarms that waste resources and tie up firefighting professionals time and effort.
- Complying with legal requirements: Requirements set out by the National Fire Alarm Code are legal requirements. Failure to comply could have severe legal consequences.
The National Fire Alarm
Code sets out a schedule for fire alarm testing and inspection. Testing should be conducted by a qualified and licensed state inspector. Results of the tests should be provided on standard testing inspection forms and retained for future reference. Refer to the text of the code and confer with your local fire prevention officials for details on these scheduling requirements. In general, however, the code sets out the following schedule for testing monitored fire alarm panels:
- Weekly: Visually inspect trouble lights and LEDs on panel.
- Quarterly: Visually inspect sprinklers and associated devices connected to the alarm, including water flow switches and valve tamper switches. Test fire pump monitored points.
- Semiannually: Test function of sprinkler water flow switches. Test and operate sprinkler valve tamper switches. Visually inspect any lead-acid batteries for swelling, loose connections, or other problems. Test batteries and load voltage.
- Annually: Test and visually inspect fire alarm panel fuses, lights, LEDs, and other components. Test panel battery charger. Conduct a battery discharge test. Test and visually inspect audible and visual alarm components, including strobe lights, horns, chimes, and bells. Test and visually inspect heat detectors. Test and visually inspect duct smoke detectors. Test and visually inspect eletromechanical releasing devices (solenoids). Test and visually inspect voice evacuation or notification systems.
During inspection and testing, sealed lead-acid batteries should be carefully checked. Damaged or malfunctioning batteries should be replaced immediately. Otherwise, batteries should be changed every five years. Smoke detectors should be cleaned and tested along with fire alarms. Replace smoke and heat detectors when needed or every ten years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on fire alarm testing and when this important safety equipment should be tested, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit Sobieski Commercial!