As a business owner or commercial property manager, it’s crucial that you meet all the necessary and mandated requirements when it comes to the safety and security of your building. Your commercial fire alarm system is your first line of defense against fire emergencies.
Prevent Loss of Life and Save Property
An efficient commercial fire alarm system can help save your property and prevent any deaths. During a fire emergency, it can instantly alert the occupants of your building and notify your alarm company.
However, you can’t rely on fire alarms to protect your business if they’re not regularly maintained. To ensure that the fire alarm systems in your business are up to code, professional fire alarm installation companies can conduct a comprehensive inspection and testing.
Adherence to Standards
Since fire alarm systems, by definition, are not activated as often – they’re only on during scheduled tests or during an actual fire emergency – checking for silent breakdowns and incremental malfunctions may be a challenge. Thus, commercial property managers should always be vigilant to ensure that they’re adhering to the rigid standards of inspection and maintenance.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)’s 72 guidelines, regular inspections are required. They also set how often the testing should be conducted.
Age of the System
One of the first steps in the fire alarm inspection and maintenance process is determining the system’s age. This will also assess the history of maintenance, replacement, and repairs it went through. Important documents such as property sales documents, maintenance records, fire safety report, and others should be readily available.
Fire Alarm Systems: Through the Years
The older the system is, the more likely it has been exposed to disrepair and degradation.
One to Five-Year-Old Systems
Most of the defects you’ll uncover from five-year-old and younger systems were the results of improper installation. That’s why it’s essential to work with reliable fire alarm installation companies.
Some of the telltale signs that an installation didn’t meet industry standards include shifting voltage and improper grounding. Upon initial setup, it’s recommended that commercial property managers initiate regular inspections and tests to detect any issues brought about by the system installation.
Five to 10-Year-Old Systems
After the five-year mark of fire alarm systems, more age-related issues start to become evident. Some components exposed to wear and tear will not perform as good. Environmental factors such as exposure to moisture, dust, temperature variations, and other external issues will affect the system’s parts and wiring.
10 to 15-Year-Old Systems
Systems 10 to 15 years in operations can still be kept. However, you can only confidently use older fire alarm systems if you know they have been regularly inspected and maintained by fire alarm installation companies. If there is a history of neglect and system failures, then older systems should be replaced already.
Over 15 Years
If your commercial fire alarm system has passed 15 years, the individual components and the system as a whole have surpassed their lifespan. While some systems may still function you can’t be 100 percent sure if it will reliably operate during a life-threatening fire emergency.
Only a strict implementation of regular testing and maintenance can rationalize keeping a fire alarm of this age. Additionally, the cost of doing these rigorous tests and inspections may prove to be more expensive than working with fire alarm installation companies to upgrade to a new system.
When it comes to protecting the lives of your employees, customers, and property, it’s best not to take any chances.
Important Things to Remember
Here are the five crucial things to remember with commercial fire alarm system testing and maintenance.
While you can rely on fire alarm installation companies, knowledge of manufacturer’s specs and industry standards will come in handy. As a commercial property manager, you should know how to test and calibrate smoke detectors, flame, and heat to follow the manufacturer’s product recommendations.
- Your maintenance staff should have the necessary training and awareness of your fire alarm system. Simulate fire scenarios to check the annunciators in your system.
- Familiarize yourself and your maintenance team with the specific area and environment in your building where the system is installed.
- Know the basics of fire detection.
Local fire departments will apply the standard procedures for proper coordination with them during a fire emergency – and all fire alarm installation companies must comply with these regulations. You and your building maintenance team should also know these essential details like the back of your hand.