Fire Alarm Systems need close attention, even with proper maintenance procedures in place. If the system has had a history of poor maintenance or none at all, it’s likely that failure of components and improper monitoring of system components will occur.
Systems approaching 20 years of age may be beyond their technological life expectancy. The system may continue to work satisfactorily if properly maintained, but you need testing and inspection by trained specialists to ensure proper system response will occur in an emergency.
Fire Alarm System are expected to help protect people, property, and assets. But you can’t tell if they’re fully operational just by looking at them. As with any other system, electronics and other components can degrade over time and compromise the system’s operation. Dust, dirt, and other contaminants can cause problems with smoke detectors. Such things as vandalism, remodeling, and improper maintenance procedures can also damage fire protection equipment. The good news is that with proper testing, inspection, and maintenance you can keep your fire alarm system at optimum operating performance. In addition to ensuring protection, keeping your system in good condition reduces expenses by preventing unbudgeted emergency repairs and costly false alarms.
Maintenance Activities For Fire Alarm System:
The maintenance activities for fire alarm systems can be summed up in five steps.
Test and calibrate alarm sensors, such as flame and smoke detectors, per manufacturer specifications. This requires knowing about the different sensors—and their testing requirements, failure modes, and re-installation requirements.
- Simulate inputs and test the annunciators. This requires specific knowledge of the system under test.
- Set sensitivity. This requires an understanding of the particular system, the specific application, and fire detection theory.
- Coordinate with fire department to test the input to their system.
- Check the battery for corrosion and expiration date, then take appropriate action, if necessary.
These steps seem simple enough, provided you have the knowledge. However, that knowledge is useless if you don’t pay absolute attention to detail. Experience shows that maintenance technicians under pressure to keep production equipment running often overlook important details because “nothing is broken.”
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides the National Fire Alarm Code, NFPA 72. This standard deals with the application, installation, performance, and maintenance of protective signaling systems and their components. Chapter 7 is devoted to inspection, testing and maintenance. A table included in the document is several pages long and includes generators, batteries, interface equipment, and other aspects of fire detection and alarm systems.
The best-designed fire alarm system can be rendered ineffective, if improperly maintained. Each month, NFPA members read about fire catastrophes that a well-maintained system would have prevented. They also read about fires where properly functioning systems saved lives and reduced the business interruption. When you’re pinched by budgets, it’s tempting to take the risk that a fire won’t happen and delay responsible decisions about your fire protection until the next quarter. However, courts have increasingly ruled against people who have made such decisions, and held them—and their managers—personally and criminally liable. You must ensure your fire protection system operates properly, even if that means dipping into other budgets.