Many of our customers have fire alarms and are required to have them inspected annually. But very few of our customers realize what goes into that inspection and why it seems to be so complicated. Maybe you have wondered – “why can’t you just light a match near a smoke detector, hear the alarm sound, and be done?”
So… let’s talk about what really is involved in a fire alarm inspection.
After all, when it comes to protecting life and property, a properly functioning fire alarm is one of the most important things you can have.
First step: A visual review.
The technician will look for some fairly obvious issues. This could include things like a missing smoke detector, or something hanging from a sprinkler head. Sometimes we will find a pull station is blocked because a bookcase has been placed in front of it, or maybe it’s not visible because of papers hanging from a bulletin board.
Often the fire alarm panel itself has been hidden away behind a filing cabinet or stacks of boxes. On most days that panel seems unimportant, but in the event that the alarm sounds, having quick access to the panel may help identify where a fire is located and save lives and property.
The visual review will also reveal the age and condition of the back-up batteries and whether or not they are due to be replaced.
The visual review may seem basic, but it really is essential.
Second Step: Testing
Now it’s time to test all of the actual components and make sure they are functioning properly and will respond in the event of a fire.
The first thing we want to do is make sure that the building’s occupants realize that the alarm system is going to be tested so as to avoid creating any undue anxiety and confusion.
Next, if the alarm is monitored, we will notify the monitoring company that we will be testing the system. This way the fire department doesn’t show up ready for action. They tend to not enjoy false alarms.
Now it’s time to test all of the initiating devices.
This includes testing the smoke, heat, and duct detectors. We can test these without starting a real fire. We carry UL-approved synthetic aerosol smoke products that serve the same function. It’s a lot less risky and messy this way.
Next, we will pull each of the pull stations to ensure that they are functioning properly.
Finally, we sound the alarm. During this, we want to make sure that every horn is sounding, and that each strobe is properly flashing. We strive to make this aspect of the testing as brief as possible, but it’s a vital step to ensure that the building is properly protected.
When test is complete, we will place a new tag on the alarm panel so that any inspector can easily verify that the alarm has been inspected by a licensed technician and the date that occurred.
Final Step: Documentation
Fire alarm tests often turn up problems – usually this isn’t the business owner’s fault, it just happens. Problems of any kind should be considered serious and corrected as quickly as possible.
Our technician will document the problem, propose a solution, and quickly submit it to the business.
Fire alarm maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to protect life and property in your building. If you own a building in Michigan and are due to have your fire alarm inspected, please call Boynton Fire today!