What Is the Best Fire Alarm Panel?
A lot of business owners ask us this question, and to be honest there’s no easy way to answer it. After all, there is no single best fire alarm panel out there—each one has features that make it easier or harder to operate.
That said, there are certain features you should definitely be on the lookout for if you’re thinking of installing a new fire alarm panel. You want your fire alarm to be as easy to operate as possible, especially during an emergency when it can be extremely difficult to focus. The following is a rundown of the features we suggest you should look for when installing a fire alarm panel:
Ease of Operation
Remember—the only time you’ll likely be using your fire alarm panel is during a fire, when your attention will already be divided by the emergency in progress as well as people asking what’s going on. Therefore, intuitiveness and ease of operation is paramount. Intuitiveness can be determined by:
- Readability of the display
- Quantity, layout, and labeling of the front panel buttons
- Number of required steps needed, read and acknowledge messages, to silence the panel and alarms, to reset the fire alarm system
Ideally, managers and maintenance engineers should all be trained on your particular fire alarm. Realistically, of course, this isn’t always possible, so you want to make sure your fire alarm panel is easy enough to use that it doesn’t require training.
During a fire, every second is precious. Your fire alarm panel should give you the exact information you need, exactly when you need it. The panel should tell you exactly where the fire is active, without requiring you to press any buttons. This will save time and confusion during a panic situation.
Number of Buttons
In every case, the fewer buttons your fire alarm panel has, the better. More buttons means more labels to read and decisions to make when time is of the essence.
Reset, Silence, and Acknowledge buttons should all be easily visible on the panel, separate and larger than any other buttons to establish their importance. Otherwise, fewer is better.
Required Steps to Operate
The fewer steps your fire alarm requires to operate, the better. The most important buttons are Silence and Reset, and any additional buttons will do little but increase the complexity of your fire alarm panel. This is especially true if the buttons need to be pressed in a specific sequence.
Passwords and Keys
NFPA Fire Alarm Code states that your fire alarm must be password- or key-operated to prevent tampering. If you use a password, don’t forget to write it down! The worst thing you can have is a fire alarm password that no one remembers.
If you’re concerned about using a password, a key works just as well. Using keys has an added benefit, which is that many fire departments will have the same key in their lockboxes.
If you need fire alarm panel installation in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, call Guardian Fire Protection. We will help you choose the perfect fire alarm panel for your building so you can be as protected as possible.
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