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What’s Involved in Proper Fire Alarm Maintenance ?

Posted on: December 27, 2011

At Guardian Fire Protection, we talk a lot about the importance of fire alarm maintenance. After all, when it comes to protecting life and property, your fire alarm is one of the most important things you can have installed in your building. But what exactly is involved in “proper fire alarm maintenance?”

Fire Alarm Maintenance – Inspection

Before any actual testing of your fire alarm can begin, the system must be inspected. While fire alarm inspection can start with a superficial visual check (for obvious things such as missing or damaged devices, improper fire alarm locations or the use of non-rated components), this is often not enough. A thorough fire alarm inspection should also include a review of any original drawings and operations manuals that can be obtained. When possible, inspections should also be done using fire alarm inspection software to allow for less paperwork and an organized database of easily accessible records.

Fire Alarm Maintenance – Testing

Once your fire alarms have been visually inspected, it’s time to test the electronic components to make sure they’ll activate in response to a fire. Your building’s occupants should be notified prior to starting the fire alarm test so there is no confusion.

As you should already know, fire alarm testing is recommended annually. The first components that should be inspected are the initiating devices and alarm sensors, including the smoke and heat detectors. While it is not recommended to use actual smoke, such as from a candle, when testing the fire alarm activators, there are several UL-approved synthetic aerosol smoke products that serve the same function. These should not be sprayed directly into the sensing chamber, as this can cause the unit to malfunction.

Unlike smoke detectors, heat detectors should be tested every five years. Note that non-restorable heat detectors are not to be tested in the field – instead, a representative sample should be tested and they should all be replaced every 15 years.

In addition to testing smoke and heat detectors from the actual fire alarms, you should also make sure your duct detectors are tested. While duct detectors come with a TEST button, they should also be subjected to a true smoke entry test to check their sensitivity.

Fire Alarm Maintenance – Documentation

Fire alarm tests often turn up problems – this is usually not the business owner’s fault, it just happens. Problems of any kind should be considered serious and corrected right away, or as quickly as possible – this responsibility falls on the business owner. After all fire alarm testing and maintenance is complete, the fire alarm maintenance professional will document the results and leave them with the business owner.

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 Maryland, Virginia or Washington, DC and need fire alarm maintenance, don’t wait – call Guardian Fire Protection today!

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