Fire alarm systems are important. They’re our first line of defense when a fire breaks out. They let us know that a fire is occurring, and in which area. In fact, if you visit a place, such as a school or hotel, and it doesn’t have a fire alarm… Well, there’s something wrong with that place. You should be reporting that to the appropriate authorities!
The problem is that most people stop at just installing a fire alarm system. They think that doing that would be enough to protect against the occurrence of fires. What they don’t remember is that there after a while, systems can malfunction. Therefore, there is a chance their fire alarm systems need to be fixed. Or it could be that the fire alarm system needs to be updated to keep up with fire safety standards. Whatever it could be, it is important to keep the system in condition at all times. And to ensure that, the system must be regularly inspected and tested.
Regular inspection of systems is mandated by local, state, federal, and NFPA 72 codes. These codes cover the systems of offices, factories, schools, hospitals, and even residential properties. But what happens in a fire alarm system inspection? And how do you prepare for one? Read on to find out more.
What is fire alarm inspection and testing?
Fire alarm system inspection and testing is the checking and testing of devices of a fire alarm system. As mentioned, it is a requirement by the National Fire Protection Association and the authorities who have jurisdiction. Fire alarm inspection and testing cannot be done by just anybody. This process must be done by professional fire protection vendors or technicians like us at Fire Alarm Testing Inc.
The test or inspection involves checking some of the following:
- If the detecting devices like smoke detectors or heat detectors work
- If the notification devices like alarms or notifications systems are functioning
- If the detecting devices’ sensitivities are up to standard (e.g. if they send an alarm if the amount of smoke hits a certain amount)
What happens during fire alarm inspection and testing?
Generally, there are at least two technicians who will arrive at your property to conduct the test. One technician will monitor the overall system while the other one will test and activate devices. If your property is small, one technician might be adequate.
The fire safety technicians will test all the parts of the fire alarm system. That includes fire alarm panels, elevators, and batteries. Running through these tests will make sure that all safety protocols and standards are met. The tests will also expose problems that would affect the function of the fire alarms. Every device tested will be marked to identify if they are still working or need replacement.
How do you prepare for a fire alarm inspection and testing?
If the agency doesn’t know that an inspection is being done, they might send the fire department over. It would end up with the fire department not being able to respond to an actual emergency immediately. Therefore, the first thing that should be done even before technicians start is to contact the fire monitoring agency. Since they know that the system is being tested, the agency will log the occurrence but will not notify authorities.
The next thing you need to do is decide on the time the test will be conducted. It would be best if you can schedule an inspection time where there will be no one in the building. That way, you don’t have to inform anybody or scare anyone when an alarm goes off. At most, you could probably inform administrators of neighboring buildings. That way, they are not surprised and end up calling the fire department unnecessarily.
If you have no choice but to schedule an inspection during working hours, make sure to let building occupants know. Again, you want to avoid unnecessary calls to responding authorities.
Finally, make sure that you know the location of all the components of the alarms. You should be able to tell the inspectors where smoke alarms are or where the alarms triggers are located. The technicians can only test and check the parts of the locations they know. If they missed testing something because they didn’t know the location, they won’t be able to help you.
How long does a usual fire alarm testing take?
How long the inspection process will take entirely depends on the size of your property and system. If the system is in a small location, an inspection could take as little as one hour. If your property has two to three floors, the test usually lasts for half a day.
Larger buildings and facilities can take the whole day or even a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the fire alarm system. They are usually tested in segments. For example, your building has two wings. The technicians can schedule one wing for one week and the other wing for a different week.
Inspections may take a long time, but you shouldn’t be impatient about it. The inspections and tests of the system must be very thorough. Rushing the test could mean compromising the safety of the building and its occupants.
What if one device fails the test?
Say a heat detector fails the test; it doesn’t detect heat up to the standards of the manufacturer. What would be the next step? Well, the first thing that happens is that technician will inform you of the results. If it’s only one device, the technician might have a replacement on hand, or recommend a vendor who sells one. If the part can be replaced at once or at least within the day, we recommend proceeding with it. The sooner the system is restored to full working condition, the better. Of course, make sure the device is tested to see if it works before accepting the replacement.
However, if there is more than one device that needs replacement, you might need to have the whole system replaced. Again, we recommend getting a quote and scheduling the installation of the brand new system as soon as possible.
Get your fire alarms inspected and tested with Fire Alarm Testing Inc.
For the overall safety and protection of your property, you should have regular testing scheduled. And don’t just stop at one device or an overall look at the system. We encourage thoroughness when it comes to fire alarm testing. It is critical to have these inspections so that your properties will be protected in case of an emergency.
If you need Bay Area fire alarm inspection and testing, there’s no one better than Fire Alarm Testing Inc.
We take fire safety and the protection of lives seriously. Since 2014, we have been keeping Bay Area residents safe with our services. We make sure to keep our equipment and training processes updated. This is to ensure that every fire alarm system we test or a monitor is in good working condition. We are proud to serve all of our customers with passion and care.
Contact us today to schedule your inspection.