Now that a new year has arrived, many building operators are reminded of the need to conduct annual maintenance and testing of their fire detection systems. Regular inspections to verify the condition of fire alarm devices is critical to ensuring that they will activate appropriately with a minimal number of false alarms. A false alarm not only affects the productivity of building occupants, but also can impact the budget. Depending upon the municipality, companies with repeated false alarms may receive invoices for dispatch of first responders (however, check with your local municipality whether rebate programs are available on false alarm fees). Buildings with health care and educational facilities can be faced with significant disruptions to their daily activities. Manufacturing and production-oriented businesses may be faced with lengthy startup delays before they can resume. A full evacuation of an entire office building or shopping centre has a major financial impact on many businesses. Unfortunately, when building occupants are repeatedly subject to false alarms, further system alerts are often not taken seriously.
With the advent of new technologies, many building operators are considering digital technology as a replacement for their existing analogue fire detection and early warning systems. The new digital forms of fire detection have proven to be very reliable for transmission of signals between fire / smoke detection devices and the fire alarm control panel. Each device is programmed to carry its own identification code which points to an exact location within the building. Detectors may be continually monitored for their sensitivity. They can retain a status history and provide comparisons with preset base-level parameters. This allows building operators to identify detectors which are likely to indicate faults or cause false alarms due to elements such as dust or other foreign particles in the air. The ability to alter the sensing threshold levels of a detector means that they can be customized for the environment in which they are installed. These characteristics permit early detection, provide fire responders with the exact location of trouble, and reduce false alarms. Once the installation of a digital detection system has been completed, building operators must be trained on the computer processor and its functions, especially the entire sequence of system operation. Further training may be provided by the installer and/or manufacturer regarding advanced features such as fault reporting and the ability to view or print both trouble and alarm reports. Access control can be easily managed and password-protected in a manner similar to the desktop computer. For annual inspections, building operators are opting to use remote infrared to communicate with detectors located throughout premises. With a hand-held infrared communication tool, an inspector can aim a beam at each detector to determine its status. In addition, the remote sends a message to the fire alarm control panel for confirmation that the fire alarm signal is received. All test information may be stored on a memory stick and offered to the building operator upon completion of the inspection. This new technology offers many benefits to building operators, significantly reducing the cost associated with annual testing and minimizing false alarms.
This article was contributed by Firepoint Inc, serving the GTA since 1997, developing fire department approved fire safety plans for newly constructed and existing buildings. Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, the bulletin publishers and authors do not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current and shall not be liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the bulletin information. Bulletin reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the written consent of Firepoint Inc. Copyright 2021 – All Rights Reserved. See www.firepoint.ca or call 905-874-9400.