One of the most devastating things about a commercial building or workplace fire? More often than not, the disaster could have been prevented.
The truth is that many fire alarm systems fail because they have not been properly tested and maintained.
Is that really a risk you want to run?
In this post, we’ll tell you everything that you need to know when it comes to fire alarm testing. From identifying common hazards to understanding the components that go into a successful fire alarm inspection, make sure your commercial building is protected.
We’ll also let you know where you can find the right equipment, maintenance services, and professional inspections that will ensure your fire alarm systems testing goes off without a hitch.
Common Workplace Fire Hazards
Computers, especially if not properly cared for, are surprisingly common causes of office fires.
The same goes for some of your other office electronic equipment. Make sure that you turn off your electronics completely before leaving the office for the evening. If you and your team will be out of the office for a longer period of time (such as when attending a trade show) be certain to completely unplug all electronics.
Other common causes of workplace fires are an excessive buildup of dust and dirt.
Proper ventilation isn’t just important for the overall health of your employees. It can also help to prevent fires. Especially if you work in a more industrial environment, make it a point to install extraction fans.
Another cause of workplace fires?
Believe it or not, overloading your office power sockets is one of the biggest reasons for out of control fires. Make sure that you’re always using the proper extension cords, and avoid using more than 3,000 watts of power in a single socket.
Especially if your workplace environment includes dangerous and flammable chemicals, you’ll need to ensure you have proper storage methods. To avoid a devastating chemical fire, always properly train your employees about safety standards.
Last but certainly not least when it comes to common reasons why fires start in office buildings?
That cigarette that wasn’t properly stomped out could be what starts a fire. That forgotten coffee pot that was left plugged in over the weekend could be, too.
While not every accident can be prevented?
It’s important to implement a strong fire alarm systems testing routine in your workplace.
Now, let’s talk about how you can make that happen.
Creating a Strong Fire Alarm Testing Routine
As you’ve likely already imagined, there are lots of different steps and components that you’ll need to take in order to come up with an effective fire alarm test and inspection.
Some of them are fairly intuitive, and can usually be done on your own.
However, in some cases, it truly is best to leave a thorough inspection up to the professionals.
Your Smoke Detectors
Let’s also talk about proper smoke detector maintenance and testing.
In general, we suggest that you perform a routine test each month — yes, even if you have a self-testing detector. If you’ve just gotten a new detector installed, you should be sure to test it right after installation.
Remember that you should have a smoke detector on every floor of your building. One detector for a multi-floor office building just isn’t going to cut it. They should also be installed in any areas where you cook, or interact with chemicals.
Many people also don’t realize the importance of keeping your smoke detectors clean. Remember that dust and other debris can interfere with the smoke detector’s sensors, meaning that they may not be able to detect a fire as quickly.
For best results, clean your detectors out about once every season.
Of course, if you don’t have a hardwired smoke detector (admittedly a rarity for a commercial building?)
Make sure that you’ve changed its batteries. To help you remember, we suggest picking a weekend before a holiday, or even your birthday. This way, you won’t forget.
Your Fire Doors
Many people don’t realize that the doors you’ll use to plan a proper fire escape route aren’t all that you need to take into consideration.
In fact, you’ll need to look at the door set as a whole. This means that you’ll have to check its frame, the doors themselves, the handles, and ensure that the doors are free from any potential hazards.
Test Notification Systems
When you’re dealing with a fire, you don’t want to discover that horns, lights, and even automatic calls to the fire department that your system can make are no longer working.
Especially with age, your alarm system’s notification features can fail. In addition to general exterior deterioration, the constant notifications can sometimes destroy the internal components.
You’ll need to activate the alarm system in order to properly evaluate whether or not the alerts and notifications are working. Especially if you had a recent renovation conducted on your building, you may be at risk.
Within your fire safety system, relays are what controls access to the doors in your commercial building.
In other words, they can help you to contain the fire. They also prevent the elevator from working, activate air dampers, and more.
They’re an enormously important part of a fire systems test. Make sure you speak with a professional to know if this step is included in a testing package.
Maintaining Larger Commercial Systems
While every office should have a smoke alarm, if you’re dealing with a larger commercial building, that won’t be enough.
How can you conduct a more thorough fire alarms systems testing plan?
First of all, make sure that you’ve hired a professional to correctly calibrate the sensors. You’ll also need to test out the annunciators on your system, and set the sensitivity of your system.
You’ll also need to take a look at the alarm’s battery. Is it corroded in any way? When is its expiration date?
Especially if you’re dealing with a larger system, never attempt to go the DIY route. Instead, work with a professional inspector and have them do a thorough evaluation of your system.
It’s just not worth running the risk of leaving out an important inspection point.
Creating a Fire Escape Plan
Especially when you’re already thinking about a fire alarm inspection?
Now is also likely the time to conduct a fire drill with your team. You may also want to meet with professionals to ensure that you have a proper escape route planned in the event of a fire.
Instruct your team members to take the drill as though it were a real fire, especially if you’re conducting it in order to determine the effectiveness of your current equipment and escape route.
Avoid running, causing a panic, and train your employees on the best way to exit the building before conducting the drill.
Remind your team that they absolutely cannot use the elevator during the fire drill.
As your team moves through the building, check the doors for signs of heat. You may even want to take the time to instruct your team about how to crawl underneath the smoke.
After the drill is over, talk with your team about what you think can be improved.
Understanding the Maintenance Timeline
The first thing that you need to do when you’re ready to conduct basic fire alarm maintenance?
Evaluate the overall age of the device. This will help you to understand if you’ll even be able to perform maintenance on your alarm (or any other fire equipment) or if your best bet is to get a new one.
In general, if your system is less than five years old, you shouldn’t expect to have to do a lot of maintenance. Usually, if you’re experiencing a problem with your system within the first five years, it points to improper installation.
In this case, make an appointment with a professional fire alarm maintenance specialist, and get the alarm correctly installed.
So, what if your alarm is experiencing problems after 5-10 years of use?
Common issues might include damage caused by humidity and corrosion, fluctuations in the voltage, and even sudden changes in the temperature. In this case, you may need to replace a few parts of the system.
However, with the help of a professional, you’ll likely still be able to get a few more years out of it.
But if the alarm system is more than 15-20 years old?
Chances are that you’ll need to invest in a new system. Yours is now likely too old to do a proper job.
In general, you should aim to conduct your fire alarm system inspection, at a minimum, once a year. However, depending on your industry, you may be legally required to conduct these tests more often. Additionally, you may be required to test certain components of your fire alert system more often than others.
Getting the Right Equipment
So far in this post, we’ve spoken about what you can do to make sure that you’ve created an excellent fire alarm inspection policy.
But in order to make sure that, if the worst happens, your office will be properly protected, you also need to make sure that you have all of the right equipment.
We’ll work with you to create a complete fire prevention system, and supply you with the best equipment.
So, what kinds of equipment do you need in your commercial building or office?
You’ll need plenty of fire hydrants in the parking lot and across the premises of the property. You’ll also need to have fire pumps, which helps you to ensure that you have a strong enough water flow to fight fires.
You should also get indoor sprinkler systems for your commercial building. In some cases, the sprinklers work as an effective fire alarm, in addition to helping to put out the flames.
Of course, you’ll also need several fire extinguishers throughout your building. Meeting with an expert can help you to ensure that you have enough extinguishers to protect a building of your size.
A professional fire prevention team can also help you to determine the best places to install all of this equipment. This way, you can rest easy knowing that, even if a fire starts, your equipment will be effective in stopping it.
Ask yourself: is your current fire alarm inspection and prevention plan really as strong as you might think it is? When was the last time you updated your equipment, or did a complete inspection?
Ready to learn where you can go to find the fire safety solutions that you need?
Need Professional Fire Alarm Testing and Inspection?
We hope that this post has helped you to better understand what goes into a successful fire alarm testing and inspection strategy.
Remember that, although the age of your device will influence whether or not fire alarm system can be repaired, constantly testing it is the only way to ensure that you’ll be properly alerted in an emergency.
Of course, as we’ve mentioned, a commercial fire alarm system test isn’t something that you should do on your own. The same goes for any system maintenance.
Looking to learn more about where to find inspection services that you can rely on? Need the proper equipment to protect your space?
Learn about how our services can help, and get in touch with us to find out more.