Do fire alarm systems really have to be inspected?

Yes, all systems need maintenance and testing. Why? As the saying goes, “It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law!” Virtually all State and Local governments require periodic testing of fire alarm systems once they are installed. The Maine Fire Marshal's Office has adopted the National Fire Protection Association's National Fire Alarm & Signaling Code- also known as NFPA-72, which gives the Code the force of law. The Code contains details on frequency and methods of testing, effectively mandating system testing. The Code also contains requirements for the qualifications of persons performing the testing. Building Controls LLC personnel meet and exceed these requirements.

All fire alarm systems operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They contain electronic components that could fail undetected. System back-up batteries need testing to be sure they will work when called upon, smoke detectors must be checked to be sure they fall within their factory sensitivity range and notification devices such as horns and strobe lights must be operated to be certain that they work.

Other checks that may be performed include:

  •  Verify receipt of alarm, supervisory & trouble signals at the monitoring station
  •  Test auxiliary output functions such as door holders, magnetically-locked door release, etc.
  •  Check for proper circuit supervision
  •  Primary & secondary power supply operation
  •  Check fuses, lamps/LEDs and switches
  •  Load test standby batteries and check for age & condition, including leaks & internal damage
  •  Verify correct operation of the elevator car(s) associated with each detector for proper floor recall   & flashing fire service if equipped
  •  Check expander panels and remote annunciators for proper operation

As you can see, fire alarm testing and inspection requirements are extensive and should not be taken lightly. Here’s what one of the leading suppliers of fire alarm systems, Fire-Lite Alarms, has to say about the importance of testing: fire-lite-bulletin-about-importance-of-inspections.pdf