A fire alarm system is one of the most important investments you will ever make for your business. Fires devastate businesses and lives. Although, thankfully, a relatively small number end in fatalities – 272 last year – many people are left with injuries and others face the loss of their commercial properties and assets. While a lot of commercial buildings have a fire alarm system installed, in some cases, they fail to sound because the alarms have not been properly maintained. So, how can you ensure that your fire alarm is always active when you need it to be?
What Do You Need to Know About Commercial Fire Alarm Maintenance?
Get to know your fire alarm system
There are a number of different types of fire alarm systems. Some detect heat, others smoke, some a combination of the two. You can also have simple smoke detectors, or systems that include other hazard protection, such as carbon monoxide detectors and sprinklers. And, of course, they can either be hardwired or battery powered. Hardwired models usually have a battery backup to ensure that you remain safe in a power outage. Understanding the type of fire alarm system you have installed can help you to better understand your system’s maintenance requirements.
What maintenance does a fire alarm system need?
If you want to be certain that your fire alarm system is fully functional, it’s a really good idea to test it on a regular basis. Most fire alarms and smoke detectors have an in-built ‘test’ button. Simply depress this for 10 seconds. Wait for the alarm to sound, then deactivate it. Some models deactivate automatically. Others will require you to press and hold the test button again. Check your user manual for details.
If you’ve ever owned a battery-powered smoke detector, you will understand the annoyance of beeping in the early hours. When the battery is spent and lets you know about it in the middle of the night, the temptation to just pull out the battery and leave it for later is very real. Unfortunately, when that happens, it’s really easy to leave it, and leave it, until you forget. Putting you and your employees in danger. In 2018, 38% of battery powered smoke alarms failed to work during a fire. Some products were faulty. But almost half did not contain batteries.
With a mains-powered smoke alarm, you don’t have that concern. However, it’s always a good idea to keep a replacement back-up battery on hand, in case you need it.
One of the most common reasons for your smoke or fire alarm system to sound without reason is because it’s being activated by dust or spider webs. That’s why it’s good practice to carefully dust and vacuum the sensors at least once every six months. When the sensors are clogged with dust, it can also take longer for smoke to be detected, so cleaning is a good safety precaution.
Most fire alarms systems are made to last. In fact, there aren’t many that won’t last at least 10 years. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t require maintenance. Organising a professional servicing for your fire alarm system can detect any potential problems, replace any damaged parts, and ensure the unit is working fully. Most fire alarm systems should be serviced every five years.
Your fire alarm system is your first line of defence against a fire event. It will protect your commercial property and keep your employees safe. It could even save your life. So, although maintenance may seem like a bit of a faff, it’s worth every inconvenience.
Get in touch with Securvision to discuss your fire alarm system installation and maintenance needs.