It goes without saying that one expects fire systems to protect people and property. However, these too, degrade over time due to external factors like dust, grime, and water seepage, compromising the system’s operational capabilities.
Improper remodeling and maintenance procedures moreover, can also damage the protective equipment of fire systems. That’s why proper inspection, testing, and maintenance can keep the system working at its optimum. Here’s how to go about it.
Keep track of the fire system’s maintenance history and age: When you keep track of these, it becomes easier to work out the basic steps required to maintain it. Fire systems that are less than 5 years old, for instance, usually need little maintenance.
However, there many problems due to improper grounding or voltage transients. Periodic inspection and testing by a qualified specialist can detect and tackle such problems.
Those systems between 5 and 10 years usually face component breakdown because of harsh environmental factors like voltage and temperature fluctuations, while humidity tends to cause false alarm problems or overall system failure. Fire systems aged between 10 and 20 years need closer monitoring and regular maintenance.
Equipment maintenance: This calls for regular testing and calibration of alarm sensors including smoke and flame detectors, as per the manufacturer’s specifications. However, you first need to know about different sensors, their failure modes, testing and re-installation requirements.
Subsequently, you need to simulate inputs and test annunciators before setting the sensitivity. The penultimate step is to coordinate with the local fire department for testing the input to its system.
These apart, keep checking the system’s battery regularly for corrosion and expiry dates, to take appropriate action, if required.
Comply with manufacturer guidelines and standards: Most manufacturers of fire systems recommend one complete annual test at least, and regular inspection after initial acceptance and installation.
Then you also have the testing intervals recommended by the local authorities and the NFPA 72, the National Fire Alarm Code stipulated by the NFPA or the National Fire Protection Association for inspection and maintenance of generators, interface equipment, and batteries. Complying with these stringent standards will automatically lead to better maintenance.
In sum, fire systems are life saviors, and their maintenance is, therefore, mandatory. Many firefighting professionals have even called them “black holes” because they have also failed at the crucial moments to do their job. And all this has been mostly due to lack of maintenance.