Fire Safety Equipment Maintenance – Why It’s So Important
Fire safety equipment maintenance is a bit like insurance, it’s one of those things that you know you need but you hate spending money on. At the end of the day, there’s no visible return or bright, shiny gadget, just a slightly depleted bank account.
However, without properly maintained equipment there’s a good chance that your fire protection system won’t work when you need it. What could have been a small, localized fire event will turn into a catastrophe if your fire extinguishers don’t work or the fire alarm panel fails to warn occupants. You could run into issues with your insurance provider if you haven’t followed municipal maintenance guidelines. Many businesses fail because of fire.
Here’s a cheat sheet to give you an idea of what we inspect for and how often it should be done.
Fire Alarm System Maintenance and Inspection
An annual fire alarm inspection is sufficient unless your building houses hazardous or unique operations. Here are some of the things we check for during an annual inspection:
- Alarm panel is working correctly
- Communications between the Fire Department or a third-party monitoring company is working
- The battery back-up is running at proper strength; batteries need to be replaced if necessary
- Each component: smoke detectors, heat detectors, pull stations — are working properly
You’re also required to perform a 30-second function test monthly. A property manager or operations employee can usually handle this.
Fire Alarm Inspection – Test for Sprinkler System Communications
During a fire alarm system inspection, we’ll check the communications between the fire alarm panel and the sprinkler system. However, a check of the sprinkler system is an inspection unto itself. Most systems require annual inspections, although hazardous or unique operations, may require more frequent checks. Here are some of the items we check during an annual sprinkler system inspection:
- Valve between municipal water main and sprinkler system is working
- Air Pressure in dry system is adequate
- Visual Inspection of sprinkler heads to ensure they are free of corrosion, debris, paint or other contaminants
- Pipes are supported properly
- Inspector’s test of one sprinkler head
- Drainage is functioning
- Room temperature is adequate to prevent pipe freezing
- Backflow protection devices are working
A fire pump is used in sprinkler systems that require more water than can be accessed through the municipal water supply, often highrises or very large buildings. A water flow test for the fire pump should be tested annually. However, as they are fairly complicated electric or diesel powered machines, the mechanics will need to be tested more often.
Standpipe System Maintenance
Both wet and dry standpipe systems require testing every five years. Wet systems require a flow test and dry systems require an air pressure test.
Fire Hydrant Annual Inspection
Fire hydrants should be inspected annually. Hydrants located on municipal properties are usually inspected by that municipality, but we’ll inspect and maintain hydrants located on private property. Our inspections include a flow test to determine water pressure and flushing of the hydrant to check for a number of deficiencies including:
- Ensure that valve is functioning properly
- Ensure there are no leaks
- Amount of dirt or silt in the water which could block the system
- Chlorine levels before and after which can indicate contamination in the water lines
Flushing can also get rid of built-up rust or corrosion.
Bi-Annual Fire Suppression System Inspection and Testing
Fire suppression systems containing gas or chemicals as their extinguishing agent usually require testing every six months. Some of the items we test for include:
- Visual check of tanks and pipes to ensure no dents, cracks or corrosion
- Tank pressure is at correct level
- Ensure that nozzles are debris-free, uncorroded and in the correct position
- Testing of mechanical and electrical components
Fire Extinguisher Annual Inspection
Fire extinguishers require annual inspections to ensure they will discharge when needed. Following are some of the items we test for:
- Ensure containers are not dented or damaged, and are properly supported
- Check that pressure is optimal
In addition, every six years extinguishers should be pulled apart and checked internally.
Emergency Lighting & Exit Sign Maintenance
An annual function test to ensure that emergency lights and exit signs are functioning is critical. We test for a number of things including:
- Emergency lights to be illuminated via battery power for .5 to 2 hours
- Batteries checked for corrosion, damage and shelf-life
- Fixtures checked for corrosion and cracks
- Wiring to inverters checked to ensure they are functional
Call Active Fire for More Information About Fire Equipment Maintenance
Without proper fire safety equipment maintenance there’s always a chance that one of the components of a fire prevention or life safety system could fail, jeopardizing the entire system. For more information on how we can help maintain your system so that it will function when it’s needed, contact us today via our form to the left or call 604-590-0149.