When the fire alarm goes off at work, and you have to drop everything to obey the flashing lights, voice instructions, and the screeching noise, many employees want to get away from all that sensory stimulation. Others wonder when they can get back to work, while others are grateful for the break.
But when you’re one of the people responsible for the fire safety equipment, you have a whole other set of concerns.
If it’s an emergency, you have confidence in the way your system was designed, installed, and maintained -- or, you hope for the best. If it’s a test, you’re looking forward to the report.
Safety and Sound
The first smoke alarms were pretty basic yet still expensive and somewhat ineffective. Technology has continued to evolve into the complicated but life-saving systems in today’s schools, offices, hospitals, and elsewhere.
A fire alarm system can now include smoke detectors and other sensors, notification to emergency services, and text notifications and be integrated with lighting, speaker and intercom systems, digital signage, control systems, sprinkler systems, and more.
Standards and Compliance
Your concern is likely meeting all industry requirements as well as the codes and standards set by local authorities, typically those of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
Fortunately, there are service providers who can not only design, install, and repair systems, but also inspect and test them. They can handle all of the details, so you don’t have to worry about running into compliance issues.
Testing frequency can depend on the requirements of the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and even your insurance policies.
Consider making sure your provider employs technicians trained and certified in inspecting and testing these systems, but who also have knowledge and certification in the integration of all the system’s components.
It helps to ask if they are familiar with the NFPA’s Life Safety Code to discover if they have a broader understanding of building safety standards.
Considerations and Customization
Designing and maintaining a properly functioning fire alarm, smoke detection, or other life safety system requires a lot of knowledge and intricacy because there are so many factors and features that go into them.
Many features can go into such a system, including alarms, evacuation alters, mass notifications, lighting, and signage.
Proper integration is necessary for everything to work correctly and provide maximum safety. Once installed, regular testing is only part of the ongoing efforts needed to keep it working as intended. Professionals need to inspect all aspects of the equipment and communications systems.
Large facilities with complex integration and specialized industry considerations require customization and thorough maintenance. And expansions and upgrades mean more than simply adding on technologies.
Both new construction, growth, and upgrades can mean integrators and installers must work with owners, builders, architects, facility managers, and more to achieve the safest, most reliable, and best-designed system for your organization — in terms of both technology and design.
Learn about what goes into training facilities personnel on these systems, as well as monitoring options by looking for our next installment on the topic in this blog.
In the meantime, do you have questions about fire alarm systems and their design, installation, repair, maintenance, and more? Share your questions or comments with us on social media. Or, feel free to contact us to learn more getting your fire safety systems up to code.