Fire Alarm Panel Battery Testing

Posted by ORR Protection on Nov 12, 2020 9:00:00 AM

During the MCFP Virtual Conference series, expert Steve Nelson, covers the basics of fire alarm panel battery inspection, testing, and maintenance. In the video below, watch as Steve dives in-depth on what you need to know on how to make sure your batteries are tested correctly.

Video Transcript:

The secondary power Spire batteries that we want to make sure that the panels sees that the batteries are lost. We don't want our batteries to look like the picture there with the corroded terminals. We want to disconnect the primary power and test under load. We want to measure the standby, current demand and alarm current demand. We want to verify the operation of all appliances simultaneously for five minutes for regular fire alarm systems and 15 minutes for voice alarm systems. And we want to activate by zone for large systems.

Batteries and panels and remote power supplies permanently mark the batteries, the data manufacturer, the month year format, want to make sure that we replace these batteries on a cycle. And when it's best to have that date different manufacturers have different date codes. They're not always that easy to read. It's nice to you know the date the month and year of the actual batteries.

Whenever we install them, we have a five-year replacement cycle. Five years from the date of manufacturer. Some paint metal panel manufacturers require more frequent replacement three years, and then we want to check the health of existing batteries with a test or it has the actual sales to make sure that it is functioning properly.

And on another note, we don't want to use dissimilar batteries. We want to also use, make sure you're using the same voltage, same current batteries as well. We never want to replace batteries with a smaller battery than what is required. Testing interfaced equipment. We want to at least annually test a signal receipt from the releasing fire alarm panels, the fire pump controllers and smoke control panels. These are other panels that may be interfaced with your building control panel. You may have a clean agent zone within your building. You may have a fire pump for your sprinkler systems. We may have a smoke control panels for larger buildings or atrium situations.

You want to test the signals from these and make sure that it's still reporting back to the main power alarm; remote supervision, testing, annually tests supervising station, alarm system, and the monitoring service. When you send these signals, you want to make sure they get the right signal. Did they get an alarm signal and trouble a supervisory? These are the signals that are used for an alarm cycles to notify the emergency responders trouble and supervisory signals usually notify the building owner or representative so that they'll know that there's something going on with the panel. We want to verify within 90 seconds and if the panel is set up, we can verify the point ID. We can test each smoke detector and actually get the identification for each smoke detector.

Semi-Annual inspections.

We want to check that the location and mounting is more than three feet from air supplies or diffusers. We want to check for sidewall mounts that are less than 12 inches from the ceiling. The SEC's of the sensing chambers are greater than one inch from the ceiling. We don't have flush mounted, sub floor mounted as high as possible facing down or vertically. We don't want the detector facing up. We want to make sure we inspect for physical damage, excessively dirty or obstructed, or if there is an increased flow rate of air flow.

Smoke detectors require an annual functional test. We want to have smoke enter into the detection chamber. We want to make sure that the signal is received at the panel. We test all detectors. We look at the software test buttons, magnets, and other forms of testing are not acceptable. We actually have to add these folk into the chamber of the code, says that a test smoke detectors in place to ensure smoke entry in the sensing chamber and an alarm response you smoke are listed and labeled product acceptable to the manufacturer or an accordance with their published instructions. Other methods listed in the manufacturers, published instructions to ensure smoke entry from the protected area. Through the vents into the sensing chamber can be used again, software test buttons, magnets are not acceptable sensitivity testing. It's a varying frequency and test the detector within enlisted range and marked sensitivity range.

That's actually on the back of the detector. The sensitivity should be tested one year after installation. And every two years after that, after if we have a successful test at that point, you can option to extend to every five years. That can only take effect, if it's good for the first two tests. And we also must keep records of false alarms and tests when necessary. There's a few different methods for sensitivity testing. Monitoring detectors and infrared, calibrated tests, method manufacturers, calibrated sensitivity, test equipment list and control equipment and arrange for that purpose or a smoke detector control unit, which is more prevalent today. Arrangement where about a, your cousin's a signal it's controlling it when its sensitivity is outside its listed sensitivity range.

That's the type of arrangement we mainly have today. The new intelligence systems, the detector gets too dirty or outside of the sensitivity range. It will start to, you'll go into trouble and let you know, continually monitoring the actual sensitivity of that detector. All the time smoke the tires require maintenance is needed. Cleaning when sensitivity is outside is listed range. You can clean and recalibrate or replace. Make sure your routine cleaning cleanings are based on manufacturer's recommendations, local ambient conditions and sometimes dirty environments may require more cleaning. Just because the code says it's a minimum requirement your conditions may require more frequent testing. NFPA 72 says in chapter 14, system equipment shall be maintained in accordance’s for the manufacturers published instructions. What I was referring to the frequency of cleaning of system equipment shall depend on the type of equipment and the local conditions, maintenance tips.

As you can see, we have a detector there that's a quite needy. The main steps are to vacuum detectors recommended by most manufacturers or recommends a yearly cleaning and a year cleaning really cuts down on the amount of emergency service calls or false alarms. It also makes the detectors last longer when annually performed smoke entry, test operation of remote tests, which is not enough. You just can't test the key switch to test them. You actually have to have smoke entering into the chamber.

Verify that air flow through the housing monopoly or test with the air handler running air sampling, smoke detectors the annual testing. You must follow the manufacturer's methods. We also want to check the alarm response for the transport times. So once we enter smoke into the furthest point we want to benchmark the test point. We want to verify the smoke gets to the detector in the ample time and verify the air flow through all ports.

You have restorable and non-restorable methods to test restorable spot type heat detectors is the heat test with a one minute response time easily use a hairdryer heat gun. You want to test two per circuit per year. Make sure we keep records and you want to test different ones every year. And you want to make sure that you want to test all the detectors within a five-year span. Non-Restorable spot types you can't test. If you test them, you have to replace them. So no heat tests there, you just want to electrically shorten the function and make it a functional test. Your replace all the dead detectors after 15 years, or you can send portion percentages off to the factory for laboratory tests, which can be great.

Topics: Featured Article, Featured Blog, MCFP

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