During the MCFP Virtual Conference series, expert Steve Nelson, covers the basics of manual fire alarm panel inspection, testing, and maintenance. In the video below, watch as Steve dives in-depth on how to conduct an effective manual fire alarm panel test.
Manual fire alarm box semi-annual inspection. You want to check the location, if it’s securely mounted, and not obstructed. A lot of people like to put equipment, furniture, plants, all kinds of stuff in front of manual stations. We don't want those. We want those nice and visible so people can see them, no physical damage for extinguishing systems. They have to be readily accessible, accurately identified and protected to prevent damage accurately identified as very important.
We want to make sure that people know what that pull station is for and what it can release. For manual tests actually looking is not enough. You actually have to pull the handles. I've seen the handles actually break off in my hand before, pull the whole pull station off the wall where it just not functioning at all. So opening with a key to operate, the switch is not sufficient test. A lot of people would just open the box and the key not pull the handle and that is not a sufficient.
Notification appliances. Everybody's favorite the semi-annual inspection. You want to verify the location of devices, make sure they're not obstructed inspect the condition of the device. Make sure in certain conditions that lands can yellow out, it can be full of water, full of bugs, all kinds of different things. So we want to inspect those to make sure the device is not obstructed notification appliance appliances, the audible portion, annual operation test, the horns, bells speakers want to make sure they function on acceptance testing. We want to measure throughout the protected area for the occupied spaces. We want to measure where a sound level meter. We never want the audio to get above 120 decibels.
If we have a voice system, we want to make sure the voice messages are distinguished. One understandable in public mode. We know we want to be greater than 15 decibels above average ambient level. And in private mode, you want to be greater than 10 decibels above average visual appliances. We want to make sure that it functions, make sure that each device flashes for acceptance and re acceptance testing. We're going to make sure it functions and verify. Floor plan changes do not affect layout. We don't want a strobe hidden behind something that you can't see. The strip kind of defeats the purpose. We want to make sure that Candela rating matches the improved drawings. The Candela rating should be right there on the drawings next to the strobe. Control functions need to be tested annually. We need to test a fire alarm interface for smoke control, elevator control, door releases, fire and damper and shutter closures, closures, suppression, and sprinkler systems. The control output modules for such things as a door release and elevator recall.
Designing for fire alarms service specific intelligence systems are more the reason you would want these types of systems is there's more information and system status. It's easier to troubleshoot. We have a rolling history that we can actually look into the panel and help us with troubleshooting a lot more capabilities within this intelligence systems. Locations of detectors is everything. Avoid areas where false detection is likely. We don't want to put a smoke detector over a deep sink or over a kitchen operation specify the right type for the environment. Keep detectors accessible, nothing worse than a detector, 60 feet in the air that you will never be able to get to without a lot of scaffold or lift to service that detector specify air sampling detections. If you have a 60 foot ceiling, you might be a good idea to use a some type of beam detector or hosted detector or a Vesda for hard to reach locations, ducts and elevator shafts for fewer false alarms.
When is it time to replace? Well, it depends is the product still available. Manufacturers these days have are doing very well with backward compatibility of devices. So if you do have to upgrade your system, you don't necessarily have to replace everything absolute raw materials. At the end of manufacturer support, maybe the manufacturer doesn't support that maybe you can't buy parts and basis. We know that these things they do and they can have components fail, have your needs change as your building space chains. And do you need more advanced features or addressable devices?