July 5, 2022SAFETY AND INSPECTIONS
Need a Checklist for Fire Alarm Maintenance: Try a CMMS
In this post, we’ll look at the importance of fire alarms, the facilities that require them, and what a good fire alarm maintenance checklist looks like.
Fire alarms have long been crucial protective systems in commercial buildings and multi-residential properties. But fire alarms without regular fire alarm maintenance are an accident waiting to happen.
Smoke detectors alert homeowners of potential fires to ensure they escape to safety. Fire alarms are similar and also can notify the local fire department. Notifying the fire department leads to faster response times and minimizes property damage. But as with any appliance or system, fire alarms need their share of preventive and planned maintenance.
The Importance of Fire Alarms
It’s estimated that some 22,000 building fires have occurred over the past two years–with nearly 4,000 of these fires inflicting even more significant damage due to fire alarm failure.
Fire alarms in commercial facilities improve response times and, hopefully, help occupants exit buildings before fires become life threatening. Think of it like this: the faster alarms alert building occupants to a potential emergency, the faster they can exit to safety and notify the fire department.
What Types of Facilities Require Fire Alarms?
According to the National Fire Protection Association and International Building codes, just about any commercial facility or place of business requires a working fire alarm system. This includes places of religious worship, movie theaters, concert and entertainment halls, banquet centers, nightclubs, casinos, restaurants, airports, banks, administration buildings, stores, post offices, radio and TV stations, auto dealerships, barber shops–you get the picture.
But just as having an adequate number of fire alarms installed in a commercial property is vital, it’s just as essential to maintain the fire alarms properly.
MaintainX Fire Alarm Maintenance Checklists
- Fire Safety Audit
- General Fire Inspection
- Fire Extinguisher Inspections–Annual
- Visual Fire Extinguisher Inspections–Monthly
How to Set Up a Maintenance Checklist
Schedule regular tests of fire alarms and smoke detectors. According to NFPA National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, fire alarms need to be inspected and tested annually by a licensed company or individual. While annual testing is the bare minimum, many fire safety experts suggest testing smoke and fire alarms in commercial properties at least monthly. Property managers or building maintenance professionals can typically do this.
Testing and inspection is a four-part procedure:
1. Schedule the Initial Test
Property managers must first schedule fire alarm testing. Consider scheduling tests around the same time every month (i.e., the third Monday of each month) and performing the testing during non-busy hours to minimize worker or resident disruption. We also suggest communicating with tenants, workers, or anyone else who may be in the building during the testing to make them aware that it is only a drill.
2. Clean the Alarms
Like anything, fire alarms can accumulate dust and debris over time–and they need to be cleaned to ensure they work correctly. Alarms should be cleaned at least quarterly, but the best practice is to clean them during the monthly testing.
3. Follow Up
Check with your local fire department to ensure that it receives notifications when you conduct your fire alarm drill.
4. Check the Wiring
Fire alarms contain various wiring to ensure the sensors are working correctly and functioning properly year-round. An annual professional inspection is essential here, but a property manager can typically gauge if there’s a problem with the wiring during the monthly testing.
Setting Up a Maintenance Checklist
When safeguarding your facility’s fire alarms, don’t become complacent with testing and assume everything will work in an emergency. As we said earlier, a fire alarm that fails to sound isn’t just likely to lead to more property damage, but potentially even more injuries and possibly even death.
To avoid complacency, develop a maintenance checklist. Use a robust, digital software program to schedule and track testing and inspections to ensure you remember monthly inspections. The best CMMS software tracks the maintenance and creates digital logs of activity to quickly and seamlessly share with OSHA and other regulatory agencies to prove that you’re meeting or exceeding standards.
Outside of the four main parts of the fire alarm testing and maintenance checklist that we outlined above, other pieces to include on your maintenance checklist include:
- Panel inspections
- Electrical wiring and circuitry
- Manual pull station inspections
- Notification device testing
- Door release and damper control inspections
- Annunciators inspection
- Central monitoring testing
Be sure to keep your property safe by putting a greater emphasis on fire alarm maintenance today.