Fire Alarm Testing-Inspection

New fire detection systems have to be commissioned to verify that they have been appropriately installed, tested and complies with industry standards. Without an official fire certificate of commissioning, the system would not be deemed as acceptable by the relevant authorities. DEI will provide full fire alarm test on new DEI contracted installations or provide 3rd party UL inspections on systems furnished and installed by others.

DEI Systems provides annual and quarterly tests and inspections for a number of facilities throughout MA and NH. For these facilities DEI Systems is the company of record and responsible for the systems compliance per NFPA 72, state building codes, and local authority having jurisdiction.

At DEI Systems we pride ourselves on taking every possible step to ensure life safety systems operate at a high level and 100% without fail. See below for additional details on how this is accomplished.

DEI Systems Testing Standards & Guidelines

Most system manufacturers recommend at least one full annual test and inspection after initial installation and acceptance. Various agencies, organizations, and local authorities recommend, and in some cases, mandate, testing intervals. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides the National Fire Alarm Code, NFPA 72. This standard deals with the application, installation, performance, and maintenance of protective signaling systems and their components. Chapter 7 is devoted to inspection, testing and maintenance. A table included in the document is several pages long and includes generators, batteries, interface equipment, and other aspects of fire detection and alarm systems.

The local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and insurance companies also influence, recommend, or set forth standards they deem necessary for the proper operation of life-safety systems. AHJs may establish guidelines that exceed NFPA guidelines.

In virtually all cases, the standards outline minimum requirements. The potential problem, however, is that not all fire alarm systems are subject to the same environmental and ambient conditions. Therefore, meeting minimum standards of all applicable codes and standards may not provide the optimum protection for a facility. Service organizations may recommend inspections and maintenance that exceed published standards and guidelines.

Pre Inspection

Knowing the system’s age and maintenance history helps you determine the steps you must take to maintain its operational readiness. Systems under five years old should require little effort to maintain. In systems so young, problems are usually due to marginal installation like improper grounding or environmental factors like voltage transients. Periodic system testing and inspection by qualified specialists can detect many such problems.

Systems between five and ten years old may experience component breakdown caused by harsh, but normal, environmental factors. Voltage fluctuations, temperature, and humidity may cause system failure or nuisance alarm problems.

Systems between ten and fifteen years old can still provide appropriate life-safety response. However, systems in this category need close attention, even with proper maintenance procedures in place. If the system has had a history of poor maintenance or none at all, it’s likely that failure of components and improper monitoring of system components will occur.

Systems approaching 20 years of age may be beyond their technological life expectancy. The system may continue to work satisfactorily if properly maintained, but you need testing and inspection by trained specialists to ensure proper system response will occur in an emergency.

DEI Testing Steps and Procedure

The maintenance activities for fire alarm systems can be summed up in 5 steps.

  1. Test and calibrate alarm sensors, such as flame and smoke detectors per manufacturer specifications. This requires knowing about the different sensors, and their testing requirements, failure modes, and re-installation requirements.
  2. Simulate inputs and test the annunciators. This requires specific knowledge of the system under test.
  3. Set sensitivity. This requires an understanding of the particular system, the specific application, and fire detection theory.
  4. Coordinate with fire department to test the input to their system.
  5. Check the battery for corrosion and expiration date, then take appropriate action, if necessary.