Your fire alarm is one of the most critical systems for protecting your business, alerting building occupants and summoning emergency services in the even of a fire. However, like many systems, these don’t last forever, and you never want your Florida business to be caught with a faulty alarm. So how do you know when it is time to replace your system to ensure you have the protection you expect?
Your Fire Alarm Sensitivity Is Off
One major cause of property damage and personal injury due to fire is because of either no or faulty smoke detectors. Like many other electric components around your business, their performance will degrade over time.
Insensitive systems fail to perform when a fire starts. This may mean failing to sound the alarm, posing a physical danger. It may also be failing to trigger the fire suppression system, leading to significant property damage.
On the other hand, an overly sensitive system may be just as dangerous. While it may not fail to trigger the suppression system, it can still lead to vast personal injury. This is because if the system is too sensitive and sounds off frequently, people become desensitized to the alarm, and ignore it.
In order to ensure your system has the right sensitivity to be effective, NFPA 72 sets the standard for sensitivity testing. It stipulates the alarm system sensitivity should be checked within a year of being installed. From there, it should be checked every alternating year, and be replaced if it fails the test.
If your system has not had professional sensitivity testing recently, schedule a time to do it today. There’s no need to delay in this testing, and put your entire business and all your employees at risk.
If It Simply Doesn’t Work
This one may sound a little obvious, but if the system doesn’t work, you should definitely look at an upgrade. But without a fire, how do you know if it is operational or not?
You should test your system at least annually to ensure everything is working properly, but you may be required by law to do so more often. The best way to conduct these tests is to work with a professional alarm company. During a test they will do the following:
- Check each detector and alarm location
- Test alarm signals
- Ensure alarms are loud and strobes are working
- Inspect fuses
- Test batteries
If any component fails to test properly, then replace it quickly. This ensures your system is ready whenever it’s needed.
If Your System Is Getting Old
Your fire alarm is an electrical system, and as such is prone to wearing out eventually. Most systems have an expected service life of 10 to 15 years. As your system nears this age, you should plan to replace the system before it begins exhibiting signs of failure.
Planning a Renovation
Renovations are sometimes necessary to keep your business moving forward. However, many commercial renovations include moving, erecting, or removing walls. All of this changes how air flows through the space, which changes the needs of your alarm system.
As you put together the schematic for the renovations, be sure to work through your fire alarm system. Parts that may need to be evaluated for new placement include:
- Automatic fire suppression sprinklers
- Alarm handles
- Alarm & light modules
- Wiring & piping
Moving around how and where your business is laid out may help improve your business operations. Just be sure to take into account the unintentional impacts on your critical systems, and plan for addressing those as well.
Upgrading to A Cellular Fire Alarm Communicator
Whenever you decide to update your alarm system in Florida, you have the option to match what you have or to upgrade. When it comes to upgrades, it is not only the individual system components you may want to consider. Rather, upgrading how your system communicates to emergency services is just as important.
A popular option many businesses are moving toward is the cellular alarm communicator. Traditional systems rely on a wired telephone lines to alert emergency services to a problem. These are problematic in that any number of things may interrupt that line, especially in the event of a fire.
Here are four benefits to consider when upgrading to a cellular communicator:
Benefit 1: Faster and Less Expensive Installation
When you install a traditional fire alarm system, you have to run all the wiring, which includes both power and phone lines. Those lines then have to be connected out to the phone network, including several relays. These connections create additional risks for malfunctions, preventing a call from connecting.
With a cellular communicator, the only thing you physically connect is the power. For the communication requirements, everything is wireless, and so is just a matter of acquiring the signal and service.
Benefit 2: Faster Response Times
When there is a fire, seconds count for getting a response from emergency services. A traditional communicator must receive the signal from the detector, acquire the dial tone, dial the number, then get connected to the service provider.
Unlike traditional lines, cellular signals have nearly dedicated access to a connection. This means that as soon as the system receives the signal from the detector, it can have the connection to emergency services.
Benefit 3: Less Expensive to Maintain
Fewer and fewer people and businesses are turning to traditional landlines. This has led to fewer funds being dedicated to maintaining the aging infrastructure.
What this means for you is they have become increasingly expensive to maintain, especially after tropical storms roll through the state. Cellular systems, on the other hand, are popular for nearly every person on the planet, with a lot of infrastructure investment. You have less to invest to install the system, and less expense to maintain it.
Benefit 4: More Reliable
Cellular alarm system communicators use some of the country’s largest cellular networks. This means there is plenty of towers in most areas, ensuring you are never without a signal.
One of the biggest dangers to businesses in Florida are hurricanes knocking out communications and power. When it comes to an automatic emergency fire alarm system, landlines are notoriously vulnerable to fail in during the most important times.
Cellular automatic alarms, on the other hand, do not rely on vulnerable wires that can be damaged in these storms. This means that they are more likely to work if you need emergency services when no one is at your facility.