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A fire can cause serious damage to your building, let alone any merchandise or people that may be in it. Fire prevention is an important and serious concern, which is why fire alarms are crucial to building code compliance and safety. But fire alarms don't last forever. In order to keep your building safe – including the people and belongings inside it – you need to keep your alarm system up to date.
What Is The Lifespan Of A Fire Alarm System?
The typical lifespan of a fire alarm system is 12 to 15 years, provided regular inspections, maintenance, and testing are performed. This lifespan is also depends on proper design and installation of the system. If your system is not installed properly and checked regularly, it may require a replacement or upgrade more frequently.
When Should I Upgrade My Fire Alarm System?
Your fire alarm system may be properly installed and receive all the regular maintenance checks and inspections. But that does not mean that your system isn't outdated or in need of an upgrade. It is difficult to know when it is time to upgrade, but there are some key signs to look for that will show you it's time for a new system.
The age of the fire alarm is one of the first things to look at. Fire alarm systems can operate successfully for as long as fifteen years, but the latest you should start taking a serious look at its performance is ten years. An older system does not have the same features of a newer one, which will almost definitely be more advanced, if not safer. Beyond this, the older a fire alarm system is the harder it is to get components for repairs.
If you find yourself constantly having to perform maintenance or repairs then it is probably time for an upgrade. An upgraded alarm system does away with the headache of having the alarm repaired or worked on all the time and saves you money in the long run. Similarly, if your building has had any additions or renovations done, your current system might not cut it anymore. Renovations can also mean your fire alarm system is no longer compliant with local building, fire, or safety codes.
What Can Affect the Lifespan of A Fire Alarm?
There are several factors that affect the lifespan of a fire alarm system. The application of the system, climate it is located in, and the usage of the system all impact how the alarm functions. For example, if the fire alarm system is located in a remote building that is prone to main or power failures, the battery is likely to be drained on a regular basis, decreasing the overall lifespan and leading to more frequent replacements.
Again, age is a big part of all of this. The older a system is, the more likely these factors are to affect it. Performance in general decreases over time, but an out-of-date system is definitely more likely to experience issues that deteriorate its expected lifespan. However, factors such as this can be avoided or remedied by regular inspections and maintenance.
Maintaining a Fire Alarm System
The majority of fire alarm system manufacturers recommend, at a minimum, one annual inspection and test after the initial install of the system. Other agencies or local authorities might recommend (or mandate) additional inspection or testing intervals. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) details the standards for the application, installation, maintenance, and performance of fire alarm systems under National Fire Alarm Code NFPA 72.
Insurance companies and local authorities also have standards that they set for the maintenance and upkeep of fire alarm systems. These standards may even exceed those set by the NFPA. It is important to note, however, that all alarms systems are different and require different levels of maintenance. It is a good idea to factor in all recommended guidelines from the manufacturer of the alarm, the NFPA, and any local authorities when figuring out your maintenance schedule. A good rule of thumb is to follow the guidelines that recommend more frequent maintenance.
The Importance of Having a Fire Alarm System
A fire alarm system is absolutely crucial for every commercial building. In addition to letting you know there is a fire in your building, a properly installed and well-maintained fire alarm system provides:
- Activation of suppression systems: Information from your fire alarm system is what activates suppression methods such as fire sprinklers. This can be the difference between a quickly contained fire and the loss of a building or lives.
- Audio and visual alarms: Unlike a simple detection system, audible and visual alarms, such as sirens and strobe lights, alert the people in the building that there is a fire so they can get to safety.
- Compliance: Commercial buildings must be up to the proper codes required by the NFPA and any local authorities. A fire alarm system ensures that you are in compliance with these codes.teachers safe.