Showing posts with label Fire Code and Fire Alarm Testing and Inspections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fire Code and Fire Alarm Testing and Inspections. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Knowing Fire Code is Essential to the Proper Installation and Maintenance of Fire Extinguishers

ESC of Greater Ohio works hard to get and keep your business. One of our big sellers is fire extinguishers and it’s certainly one area that you need to know about. If you have fire extinguishers in your business, you must follow fire code or risk the wrath of a local city or county fire inspector or a State of Ohio Fire Marshal.

From a service and maintenance standpoint, here’s the meat: 

  • NFPA 10, Section 4-3.1, requires that fire extinguishers be inspected when initially installed and thereafter at approximately 30-day intervals. 
  • Section 4-4.1 on maintenance says that fire extinguishers should be maintained at intervals of not more than 1 year, at the time of hydrostatic test, or when specifically indicated by an inspection. 
  • In addition, Section 4-4.3 requires that stored-pressure fire extinguishers that require a 12-year hydrostatic test shall be emptied and subjected to the applicable maintenance procedures every six years.
This is only part of the story you need to know about. Just as important is the type of fire extinguishers you buy and where you install them throughout your facility. Here’s a short list of all the major types of portable fire extinguishers and what they are designed to do, meaning the types of fires they are engineered to fight:
  • Class A: Fires that involve wood, cloth, rubber, paper, and some types of plastics.
  • Class B: Fires that involve gasoline, oil, paint, natural and propane gases, and flammable liquids, gases, and greases.
  • Class C: Fires that involve all the materials found in Class A and B fires, but with the introduction of an electrical appliances, wiring, or other electrically energized objects in the vicinity of the fire.
  • Class D: Fires that involve combustible metals, such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium.
For additional information on fire extinguishers and the fire code that regulates their installation and on-going service, go to: http://bit.ly/1QBV0y4, or call 614-754-1393, or send an email to electronicsystemsconsultants@gmail.com. We’re ESC, we have your back!

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Whose Responsibility is it to Notify Me About Fire Alarm Inspections?

It's natural for our clients to have questions about the sophisticated electronic systems they use on an everyday basis. I believe it's the responsibility of Electronic Systems Consultants to help answer those questions and to provide help in whatever way possible, even when it was one of our competitors that installed these systems.

The following question concerns the point of responsibility where it involves routine fire alarm inspections. If you should have a question of your own, send it to ESC at electronicsystemsconsultants@gmail.com or use our Contact Us page.

Question:

As a business owner, several years ago the city fathers forced us to install a new fire alarm system even though we had gone more than two decades without one. We’ve never had a fire and nothing bad has ever happened. Yesterday a fire inspector came to our offices and did an inspection, which they have never done before. I’m told that I’m out of compliance because no one has been inspecting the system.

I know your company did not install my system, but whose responsibility is it to do this, mine or the alarm company that installed it in the first place? The original sales guy did not tell me that we would have to do this and then they didn’t call to let me know when it was time. I guess I got a little upset and the fire inspector has cited us and he’ll fine us as well if we don’t get this done in 30 days.

Well, it’s been over 30 days, and perhaps I’m a little to blame because it slipped my mind and I called the alarm company about two or three weeks after the citation. Shouldn’t the alarm company who put this thing in pay the fine because they didn’t warn us in the first place?

Answer:

Thank you for contacting Electronic Systems Consultants about your fire alarm inspection issue. The bottom line to your question is simply this, if you are the property owner, then it’s your obligation to see that your fire alarm system is fully code compliant on a regular basis, and there are specific requirements for this. Code in general requires a visual inspection twice a year and a functional test once a year. In general, this means that your fire alarm company will have to visit your facility twice a year.

In Section 14.2.3.1 of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, 2013 Edition, it says, “The property or building or system owner or the owner’s designated representative shall be responsible for inspection, testing, and maintenance of the system and for alterations or additions to this system.”

No matter what you do to escape responsibility for this fine, the city you are in will most likely send you the bill as the attitude in government is invariably “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” You might appeal to a higher authority within city government to forgive the fine, throwing yourself on their mercy, so to speak, but in general, they do not have to do that, and they will not fine the alarm company that installed it in the first place. In all fairness to the alarm company, in your original installation contract it probably had an option for yearly inspections, which you did not choose to accept.

So far we’ve looked at your situation as though you are the property owner. If you are merely a tenant, it may very well fall upon the landlord who owns the building(s) to take care of these inspections and maintenance issues. Check the terms of your lease to see if this is the case. If not, you need to contract with the fire alarm company right away so they can place your inspections on their calendar so you can avoid a repeat of the same situation next year and every year thereafter.

To read the entire section of NFPA 72 that pertains to fire testing and inspection from a party of responsibility standpoint, click here.

John Larkin, ESC Senior Partner

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Must-Have Information on Fire Inspection Requirements

It's another great day in Columbus, Ohio! Today we're bringing you more helpful information on fire inspection requirements in commercial and government settings. We want you to know what's required so you can avoid problems, penalties, etc.

On January 2nd., we addressed one of our client's question regarding what it takes to do a fire inspection. The second part of that question related to whether they can do the inspection themselves: Fire Code and Fire Alarm Testing and Inspections.

Recently we received another question related to fire inspections:

"I just purchased an office building and I'm told that we have to do a fire inspection twice a year, once visually and the second by testing each device. Can you assist me by explaining what we have to do to make this happen? Also, what does the fire inspector look for when he or she comes out to inspect our facility?"
In a subsequent article, Inspection & Testing of Common Fire Alarm Devices, we provide the frequency of inspections and testing for all popular fire detection and notification devices as well as basic fire systems. It's your responsibility as the owner of the building to see that this is done on a routine basis. You should find a competent fire alarm firm in your area to do this and have them sign a contract.

ESC provides this service for our government and commercial clients on a routine basis. We track and schedule all inspections and testing procedures with your approval. If your building is in Ohio, or in the Louisville, Kentucky areas, please give ESC a call for a no-obligation consultation and quote. Call 614-754-1393 or use our convenient response form (on the right). You also can send an email to ElectronicSystemsConsultants@gmail.com.

To answer the last part of your question, the following video provides an up-close view of what the fire inspector in your area will do when he comes to your building. Most inspectors are very thorough and helpful in that they'll advise you as to what you need to do to be code compliant in any specific area.

If you or any of our other clients and readers have any further questions, please call 614-754-1393 or use our convenient response form (on the right). You also can send an email to ElectronicSystemsConsultants@gmail.com.

John Larkin, Senior Partner, ESC

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Replace Your Home Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years

image of Jim Willisms installing a smoke detectorHome smoke alarms, also called single- and multiple-station smoke alarms, should be, by National Fire Code (NFC), replaced every 10 years.

“According to NFPA, aging smoke alarms don't operate as efficiently and often are the source for nuisance alarms. Older smoke alarms are estimated to have a 30% probability of failure within the first 10 years. Newer smoke alarms do better, but should be replaced after 10 years. Unless you know that the smoke alarms are new, replacing them when moving into a new residence is also recommended by NFPA” (NFPA urges replacing home smoke alarms after 10, National Fire Prevention Association, Quincy, Mass.)

The important point to know is which type of sensor fits the definitions set forth in NFPA 72, NFC, assembled by the consensus of fire professionals and experts and published by NFPA. For example, a single-station smoke alarm, whether used in stand-alone or multi-mode format, is that of the common, ordinary battery-operated detector found in most homes. This includes the 120VAC detector that often comes with a 9-V backup battery. In many locales, for good or bad, the latter has become the detector of choice among code enforcement officials, although recent changes in the NFC allows the use of smoke detectors (read on)’

Photo Caption: This is a combination fire/burglar alarm panel with a supervised power supply in the top panel.

In contrast, the other type of smoke detection device that fire technicians commonly work with is the smoke detector, which connects to a fire alarm system in the home or business. This type of detector derives its operating power from an approved and listed power supply, usually part of a compliant fire alarm control panel. Thus, a smoke detector is able to report alarms and possible trouble conditions to a central monitoring station, as well as locally in the home by sounders placed throughout.

The reason why smoke alarms must be replaced every 10 years primarily relates to the fact that residential smoke alarms are rarely inspected and cared for in the same manner as smoke detectors. In addition, there are safeguards built into a fire alarm system that are designed to detect sensitivity and operational issues that smoke alarms cannot perform in a proactive manner.

If you should have questions pertaining to the smoke alarms in your home and you need the advice of a professional, ESC stands ready to assist you in any and every way possible. If you have a fire alarm system and you’re having issues, also feel free to call on ESC. We offer the finest in service and installation in the state of Ohio.

Give us an opportunity to prove ourselves to you by calling me today. Use our quick response form on the right or visit our Contact Page.

John Larkin, Senior Partner

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Fire Code and Fire Alarm Testing and Inspections

It's natural for our customers to have questions about the sophisticated electronic systems they use everyday and I consider it the responsibility of Electronic Systems Consultants to answer them for you. The following question concerns fire alarm testing and inspections. If you have questions of your own, please send them to ESC using our Contact Us page.

Question:
We have a fire alarm system and the local fire inspector says we have to have it inspected. Can we inspect it ourselves? What's involved in doing an inspection?

Answer:
No, you cannot perform your own fire alarm inspection, unless you have an employee on staff that has a State of Ohio fire alarm license.
"Personnel, either individually or through their affiliation with an organization that is registered, licensed, or certified by a state or local authority, shall be recognized as qualified and experi4endced in the inspection, testintg, and maintenance of systgems address within the scope of this code." (NFPA 72, Section 10.5.3)
Per the fire code, all fire alarm systems must have an annual inspection of the system to ensure all field devices (smoke, heat and duct-type smoke detectors, manual pull stations, and audible/visual notification devices) are in good working order and can respond in case of emergencies.

An inspection also must be performed on the fire alarm panel to ensure all wiring is in good working condition and back-up batteries are ready to support the fire alarm system in case of loss of primary power. All of these inspections must be done by a state certified technician that holds a state alarm license to perform inspection, testing, and maintenance.

You can find additional information on our website on the ESC Inspection Services page. If you have additional questions, please call the office at 614-754-1393 or feel free to contact me at any time using the Contact Us page. I and the ESC staff are at your disposal.

John Larkin, Senior Partner
Electronic Systems Consultants

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