Showing posts with label testing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label testing. Show all posts

Monday, November 23, 2015

Your Choice: False Alarm Fines or Routine Preventative Maintenance

The fallout from a malfunctioning alarm system extends well beyond the facility it is suppose to guard and protect. Evidence of this fact is everywhere you go as every community of any size has or is routinely creating false alarm fines, some of them substantial for repeat offenders. Burglar or fire alarm makes no matter, false alarms due to malfunctions are not tolerated by local communities any longer.

Six years ago, the city of Toronto decided that the false fire alarm problem had reached epidemic proportions, so they decided to institute an aggressive solution consisting of stiff fines.

“About 1,100 homeowners have received notices of fines for false alarms since April 1, after city council heeded the fire department’s plea to wipe out a provision allowing one failure per year without charge,” says Security System News. “Most or all received bills for $1,050 — $350 for each of three trucks routinely dispatched after a monitoring company calls in an alarm. Traditionally, most of those fined are owners of high-rises and commercial buildings” (Toronto levies heavy false fire alarm fines , http://bit.ly/1ldOvng).
Fire alarms are not the only problem when it comes to routine maintenance and the issue of false and unwanted alarms. Burglar alarms also pose a tremendous problem for police when their owners do not take steps to routinely maintain them. There are two kinds of nuisance alarms that authorities are having issues with: 1) false, and 2) unwanted.

False alarms are caused by components in a burglar or fire alarm system that trip for some unknown reason. Perhaps an aging, dirty smoke detector detects the presence of spiders, or it’s possible for a passive infrared motion detector to falsely trip because someone made a change in the environment surrounding it that represents human motion to the sensor.

Unwanted alarms, on the other hand, are user generated, such as a store manager who mistakenly closes the door on his way out a few seconds after the exit delay has expired, or one of the employees forgot his/her user PIN (Personal Identification Number) when entering early in the morning. User generated alarms are the leading cause of unwanted alarms and the cure for that is a combination of training and self awareness on the part of management.

So the question is, what kind of maintenance is reasonable and customary where it comes to burglar and fire alarm systems.

First, there really is no choice in the degree of maintenance required for a fire alarm system in this modern day and age. Fire code requires that most fire alarm system components be inspected twice a year and functionally tested once a year. You as the alarm system owner are permitted to conduct one of the visual inspections yourself, providing you keep a detailed record of them on hand at the location. Annual testing, however, must be conducted by a licensed fire alarm technician that holds certification for this in the state of Ohio, or whatever state you happen to be in.

Burglar alarm systems are usually good for the first year after they are installed, but it’s a good idea to have the alarm company inspect and test your system once a year after that. Is there a code that requires you to do that? Not on a national basis, and certainly not within the state of Ohio, but the fines that will ensue if you fail to maintain your burglar alarm in working order will prove to be significant as it has in many cases.

Electronic Systems Consultants (ESC), which is based in Columbus, Ohio, offers inspection and testing services for all burglar and fire alarm systems. Our technicians are trained and certified on all major brands. Not only do we offer the quality, timely service you require, but we also provide top, quality central station monitoring at very reasonable prices.

The next time you find yourself in need of help with your fire or burglar alarm system, think ESC. Give us a call at 614-754-1393 or use the convenient form below to reach me.

–John Larkin, ESC Senior Partner


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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Importance of Routine Security System Inspection and Testing

Security systems are an important part of a facility’s overall safety and security measures. Next to the fire alarm there is no other subsystem in your facility that is as important. In a typical commercial or governmental application it provides nightly security as well as hold-up/panic alarm protection during the day. It does this and more every minute of the day, every day of the week, and every week of the year.

These systems often do this for years and then they develop problems, often multiple breakdowns almost at the same time simply because they were not serviced on a routine basis.

Electronic Systems Consultants are specialists at inspecting and servicing nearly all makes and models of alarm systems on the market. Our technicians are factory trained to conduct a thorough test of each and every device in your system to assure functionality to assure on-going operation.

Motion detectors, door and window sensors, water detectors, panic/hold-up alarm buttons, batteries in wireless transmitters, keypads, sirens, as well as the battery inside the alarm control panel are checked and repaired if need be. Before any repairs are enacted, however, ESC will provide you with an estimate of what the repair will be.

"We'll give you a full accounting of what our technicians did in writing," says John Larkin, Senior Partner with ESC of Columbus, Ohio. "These inspections and tests should be conducted yearly in order to assure the functionality of your alarm system on an on-going basis. The last thing you or I want is for a problem to unexpectedly develop with your system at the wrong time, like when a crook breaks into your facility."

Call ESC today for the service you need tomorrow. Call 614-754-1393, send an email to electronicsystemsconsultants@gmail.com, or visit our website and use our rapid contact form at http://bit.ly/1hPIA5N.


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Friday, October 9, 2015

The Importance of Quality Inspection & Testing

Smoke detectors are one of the most important life safety items in commercial office buildings, retail businesses, schools, and other facilities. They are commonly called “early warning devices” because that is what they do, give us early warning of a fire in progress. For this reason, smoke detectors are extremely important to include in your facility maintenance and service scheduling. The lives they save cannot be measured.

Unfortunately, far too many facility managers fail to take a pro-active position with regards to their smoke detector inspection and testing. There are cases on the books where deals are struck to issue false inspection/testing reports for a fee, which is generally a lot less than a full inspection.

Case in point, one of our staff members was approached by the facility manager of a large company in North Central Ohio about issuing a false inspection/testing report for the fire alarm system in his building, which included a full-compliment of sprinkler heads. Because the building was fully sprinkled, the only smoke detector in use was above the fire alarm control panel, per code, but there were a dozen or two duct-type smoke detectors. When our employee said no, the manager’s reply was, “Then we’ll find another company that will,” and we never heard from them again.

Another case in point, a second member of my staff, while working for another burglar/fire alarm company in city up north, encountered a situation. According to him his boss routinely provided false inspection/testing reports to this company. Then, one day, a fire took place in a section of the facility and the fire alarm did not work. An investigation by the local fire marshal revealed that there were major problems at which time a full inspection was ordered.

The burglar/fire alarm company in question found that over 60% of the smoke detectors on site were not working within the sensitivity range specified by fire code. In the end, the facility manager dropped the alarm company and chose another to do the actual work. To make matter worse, I’m sure that the local fire authorities knew that the alarm company in question had issued false reports, otherwise that many smoke detectors could never have become defective so soon since the last inspection/testing report was issued.

There are several kinds of smoke detectors in a typical commercial building:

  • Spot-type smoke detectors
  • Duct-type smoke detectors
  • Projected beam-type smoke detectors

The test frequency associated with each is the same, once a year. In addition, someone must visually “inspect” each component in your fire alarm system every six months. The fire alarm company you hire to do the actual inspection/testing, such as Electronic Systems Consultants (ESC) of Columbus, Ohio, will arbitrarily “inspect” the system visually as they test the necessary devices. On the off six month inspections, however, you can have a member of your own staff perform them.

Testing for all of these smoke detectors includes a sensitivity check using a test device or method listed by UL (Underwriters Laboratory, Northbrook, Ill). That can include an internal means of calibration, an external tool sold and/or specified by the maker of the smoke detector, or using a third-party-made sensitivity testing tool, listed by UL for that purpose. In some cases sensitivity testing is conducted continually by a sophisticated addressable fire alarm panel.

ESC offers inspection and testing services not only to our current customers, but also to those who may not be totally happy with their present fire alarm company. ESC has the finest technicians available, factory trained, certified, and ready to assist you at a moment’s notice. ESC also services burglar alarms, access control systems, camera systems, and others.

In addition, ESC holds the following certifications and licenses for your convenience:

  • City of Columbus Contractors License
  • City of Columbus MBE
  • Columbus City School LEDGE
  • Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council
  • Ohio Turnpike MBE Certification
  • State of Ohio DBE
  • State of Ohio EDGE Pg. 1 of 2
  • State of Ohio EDGE Pg. 2 of 2
  • State of Ohio MBE Pg. 1 of 2
  • State of Ohio MBE Pg. 2 of 2

Give us a call at 614-754-1393, email us at electronicsystemsconsultants@gmail.com, or use the handy contact form below and let us prove to you the power of ESC

John Larkin, ESC Senior Partner

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Inspection & Testing of Common Fire Alarm Devices

I ran across the following videos on fire alarm testing and inspection and thought I'd add them to this article on the ESC website. ESC believes it's important that our clients fully understand what must be done and why we do it. These videos will give you a good idea about both. Sometimes it may see redundant that we have to do this on such a regular basis, but your fire alarm system is an important part of your safety program. Without a working system, lives could be lost.

The second video is a training video on a specific fire alarm panel, a Notifier 3030 system. The value of this video is the general explanation of how fire alarms work, what the various devices are called, and what to do under certain conditions. It's a good, general training video that I believe can make a huge difference in your understanding of fire alarm systems and the issues surrounding testing and inspections.

The remainder of this article pertains to frequency of testing and inspection:

As most facility managers know, there are fire codes at the local, state, and national level that require the testing and inspection of all fire alarm systems installed in commercial and government settings. The following test and inspection frequency chart comes from information contained in the National Training Center (NTC) Chuck Notes publication. For more information on NTC, go to: http://www.nationaltrainingcenter.net/index.xml.

Remember, only qualified, licensed fire alarm technicians are authorized to test fire alarm devices and systems. Inspections can be performed by end users, but you must adhere to strict guidelines set forth by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) of Quincy, Mass. per NFPA Chapter 10.

 

Testing & Inspection of Common Fire Alarm Devices

Device

Inspection

Testing

Audible Devices

Semi-Annually

Annually

Visual Devices

Semi-Annually

Annually

Manual Pull Stations

Semi-Annually

Annually

Heat Detectors

Quarterly

Annually

Smoke Detectors

Semi-Annually

Annually

Testing & Inspection of Common Fire Systems

System

Inspection

Testing

Monitored Fire Alarm Control Panel

Annually

Annually

Non-monitored Fire Alarm Control Panel

Weekly

Quarterly

Voice Evacuation Systems

Semi-Annually

Annually

Primary Power Supplies

Annually

Annually

Secondary Power Batteries

Annually

Annually

Secondary Power Chargers

Quarterly

Quarterly

 

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