Showing posts with label testing and inspection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label testing and inspection. 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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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Battery Life and the Need for Routine Service Inspections

The use of rechargeable batteries permeates every facet of society, from medical devices to alarm systems, from children toys to cell phones. Although the average life span of a battery is markedly longer today compared to a few decades ago, the fact is, batteries do have a life span that must be considered, especially where it comes to life-safety use, such as the fire alarm system you have in your facility. Although we’d like to assign a given number of years to the life expectancy of a battery, the fact is, there are several factors that make that effort impossible. For this reason alone, it’s important that you, as a person in a position of responsibility, understand the need for routine inspections.

Let’s first look at what the definition of “battery life expectancy” is: “Duration of a rechargeable battery, often stated in number of charge/discharge cycles, until it degrades irreversibly and cannot hold a useful charge” (http://bit.ly/1gJbDHN).

There are several factors that determine the ultimate lifespan of a rechargeable battery. The definition above presents one of the most important of those factors: number of charge/discharge cycles, also referred to as “cycle fade.” The fact is, no one can tell you how many times your fire alarm batteries will discharge and then be charged over the course of time. If your facility is located in an area that rarely sees power outages, if the power grid also rarely sees high-voltage spikes and other anomalies, then your batteries will last longer than those that reside in geographic areas where storms and other factors adversely affect quality of power to the fire alarm panel.

Another factor involved in the lifespan of your fire alarm batteries is called calendar fade: “Battery performance deteriorates over time whether the battery is used or not. This is known as ‘calendar fade’.” Calendar fade and cycle fade are entirely different in that calendar fade also pertains to batteries that are not in use.

Trickle life is “The service life of a battery is in the trickle use. Usually, the trickle life is the time expressed in years before the dischargeable time of the battery decreases to a half of the initial value.”

Environmental factors, such as temperature, in combination with time can cause the chemicals and other characteristics of your fire security system batteries to simply die a slow but sure death. For example, as a general rule, the 5-year warranted Gel Cell batteries you purchased with your new fire alarm system three years ago now contain about half of their rated capacity. Consider what this means to the performance of your fire and burglar alarm systems during a prolonged power outage.

One way you can help prolong your fire alarm batteries is to make sure the fire alarm panel is located in a well ventilated room where the temperature remains low enough to sustain operation of the batteries for as long as possible. In a word, heat kills rechargeable fire alarm batteries, and it’s certainly not good for the operation and longevity of fire alarm panels either. The other way to assure battery operability is to have your alarm systems inspected once a year.

To assure continued operability of your fire alarm system, national fire code requires that your batteries be inspected and tested according to Table 14.4.3.2 as contained in NFPA 72, 2013 Edition. As you can see by the table shown at the end of this article, code calls for this annually for some and semiannually for others. You need to inquire of your fire alarm company as to which battery type you have in your fire and security alarm systems so you can assure that inspection and testing occurs as prescribed as the ultimate responsibility for this lies with you, not your fire alarm company (see “Whose Responsibility is it to Notify Me About Fire Alarm Inspections?” viewable at http://bit.ly/1G01Q6J).

Electronic Systems Consultants LLC (ESC) stands ready to test and inspect your fire and burglar alarm systems on a yearly basis. If you do them together, at the same time, we can save you money. During our routine inspection and testing we not only check your batteries, but we’ll double check the operation of every device in use, which is required by NFPA 72. All smoke detectors, manual fire pulls, duct-type smoke detectors, horn strobes and strobe-only notification alarm circuit devices, and any other little thing will be examined and tested so you continue to meet local, state, and national code requirements. ESC also will provide you with documentation of our inspections and testing so you will have it on file when the local or state authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) asks to review it.

Whether ESC installed your fire, camera, access control, or security system when it was new, we stand ready to assist you today! ESC is a full service fire and security company. We carry MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) certification by the State of Ohio, and all our technicians are trained and certified by the State of Ohio as well as all relevant equipment manufacturers. Please call us at 614-754-1393, email us at electronicsystemsconsultants@gmail.com, or use our Contact Us utilities to outline your situation and ask for help. Go to: http://bit.ly/1Araqbu.

John Larkin, ESC Senior Partner


Table 14.4.3.2

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