Showing posts with label maintenance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maintenance. Show all posts

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, 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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