FAQ: Fire Alarm Systems

Commercial fire alarm systems play an important role in detecting fire-related dangers early and alerting occupants in enough time for them to exit the building before being hurt.  However, they can be very complicated.  Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we hear concerning fire alarms:

Q: What does the error code on my fire alarm panel mean?

A: Error codes can indicate a variety of things.  Fire alarm panels involve very sensitive technology.  Something such as a power failure in your building can cause an error code to flash.  It is important to note that an error code does not always mean that the system is disarmed.  When your fire alarm panel is displaying an error code, it is best to contact your fire protection provider right away so they can assess the issue on site.

Q: Are my fire alarms attached to the smoke detectors?

A: They can be.  Your fire alarm panel can be connected to all of your fire suppression and detection equipment, including fire sprinklers and smoke detectors.  If the smoke detectors are attached they will connect back to the panel and set off the alarm horn and/or strobes when smoke is present.  Fire alarm systems also utilize pull stations (pictured with this article) and heat detectors, which are similar in appearance to smoke detectors.

Q: What would happen if my fire alarm activated?

A: Fire alarms can be set up in a variety of ways.  At their most complex, one might have all of the fire detection and suppression equipment connected, so once heat or smoke is detected, the horns/strobes will start to sound and flash, the fire sprinkler system will engage, and the fire department will be called.  At minimum the alarm horns will make a loud sound, even louder than smoke detectors in most instances, and the accompanying strobe lights will flash.  If your system is monitored, the fire department will be called, so it is important not to tamper with your alarm for non-emergency purposes without the help of a professional.

Q: Why did I receive a call saying my fire alarm system was restored when there was no fire?

A: This goes back to the very technical nature of fire alarm systems.  Due to the interconnected nature of the fire alarm system with other electronics in the building, small glitches can often occur that cause the system to automatically reset.  This can include a temporary problem with a phone or the power company working on power lines in the area.  The failure and restoration of the system often occurs in seconds, but any change in status from the system requires notification from the monitoring company.  As communication becomes more cellular, the cell provider chosen for one’s business plays a crucial role in establishing the dependability of the fire alarm system.  Be sure your fire protection provider considers this when installing your equipment.

Q: How often does my fire alarm system need inspected?

A: Fire alarm systems require an annual inspection, at which time they are put on “TEST” mode so the technician can ensure the horns/strobes will sound appropriately in the event of an emergency.  If, however, you have a concern with your alarm system or notice an error code on your alarm panel, a technician can make a site visit to help assess any potential problems and restore the system to normal functions.

We are proud to offer a full range of fire suppression and detection equipment, installed by certified technicians who will be able to counsel you concerning the best communication provider to use and which accompanying equipment would best suit your business.  Feel free to contact us if you have further questions or concerns about this service.