False alarms, malfunctioning equipment, and a failed fire marshal inspection are three of the most common problems facility departments and building owners encounter with their commercial fire systems. Aside from the inconvenience and loss of productivity, false alarms can be very costly, especially for repeat offenders.
It’s worthwhile to hire a professional fire alarm contractor to keep your fire alarm system updated and maintained to ensure it performs at an optimal level when you need it most. Lives are on the line, but so is your business.
According to FEMA, 40% to 60% of businesses never reopen after a major disaster like a fire, and a further 25% go out of business within one year of such a disaster.
Common Causes for Commercial Fire System Problems
Hiring a professional to test your system is the only way to be sure your fire system is functioning correctly. Here are a few of the most common problems building owners and facility departments have with their commercial fire systems:
Changes to a Building: If a building has changes to its layout, the fire system needs to be updated accordingly. Failing to update the fire system when you update your building will cause a myriad of problems down the road.
Incorrect Programming: Even if the system was programmed correctly from the start, changes in the building or system over time will cause a need for updates to programming.
Insufficient # of Detectors: We’ve encountered commercial systems that simply didn’t have enough detectors. This is one area that you don’t want to skimp on, because the sooner you can detect a fire, the sooner people can get to safety and help can be contacted.
Improperly Maintained Equipment: Dead batteries, dirty detectors, and old sprinkler heads can all cause problems in your commercial fire system.
Age of Equipment: The typical lifespan of a commercial fire alarm system is 15 to 20 years. As equipment approaches 20 years of age, there’s a chance that the equipment won’t function correctly in a fire, so be sure to update equipment as it ages.
Who Inspects Commercial Fire Systems in St. Louis?
In developed areas, like St. Louis, a local fire marshal handles inspections. In less urban areas, inspections may fall on the Office of the State Fire Marshal of Missouri. Depending on the type of business and capacity of your building, you may have to have an inspection from the local fire marshal every year or every several years.
If you have a commercial fire alarm system, it’s best to have your alarm contractor inspect the system in preparation for an inspection from a fire marshal. You want to find trouble spots in your system before the fire marshal. Inspections take time and cost money, so you want to pass with flying colors the first time.
You don’t want to learn about a problem in your system from the fire marshal, then be required to have the fire marshal come back, which will result in another fee. You want your alarm contractor to identify and have time to fix any issues long before a fire marshal sets foot on the property.
Install Fire Alarm Equipment that Has a Good Track Record
Many alarm companies are constantly pushing the latest and greatest equipment on their customers. While there are some areas of the alarm market, like smart home technology and intelligent video, that are making massive new advances each year, intrusion alarms and fire system equipment remains very similar to older model equipment.
Our strategy is to wait for a new piece of alarm equipment to be on the market for several years before recommending it to one of our customers. If there are problems with an item, those problems will become evident in the first few years and many of those issues will be worked out on the manufacturing side.
Only installing the most reliable equipment on the market is one of the best ways our company helps to minimize problems with commercial fire equipment. Contact Butler Durrell Security to learn more about how to minimize problems with commercial fire systems.