Fire alarms are the first line of defense against one of the largest and most catastrophic threats to your facility. With an estimated 3,400 fire-related deaths and 23 billion dollars in property damage every year, installing and maintaining a comprehensive fire alarm system in your business is a must. Most business owners and property managers know that having a functioning fire alarm system is required by law, but a significantly smaller percentage of them know when it’s time to upgrade an aging system. Keeping your fire alarm system current can not only save untold thousands of dollars in costly repairs and expedited installations—in emergency situations, it can save lives.
The components of a fire alarm system
Your commercial fire alarm system is made up of two main groups of components:
- Head-end: A primary control panel that serves as a hub for all the smoke detectors, heat detectors, hand pull devices, and other alarm devices throughout a space. It’s also where an alarm signal is sent from the facility to a 24/7 alarm monitoring center.
- Field equipment: The detection and notification devices, including (but not limited to) smoke and heat detectors, hand-pull stations, strobe lights, and horn strobes.
An issue in one or both areas can lead to a malfunction or system failure. Not only does fire code require a business to have a working fire system for them to keep their doors open, but a busted life safety system also endangers the lives of a building’s occupants. Older systems and systems that do not receive routine maintenance run an increasing risk of system malfunction or outright failure as time goes on—but how can you tell if it’s time to replace your existing fire system?
Signs your fire alarm system needs replacement
As with any technology, all fire alarm systems eventually need to be replaced. Often this is due to components starting to break or simply because the system is outdated. There are a few signs that your system needs to be replaced:
Your smoke detectors are more than 10 years old and your heat detectors are more than 15 years old.
After this much time has passed the effectiveness of these tools is greatly reduced. If you install new detectors, their technology may be too advanced for your existing control panel, meaning that the whole system needs replacing.
Your system has old wires/ground faults and they are causing the entire system to malfunction.
When it comes to fire alarm systems and life safety, it’s crucial to get ahead of these issues and ensure the system is working properly. A malfunctioning fire alarm system can shut down an entire facility or operation. It’s simply not worth the risk.
You have a legacy fire alarm system that simply cannot pull the weight of new expansion and company growth.
If a system cannot scale, there is an increased possibility that it will become strained and overworked, causing it to malfunction.
Your system has just died.
This is possibly the worst-case scenario. Per fire code, a business cannot be open or operate without a functional fire alarm system. If the existing systems breaks, it can be very expensive to rush a new installation or upgrade an older system. Be proactive. Don’t wait until system failure to replace old fire alarm technology. It can take days, weeks, or even longer to design, engineer, and install a replacement.
New technology to improve safety and efficiency
Whether you are thinking about installing an entirely new system or just looking to make some improvements to your current system, there’s a variety of technologies on the market today that can make your system safer, more efficient, and help you comply with a variety of fire codes.
While voice evacuation technology has been around for a long time, only recently has it become a standard function of fire alarm systems and required by certain fire codes. The growing popularity of voice evacuation systems can be attributed to its consideration as a better alternative to traditional loud, jarring fire alarms. A voice is less likely to cause people to panic in the event of an emergency. Additionally, a voice system can give specific evacuation instructions.
Voice evacuation alerts can inform people of where or what exactly the danger is so they can avoid it. They can also be used to more accurately deploy law enforcement, fire services, or emergency services who have arrived on the scene.
More Efficient Notification Devices
Recently, alarm manufacturers have been making great strides to improve notification devices and make them more efficient. New devices draw less power, allowing for more devices to be on a single loop. The improved indoor horns, strobes, horn-strobes and 2-wire horn-strobes have a 20-35% reduction in current (power) draw. Using less current helps small to medium businesses and large commercial building end users reduce costs.
While mobile control of a system is unavailable due to fire alarm code, remote viewing a system and monitoring are not. The ability to connect a system to a network allows for easy viewing of large facilities via a mobile app. This can be an exceptional tool for organizations with multiple buildings or large, sprawling campuses.
One of the apps that EPS provides our customers with will keep a running record of the times that a specific fire alarm device sounds. If the device needs service, the app can be used to submit a service ticket directly to our Service department and an EPS technician will be dispatched to fix the malfunctioning device.
The EPS Advantage
Having a working fire system can literally be the difference between life and death, so you should have your system designed, installed, and updated by experts. EPS Security has been engineering custom fire solutions that provide comprehensive life safety protection and monitoring for Michigan businesses for more than six decades. We work to ensure that your system not only protects your people and property but also meets the fire codes of your jurisdiction. Don’t leave the safety of your employees—and the future of your business—in the hands of anyone less than the best. Trust in EPS Security and discover the advantage of life safety solutions 65 years in the making.