Fire alarm law: Annual inspections and what business owners should know

Fire alarm law: Annual inspections and what business owners should know

eps trainer showing trainee fire panel

eps trainer showing trainee fire panelA fire alarm system is not only a crucial component for the protection of any business and the safety of its employees—in most cases, it’s also required by the Michigan Building Code. While most business owners, property managers, and employees have some understanding of the legal obligations surrounding the maintenance of their fire alarm systems, code-required fire inspections still come as a surprise to many. If it is required by the Michigan Building Code to have a fire alarm system installed in your commercial business, you are also required to have periodic fire alarm inspections/testing.

Having your fire alarm system tested once or even twice a year can seem like a hassle for a system usually running in the background. However, regularly scheduled fire alarm inspections are not only legally required and essential in keeping your property and employees safe, but they can end up saving a business untold sums with insurers if a claim needs to be made due to fire damage.

Rusty on your commercial fire inspection knowledge? Unsure of how to access previous years’ reports or in need of scheduling your annual inspection? Not to worry—EPS Security has you covered.

Know what your local ordinance requires

To start, it’s good to know what the fire codes dictate for businesses in your area. Each local ordinance requires businesses to follow unique fire inspection codes. Depending on where your business resides, you may have to test your systems annually, semiannually, or even quarterly. These codes may even differ as a result of the type of facility that you are running. In many cases, businesses such as hospitals, banks, manufacturing companies, and organizations dealing with hazardous materials have stricter rules about fire alarm inspections. More complicated systems often require more comprehensive testing.

Additionally, regulatory agencies such as Underwriting Laboratories (UL) have their own specific codes and guidelines for different types of commercial organizations. While these requirements mostly focus on ensuring accurate forms and documentation, it’s important to know where your company fits into these codes and ordinances. Contact your local municipal office to answer any questions you may have concerning fire alarm inspections.

Commercial SecurityKnow what your insurance requires

Many insurance providers require fire alarm system inspections on a routine basis. Some insurers, such as Factory Mutual (FM) Insurance, require compliance with their own inspection standards before they will agree to insure you. Without proof that your business has been regularly tested by a certified and licensed technician, your insurance provider may not pay for fire damage. It’s critical to the life safety of employees and customers to know that your system is reliable and ready to perform in the event of a fire.

What does a fire alarm system inspection look for?

First and foremost, an inspection’s primary goal is to ensure the system is functioning properly and as intended. Fire inspection technicians will often check for a few key variables:

  • Are the devices installed, programmed and responding correctly?
  • Are there any environmental factors such as dust build-up, nearby heat sources, or moisture that may affect the operation of fire alarm devices?
  • Is the system aging? What concerns may be developing due to the age of the system?

Fire alarm systems can perform adequately for many years, but only if proper maintenance and testing are done periodically by licensed, trained, and certified life safety professionals.

False AlarmsFire Alarm & Evacuation Icon

In addition, fire equipment testing is vital in ensuring the reliability of your system in instances of both actual fire and false alarm prevention. False alarms can be costly to a business. Multiple false alarms can trigger municipal penalties and fines. They also strain finite fire department resources. Fire alarm testing is a necessary cost of doing business, but one that will help to ensure the safety of your facilities and the people inside them every day.

How can EPS Security help?

Knowing all these codes, rules, and regulations can be like learning a new language. Thankfully, our EPS Security technicians and engineers are well-versed in this language and are more than willing to help!

Our attention to detail and knowledge of fire safety code is exceptional. We live test each device to simulate actual use, sending our skilled technicians out into the field to make sure your system is functioning as intended. Old or new, simple or complex, we have the capability and equipment to test all facets of your fire alarm system. EPS Security fire alarm technicians are also keenly aware of local ordinances and any extra qualifications required to complete an inspection to the letter of the law.

Recently, EPS Security has made it even easier to access your fire inspection reports. Paper copies of inspection reports were once issued to customers upon completion of an EPS fire test. Now once an inspection is complete, the report can be accessed by an owner, facilities manager, or someone in a similar authorized position online using BuildingReports.com, a compliance reporting website dedicated to providing customers with their appropriate inspection paperwork. If a fire marshal or insurer requests a copy of your most recent fire report, you can log in to our reports site and pull up a copy for them on-the-spot. *Existing EPS customers can log-in here.

EPS Security’s system for fire testing is streamlined to promote quality and efficiency. After the first test of a fire system, locations and types of devices are cataloged and saved to our records, ensuring the speed and ease of future annual tests. EPS Security even has its own dedicated Inspection Scheduler. Once you’ve opted into receiving EPS Security fire testing, we will contact you to coordinate your annual inspection in the weeks preceding your next anticipated test due date. Our goal is to give our customers ample time to plan for a comprehensive test ahead of time so that their employees and facilities can prepare for the inspection with minimal disruption to their day.

eps trucks in front of eps officeThe EPS Advantage

Getting a fire inspection is a necessary investment for any business, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one. Partnering with EPS Security means working with a business with more than six decades of experience in the installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems of all complexities and sizes. When it comes to protecting your business—for now and for the indefinite future—trust in EPS Security and discover a life safety solution 65 years in the making.

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