Why Test and Inspect?
1. Life safety! Fire alarm systems will only operate correctly if maintained. Some issues may not be obvious without testing.
2. Insurance carriers, fire inspectors, and local building codes. In order to meet their requirements--systems must be tested. Insurance carrier may reject a claim if you do not have proof of annual inspections. You may limit your liability for potential injuries with proof of regular inspection. Fire Departments have limited resources and those resources may be stretched or lives put in jeopardy with by nuisance alarms.
3. It is the law! National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) requires that systems be checked on a routine basis.
Control Panel Power and Backup
Fire alarm control panels are powered by the main power system. The power requirements are set by the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. The code requires that the system have two sources of power. The secondary source of power can be batteries. Power backup for fire alarm systems is required so that in the event of a main power failure, the system will still function and remained powered.
The batteries are continually charged by the main system as it powers the panel. When a power outage occurs, the batteries must be able to power the system for at least 24 hours, under non-alarm conditions.
These batteries are usually sealed-lead acid batteries wired in a series to make up the required voltage for a power-limited system. The batteries may be contained in the control panel or in a separate enclosure. When AC power fails, the batteries take over with no interruption in fire protection.
Different system manufacturers require different battery back-ups. Working with a qualified battery dealer, such as Batteryheads, can help you determine which replacement battery your system will need.
NFPA requires that batteries be replaced in pairs; as they're discharged they have to reach zero volts at the same time. NFPA code even specifies that they both have the same the manufacturer and date code.
Your commercial fire alarm system, much like your home smoke alarms, is a life safety system. Batteries for the system are essential and the cost is low compared to the entire fire alarm system. Much is at stake; replace the batteries when required.