Don’t Allow Anyone to Put Your Monitored Fire Alarm System on Test Without Notice

Posted on: July 16, 2017

Is improper testing putting you and your building at risk?

Fire alarm systems are critical – and complex – components of commercial buildings that need to function correctly to alert both occupants and emergency services agencies about a fire. Regular testing is necessary to ensure that they work when it counts. And essential to proper testing is for property managers to know when and how it will occur, and the preparation of back-up procedures in the event that a real emergency occurs during a test.

The basics of putting an alarm “on test”

To perform any fire alarm or sprinkler test, the account must be placed “on test” with the central monitoring station. This ensures that the fire department and other first responders are not dispatched to a non-threatening alert. False alarms cost emergency services agencies significant resources, and building owners may be subject to fines in cases when personnel are sent to a structure that’s not in danger.

With over two million false alarm calls in 2012, it’s no surprise that government jurisdictions have decided to penalize individuals and businesses that incorrectly notify first responders of a fire.

The dangers of putting a fire alarm “on test” without prior knowledge

While building owners and managers should do everything in their power to reduce false alarms, they should also be extremely careful about when and how they – or the contractor who is responsible for the test – place a fire alarm into “on test” status. You never want anyone to trigger this mode without prior knowledge, as doing so means that the central station will ignore all “alarm, trouble, and supervisory” signals from the property for a set period of time, and will not dispatch emergency personnel.

When a system is in test, the alarm will still sound to alert occupants about a fire, but it will not effectively notify first responders. For this reason, it’s critical to prepare alternate methods that send an external alert whenever testing is conducted.

Allowing anyone to test the system without prior knowledge also creates the possibility for unauthorized contractors or untrained staff to disable the life safety system, ultimately putting everyone in the building at risk and resulting in massive liability should any type of emergency occur. And in certain scenarios, putting a system “on test” could open the door for individuals to intentionally damage property by setting fires or breaking sprinkler heads to cause flooding.

Have standards in place to test your fire alarm

Testing your fire alarm system is crucial to your building’s safety – and it should be done with tight restrictions on who performs it, when it’s completed, and what measures are in place to make sure that people and property are protected if an emergency happens. And the procedure should never be initiated without first notifying the building owner or other critical management personnel.

If your current fire alarm testing is disorganized or the process seems confusing, LifeSafety Management can help. We would be happy to outline the right protocols and how we can guarantee that testing and maintenance are conducted correctly, every time. To consult with one of our fire safety experts, reach out to our office today at (800) 330-1158 or through our online contact form.