Properties Magazine December 2012 : Page 67

%XLOGLQJ 6LWH0DLQWHQDQFH Readiness Required Proper inspection, testing & maintenance of fire protection systems is not optional By Damon G. Lewis Life Safety System, LLC n many instances, when a fire alarm or sprinkler system fails to operate or perform as designed, it can be attributed to a lack of required maintenance – or worse, service by unqualified individu-als. Code compliant design and quality equipment are only part of the overall reliability picture. I This article assumes you now have a fire alarm or sprinkler system that has been approved and accepted by the local authorities in your facility. The job went well, everything is in place and operating, and you’re happy that you have a certificate of occupancy and can get on with your daily business. Still, even when these systems have been placed into service, you can’t just let them slip out of your mind completely. Fire protection systems and equipment are required to have inspection and testing maintenance accomplished at regu-lar intervals as determined by the Ohio Fire Code and the National Fire Protection Association (N.F.P.A.). These codes and stan-dards were created for a reason: to establish the minimum levels of hands-on testing needed to ensure these systems can offer the level of fire safety they were originally designed to provide. Regular testing can reveal prob-lems that may prohibit the system from functioning as it should, things that do not present themselves under normal quiescent conditions. These requirements for regular maintenance extend to all forms of fire, and life safety systems and equipment in a facility, such as: fire alarm, sprinkler, clean agent gas, portable extinguishers and kitchen hood suppression systems. It must also be understood that test-ing will also involve other systems or equipment that may be interfaced with or controlled by the fire alarm system. This will be things such as the release and closure of smoke/ fire control doors, smoke relief fans, smoke dampers, shutting down HVAC equipment, elevator firefighter recall control and, of course, alarm and trouble signals that will be sent to a UL-listed 24-hour monitoring center. A key to keeping your facility safe, however, is ensuring that the company you hire to perform this work is qualified and experienced. Not all companies can do every-thing that is needed in your facility. You may need to contract with differ-ent service providers that specialize in their particular type of work. One company may be experienced to perform service on sprinkler and sup-pression systems, however are much less qualified in handling fire alarm and detection systems. Take time to shop fire protection service providers. Inquire as to what a particular company specializes in, as well as ensuring that they – and their technicians – are licensed for such work in the state of Ohio. Ask for references of some of their customers and check with your local fire prevention bureau to see if they have any history of dealing with a prospective service company. This really is an area where the lowest cost provider certainly might not be the best qualified for your work needs. An important reminder to building owners and managers is the fact that ultimate respon-sibility for the operation and condition of fire protection equip-ment lies with you. As mentioned before, take the time to check out who you intend on using to help maintain your systems. Finally, along with functional test-ing, conducting emergency planning, periodic training and drills will help to educate and inform your occupants on how to react and handle actual emer-gency scenarios. Be prepared, be educated and main-tain your systems as required to lessen any possible losses of life, property or production time. P Damon G. Lewis, SET, is operations manager with Life Safety Systems, LLC (7043 Pearl Rd., Suite 230, Middleburg Heights, Ohio 44130). For more information, call 440-888-7960. Lewis has been in the fire protection industry for 25 years and is N.I.C.E.T. Level IV certi-fied as well as being a State of Ohio certified fire alarm designer. 67

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