The question isn't whether the system works, the question is whether the system detects fire and let people know about the fire.
Why Do We Inspect Fire Alarm Systems?By Douglas Krantz
A long time ago, before regular testing of fire alarm systems was required, the NFPA and other fire protection professionals discovered that large numbers of fire alarm systems just weren't working... at all.
Originally, when they were installed, these systems worked properly. Over time, though, slow deterioration of the originally working system would cause a small portion of a system not to function. More time expired and another portion of the system wouldn't function. Eventually, given enough time, the whole system wouldn't work.
At that point, the building owner would think everything was working, when in reality, nothing was working.
Regular TestingThe regulators decided that the systems had to be tested on a regular basis by someone who knew fire alarm systems, and any deficiencies that were found had to be repaired.
Shortcuts in TestingSometimes, the temptation is to take shortcuts because economically, full testing doesn't seem practical. But shortcuts don't always show that the devices actually work.
Bottom Line TestingTo test to see if something works, use the real thing.
Magnets, Keys, Levers, Photocells, MicrophonesYes, magnets are easier to use for checking smoke and heat detectors. Yes, opening up the pull station first with the key and activating it while it's open saves time in testing. Yes, pushing the lever on the flow switch allows testing without making a mess with water. Yes, using microphones inside the sounders and photocells inside the strobes to check the notification appliances make it so someone doesn't have to go everywhere in a building.
But while all of these methods save time, none of these methods show if the devices really detect and notify.
To keep the system working so it doesn't deteriorate over time, the complete system - all the detection devices, one by one, and all the horns and strobes, one by one - need to be regularly tested.
Only with full testing can the problems be found and fixed.
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