Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
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Can a Real Fire Break Out While the Fire Alarm System is Being Tested?

Yes, fires break out at any time, even when the fire alarm system is being tested. That is a bad time because the fire alarm system is partially disabled and building occupants won't react to the alarms anyway. Take extra precautions while testing.

Even when testing, fires can break out in the building -- as it is being tested
When testing a fire alarm system to see if it detects fires, keep in mind that fires can break out in other parts of the building.


By Douglas Krantz

Fire! - That's what the fire alarm system is there for in the first place, isn't it?... To shout fire? Keep that in mind when disabling a fire alarm system so it can be inspected.

They don't happen on schedule; fires happen any time. A fire can even break out while the fire alarm system is being inspected.

If during an inspection, a fire did start while the fire horns were disconnected, what would you do?

Turn them back on, of course. But because of the inspection, the occupants of the building are already ignoring the fire horns and just going on with their activities. How do you tell them? That's one question to keep in mind.

Then there's the monitoring company, they're also ignoring the alarms. The obvious answer to this is to call 911. But then again, depending on the building, if there's a security desk, letting them take over from there might be better. This is another thing to consider as the fire alarm system is disabled for inspection.

Each building is different, so making specific plans that can be used anywhere won't work. But when the unexpected happens, having plans of some sort in the back of your mind will speed up the process of deciding what should be done.

So think about what you'd do ahead of time. Chances are the specifics of any plan you come up with won't work, but having a plan in your mind that can be quickly adjusted will allow you to act more effectively in an emergency.

Remember that once you disable the fire alarm system in any way, and place the system on test with the monitoring company, you are taking on the responsibility of watching for fires.
Based on his electronics training, and his understanding of Life Safety, Douglas Krantz has compiled his knowledge of Conventional Fire Alarm Systems into the book Make It Work - Conventional Fire Alarms. The book covers the basics of the Conventional Fire Alarm System, and shows how Life Safety and internal supervision affects the fire alarm system.

Douglas Krantz -- Fire Alarm Engineering Technician, Electronic Designer, Electronic Technician, Writer

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