There are tens of thousands of buildings with aging fire alarm and other fire protection systems. How can facility managers tell when it is time for a system upgrade or replacement?
Waiting until a system or even a component of that system fails is not a smart idea. Emergency replacements always costs more than a planned replacement. Instead of waiting, managers need to be proactive with system replacements.
1. Age: As with all forms of technology, the age of your fire alarm system is critical in identifying the need for upgrade or replacement. If you have a fire alarm control unit or smoke detection that is over 20 years old, it is most definitely time to identify an upgrade or replacement plan of action.
2. Deficiencies/Troubles: As systems age, the system may experience increased troubles, including wiring and operational failures. Also, during annual inspections, an increased number of system deficiencies may be experienced. While these can be repaired at the time, these troubles and deficiencies can mount up and affect the overall operation of the system.
3. Change in Occupancy/Use: As buildings change and adapt to new tenants and operations, the fire alarm system needs to change to meet those needs. For example, some business occupancies may become educational occupancies, thereby changing the fire alarm system requirements for that space.
The first key factor in a fire alarm upgrade or replacement plan is the design. System design, especially a replacement design, is a critical step to operational reliability that cannot be overlooked. Unfortunately, fire alarm systems are often designed by individuals who do not have the appropriate fire protection background to perform the design competently. The designer should understand that applicable codes and standards are a minimum criterion and provide only a minimum baseline from which to expand.
Given the investment being made, it is important that you check the credentials of the engineer performing the design to ensure they have a strong background in fire alarm system design. Also, the design must address critical interconnected emergency control equipment and wiring to fans, dampers, smoke control equipment, and elevators.
What if you could eliminate the cost of two phone lines used to monitor your fire alarm system?
What if you could have a fire alarm system provide automatic warnings to your occupants of emergencies other than fire, like a tornado or severe weather warning?
What if your fire alarm system could constantly monitor the carbon monoxide level in key areas of your building to provide occupant health and air quality?
What if your smoke detectors could test themselves? What if your notification appliances could be tested in a matter of seconds without sounding the alarms for long periods of time?
Every fire alarm system will need to be upgraded or replaced at some point. Keep this in mind: A planned system replacement can be as much as one half the cost of an “emergency” system replacement. Today, more than ever with supply chain issues, making long-term upgrade or replacement plans the prudent thing to do
All of this is possible today by using the latest technology.