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Fire Alarm Testing And Maintenance: Ensuring Reliable Fire Protection Systems

The best security you can offer to your loved ones is ensuring the functionality and reliability of fire alarms at all times. 

Do you remember the last time you scheduled a smoke alarm replacement or maintenance? If you can’t remember, you need to do a fire alarm testing ASAP and call your reputable electrician to assess everything for you. 

A malfunctioning smoke alarm can lead to severe casualties in a fire. In fact, 57% of property owners can incur property damage, and let's not forget to mention the risk of losing lives. Thankfully, conducting regular smoke alarm maintenance and replacement services can eliminate these risks. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about fire alarm testing and maintenance, including procedures stipulated by Australian law. Stick around to Learn more!

Fire Alarms Testing and Maintenance Procedures - All You Need to Know

Regular Testing Schedules

The frequency of testing obligations is subjective to the nature and location of your building. However, in Australia, homeowners must conduct monthly testing of all smoke alarms in the household. If you don't have a fire alarm yet, you should get a smoke alarm installation service before the authorities catch up with you. But before that, allow us to enlighten you on how often you should conduct fire alarm testing.

  • Once a Month: Every property owner, whether residential or commercial, should ensure the smoke alarm batteries are tested every month. If the batteries are working, you should hear a beeping sound. If this fails, you must replace the batteries. 
  • After Every 6 Months: The last thing you want is a fake alarm in the middle of the night. That said, it is important to vacuum the exteriors of the smoke alarms after every 6 months. This helps eliminate any residue buildup that would trigger the alarm to go off. 
  • Yearly: It goes without saying that both lead and alkaline batteries should be replaced yearly. This is because most of these batteries have a life span of one year. 
  • Every 10 years: Every smoke alarm, regardless of the brand, should be replaced after every 10 years. Some smoke alarms can be replaced earlier than this incase of malfunctions. Talking of malfunctions, who is responsible for smoke alarm repairs and maintenance? Let’s take a look.

For rental accommodations, landlords or perhaps property managers are responsible for doing fire alarm tests and maintenance. They must do a monthly fire alarm testing to ensure the batteries are working and a yearly smoke alarm replacement for the batteries. There is more; landlords should also get an accredited electrician to test the devices after each change of tenancy.  

Now, if you have a new property or you just finished renovating your existing one, it is important that you install new smoke alarms to comply with Australia's Building Code. 

Shifting our focus from residential properties, commercial property owners must be more vigilant about fire alarm testing. This is because fire outbreaks are prone to occur in these buildings. That said, fire alarm systems should be tested as often as weekly. Inspections should be done after every 6-12 months. 

Functional Testing of Alarm Components

Just like the heart works in symphony with other body components, the same applies to smoke alarms. These warning devices feature different components that work together to detect fire and smoke, giving you an early warning. They include a sensor, a power source, which may be battery or hardwired, a sounder, a test button, a hush button, and an LED indicator to show the alarm's status. Below is an explanation of how you can check for the functionality of each component.

  • Battery: When it comes to functional testing, you should test the alarm batteries every month by pressing the test button. If they're working perfectly, you should hear beeps. If the alarm chirps, this is an indication of a low battery. That said, you should replace the battery immediately.
  • Smoke sensor: Testing for the sensor's functionality should be done at least once a month. There are two ways to do the test. The first is by pressing the test button. If it is, the sensor is perfect. The second involves using smoke spray or an incense stick near the sensor. Both methods are ideal.

Other than testing the functionality of components, homeowners and property owners also need to vacuum the exterior of the smoke alarm regularly to remove dust and debris, which can interfere with its operation.

Documentation Requirements 

The responsibility of ensuring fire safety within residential buildings and workplaces falls under the building owner or the manager. 

When conducting regular fire alarm tests or procedures, it is important to document. We can liken this to a maintenance record, which technically shows the name of the activity, date of testing, inventory, and required frequency. Such information gives proof that you comply with the requirements even in the event of a fire emergency.  Other than documentation, investing in a reputable and fully insured company is also important. This guarantees you security from property damage as you have a team to hold accountable. 

The Importance of Proper Maintenance for Fire Safety Compliance

Proper maintenance ensures that your smoking alarms provide a 24/7 reliable warning system against fires.  Be it early in the morning or late at night, you can get an early warning, buying yourself time to evacuate the building and call for help. This, in turn, can save you from financial and emotional costs incurred during most fire outbreaks in Australia. That said, do your diligence to schedule monthly routine maintenance and smoke alarm replacements for at least a year.

As we conclude, it's not too late to schedule smoke alarm installations if your current one is over 10 years old. The same goes for those who have yet to conduct maintenance. Provide peace of mind and security for your loved ones by following the information provided. Stay safe!