Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Dangers of Using Fire Alarm Re-Setting Devices

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Remote Fire Alarm Resetters

Recently the Winnipeg Fire Alarm Paramedic Service issued a statement which indicated that they will no longer permit the use of remote fire alarm reset devices, or fire alarm re-setters, for the purposes of inspecting and testing fire alarm systems.

Here at Bison Fire, we’re pleased with the results of this decision, as we believe that using fire alarm re-setters is unsafe and puts both our technicians and our customers at risk.

What is a Fire Alarm Re-Setter?

Fire alarm re-setters are an electronic devices manufactured by a third party company or sometimes homemade, when installed into a fire alarm system they interrupt internal panel operations to intermittently sound the audible devices (which are usually bells or horn strobes) and reset the panel after an alarm has been tested.

Fire alarm systems often have many field components that need to be tested, and a piercing audible test for every one of those devices can be a noisy day for the occupants of your building.

Third party or homemade devices that interrupt internal panel functions of a fire alarm panel increases the risk of damaging or shortening the life of the equipment being tested.

In short, these devices are a shortcut which can cost building owners a lot of money and put lives at risk.

Why Are Fire Alarm Re-Setters Unsafe?

While fire alarm re-setters may be a more convenient method of fire alarm testing, we believe that the risks outweigh the benefits due to the following points”

Fire alarm re-setters aren’t ULC approved

Any electrical components used for fire alarm testing must be approved by the United Laboratories of Canada (ULC), which means that these devices are not suitable for use with ULC-approved electrical systems.

Re-Setting the fire alarm panel may cause damage

Continually removing and re-applying the power source during the course of a fire alarm inspection may damage the electrical components inside the electrical panel, and may void your manufacturer's warranty.

Exposed wiring puts everyone at risk

Exposing wiring of your electrical panel means that there is a chance that one of our technicians, or someone in your building, may accidentally touch the wiring and be electrocuted as a result.

Additionally, depending on where the fire alarm re-setter is placed, the wiring may cause a tripping hazard which may pull the wiring from the wall and cause damage to the individual.

It is illegal to leave a control panel open and unattended

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service has the following to say about this topic:

Rule 2-200 General of the CEC states that: ‘Electrical equipment shall be installed and guarded so that adequate provision is made for the safety of persons and property and for the protection of the electrical equipment from mechanical or other damage to which it is liable to be exposed.’”

False alarms may be missed during the inspection

One of the goals of a fire alarm inspection is to ensure that there are no issues with the devices, and using a fire alarm re-setter may compromise the findings of our tests by displaying false positives, leaving everyone at risk.

Inspection findings may be compromised

Alarms must be confirmed while they are connected to the control panel, and many fire alarm reset devices require that these devices be disconnected in order to reset, potentially compromising and negating our findings.

Which Fire Alarm Testing Methods Does Bison Fire Use?

At Bison Fire, our policy is to send two technicians to every job site to thoroughly test each device and manually re-set the fire panel. Owner Rob Read had this to say:

“Bison Fire has never used fire alarm re-setters, as we feel the benefits of investing in our technicians far outweigh the cost savings or the inherent risks of liability or life. There are no shortcuts when working with life safety equipment. By investing in our people we are investing in our customers.”     

For more information about Bison Fire’s stance on remote reset devices, contact us at our Winnipeg, Kenora, Thompson, Brandon, or Regina offices.    

Posted by Rob Read at 8:36 AM

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