How Often Should You Check Your Smoke Detectors?
Fire Alarm Testing
Whether your fire alarm is protecting your home or a commercial facility, regular testing of your fire alarm system is critical to ensure it is working correctly. This test guarantees that everyone occupying the home or office understands what to do when the fire alarm sounds, gives you a chance to check the batteries and equipment, and confirms you are meeting local safety standards.
Residential Fire Alarm Testing
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that homeowners test their smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button. This is the case for both battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms.
It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for keeping smoke alarms clean and maintained so they work correctly. Sensors that collect dust or become water damaged will be less effective and can be a danger to your home.
Smoke alarm batteries should be replaced every year unless the battery chirps – then the battery should be replaced right away. Smoke alarms should be replaced entirely every ten years.
Fire Drills at Home
In addition to checking your equipment and batteries, you should do yearly assessments of your family’s emergency readiness. Fire safety for kids is important because it will help your children respond in a careful, practiced manner and allow everyone to get out without harm. Home fire safety practice can be as simple as having discussions at the dinner table about what to do in the case of a fire or teaching your kids how to get help if they should ever need it.
Commercial Fire Alarm Testing
Fire alarm testing requirements for business owners will be determined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) in the area where your business is located. The AHJ is the organization, office, or individual responsible for enforcing fire codes in your area.
The AHJ may be the county, it may be the city, and it may be an engineer. There can be many differences between AHJs in how they enforce codes and what codes are applied, so testing requirements for your fire alarm system must be set and verified by them.
Most jurisdictions set their testing requirements following the codes and standards set by the NFPA - NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®.
You will most likely be required to test your fire alarm system yearly. However, you may be required to check more frequently depending on the type of business you run and where it is located.
You also will likely be required to have visual inspections done for all your fire alarm components. Again, these inspections may be necessary only annually, or however often your AHJ has determined appropriate.
Fire Drills in the Workplace
It is important to train your employees in your building on proper fire alarm response and the steps to take in case of a workplace emergency. Creating an Emergency Action Plan and keeping all of your employees trained will allow everyone to feel confident and exit the building safely, should a fire begin.
Emergency Action Plans are an OSHA requirement for workplaces with more than ten employees.
Involving your staff in annual fire inspections is also a great time to refresh everyone on emergency procedures and evacuation steps.
Who can Test a Fire Alarm?
Fire alarm testers must be certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) or licensed by the state.
At FSS Technologies, our fire alarm system designers and installers are NICET certified. We understand the nuances of installing, testing, and inspecting fire alarms in our local jurisdictions. Contact us for a free consultation.