Fire alarm noises can indicate life threatening conditions, but oftentimes can simply be notifications of less urgent issues. Many sounds like beeps or beeping, chirping, or sirens are nuisances to who are within earshot.
Usually, when the system is making these sounds, there will be an LED lamp that is amber or red in color that may be flashing. While the fire alarm sounds can be frustrating, it is important to understand what the fire alarm control panel is trying to tell us. There is usually an underlying problem, which is causing the beep and the flashing light, which may impair the system’s ability to alert building occupants or the fire department to emergencies.
Depending upon the model of the fire panel, there may be a display screen to provide additional information to help identify the issue. There may also be a “Silence” button which may temporarily stop the noise until a service technician can resolve the issue.
- Smoke Detector: Most commercial smoke detectors are of the photoelectric type, which use beams of light to look for products of combustion like smoke or other certain particles within their sensing chamber. Many commercial fire alarm systems are able to sense when dust, water, or other contaminants get into the detector and inhibit the ability to detect smoke. This is especially true for duct smoke detectors which may even shut down your air handling equipment. This condition will require the detector to be cleaned or replaced.
- Ground Fault: A ground fault trouble occurs when an exposed wire or touches a metal electrical box, steel building structure, or other grounded component, causing the fire alarm electrical signal to be lost. This trouble condition is notorious for coming and going frequently, even several times in one day, causing the fire panel to cycle between “Normal” and “Trouble” repeatedly. This issue can be very difficult to troubleshoot and will require a licensed electrician to locate the bad wiring or device, which will need to be replaced.
- Low Battery: Commercial fire alarm systems employ back-up batteries which provide stand-by power that can allow the system to operate in the event that the building power is lost. The fire alarm system components have on-board battery chargers that keep the batteries topped-off around the clock. These batteries have a useful life of 3-5 years, depending on manufacturer. If you have a low battery trouble, it could either indicate a bad charger, bad batteries, or even both. This is best diagnosed by a licensed technician. The repair could be as simple as installing replacement batteries, or as difficult as replacing the panel they are charged by.
- Comm Fault: Comm Fault is when the FACP is not communicating with the twenty-four hour central station. This can be caused by bad phone lines or a temporary drop in cellular signal strength. Other causes are the central station is having problems receiving the information or the program in the FACP has changed or was entered in incorrectly. Communications troubles are serious issues because it indicates that alarm signals are not being received and transmitted to fire or police departments. Troubleshooting is required to before taking corrective action, and should be addressed as soon as possible.
- Sprinkler Supervisory: Fire sprinkler systems are required by code to be monitored by electronic fire alarm systems. The purpose is primarily to alert building occupants and first responders to activation of the sprinkler or suppression system. A secondary function is to alert building management personnel that there is a maintenance issue that requires immediate attention. Valves that control the flow of water to fire sprinklers may have been tampered with. Compressed air pressure that keeps water away from pipes that are exposed to freezing temperatures may be critically low. Fire pumps required to push water to higher floors may be out of service. A licensed technician will be needed to determine exactly what the issue is and how best to repair.
At Valiant, we know that whatever the cause, fire alarm noises are a nuisance to staff, residents, and guests alike. But even though they may just be an annoyance and not a life-threatening issue, they still need to be taken seriously.
When there is a trouble or supervisory condition on the fire alarm panel, affected parts of the system will fail when there is a REAL emergency. Our technicians are state licensed, NICET certified, and have years of experience installing and repairing fire alarm and suppression systems.
We are standing by to help with your fire alarm nuisance issues. Call us today for a safer tomorrow at (313) 318-3867.
Be Prepared, Be Valiant.