The most basic facility manager’s fire alarm responsibility is to ensure the fire alarm system is inspected, tested, and maintained according to NFPA and the Authority Having Jurisdiction requirements. But not many facility managers are clear about their responsibilities for fire alarm system documents, testing records, coordinating system services, and evaluating the original fire alarm system’s design. By understanding a facility manager’s fire alarm responsibilities, you can ensure your facility is ready for a visit from your authority having jurisdiction.
Fire Alarm Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance
Facility occupants must receive a notification prior to fire alarm testing. To ensure this occurs, the facility manager should consult with their service provider about the fire alarm service schedule. The facility manager should also coordinate with their service provider during testing to prevent and work around interruptions to important facility systems such as elevators, HVAC, smoke control etc.
After your fire alarm service provider performs inspection, testing, and maintenance they’ll provide you with a service record. Part of the facility manager’s fire alarm responsibility includes maintaining testing records until the next test and for 1 year thereafter. If the record notes repairing deficiencies, then the facility manager must maintain a record for 1 year to the date from when the impairment was corrected.
Fire Alarm System Alternations, Original Fire Installation, and Design Records
A major misconception is that fire protection service companies evaluate the fire alarm system’s design to ensure it meets code requirements during inspections. A standard fire alarm system inspection, testing, and maintenance contracts don’t cover evaluating a system’s design. Another aspect of the facility manager’s fire alarm responsibility includes reevaluating the fire alarm system’s original design. This typically occurs when the facility undergoes any type of construction or change. A facility owner should hire a fire protection engineer or ask their service provider to re-examine their fire alarm’s design. They’ll make sure it’s appropriate for the facility’s use and hazards.
The facility manager must update the fire alarm system to meet code requirements if there are issues. These system changes must be recorded. It’s the facility manager’s responsibility to maintain a record of any fire alarm system alterations.
In addition to modification and alternation documents, owner’s must maintain documents regarding system design and function for the life of the fire alarm system. These documents include:
- Owner’s manual and manufacturer’s published instructions covering all system equipment
- Record (as-built) drawings
- Completed record of completion form
- For software-based systems, record copy of the site-specific software
It’s the facility manager’s responsibility to maintain all aspects of the fire alarm system. Make sure to obtain and retain copies of the fire alarm system’s design and function in addition to system service records. Don’t rely on your fire alarm service provider to hold the only copy. Lastly, if you’re unsure about facility manager’s fire alarm responsibility then refer to NFPA 72. Your authority having jurisdiction can also clarify a facility manager’s responsibility for their fire alarm systems.