What Causes Fire Alarm System Failure?

Having a fire alarm system failure puts your facility and occupant’s life safety in danger. Some of the causes of a failure are unpreventable. But, you can watch out for the situations that can cause this problem. This will help to ensure that your fire alarm system remains fully functional.

Acts of God

Acts of God can cause a fire alarm system failure. A natural disaster, like a Hurricane, can subject areas to heavy rains and flooding. If water leaks into the fire alarm panel, it will short out and fail to activate during an emergency. Lighting strikes also frequently damage systems. It sends an extremely high voltage of power to the fire alarm system. This causes damage to the electronic circuit boards and other electrical components within the panel.


Facilities that don’t have a comprehensive fire alarm system inspection, testing, and maintenance program or regularly service their system put their entire facility at risk. Unfortunately, even regularly serviced systems can experience fire alarm system failure. These problems occur when facility managers ignore the fire alarm deficiencies outlined in their service report. Additionally, disregarding a fire alarm trouble signal is extremely negligent because it could mean something is critically wrong like:

  • Programming errors
  • Broken device
  • Devices offline

Contractor Mistakes

Contractors working on other systems in the facility may inadvertently cause a fire alarm system failure. The system is at high risk when the contractor is working on an electrically charged system. If the system produces a high surge of electricity and sends the wrong voltage to the fire alarm, it can cause damage to the motherboard. This type of catastrophic failure often goes unnoticed because the fire alarm system can’t notify anyone of the issue. Additionally, contractors frequently cut fire alarm wire, leaving entire sections of a facility unprotected.


Some facilities are subject to high rates of vandalism such as prisons. Vandals pull junction box covers off and rip out the wire. This can break the SLC or NAC circuit causing a fire alarm failure. Cutting the SLC loop prevents initiating devices from sending a signal to the panel that there’s a fire. Damaging the NAC circuit inhibits notification devices from alerting facility occupants about the emergency.

Once you’re aware of the top causes of a fire alarm system failure you can take steps to mitigate the issue. Preventing a system failure is critical and having a protocol to follow when your fire alarm fails is equally important.

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