Deciding to delay fire alarm system notifications is a decision that requires a considerable amount of thought and evaluation. Since there are lives at stake, one must carefully evaluate the consequences of activating vs delaying the alarm. There are certain types of facilities and many reasons that may cause owners to delay fire alarm system notifications throughout their facility.
Why Delay Fire Alarm System Notifications?
Why delay fire alarm system notifications? The primary reason to purposefully delay fire alarm system notifications is to provide additional time to confirm whether the signal is a nuisance alarm or real emergency. Then the circumstances dictate whether to activate notifications. Here are some common reasons why facility owners decide to delay fire alarm system notifications.
1. Halt in Production and Revenue Loss
A few false alarms a year can greatly impact a production facility’s bottom line. In these types of facilities, managers know exactly how much product they produce in x amount of time. They also know how much revenue they lose every minute that production is down. Manufacturing type facilities can’t afford to halt all production activities for a false alarm.
2. Dangers Associated with Evacuation
Evacuating a huge facility safely is quite difficult. Activating a fire alarm system in a crowded location like a stadium can lead to overcrowding exit pathways and stampede type situations. This can have detrimental results. Similarly, hospitals have their own unique set of challenges. It’s potentially life-threatening to stop operating on a patient in the middle of a surgery. Hospitals also have immobile patients who should only be relocated in a real confirmed emergency. In these types of situations, the best choice is to delay fire alarm system notifications.
3. Active Shooter
Many facilities are concerned about the threat of an active shooter. The intruder could set off the fire alarm and put people directly in harm’s way. By delaying the fire alarm notification people may have a chance to remain in place or evacuate safely based on the intruder’s location.
4. Unique Circumstances
Evacuating an airport for a false alarm could cause major travel headaches. Travelers would need to go through security all over again and at the same time. This would cause major problems at the airport and delay flights all around the world. Additionally, research facilities may need to delay fire alarm system notifications. They could experience problems when it comes to critical experiments or tests that can’t be replicated.
When is it Unacceptable to Delay Fire Alarm Notifications?
Certain circumstances will inhibit facilities from delaying a fire alarm activation. Simply wanting to reduce false alarms produced by an old system is an invalid reason. One must fix the problem and make the fire alarm system reliable or replace it. Another unacceptable situation to delay fire alarm system notifications are in sleeping occupancies.
There are many facilities that have reasons to delay fire alarm system notifications. It’s a tough decision and the owner must have a valid reason. But ultimately, your AHJ will have the final say in whether your facility meets the code requirements for delaying fire alarm system notifications. You’ll also have to work with them and your fire alarm service provider on using an NFPA code approved method to delay fire alarm system signals.