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FIRE ALARM DETECTOR TESTING

Why test ?

Whether designed to detect smoke, heat, CO or even a combination of these – fire detectors need to be functionally tested to ensure they are working correctly and are able to activate in the event of a real fire.

A fire detector protects property and the lives of people that occupy it, once installed it cannot be assumed that the detector will activate in the event of a fire.  Over time, detectors can become faulty – insects in the chamber, water damage and general dirt and dust debris build up can cause detectors to either regularly false alarm or, even worse, not activate at all.  Regular testing and maintenance is the only way to keep on top of these potential issues and ensure each detector is functioning correctly and is able to do the job it was originally installed for.

The serious risk of fire means that regular testing and maintenance forms a crucial part of industry codes and standards. Around the world, standards such as BS 5839-1, NFPA72 and IS2189 section 7 all outline the importance of correct installation and on-going maintenance. Generally, compliance with such standards means carrying out functional testing of each device once every sixth months.  However, it is not just the codes and standards that influence testing, detector manufacturers themselves insist on regular testing as way to help prolong the life of their devices.

Solutions for testing

With the need for functional testing established, consideration then needs to be given to the equipment used to carry out the testing.  Use of non-specialist equipment can cause serious damage to the detector, which in turn can put the lives of the fire engineer and building occupiers at risk.  On top of this, use of a non-specialised test tool ultimately looks unprofessional – a fire detector is an important life safety device, why would you want to risk its ability to perform by introducing a non-approved solution into its chamber and sensors ?

Our Solo product range is widely regarded as the fire industry’s leading solution for functional testing of detectors.  The range, built around a series of height access poles, consists of several tools that enable fast and reliable testing of smoke and heat fire detectors.  ‘Smoke’ is generated via an aerosol can fitted into a dispenser that, when placed over the detector pushes ‘smoke’ in to chamber and causes an activation.  Heat testing is carried out using a battery powered heat tester which, when placed over the detector, automatically starts generating heat which is directed to the thermistor to activate the detector.  In both cases testing is carried out in compliance with local standards and with the approval of the detector manufacturer.

Whilst our Solo equipment is known the world over, regional approaches to fire safety and the types of detection used mean we also need to offer other solutions.  Testifire, is our ultimate test solution – combining the ability to test smoke and heat from within one device.  Not only does this mean less for the fire engineer to carry around site, it also means that productivity is increased – with significantly less time spent changing between testers when different types of detectors need testing.  A general rise in the installation of heat detectors and, more recently, multi-sensor detectors has led to increasing uptake of Testifire as more engineers recognise it as the easiest way to ensure they can test any smoke or heat detector they come across.  Unlike the Solo range, Testifire generates smoke via a non-pressurised capsule; this not only allows for easier storage and transportation but also ensures compatibility with the widest range of detectors – with smoke aerosols increasingly becoming less compatible with modern detector designs.

Solutions from the Solo and Testifire range are all available in a variety of kits; the kit you choose will depend on two key factors:

1 . What type of detectors will you be testing ?

Smoke, Smoke & Heat or Smoke, Heat & CO?

  1. What height are the detectors installed at ?

5 metres, 6 metres or 9 metres?

Your answers to these questions will point towards an ideal kit; some kits also include additional accessories such as a detector removal tool – which are ideal for installing new detectors and removing existing detectors for maintenance.

Challenges of testing

Whilst the majority of smoke detectors can be easily accessed, of course, there are always exceptions and for these we try, where possible, to develop further solutions which help ensure a test solution exists for each installed fire detector.

Many buildings now have at least one location where a smoke detector is installed in a hard-to-access location.  Testing these detectors is just as important as testing those that are easy to access, quite often they will be protecting an area where fire may not be easily seen and so the need for regular testing is crucial.  Our Scorpion solution is perfect for this, installed permanently alongside the detector the Scorpion unit is wired back to a conveniently mounted access point that can then be used to initiate smoke generation and carry out testing.  Scorpion suits a wide range of sites where detectors are installed in locations such as lift shafts, ceiling voids and secure rooms.  Its unique design makes it suitable for use with smoke detectors and aspirating smoke detection systems.

As well detector manufacturer approvals, many of our core products are UL certified and all products are supported via our dedicated internal support team and network of distributors.  Free online training webinars are available to all users – promoting best practice and ensuring all customers are able to get the most from their tester – whichever solution they chose.

For any detector testing solutions, please contact our Authorized Distributor for India and Bangla Desh:

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