Tag Archives: Commissioning

The Importance of Fire Alarm Testing

Fire and Life Safety systems require regular testing and maintenance. Just like an automobile, regular testing and maintenance keeps the system running at peak performance and ready to detect and respond to an emergency. Without proper inspection and testing and you may not know how or if, your system will function properly until an emergency occurs.

In order to meet federal certification requirements and state requirements, fire alarm systems are required to be inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. In the 2013 edition, Chapter 14 (Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance) outlines these requirements for fire and life safety systems. Fire alarm control panels provide features that make it easier to perform these tasks.

Today, most Fire Alarm Control Panels have a built in Walk Test feature is used to test a fire alarm system to ensure everything works properly. By placing the Fire Alarm Control Panel into Walk Test mode, a technician can activate a device, which then gives an indication at the Fire Alarm Control Panel. Depending on the setup, the panel may or may not momentarily sound the signals. After the device activates, it will automatically restore and then the technician can go on to the next device to test. This allows for a technician to test a system without having someone to reset the Fire Alarm Control Panel each time.

An inspection, testing, and maintenance program is essential for the reliable performance of the fire alarm system. In addition to maintaining proper levels of protection, proper Inspection, Testing and Maintenance can help reduce the expense of emergency repairs and costly false alarms.

Having a working fire alarm system installed in your building saves lives!

Finally, Fire-Lite Alarms is here to help you in your endeavor. Fire-Lite Alarms has 60 years in the business, is the leader in non-proprietary, and has great tools to help you learn about the products. Visit our website to learn more about the Walk Test feature in the MS-9050UD, MS-9200UDLS, and MS-9600(UD)LS. Also, view one of our pre-recorded webinars on Understanding Commissioning and System Acceptance Testing by Jack Poole (engineering consultant and industry expert).


 About the Author
Bill Brosig is a Channel Product Manager for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power with more than 25 years in the Life Safety business and a NICET IV certification. Bill focuses on the customer experience surrounding current offerings and new product applications.



Understanding Commissioning and System Acceptance Testing

In the fire and life safety industry, thorough testing can sometimes be the difference between life and death. However, staying up-to-date with testing requirements in this ever-evolving market can be challenging. A good place to start is understanding the differences between commissioning and system acceptance testing, which we recently explored in our September webinar, “Understanding Commissioning and System Acceptance Testing,” available now on-demand.

First, let’s define system acceptance testing. This is basically single-system testing performed on an installation to confirm compliance with the manufacturer’s installation specifications, applicable codes and standards, and the owner’s requirements. Under acceptance testing, each system is individually tested.

Integrated fire protection/life safety system testing takes it a step further. These tests help confirm the operation, interaction and coordination of multiple individual systems. Integrated testing asks whether each individual system performs its intended function when working together. Here, the installer is thinking of the building’s systems holistically.

The Role of Commissioning
Now, let’s look at commissioning, which is distinct from acceptance testing and integrated testing. It is a recommended—not required—practice that is spelled out in NFPA 3. Commissioning takes into account a building’s entire fire and life safety system, rather than looking at individual systems, such as fire alarms, on their own.

Commissioning is achieved in the design phase, and continues through the construction, acceptance and warrantee periods with continual verification of performance, operation and maintenance documentation and the training of personnel. Commissioning is a living process—not a one-time task.

Commissioning ensures that all of the devices and systems that are interconnected truly work as required and meet the owner’s criteria to achieve fire and life safety goals. This systematic process provides documented confirmation that specific and interconnected fire and life safety systems function according to the intended design criteria set forth in the project documents. It also ensures that the systems satisfy the owner’s operational needs, including compliance to applicable laws, regulations, codes and standards affecting fire and life safety systems.

The fire and life safety industry seem to be gradually moving away from system acceptance testing in favor of commissioning. Why? Commissioning is a systematic process that helps to validate the quality, performance and reliability of an installed system—both at the time of installation and as the system advances in age. If issues emerge during commissioning, the engineer or building owner has a chance to address them or update the project requirements. In addition, commissioning reduces liability on the part of the building owner, installer and more. Following these documented tests, each stakeholder knows that the entire system is working as expected.

Learn More
Ready to learn more about the role of the commissioning team, the importance of the commissioning plan, testing frequencies and more? Visit our webinar page to download, “Understanding Commissioning and System Acceptance Testing“.


About the Author
Elizabeth Richards is the Manager of Communications for Fire-Lite Alarms, Honeywell Power and Silent Knight. Liz joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2003 and is responsible for the communications, collateral, messaging, and events for all three brands.