Commercial fire alarm systems are not at the forefront of most customers’ minds when they are taking delivery of a new or renovated property. However, there are some items which you should make sure are provided to you by the fire alarm company before they close out the fire alarm project.
Some of these items are specifically required to be in possession of the property manager / owner by code, and some are simply good practice and are useful to take note of:
An electronic copy of the fire alarm system programming on a USB Thumb Drive or CD-ROM. Most code requires that a copy of these be on site so that a fire alarm panel that has a catastrophic crash can be replaced and re-loaded as quickly as possible.
A paper printout of the fire alarm panel programming. There should be a copy of this on site as a reference as well as stored in a safe off-site location.
NFPA Code requires new systems to be tested following certain standards and procedures. They provide an inspection form which includes all of the information that should be collected at the time of testing. If the fire marshal comes to your location they may ask for this document to be produced as evidence of inspection at the time of installation. This document should be prepared by the company who installs the fire alarm system.
A Fire Alarm inspection report will need to be prepared and available to present to the fire marshal upon request. The standard form to use can be found in NFPA 72. Violations will need to be notated and documented on this form as well
Red line plans of your system design. This will include any changes made, during the on-the-ground installation, to the original design set. This would most likely include any variations in the pathway where wires are run. You can optionally pay to have you installer update the original CAD files to include these changes.
A copy of the fire alarm plans stamped by the fire alarm engineer / designer and the city or county authority. This should be retained as evidence that the plans were designed by a credentialed engineer and approved by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) if that is ever called into question.
A soft copy (CAD file) of the original fire alarm design including any calculations performed as a part of the installation. This can be very helpful if the system is every extended or modified and new submittals need to be prepared. Also, if the original paper plans are damaged or lost a new copy may be printed.
Warranty certificates and timeframes specifying who is providing the warranties on each component of the system and how long those warranties last.
Rarely do we see these elements kept with fire alarm systems or passed on to the owners and managers of a property. Often we find that costs must be incurred to address these requirements down the road if the information is not provided and managed up front.
Make this a part of your standard checklist for taking over management of new projects or developing new real estate projects to ensure your information is up to date, up to code, readily available and backed up.