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Annunciator, Fire and Alarm Maintenance

As Builts and Records
It is essential you record all your daily/weekly/monthly/yearly maintenance for your fire alarm systems. It is common practice to have a drawing that outlines each device, and it's schematic when performing maintenance so you have all the information at your fingertips. Newer facilities have electricians walking around with tablets or iPads that update information wirelessly, and in real time. The older facilities are modifying their existing maintenance routines by replacing analogue switches with wireless switch device capabilities that can reach areas that are almost impossible to reach by cabling and have an incredibly attractive low installation cost.

Fire Alarms, annunciators and bells are also entering the era of wireless as well. It's called wireless detection technology. The networks this system runs across is star, ring, hub and spoke, star, mesh, point-to-point, and hybrid to name a few. They're all capable of Class A, and B systems, and are addressable. For these types of systems, the drawings are critical for communication purposes, rather than cabling, and interconnections.

Our Canadian standards for fire safety and codes are under the Fire Alarm and Life Safety Equipment and System (ULC-S500F).

It used to be acceptable to have Halon as a common etinguishing agent. Since the restrictions were placed on Halon due to the concern of the Ozone layer, under the the "Montreal Protocol of September 16, 1987," they keep changing agents to become environmentally safe.

Preventive Maintenance Table for Devices
These are an average of what most companies are doing today. This is a guideline, and in no way reflect local codes, rules, or manufacturer's specifications. Always refer to manufacturer's specifications.
Device or Equipment Procedure for Maintenance Interval Electrician/Shift
Annunciator Panel "Operation" - Press the "Test" button Each Shift Electrician Name
Annunciator Panel "Function"- Actuate each alarm device to make sure the annunciator is picking up the devices accurately Annually or after
power outage
or after wiring renovations.

Electrician Names
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors Confirm functionability Once a Month Electrician Name
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors Confirm functionability, Change Batteries (if residential) Every 6 months Electrician Name
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors Replace sensor head, Service, or Replace Unit Replace every 2 years or (manufacturer's rec) Electrician Name
Smoke Detectors Visual with Binoculars Once a week Electrician Name
Smoke Detectors (ionization or photoelectric) Vacuum exterior fins
Infrared Thermography on device
Depending on environment (rec. minimum every four months) Electrician Name
Smoke Detectors Initiate device Once a month organize a Fire Drill Electrician Name
Smoke Detectors Replace As per Manufacturer's Rec Electrician Name
Fire Extinguisher Check for pin tampering
Check for objects in the way
Check for inspection date on tag
Check for damage to hoses, leaks, etc.
Once a Month Electrician Name
Fire Extinguisher Inspection for condition and chemical/ with updated tag on collar of extinguisher. Annual Contractor
Fire Extinguisher Replace As per Manufacturer's Rec Electrician Name
Fire Hydrants Check for Pallets, Objects in direct path Daily Everybody
Fire Hydrants Flow Tested Annually Contractor
Fire Hydrants Flow Tested
Pressure Measurement
Flow Rate Measurement
5 Years Contractor
Emergency and Exit Lights Press the "Test" button Once a Month Electrician Name
Emergency and Exit Lights Change Battery Every 2 Years (or Manuf. rec) Electrician Name
Fire Sprinkler Check Gauge Pressure
Inspect Control Valves
Weekly Electrician Name
Fire Sprinkler Infrared Thermography
on sprinkler heads
This includes moving obstructions from spray patterns
Monthly Electrician Name
Fire Sprinkler Inspect entire system Every Four Months Contractor
Fire Sprinkler Inspect entire system Every Year Contractor
Nurse Call Check for Indication lights
on Main Panel
Daily Electrician Name
Nurse Call Check for functionality Weekly Nurse Assist. and Electrician
Nurse Call Inspection of entire system Every four months Contractor
Nurse Call Inspection of entire system Every Year Contractor
Alarm System / and CCTV "Operation" - Press the Test button on Supervisory Panel Daily Electrician Name
Alarm System / and CCTV Check recordings to make sure they are active and functional Daily Electrician /Security Officer
Alarm System / and CCTV "Function" - Have an Alarm Test of each device Monthly Electrician Name
Alarm System / and CCTV Inspection of entire system Every Year Contractor

Troubleshooting each device can be easily done by checking the serial number, and checking the website for a troubleshooting guide. News forums also hold a massive amount of knowledge base from people just trying to be helpful. Each device is different, and each system has different characteristics; therefore it is recommended that you use a search engine if you do not have a manual/installation/troubleshooting guide.

Supervised Fire Alarms
What makes a circuit supervised is the current sent out by the panel, through the wires, devices, end of line resistor (EOL), then back. If there is an issue along the way, this produces a "trouble" signal on the panel that has to be fixed.

A Class B loop that has a break along the path, will make all other devices after the break inoperable. Class A however; will back feed on a secondary path, which is a redundant path. Class B loops are used when there are not a lot of panels. On bigger jobs that have multiple levels, you normally have a main panel on the bottom floor that connects with other panels on each floor, wired Class A, then the wiring on each floor is wired Class B. Depending on the design, manufacturer, and local codes you will find yourself working on a system that was designed exclusively for your building/manufacturing process.

Pull-Up Resistor

This type of resistor resides in the panel (A or B) fire alarm; so if there is no device installed in the circuit, it "pulls the voltage up" to the power supply voltage.

Pull-Down Resistor (EOL)
This type of resistor (A or B) is designed to work in tandem with the pull up resistor in the panel when connected to a zone. The voltage will divide by the two operating resisters to keep a constant power supply voltage. This is a "normal" condition.


Normal - The voltage detected from the panel recognizes the panel's pull up resistor, and the external pull down resistor (EOL).

Trouble - This is a high voltage problem. A loose connection, missing device, or a broken wire. This is because the "pull down resistor" is no longer recognized by the panel.

Short - Something is pulling the voltage down lower than normal. The panel will automatically not connect to the circuit in order to protect itself.

Alarm - This is an alarm state caused by a device in the circuit. These are called initiating devices.
- A smoke detector has an internal resistor that pulls down on the voltage, and the panel's voltage measurement device senses this and initiates the fire alarm, allowing people to evacuate.
- A waterflow switch (on sprinkler pipe main) pulls the voltage to zero, and the panel's voltage measurement device senses this and initiates the fire alarm, allowing people to evacuate.
- A heat detector pulls the voltage to zero, and the panel's voltage measurement device senses this and initiates the fire alarm, allowing people to evacuate.
- A pull station pulls the voltage to zero, and the panel's voltage measurement device senses this and initiates the fire alarm, allowing people to evacuate.

Ground Fault - There are many types of ground faults that can occur after the installation. Here are a few;
- soft ground faults can be anywhere in your system that has water dripping or leaking on your device, or in your circuits.
- damage caused by hitting a device or circuit crushing the wire into a piece of metal, etc. Day to day operations (IE) moving boxes, construction, scissor lifts, forklifts and sharp objects falling,etc.
- ground faults caused by aging insulation. All wire insulation has an expiry date.
- nicking installation and after a few years the "compromised" insulation gets worse and opens completely showing bare wire.
- a fire alarm wire tie wrapped to a threaded rod can wedge into the insulation after a year or so. It is much faster if the threaded rod is attached to a motor that vibrates.

Fixing a Ground Fault
Do yourself a favor and use a good insulation tester. Imperative.

1) Test the voltage on each zone. Mark them down and compare. The offending zone will stick out from the rest.
2) Test the resistance on each zone. Mark them down and compare. This is done by putting the red lead on the zone wire, and black lead on ground in the panel. Having both the voltage and resistance measurements from a good zone, and a bad zone will definitely point to the offending zone.
3) Having the "As Builts" for the next procedure is much easier. It is so much easier knowing where the wires are installed when trying to locate a ground fault. If not, then you'll have to try and free the wires from constricting points by old fashioned tracing by hand...through walls, ceilings, and device device at a time.
4) Wiggle the wire back and forth at entry points and junctions. If this spikes or reduces resistance, you've probably have your offending point of ground. Or, you're at least close.
5) Fix the wire.