Having the latest and greatest fire-suppression systems is only the starting point of keeping your property and people safe from potentially devastating fires.

Another key element is often overlooked – such technology and equipment must be properly serviced and maintained. Without this attention to detail, even the best fire-prevention solutions can be rendered useless.

For that reason, it is crucial for facility managers to schedule regular servicing and maintenance checks as part of their organisation’s fire-safety regime. Just as other crucial equipment, technology and vehicles need frequent checks to be at their best, so too do fire-suppression systems.   

Communication the key

The smartest way to ensure an appropriate servicing and maintenance culture is to commission an experienced fire-service provider in the first place. They can provide a commitment to offer first-class support during the installation and commissioning period – in addition to appropriate servicing after the deal has been signed off.

Preventive maintenance to stop any fires in the first place should be part of the equation. For example, in commercial kitchens, some Original Equipment Manufacturers require fusible links to be replaced every six months and others no more than every 12 months. Properly fitted, they will rupture at a preset temperature and trigger the fire-suppression system. Neglecting to change these links within the predetermined times can lead to a failure of the links, causing a false discharge. Even worse, it could cause  a delay in the link detecting a fire and activating the suppression system.

Experienced fire services experts will communicate clearly and transparently with you about any problems or defects with systems as part of their servicing regime. This should include delivering and following up on fire maintenance and inspection reports after servicing is completed. Too often, facility managers leave such reports siting on the shelf – leaving the site and its employees at risk of fire events if potential problems are ignored.

In some states, local or state government authorities may pay your business a visit and demand to see certificates or documents proving that your business has initiated correct fire-suppression servicing and maintenance regimes. If you do not have proof of the work, you could be in trouble.

Rules and regulations

The firefighting sector is dynamic and rules can quickly change based on government requirements and Standards.  For this reason, it is important to deal with a fire-suppression expert with a knowledge of long-term industry practices and the latest regulations.

There are pre-determined requirements for fire-system testing, principally in relation to Australian Standard AS 1851, which specifies fire-risk management procedures and rules around system design, installation, commissioning and maintenance.

For example, this standard could require weekly, monthly, six-monthly, annual, five-yearly etc testing, depending on the fire-suppression systems that have been installed.

The tests can range from simple fire-alarm checks to individual system component testing  to full functional testing. If in doubt, facility managers should contact their fire-safety professional to ensure that their sites comply with any regulations. 

Don’t become complacent

A common oversight is the failure to review the existing fire-suppression systems after extensions, refurbishments or modifications have been made to a building or specific equipment within the premises. Such changes can compromise the fire-suppression system’s ability to detect a fire and suppress if required.

The bottom line is that fire safety is a serious issue. Of course, it is to be hoped that the fire-protection systems will never be activated, but if there is an incident you want to be assured that they will do their job properly.

Do not fall into the trap, either, of thinking that your site is not as vulnerable to fire dangers as some others. While it is clear to most that a fire at a petrochemical site could have catastrophic consequences, it is also true and, unfortunately, occurs whereby a fire in a commercial building has disastrous outcomes for personnel on that site.

Properly serviced and maintained fire-suppression systems can quickly detect fires, douse them and give occupants time to evacuate sites rapidly and safely. Such peace of mind is priceless.

Servicing and maintenance of fire-suppression systems should be left to the experts. Talk to us to find out more.

Also read – 3 steps to effective fire-suppression.

Could your business benefit from some expert fire protection advice?