The title of this article is not meant to make you smile. Most Electrical Contractor readers work in the contracting business. But, on a daily basis, personnel and clients likely bombard you with requests to take on a new challenge and to do a better job at the work already being performed.
In my 40-plus years in fire protection, I have learned that electrical contractors (ECs) sell and install the lion’s share of fire alarm systems in medium- to large-size buildings. Most of these contractors also finish the installation, pass the acceptance test and move on to the next project.
Too often, contractors seem to assume that only Article 760 of NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC), applies to fire alarm installations. I have witnessed many jobs where this has been the case. In fact, other NEC sections also apply.
We never have enough time in our daily lives, but do you ever stop to think about where you want to be in the future? Strategic planning is important for personal and corporate growth. It will help you determine the types of training programs you and your staff need to meet your goals.
Where do you begin? The technician inside all of us wants to immediately lay out the design on the plans, but that should not be your first move. Instead, determine what goals the owner and other relevant stakeholders want the building’s fire protection system to do.
I have often described the reliability of a fire alarm system installation as dependent on four elements: design, equipment, installation and maintenance. I have also explained that the last two elements contribute the most to a fire alarm system’s operational reliability.
Designers, contractors and authorities having jurisdiction often misunderstand the term “survivable.” They presume it means the installer has chosen to use either a Class A wiring scheme or has placed the circuits in metal raceway.
Residential home fire alarm protection methods can be broken down into two distinct applications: stand-alone detection devices, known as smoke alarms or carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, and combination fire alarm and detection systems that employ smoke detectors and CO detectors connected to a resident
When I am performing construction administration services for my clients and ask contractors why they installed the fire alarm system the way they did, they often lament, “That’s all the code required!”
There’s some good news in the construction arena: A significant number of new college dormitories and multifamily residential properties have recently broken ground or will do so soon. Reports indicate that more projects are in the pipeline.
When maintaining low-voltage systems, there is little to guide you as to when to schedule service, other than your experience with the equipment’s past performance and the recommendations of the manufacturer. Or, maybe, you focus on providing on-call service only.
The fire alarm systems industry has changed considerably over the years. Many old-timers can remember a fire alarm system that only detected a fire and sounded an alarm. Nonfire alarm systems did not interface with these fire alarm systems.
A contractor installed a new fire alarm system in a college dormitory and asked the owner, “How thoroughly do you want me to test the fire alarm system?” I was there to witness the system’s pre-acceptance test before we called the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to arrange for the final acceptan