Because the fire alarm system often represents a small percentage of the overall bid for most projects work, building foremen often spend less time understanding the system design and rarely plan the fire alarm system installation.
If you have experienced installations this way, you surely have experienced the typical unfortunate results at the project’s completion: the fire alarm system is not complete or is not code compliant and is holding up the certificate of occupancy. And even though the balance of your fire sprinkler system work was installed on time and in a quality manner, the project gets delayed and they cannot open their building.
As you might imagine, there are some guidelines we follow that will help to avoid these "end-of-project" catastrophes. First, we understand the design. We know the National Fire Alarm Code and NEC installation requirements as well as the local requirements and are proactive.
We ash whether or not the owner has any special requirements and find out whether or not the system is being installed at the request of an insurance provider. For example, if that insurance provider is FM Global, the spacing for some detection devices may be more stringent than those allowed by UL and NFPA 72-2002.
Taking the time to understand the importance of developing a “specialty” installation crew trained in the installation of fire alarm systems, is a priority to us. We don’t like to change crews or foreman in the middle of a project. Thorpe's Fire Systems in Idaho ensures that we are trained by the fire alarm system equipment supplier and ensure that the supplier has allocated installation oversight for assistance to our journeyman/foreman during the installation.
When accepting bids for fire alarm equipment we look beyond the price. Often a manufacturer will require special cable or special back boxes, we deal with a suppliers who will ensure that your installation personnel know about these issues.
Our technicians are trained to understand when the code allows T-tapping of a circuit connecting detection devices. Some contractors wrongly assume that any addressable system circuit may be T-tapped. This is true only for Class B or Style .5, 1, 3, 3.5, 4 or 4.5 signaling line circuits. Class A or Style 2, 5, 6, and 7 can not be wired in a T-tap fashion.
We are careful to calculate the number of notification appliances (horns, strobes, etc.) that are planned for each notification circuit. Given the high current draw of strobes, it is easy to overload a circuit, which can result in costly repairs at the end of the project. Thorpe's Fire Systems is ahead of the installation, giving you the safe system you need, at the pace you want. We take into account that detection devices cannot be installed until after the construction cleanup of all of the other trades is complete and final (NFPA 72-2002, Section 188.8.131.52). When planning the actual installation, we make sure to include time to 100 percent test the entire system before calling the authority having jurisdiction for the acceptance test!
What we do:
1. Understand the design
2. Know local requirements
3. Understand the insurance requirements
4. Determine the owner’s special requirements
5. Understand the National Fire Alarm Code
6. Understand the Fire Alarm requirements of the National Electrical Code
8. Ensure junction boxes are sized properly and consider using terminal boxes
9. Train our electricians; develop a “specialty” fire alarm system installation crew
10. Don’t change foreman in the middle of project
11. Train our electricians
13. Don’t overload notification circuits
14. Consult with the manufacturer for specific types of cable or special back boxes that may be required
15. Competitively bid equipment, but ensure the equipment can do the job!
16. Allow enough time for complete system testing
Installing a fire alarm system is a great responsibility, one that we have been trusted with for years.
If your workplace uses a fire detection system that was designed and installed to meet the fire protection requirements.
This section will help you achieve the maximum benefit from your fire detection system by addressing the following issues: