Fire Alarm System Testing & Inspection, Part II



In our last post, we discussed why regular testing and inspection of a facility’s life safe system is both required and in a property manager’s best interest.  What, then, should a proper test and inspection consist of?  In this post, we’ll address proper smoke detector testing.

A true test of a fire alarm system ensures the system will operate as it was commissioned.  Smoke detectors need to activate with an appropriate amount of smoke present.  Most testers just pump smoke into the detector until it activates.  This only ensures that the smoke detector will eventually activate, not whether it will operate before conditions become dangerous.  A proper NFPA 72 smoke detector test will utilize a smoke generator, which introduces a measured amount of smoke into the smoke chamber to ensure the detector’s sensitivity is proper.  A smoke detector’s sensitivity can also be obtained through the fire panel’s report section, though some approving authorities (notably healthcare) require a functional sensitivity test. Be sure your testing company is testing per the method your approving authority requires, as you will be cited if the testing is not done properly, not the testing company.  It’s best to remember that smoke detectors tested by NFPA 72 standards will operate when needed, and that’s the real aim of code compliance.

Affiliated Fire Systems has the equipment, expertise and support you need to install, test & inspect a problem free fire alarm and/or emergency voice system. If you have any questions regarding your life safety needs, contact us via our ‘Contact Us’ page on our website, or email me directly at

About Gene Rowe

Gene Rowe serves as the Director of Business Development for Affiliated Customer Service. He brings twenty three years of fire alarm and emergency voice systems experience to the table with both an operational and marketing viewpoint. A US Army veteran, NICET certified, an executive board member of the IL-AFAA and a member of the NFPA, he began his career establishing operational expertise as a technician, developed graphic skills with CAD design as a general engineer, gained a ‘big picture’ mindset by moving to project management and finally a marketing perspective directing business development efforts. By interfacing with a broad range of diverse organizations such as the AFAA, CAA, AIA, CEA and the IFIA, he combines concerns of the owner, designer of record, contractor, distributor and approving authority to bring a unique perspective to Affiliated.

An avid marathon runner, he resides in west suburban Chicago with his wife and two sons. He's served the community as a Cub Scout Leader, as well as coaching multiple levels of travel and park district basketball and baseball teams. Professionally, he serves as the Treasurer and is on the Board of Directors for the Illinois chapter of the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (IL-AFAA).

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