Install & Maintain Reliable School Fire Alarms on Your Campus
By Andrew Erickson
April 30, 2023
The safety of students and staff is always a top priority for any educational institution. When it comes to fire safety, school fire alarms are a critical component of your emergency plan. In the event of a fire, a properly functioning fire alarm can mean the difference between life and death.
But, as a technical person charged with completing a fire alarm project for your school, what exactly do you need to do? Let me walk you through some reminders about why this mission is so important. We’ll then dive together into the fundamentals of how you can get started with your project – whatever your spec.
Why is Effective Fire Alarm Monitoring So Important on Campus?
School campuses are bustling with activity throughout the day, with students and faculty moving from classrooms to labs and various other areas.
A fire can happen at any time, and the safety of students and faculty depends on the speed and accuracy of the response.
You have a high density of people in school buildings. What's more, most of them are children. This is a place deserving of the best fire protection possible.
Specifically, there are several reasons why good alarm monitoring is so important on your campus:
- Rapid Notification of Emergency Responders: In the event of a fire, seconds can make a significant difference. An effective fire alarm monitoring system immediately notifies emergency responders, including the fire department, so they can quickly arrive at the scene of the fire. This prompt notification helps reduce the risk of injuries and property damage.
- Protection of Students and Staff: An effective fire alarm monitoring system ensures that everyone on campus is alerted to the danger and can evacuate safely. It also ensures that emergency responders are quickly notified, reducing the risk of injuries or fatalities resulting from a slowed response time.
- Reminders for Preventive Maintenance: An effective fire alarm monitoring system not only alerts emergency responders in the event of a fire, but it also detects potential hazards before they become a major issue. Regular maintenance of the system helps ensure that it is functioning correctly and can detect any potential problems before they become a significant issue. A reminder to perform scheduled maintenance can be a type of "Trouble" or "Status" alarm message.
- Peace of Mind for Everyone on Campus: It's true that, ideally, students and teachers on campus don't need to think much about fire alarms. Beyond fire drills, this is solely your responsibility as the person setting up the system. Still, effective fire alarm monitoring gives everyone on campus the peace of mind that they will be alerted promptly - and that emergency responders will arrive quickly.
Fire Alarm Monitoring is an Ongoing Challenge You Must Address
The parts of a fire alarm system you commonly think of as a layperson, like smoke detectors and pull handles, are just the beginning. An alarm needs to be more than just a loud siren and flashing lights to be truly effective.
Fire alarm monitoring at your campus/university is the next link in the chain and another essential part of fire safety. It ensures that emergency responders are notified as quickly as possible in the event of a fire.
In turn, this allows them to arrive on the scene as quickly as possible. They'll then check the building's fire alarm control panel (FACP) for up-to-the-second information. With a full site picture, first responders can then begin extinguishing the fire before it can spread and cause harm to people or property.
As an employee of a university or college, it is your responsibility to ensure that your campus is safe and secure. This includes having an adequate fire alarm monitoring system in place. Failure to comply with NFPA fire code (NFPA 72, in particular) can result in significant penalties, including fines and liability for negligence.
Choosing the Right Fire Alarm Monitoring System is Critical
To ensure that your campus is compliant with all relevant NFPA fire codes, it’s important to choose a fire alarm monitoring system that meets the requirements of the code and your local regulations.
It’s also important to work with a company that has a long history of successful projects and can provide expert guidance and support. Of course, you’ll likely end up using different companies for manufacturing and for installation/maintenance. The same rule of seeking experience and expertise applies to all of them equally.
As an example of the purchasing environment (and so you understand where I’m coming from), Digitize manufactures and sells fire alarm monitoring systems that can be tailored to the specific needs of your university or college.
We commonly use distributors, so you’re likely to use one of a few that serve your area for purchase of both Digitize equipment and installation and maintenance services
Of course, just because we use Distributors doesn’t mean that you can’t call Digitize to talk through your project spec. We will absolutely help you find and select the best fire alarm system for your campus. We can help you locate either a paid central station or discuss central monitoring servers that allow you to monitor your fire alarms yourself.
You are Ultimately Responsible for Getting This Right
School fire alarms are critical to the safety of students and staff on any educational campus. On top of that, fire alarm monitoring ensures that emergency responders are notified as quickly as possible in the event of a fire, which can save lives and prevent property damage.
As an employee/administrator of a university or college, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your campus has an adequate fire alarm monitoring system in place.
Call Digitize to Discuss Your Campus Fire Alarms
At Digitize, we manufacture fire alarm monitoring tools that you install in a control room on your campus.
Working with a company like Digitize can help ensure that your campus is compliant with NFPA fire code and that your students and staff are safe in the event of a fire.
To discuss your project (no matter what stage you’re in currently), just call 1-800-523-7232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 16 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and...Read More