Results 1 to 20 of 20
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Posts
    885

    Default Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    I just received an email from a REA asking about how to test smoke alarms in a condo with a sprinkler system. Not having any experience in that, I told her I would look into it. So - anyone have an good appropriate answer?

    Similar Threads:
    Inspection Referral SOC
    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    North Central Texas
    Posts
    472

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    I just received an email from a REA asking about how to test smoke alarms in a condo with a sprinkler system. Not having any experience in that, I told her I would look into it. So - anyone have an good appropriate answer?
    The two are usually not connected, but, condo smokes are sometimes connected to the fire department. False alarms can be expen$ive.

    Texas Inspector
    http://www.texasinspector.com
    What the plainspoken man lacks in subtlety, he makes up in clarity.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    4,170

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Ditto. I don't test smokes where there are sprinkler systems or active alarm systems. The chance of interconnected systems along with false alarms is too great. I don't want to be the one to pay for the false alarm.
    Of course I always recommend following the NFPA recommendations of replacing the smoke detectors so the point is moot as far as I am concerned.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    condo smokes are sometimes connected to the fire department. False alarms can be expen$ive.
    Condo alarms are usually connected to a monitored system, test the alarm in one condo and it is quite probable that ALL of the alarms in the condo building will go off ... but having everyone come out of their units screaming 'SHUT THAT THING OFF' is nothing compared to explaining to the firefighters (who were called by the alarm company without you even knowing it) that you were 'testing the smoke detectors' will not be funny to them, and, as Aaron said, the cost of a false alarm can be expensive (someone has to pay for the trucks, other equipment, and the firefighters who responded ).

    I would explain that testing the fire alarm system is done annually (should be done annually) by the fire alarm company and that the Fire Marshall probably also does an annual inspection and checks the inspection logs to make sure the system inspection is still current.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Like many things in condos, the HOA should have the information. As far as what should be done, JP pretty much has it covered.

    In a newer high-rise that a family member of mine owns a unit that they rent out, the HOA contacts them once a year and the tenant must be notified. The fire department physically enters each unit briefly to make sure nothing has been tampered with and that the emergency speaker is unobstructed and basically that everything is as it should be (no hoarding, etc.).

    As for my inspections, if I don't recognize it as a mainstream standard smoke detector I don't push any buttons. Some inspectors in my area totally disclaim anything to do with smoke detectors - as in no testing.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    869

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Anytime the system is being tested, it should be done by the alarm service company. There are times that other work being done may set off the alarm. Whomever is monitoring the alarm should be notified ahead of time and they will take the system offline. The alarm company can turn off or disconnect the system/audible alarm, and of course the smoke heads should be protected against contamination.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Posts
    885

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Thank people! All your comments were great and helpful.

    Dang, I usually post something that unintentionally gets a row going. Perhaps we are entering a calmer and more peaceful year. (Yeah right!)

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,746

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    Thank people! All your comments were great and helpful.

    Dang, I usually post something that unintentionally gets a row going. Perhaps we are entering a calmer and more peaceful year. (Yeah right!)
    I had intended to not say anything, however since you provoked me...

    First
    I have no experience with condo fire alarm systems, so what I'm saying is just an opinion, if it's worth anything.

    I would not think that smoke detectors in a condo would be connected to an alarm system for the entire association.
    I say this because, if interconnected and someone burnt the toast is unit A, all the others alarms would also sound. Seams like a lot of fire alarms would be going off needlessly. Add to that if the fire department responded every time.
    I think it more likely that each condo has it's own fire detection (monitored or not) independent of all the other alarms.
    The association may have a fire alarm system in the common areas.

    Sometimes fire alarms only consist of pull stations, it may not even have smoke detectors.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,549

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    I had intended to not say anything, however since you provoked me...

    First
    I have no experience with condo fire alarm systems, so what I'm saying is just an opinion, if it's worth anything.
    Rick, now you've pee'd Me off, commenting on how it should be when you said yourself you don't know !!
    Happy New Year. everybody and best wishes to all.

    Let the Fire Marshal test the alarm systems in a condo building. Simple comment in the report and move on.
    There are a variety of systems, and the better ones can isolate parts of the building without alarming every unit. There will be a control panel near the lobby if that's the case.

    Don't mix smoke detectors with smoke alarms with fire alarms with sprinklers, cuz they are not all alike.
    Burning toast can lead to an electrical fire can lead to smoke damage to suites above and water damage to suites below. Better believe they are interconnected. Don't touch them.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Maybe I have been lucky but I always test the smoke detectors, even in condos. I have yet to find that it was connected to the fire panel. The fire panel is usually connected to pull stations and to a flow switch on the sprinkler system if one is present. I have never found one that had the unit's smoke detectors connected.

    As to inspections, the fire panel and sprinkler controls are inspected annually (or in some cases semi-annually) and I check these to ensure that the inspection card or sticker shows them inspected and tested in the past 12 months.

    Robert Sole
    REM Inspections LLC
    www.REMinspections.com, Orlando, Oviedo

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Sole View Post
    Maybe I have been lucky but I always test the smoke detectors, even in condos.
    You ARE one lucky dude!

    I have yet to find that it was connected to the fire panel. The fire panel is usually connected to pull stations and to a flow switch on the sprinkler system if one is present. I have never found one that had the unit's smoke detectors connected.
    You must inspect old condos, I presume ... ... as it is the newer condos which have monitored systems ... SHOULD HAVE monitored systems.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
    Posts
    885

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Just a thought. I understand the test button on standard smoke detectors only tests the power and annuciator not all the electronics. I don't think we could afford detectors that performed a complete self-diagnostic. I certainly hope the system is wired so that a "push to test" operation would not set off everything. It makes one wonder though when you run across a house with a security system, push a detector "Test" button, the alarm sounds for a few seconds, and the alarm system starts yelling out a warning about it. The service was not active but the system was, i.e., no one called or came pounding on the door.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,746

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    I understand the test button on standard smoke detectors only tests the power and annuciator not all the electronics.
    Pressing the test button DOES test the detectors ability to detect smoke
    It is not just making it beep


    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Brooks View Post
    I don't think we could afford detectors that performed a complete self-diagnostic. I certainly hope the system is wired so that a "push to test" operation would not set off everything. It makes one wonder though when you run across a house with a security system, push a detector "Test" button, the alarm sounds for a few seconds, and the alarm system starts yelling out a warning about it. The service was not active but the system was, i.e., no one called or came pounding on the door.
    I have not seen "push to test" buttons on professionally installed detectors that are part of an alarm system. There may be some, but I have not seen any that I remember.


    Basically
    I think it's safe to say, if there is a "push to test" button, then it safe to push the test button.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    You ARE one lucky dude!



    You must inspect old condos, I presume ... ... as it is the newer condos which have monitored systems ... SHOULD HAVE monitored systems.
    One of the last ones I inspected was built in 2001 or 2002. I don't think it is that old.

    Robert Sole
    REM Inspections LLC
    www.REMinspections.com, Orlando, Oviedo

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Sole View Post
    One of the last ones I inspected was built in 2001 or 2002. I don't think it is that old.
    How many stories was the building?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    That one in particular was 4 stories although I have inspected others that were much higher. They were 90's buildings though.

    Robert Sole
    REM Inspections LLC
    www.REMinspections.com, Orlando, Oviedo

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
    Posts
    1,394

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Condo alarms are usually connected to a monitored system, test the alarm in one condo and it is quite probable that ALL of the alarms in the condo building will go off ...
    I've never run into that. I just tested the smoke alarms in a condo with a sprinkler system Monday morning. No problems. I have never run into interconnected systems on high rise condos, but we don't have any recently built high rises here.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
    Posts
    4,549

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Lon, what you and Robert are saying is that an alarm could go off in an unoccupied condo unit and no one else in the building would be alerted? That is unlikely here, except in the very old buildings that have never been renovated.

    If the alarm in a condo unit is wired, I won't touch it. Odds are that the alarm are interconnected, and they may well be monitored by a security company.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Bennett (Denver metro), Colorado
    Posts
    1,394

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    I occasionally see two types of alarms in condos. There will be just regular smoke detectors like you see in most residences. Then there will be one that is clearly part of an interconnected system with the rest of the condo building. Normally, I don't see a test button on those, but I won't test those if there is a test button.

    If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: Testing Smoke alarms with sprinkler systems

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Lon, what you and Robert are saying is that an alarm could go off in an unoccupied condo unit and no one else in the building would be alerted? That is unlikely here, except in the very old buildings that have never been renovated.

    If the alarm in a condo unit is wired, I won't touch it. Odds are that the alarm are interconnected, and they may well be monitored by a security company.
    That should be unlikely for Robert to find in Orlando, and those detectors should be connected to a monitored system, especially for a building constructed the last 10 or so years.

    I recommend calling the local building department and asking when that went into effect there.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •