How to Manage a Commercial Fire Alarm System

Most local governments require properly functioning and annually tested fire alarm systems to maintain an occupancy certification. The length of time required to perform the testing and maintenance of the system depends on a variety of factors, including how large the system is. Properly maintain commercial fire alarms by inspecting and testing each of the various components.


Commercial systems can have heat, duct, carbon monoxide, ionization and smoke detectors. Each detector type has different recommended guidelines and can include:

  • Remove dust and debris
  • Follow manufacturer’s test guidelines
  • Check detectors following HVAC filter changes
  • Use specialized equipment when required
  • Replace faulty detectors
  • Inspect for dates and replace as needed
  • Use canned smoke to test ionization and carbon monoxide detectors


All properly installed commercial fire alarms come with backup battery power. Batteries can handle a power outage for a predetermined period of time. Over time, batteries drain resulting in an inability to provide the needed power to the system. A battery load tester is the best way to ensure the battery functions when its needed. Immediate replacement of batteries below the 50% threshold should be done. It is also a good idea to replace those within the 50-70% range. Most batteries last 3-5 years under normal application.


Firmware and software updates should be performed periodically. These ensure the electronic components are up to date and issues are corrected. Most updates are handled on an annual basis.


Many systems have warning notification devices such as strobes and horns, but they can fail over time due to deterioration or age. Notification devices are tested by inspecting their operation during an active alarm. Typically, failure results in replacement or wiring/power changes.

Maintaining your commercial fire alarms on an annual basis ensures the system works when you need it most. A professional company specializing in fire alarm systems uses expensive equipment to properly test and maintain the various pieces. A professional can also inspect fire extinguishers, suppression systems and sprinkler systems.