Since the fire alarm systems were designed years ago, different variations in system configurations have been introduced. Depending on building structure complexity, buildings deploy different systems of fire alarm protection. To comply with fire safety regulations, a fire alarm inspection needs to be conducted regularly to make sure fire safety rules are observed and the system is compliant with the provisions of the code.
Although information on the status of all the components within the fire alarm system can be had through the annunciator, inspection is still something that needs to be done. There are possible hazards not readable from the annunciator, which will only turn up with a manual inspection. These include things like improper placement of devices, flammable materials nearby (that will not be detected by the system), badly designed fire exit points, and failing batteries.
An inspector needs to conduct a thorough examination of the fire exit points and check to make sure proper signage is posted at these exits. The same would go for fire alarm strobes and auditory alarm horns which should be placed at these exits to guide people in case of fire, or whether the fire extinguishers are placed strategically, or working properly in the first place.
A routine inspection should also be checking up on the sprinkler system, which needs to cover as much of the building area as possible. Sprinklers need to be spaced out equally from each other, and placed as strategically as possible. A good fire safety inspector will also note the presence of flammable materials and recommend that they be removed, replaced, or sited elsewhere.
A thorough fire alarm inspection usually includes a fire alarm drill that is conducted with the occupants of the building. Normally, these fire drills are carried out several times a year, during which the entire system is tested, and the time taken to get out of the building is also recorded. For this reason, sufficient exit points must be in place and the maximum occupancy listing for the building should not be exceeded. Too many people in the building will slow down evacuation times. All these factors are simulated during a fire drill.