Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
Go to the Writer Home Page of Douglas Krantz -- Describing How It Works
Go to the Fire Alarm Operation Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the General Electrical Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Alarm Description Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Alarm Installing Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Alarm Maintaining Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Alarm Testing Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Suppression Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer

Fire Alarm -- Maintenance

This is the original drawing made by the architect and corrected by the fire alarm installer. The corrected drawing is the As-Built
Here, the original drawings made by the design engineer have been corrected by the fire alarm installer as the installer built fire alarm system. These as-builts will be redrawn at the shop before being turned over to the building owner.
Douglas Krantz -- Fire Alarm Engineering Technician, Electronic Designer, Electronic Technician, Writer


Are As-Built Drawings Available When Needed?

By Douglas Krantz

When available, as-built drawings are used by architects and engineers for remodeling or for designing new additions to the building. They're also used by service technicians when determining the layout of the fire alarm system.

As-Built Drawings Made During Installation

To document the installation, at least nowadays as they build a fire alarm system, installers are the ones that produce an as-built diagram.

When troubleshooting, once the building is finished, these drawings are available to the service technician to see layout of the fire alarm system. At least that is the intention of the NFPA Code.

Problem Getting the As-built Drawings for Troubleshooting

Architects and architectural engineers consider the as-built drawings to be very important, and they're under the impression that these drawings are always available to the people servicing the building.

In reality, for the technician arriving on site to service the system, the as-built drawings are rarely available; there are just too many individual reasons for these drawings to be accessible:
  1. The drawings are at the shop, but the technician just doesn't have time to drive across town, find the drawings at the shop, and then return to fix the fire alarm system.
  2. The building is older so the drawings were never made in the first place.
  3. The wiring layout in the new fire alarm system is from the old system, and the as-built drawings for the old system were never made.
  4. The original drawings were made by a different fire alarm service company so the current service company doesn't have the drawings.
  5. The building has been remodeled or the system has been added to many times, but the original as-builts were never upgraded.
  6. The on-site drawings aren't available because:
    • The drawings may be on site, but:
      • They're buried in a huge pile of other drawings and it will take hours to locate the right one.
      • They're stored in a locked room that no one on site has access to.
    • They were on site at one time, but are now lost.
    • The drawings were originally turned them over to the contractor, who turned them over to the owner, who didn't turn them over to the building engineer.
    • The building never had storage space for drawings - older and mid to small apartment buildings, retail stores, small office buildings, all fall under this category.
    • The drawings on site are architectural drawings and don't show how the fire alarm system was installed.
  7. The drawings that are available are now so fragile that if they're even unrolled, the paper tears apart.
  8. Etc.
Even as the building is remodeled, rarely is anyone on site keeping up the as-built drawings. When someone is keeping up these as-builts, the drawings usually only show building plans and almost never include the fire alarm system wiring.

Troubleshooting Without As-Builts

It goes without saying that from time to time the fire alarm system breaks down and requires troubleshooting. For the technician, to speed up the troubleshooting process, the as-built drawings would be very helpful.

The thing is, unless there is a big change in the method of producing and distributing the as-builts to the technician, the only accessible as-built drawings available for troubleshooting will reside in the head of the service technician. These head-based as-builts will be assembled slowly over time, as the technician discovers the system wiring during regular service to the fire alarm system.


 Get your free diagram showing supervision for Class B wiring

More Articles

Can Fire Alarm Fiber be Run in the Same Conduit as BMS? -- Can fire fiber riser be run in the same riser conduit with BMS? We only have one riser conduit for both. The engineers are saying we need two separate conduits, your thoughts? Read More

What is a Ground Fault? -- With the exception of the ground fault circuitry inside the fire alarm control panel (FACP) itself, the wiring for fire alarm systems has... Read More

Can Phone Lines, Fire Alarm Cables, and 120-240 Cables be Put Together? -- Besides the legal aspects, fire and safety issues, there's the interference problem. The voltages and currents from the 120-240 volt cables will be cross-talking to the low voltage cables. How much cross talk is produced will be affected by the actual currents in the high voltage cable, how tight they... Read More

Can the Alarm Relay Contacts Be Used For Elevevator Capture? -- Usually those contacts activate with any alarm. To keep the elevator from being captured when a smoke detector in any part of the building goes... Read More

Popular Articles

What is a Stair Pressurization Fan (SPF)? -- In case of fire in a high rise building, an SPF uses clean outside air to pressurize the air in stairwells. The pressurized air helps people escape... Read More

How Does Class A Fire Alarm Wiring Work?-- Fire alarm systems save lives and protect property. Fire alarm systems also break down because... Read More

What's the Difference Between Class A and Class B? -- The Fire Alarm System is a Life Safety System - so the occupants of a building can escape quickly, the idea behind a Fire Alarm System is that it will provide a warning that there is a fire. The trouble is, if something is wrong with the system, like a wire is broken somewhere in the building, the Fire Alarm System... Read More

What is a Flyback Diode? -- Someone Thinks the Flyback Diode is Important. Manufacturers all over the world spend good money installing these diodes, they must think they're ... Read More

What is a Waterflow Switch? -- The fire alarm waterflow switch, a delayed action mechanical/electrical assembly, is a conventionally wired fire alarm device. The fire department reacts... Read More

What Should I Do When the Fire Alarm Sounds? -- When the alarm sounds, as caretaker for an apartment building, what should you be doing? "I would never suggest turning off the fire alarms, or in any way... Read More

What is a Fire Alarm System? -- Long ago, as earliest method of spreading the word of fire danger, people shouted "Fire!" Depending on the circumstances, people would run... Read More

What Does E=IR Really Mean? -- If it isn't just a word, and it isn't really something to be memorized in order to pass a test, what do the letters in Ohm's Law really mean?... Read More