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Fire Alarm -- Maintenance

So they aren't supprised by your being there, or aren't wondering what happened or what you did, talk to them first
People depend on the fire alarm system to always work. Before performing service on someone's fire alarm system, don't surprise them, let them know. When you leave, let them know if it's still working.
Douglas Krantz -- Fire Alarm Engineering Technician, Electronic Designer, Electronic Technician, Writer

Do You Have to Talk to Management Before Service?

By Douglas Krantz

When a technician is doing something, anything, with the fire alarm system - - people are concerned; they don't like being surprised by seeing someone messing around with their life-safety fire alarm system. They really want to know what is going on.

Whether it's a person who lives or works there, it's a building manager or owner, it's a custodian or caretaker, it's a building engineer or facilities director, when any one of these people discovers someone working on the fire alarm system, they'll check with someone that they know is in charge.

If those in charge of the building haven't heard about the service, serious questions come to mind. In the back of their mind people wonder:
  • Am I in danger?
  • Is the system in danger of sounding off and disrupting normal operations?
  • Is the fire alarm system working in the first place?
  • Will the fire alarm system be working when this person leaves?
  • Is this person authorized to work on the system?

False Fire Alarms

Then, if the alarms sound without warning, the questions get worse.

Remember, the technician is usually on site because something is wrong with the fire alarm system. Just opening the door to the fire alarm control panel or just pressing reset has been known to set off the bells and whistles. Even though the possibility is remote, when this kind of thing happens, these bells and whistles suddenly sounding get everyone's attention.

Once the alarms sound, the questions are now being asked by everyone at once, and the questions being asked are more intense.

On Arrival - Talk to People

Before even touching the fire alarm system, it helps to talk to the people in charge. The managers and maintenance people have a much better idea of the procedures to use and the precautions that should be taken.

When Leaving - Talk to People

Once the work is complete, letting management know what was done is important. Because they knew the fire alarm system was being worked on, failure to let them know what was done is an issue.

They wonder:
  • Is the work finished?
  • Is the system normal?
  • Is there something to worry about?
  • If there's a fire, will the system warn anyone?
  • Is anyone still in danger?
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Just Let People Know

When working on the fire alarm system, on arrival - before the building management discovers a technician working on the fire alarm system - or when finished - before leaving - let the management know what's going on. They'll appreciate the information.


Douglas Krantz

Describing How It Works

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Electrical Flow

On this website, most references to electrical flow are to the movement of electrons.

Here, electron movement is generally used because it is the electrons that are actually moving. To explain the effects of magnetic forces, the movement of electrons is best.

Conventional current flow, positive charges that appear to be moving in the circuit, will be specified when it is used. The positive electrical forces are not actually moving -- as the electrons are coming and going on an atom, the electrical forces are just loosing or gaining strength. The forces appear to be moving from one atom to the next, but the percieved movement is actually just a result of electron movement. This perceived movement is traveling at a consistent speed, usually around two-thirds the speed of light. To explain the effects of electrostatic forces, the movement of positive charges (conventional current) is best.

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