Ask the Technician
T K Asked:Your advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Our condo complex consists of three buildings; two have CFI FACP systems and the largest building has a Siemens FACP, together they comprise 320 residential units. The manufacturers have indicated they will no longer support these systems (spare parts); an independent outside review shows they still have a useful life of 20 years if properly maintained. Can you suggest how we can get the parts we may need in the future?
Douglas Krantz Answered:No, I'm not sure where to get spare parts. Check with the people maintaining your system to see if they still have new parts on their shelf.
ChoicesThere are some other things to take into account, though. Choices made now affect what happens later.
Not SupportedThe manufacturers of your fire alarm systems have indicated that they will no longer support the systems you have. In other words, if your systems don't detect fire, or don't notify residents of the fire, the manufactures have said "It's no longer our problem".
But then again, an independent outside review shows that you systems have a useful life of 20 years (if properly maintained).
PartsThe parts you refer to will come in three varieties.
Emergency ReplacementIf for some reason parts are not immediately available, a problem that you may not have considered is that these systems have to be replaced on an emergency basis. As time goes on, the possibility of emergency replacement changes from remote possibility, to high probability, and finally to certainty.
Emergency replacement fire alarm systems always cost a lot more:
In all of this, the home owners have to pay for the whole system immediately, without any real notice.
Degrade Over TimeKeep in mind that the parts being used in the fire alarm system degrade over time, and that parts just sitting on the shelf also degrade over time.
Useful LifeThe useful life being referred to by the independent outside company comes with caveats or warnings: 20 years - - if.
Over time, what I've seen is that these caveats take a huge toll. You can replace the fire alarm systems at a time that you choose, or you can replace them on an emergency basis. However, the fire alarm systems will have to be replaced - that's a given.
BudgetEven after obtaining spare parts, the wise choice is to plan on spending money for new fire alarm systems. Get three budgetary bids (let the companies know these bids are for budgetary planning and not for actual installation). Use these bids to see how much money you have to save up. Start saving money now and then replace the fire alarm systems when you choose to, not when the fire alarm systems choose.