Sunday, February 13, 2011

Salad causes a false fire alarm?


Submitted by Nick Markowitz Jr.
This is definitely one of the stranger False Fire Alarm causes I have come across over the years. But a very Large Salad Bowl filled with Ice was the cause for a false fire alarm
At an Elementary School North of Pittsburgh
It seemed like every time they served Salad for lunch at the school the Fire Alarm would trigger an alarm, which would indicate the Anzul Fire suppression system in the kitchen had activated.
We had activation switches changed rewired the actuator control in case the fire wiring was
grounding out etc and still problems.
The Anzul was on it's own ID point as the system was an older factory Engineered Addressable system put in about 10 years ago by a National Company which was always causing problems for the school district so they asked me to take over maintenance and for the most part I have reduced the false's and other problems. The District intends to completely replace this Factory Engineered system in the near future, as they are totally disgusted by the system.
So Ok the alarm goes off again when there serving Salad and enough was enough
We got every one together ABCO who services the Anzul System, The Cafeteria Workers, and Custodian staff and we reduplicated every thing they do on Salad day and
Bang the Alarm goes off about 20 minutes after they move the salad bowl and table.
OK common sense tells you there is no way the Anzul System could be set off this way.
It must be another component in the system causing the Problem and it is possibly misidentified as the Anzul System.
Myself and ABCO's Tech look and we find that the Heat Detectors in the kitchen have been misidentified in the programming. Now there is no way that a Heat Detector in a kitchen is going to be set off by a cold Salad bowl. Kitchens should use only 185 Degree Fixed Point Units, but with further Examination we find the heat detectors are 135 Degree
Rate of Rise Detectors, which trigger when there is a change in air temp of 15 degrees in
5 minutes, which was what was happening when they moved the salad bowl away from under the heat detector on the ceiling, the heat from the Exhaust hood was high enough to cause the heat to exchange fast enough to trip the detector, which would then reset, as 135 degrees was not exceeded. Needless to say a look a the plans showed that 185 degree units were to be installed so this national company got a call to come and replace the units they failed to install properly. Once again we have a case were plans said one thing and the installer did what he was told even though it was improper and all the false Alarm fees and trips by Technicians would have been completely avoided had the Installer done the right thing.
Would licenses and certification have prevented this? Absolutely not.
The Tech who installed the system was certified to install fire alarms.
And again he knew he would get away with it because by the time the problem was figured out he would be long forgotten .What could have prevented this a full and complete inspection by the AHJ and the Architect .Checking to make sure specifications were complied with.

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