Sunday, June 12, 2011

When is a Fire System too old to be passed? It depends

I was recently called to evaluate a Fire Alarm system in an old office building to determine if it still functions and could be used to properly protect the building. It was a 30 year old Fire-Lite 112 Miniscan and even thou it still functions I said no it should be replaced.
The reason is because over the last 30+ years I have seen numerous times where these panels have stopped operating all together and never gave indication there was a problem. Not a good thing especially since I ran across 2 more of these systems being used in Old personnel Care homes which are being turned into homes for at risk youths which are required to be monitored for fire and trouble signals and since these panels do not have a built in trouble relay for monitoring and the trouble relay adapter is no longer made and panels supported they need replaced Period.
now I am not picking on Fire-Lite there are also 2500 series Edwards panels I have seen with this same problem and refuse to pass them as well. The whole problem is many of these older panels are now starting to have problems as there electronic components like capacitors start to corrode and go bad. Back then panels where mostly hand built and soldered not like today where it is all done by robots. Also back then they did not understand Power spikes and surges as well and the panels where not well designed against these problems. Now sure you could hire any other alarm company to come in and they will certify the panel fine and dandy but there techs. do not have the master level skills and trouble shooting experience I have to see these problems
and too many alarm company's and there employees just do not give a dam in quality of there work they perform they just slap an inspection tag on it and collect there money. But in the end if the system fails and there is a catastrophe who pays.
But lets look at realty most electronics are good for 10-20 years and yes some can go much longer with proper care etc. But when it comes to life safety why would you take the chance.
This is not like a radio or TV not working some ones life is on the line, and If you would Contact manufacturers about these panels they would also agree they have served there purpose as well as they have not supported them for many years now.It is time to retire them to a museum.

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