When installing fire alarms in a commercial building, it is important to understand the requirements for these items. Commercial building fire alarm requirements will vary. However, there are several guidelines set in place to ensure that your business is well-protected from serious fire dangers.

In this guide, we will help you understand fire alarm requirements for commercial buildings and several other valuable items. For example, we will discuss where to place them, how many you must use, and ways to use them safely. As a result, you can stay updated on your commercial building fire alarm requirements and avoid serious dangers.

1: One Must Carefully Design the Proper Location

There are no hard rules on the location of your fire alarm systems. As a result, it is fair to say that fire alarm requirements for commercial buildings are a little looser here. That said, there are guidelines that you should follow.

The best gauge is OSHA’s commercial building fire alarm requirements. These rules state that the number, location, and spacing of such detecting devices needs to be well researched and approved by specialists in a specialized setting.

For example, they can use field experience, laboratory tests, manufacturer requirements, engineering surveys, and other approved methods to help you decide how far apart you need to space your devices. Typically, most people install these systems at doorways, in separate rooms, and at various spots along your hallway walls. Make sure to follow the exact recommendations set down by your specialists to stay within regulation.

a red fire alarm with a pull-down button installed on a building's wall

2: Fire Alarms Must Be Visible

Commercial building fire alarm requirements state that all your alarms must be clearly visible to all occupants in a building. One should also locate them throughout the building in places that are easy for your occupants to reach. For example, it is important to decorate them with red paint and place them at a level that even people with disabilities can reach.

Placing one about three-feet off of the floor is typically a good idea. In this way, people in wheelchairs will be able to pull it. It is also important that you hook up the alarm to a loud alarm system that people can hear throughout the entire building. Typically, alarms are hardwired together electrically to help make this building-wide alarm sound possible.

3: Stairwell Regulations Vary

According to many commercial building fire alarm requirements, it may be possible to remove fire alarm systems from stairwells. This fact doesn’t mean that you can’t install a handle in these areas. In fact, specialists recommend you to install one at the door of every level in a stairwell to ensure they are within the secure grip of anyone climbing the steps.

However, alarm systems in a stairwell may create a loud and echoing noise that distracts or even upsets people during a fire crisis. As a result, it is possible to remove these sound alarms from your stairwells. Make sure to talk to a safety specialist before making this choice. You also need to make sure to install clear labels for your stairwells, including lit exit signs.

4: Emergency Power Is Beneficial

When installing fire alarms in your commercial building, a good backup power system is essential. In fact, commercial building fire alarm requirements may ask you to install a backup power system on your building. There are a few reasons why specialists consider these systems beneficial.

First of all, they make sure that your fire alarms will operate even if the power system to your building fails. Secondly, they provide a consistent source of power for your emergency lights. These lights help direct your building occupants safely out of the building and keep them protected from the dangers of severe fire.

a huge red firefighters' truck with its alarm functioning

5: Zoned Evacuation Regulations

Evacuating an entire building isn’t always necessary during a fire. In many instances, commercial building fire alarm requirements allow you to evacuate only certain zones of a building.

These requirements also let you set up fire alarm systems that activate only in specific parts of the building. For example, a high-rise building alarm system may allow you to warn only certain floors of a fire. Why is this a benefit to you?

It allows you to avoid costly full-building evacuation charges. Thankfully, it also avoids disrupting an entire building due to a small fire. Typically, regulations allow this exception if your building is huge and consists of distinct sections.

Examples of these kinds of buildings include high-rise apartment complexes and sprawling shopping malls. Make sure to talk to your fire alarm specialist first before trying these exceptions.

6: Alarm Delay Should Be Minimal

In some instances, employers or owners of commercial buildings may want to delay the alarm system sound after they pull the initial trigger. Commercial building fire alarm requirements are flexible on an acceptable time for this delay. Typically, a minimal delay is only suggested if it will benefit the safety of your employees or occupants in an emergency situation.

For example, a delay may make it possible for your planning employees to contact others in the building and provide them with guidance. A delay may also help avoid the echoing loudness problematic with stairwell alarm systems. Typically, OSHA requirements state that a delay of no more than 30 seconds is acceptable.

Approving a longer delay will require particular and well-defined circumstances. Otherwise, it will betray fire alarm regulations. Talk to your fire alarm specialists before implementing any significant delay in your fire alarm system.

Final Thoughts

Following these simple commercial building fire alarm requirements ensure that you stay compliant with what the Government expects of you. However, these fire alarm requirements for commercial buildings also ensure that your employees, your customers, and your business investments are safe from the dangers of fires.

So even though updating your business to fit the commercial building fire alarm requirements may be expensive, it will help protect you and save you even more money. That’s why it is worth taking the time to meet these exacting standards and investing your hard-earned money in them.

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