Should you be checking all this if you’re performing the annual test on fire alarm system? Darn tootin’ you better be! Add the fact that the batteries are undersized, the annunciator is wired incorrectly, and the Edwards 6700 EVCS system has been substantially modified makes this system a perfect candidate for a DOUBLE Brickee (the technician performing the annual service on the system is the subject of a full on investigation by ASTTBC). Should the system even have been accepted/Verified? Most definitely NOT! The Verifier happens to be a manufacturer trained technician (thankfully he’s NOT directly employed by MIRCOM) and sanctioned the incorrect installation of the fire alarm equipment here, not once, but THREE TIMES in three separate Verifications as evidenced by the sticker which also happened to be prominently displayed on the common control (not shown in this image)!
The level of incompetence demonstrated here is beyond the pale. It hardly matters that the panel was originally installed in 2002 (the manufacturer’s installation instructions haven’t changed all that much). I noticed that he also Verified the installation of a communicator (via a reference to “Verified monitoring” on one of the lines on the sticker). The communicator, in this instance, is powered from the same circuit as the fire alarm control panel (a definite NO-NO in BOTH applicable Standards – CAN/ULC-S524 & CAN/ULC-S561 – even back “in the day”).
So let’s fast forward to another (and much more recent) jobsite here in the Lower Mainland in which this same Verifier also found himself involved. That system (located in Delta, B. C.) comprises a POTTER extinguishment panel on a pre-action valve for the sprinkler installation in a flash freezer. So far so good. Linear heat detection cable was installed in the freezer, manufactured by Protectowire. Protectowire makes six versions of this specialty cable, only two of which are rated (and ULC Listed) for applications in which ambient temperatures are expected to fall below zero degrees Celsius. Neither one of these approved cable assemblies was installed. Once again, this same Verifier chose to IGNORE the manufacturer’s recommendations and the requirements of CAN/ULC-S524-06 to issue a “clear” Verification Appendix “C” report on a non-compliant system. I should also mention that, when last I checked, he still happens to be restricted to the Verification of MIRCOM panels only (at least in Vancouver).
I’m currently embroiled in a small dispute with the owner/contractor of a warehouse in Pitt Meadows (a small community just outside of Vancouver). The sprinkler contractor advised the owner that chain-locking a new sprinkler valve for a paint booth in the “open” position is an acceptable alternative to the Building Code requirement for electrical supervision. The owner also needs a “clear report” for what he considers “base building” when substantial alterations (and a tenant engaged in manufacturing construction related goods) was already setting up shop when I got called in to Verify the fire alarm system. I’m supposed to ignore the mezzanine, the requirement for additional visual signalling appliances, and the paint booth. Go figure!
Where does such wrong-headed information (and thinking) spring from? From simple phrases like:
“We want to save the owner/contractor money!” “We’ll do the job cheaper than the other guy!” “We’ll Verify it, no problem!”
“MUM” is NOT the Woid!
Here’s another phrase I often hear:
“My boss doesn’t want me to say anything because it’s going to open a big can of worms.”
Let’s get one thing straight here. I don’t want you to lose your job. I don’t want you to rock the boat. I DO want you to recognize that, as a professional, REGISTERED (or CERTIFIED, as may be the case) technician, you are mandated to identify potential hazards or non-compliant systems, and (if warranted) bring these to the attention of the local jurisdictional authority. This is an important aspect of your job (if you’re ASTTBC Registered it’s most clearly defined in Principal 9 of your Practice Guideline). I can go on and on about the number of Burning Brick Awards we were handing out (many more were in the queue when we decided to change the way they are published), but what we really have to change is the attitude of the people on the ground, the members of the technician communities that are integral to both the CFAA and the ASTTBC technician certification programs. This means YOU!
Fire equipment service companies in the Lower Mainland are looking for qualified professional technicians. There IS most definitely a shortage. It is indeed a sad commentary when you consider that this shortage also happens to extend to the ranks of those formally registered (and formerly registered) with both ASTTBC and CFAA.
RECOMMENDED ADDITIONAL READING:
Our new series examines the Fire Alarm Verification process in depth.
Our Editorial EXTRA! (April 2015) - The Wolf on the Board!
Our Open Letter to ASTTBC (March 2014 Editorial)
Our September 2014 Editorial
Our August 2014 Editorial
More comments concerning ASTTBC technicians are in in our May 2012 Editorial
ASTTBC Complaint Outcomes (This actually makes for some pretty scary reading.)
CAN/ULC-S536 DO’S AND DON’T’S - Special Reports
AHJ Training Courses are being offered by two (2) Canadian national associations:
- The Canadian Fire Alarm Association (CFAA) - Please visit their website (link below) for information on one being held in your area.
- The Fire Technicians Network (FTN) - Feel free to visit our Training Centre for available dates and cities! To make arrangements for us to present our two day Course Programme in YOUR municipality, please Contact Us for details!
Canadian Fire Alarm Technician Certification:
Fire Protection Equipment Technicians (Extinguisher Service):
Fire Protection Equipment Technicians (British Columbia):
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