Inspecting Commercial Building Life Safety Systems

Inspecting Commercial Building Life Safety Systems

Commercial building life safety systems are more than just fire and smoke alarms. Here are some other components not to overlook at the next life safety system inspection.

While energy-efficiency and building automation technologies are continually upgrading, one must not forget to keep this critical commercial building feature in top condition: the life safety systems. The life safety system is made of many components and devices that work to protect the building’s infrastructure and its occupants during a potentially life-threatening emergency. More than just detection and notification of emergencies like a fire or earthquake, the safety system functions to supervise, control, and communicate. Commercial buildings rely on the system to monitor and react to threats. Let’s further explore these functions to emphasize the importance of inspecting a commercial building’s life safety systems.

Supervising Devices

While it’s the facility manager’s responsibility to schedule routine inspections of the system and devices, a commercial building life safety system often has built-in capabilities to report on the status of alarms, sprinklers, detection devices, and other emergency response systems. Like a comprehensive electronic security system, these devices work together with other building automation systems to react correctly in the event of an emergency. Detection devices like smoke alarms, fire alarms, and carbon monoxide gas detectors must be working correctly and be sufficiently powered to trigger the next actions in the system. 

Control Building Functions

When the working devices do detect signs of danger, the system controls other building functions to carry out specific tasks. These programmed measures protect occupants, facilitate in the evacuation, and help aid and rescue responders. In a fire situation, the sprinklers will come on, the fire doors will seal off certain passageways, and smoke dampers will activate in the HVAC system. Additionally, some doors or gates might even be wired to override security protocols to allow for a quick escape and to let emergency responders into the building. To aid in the evacuation of occupants and help emergency responders navigate the facility, the stairwell pressurization mechanisms and emergency lighting will come on — powered by a back-up generator or batteries in case the electricity goes out. Performing routine tests on the commercial building life safety systems require that the components all work with the other building systems.

Communicate During Emergencies

The communication function also goes beyond alarms and sirens. A notification system should be in place to send messages or address the public that there is a situation on the premises. The information can include where to avoid and how to proceed for safety. Many alarms automatically notify the local emergency services that the building is in crisis. Commercial buildings also have firefighter telephones, commonly found in the elevators. In the event the responders’ radios or other communication device fails during their operation, the closed firefighter phone system can still let them coordinate efforts within the building. These phones aren’t capable of making other calls and only connect with other phones in the building. Make checking these firefighter telephones a regular part of the life safety system inspection.


At Critical Systems, the people come first, from our employees to our customers. We strive to attract and develop the best talent in the business. Our goal is to deliver innovative solutions for the purpose of making every building secure, efficient, and effectively managed. Serving the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia, and Baltimore regions, SEBCSI provides innovative solutions for your commercial building or facility. Visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn today! If you’re looking for more information or interested in working with us on your next project, please contact us!

This entry was posted on Monday, December 16th, 2019 at 12:10 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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