Power Outages and Fire and Life Safety Equipment

Integrated Fire SystemsFire Alarm News

Prepare for Power Outages

Throughout the past few months California has been experiencing PG&E power outages. According to PG&E, “it may be necessary for us to turn off electricity when gusty winds and dry conditions, combined with a heightened fire risk, are forecasted.”

Here in Northern California we are in high fire danger season. We have yet to get any rain and are expected to get heavy wind over the next few days. This means that PG&E has sent out alerts for yet another power outage this week.

While these outages in theory help prevent wildfires, they also create hardships for the people whose power is shut off.

How to Prepare for a Power Outage

Sadly, power outages seem to be Northern California’s new normal. This means that we must take action and prepare for our stints without power. It is suggested by PG&E to take the following steps before and during a power outage.

Before a power outage occurs you should prepare by:

  • Updating your contact information with PG&E so you can receive power outage notifications.
  • Create a safety plan for you and your family.
  • Have a stocked emergency supply kit that includes one week supply of nonperishable food and water.
  • Keep a power bank fully charged so you are able to charge your mobile phone.
  • Avoid using candles for light and make sure that you have flashlights on hand.
  • Stock up on batteries that you rely on.
  • Have cash on hand and a full tank of gas because ATMs and gas stations may not be available.
  • If you have a generator, know how to properly operate it.

During a power outage you should:

  • Unplug or turn off appliances, equipment, and electronics. When power is restored they can be damaged by a power surge.
  • Leave a single lamp on to alert you when the power comes back on.
  • When power is restored turn on your appliances one at a time.
  • As long as your refrigerator and freezer doors are kept closed your fridge should keep its temperature for 4 hours and your freezer should keep its temperature for 48 hours.
  • Be sure to use generators, camp stoves, and charcoal grills outside only to avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide.
How Power Outages Effect Your Fire and Life Safety Equipment

Fire and life safety equipment relies on power to ensure that the alarm will sound and communication can happen between the panel and monitoring center. When power is lost, both fire alarms and security systems rely on batteries to keep them functional until normal power is restored.

NFPA 72 requires all FACP (fire alarm control panels) to have a battery backup that, on a full charge will operate for 24 hours without power. During these 24 hours the fire alarm is engineered to provide enough power to sound for a minimum of 5 minutes in the event of a fire alarm activation. This should provide enough time for the occupants in the building to be notified of the fire so they can evacuate.

If your power goes off and you are wondering if your alarm is active you can go look at the fire alarm panel. As long as the lights are on and the display shows, then the fire alarm is on.

Security systems are not installed based on a specific code that specifies battery backup requirements. The amount of backup time will vary from system to system.

Once the power has been restored to your location, the panel batteries will begin to recharge. Depending on how long the power has been out, there may be trouble conditions related to low battery conditions as the batteries charge. Our Client Services Administrator looks over these trouble reports and will notify you if they occur.

If you have any questions about your fire and life safety equipment and how they will be effected by power outages in your area, give us a call at 888-987-5322.

-The IFS Team