RealManage Insight

The Real Cost of Fire Alarm Maintenance

by Joseph Hansen on Nov 5, 2020 8:19:00 AM

As we transition to fall weather and bring out the blankets and fire logs, the last thing that anyone wants to be worried about is the potential fire hazard and risks of neglected fire alarm systems. Often overlooked or bemoaned by those in the industry, your local fire marshal plays an important role in ensuring that your community, neighbors, and your home are safe. These inspections are only a small part of the fire alarm maintenance that your community should be doing regularly. We all need to become alert to fire dangers in the home, something potentially started based on various neglected issues. Fire alarm maintenance is also something all too easily written off when it could bring serious costs.

How Long Has Your Fire Alarm Been in Your Home?

Fire alarms are usually affixed in out-of-the-way places of a home, making it easy to forget they are even there. After a decade's time, though, the fire alarm you think still works may not work after all.

Your first step in fire alarm maintenance is check to make sure the device responds to smoke. You can test this by lighting a match next to the alarm to see how sensitive it still is. If a delay occurs, or no response at all, you clearly need to replace that alarm system. Consumer Reports notes fire alarms last about ten years, making it easy to slip one's mind, especially if you haven't heard the annoying "low battery" beep in a while.

Unfortunately, those who live in condos and other rental units sometimes find themselves refusing to pay for a new alarm system.In one case, posted on HOA Leader, a woman refused to pay for a new alarm in her condo after being alerted about management installing new fire systems. Because a fire alarm install is a health and safety issue, she most likely paid the fee anyway by law. Considering the cost to lives, the amount ($176) was small.

Inspections Are Important, Because Things Change

Every homeowner or HOA member knows inspections for fire are often a burden and can be time consuming. Yet, they need doing because what was once deemed safe now perhaps is not. A lot of things can change on a property in a short time. If quarterly inspections are necessary by HOA law, something like a fireplace perhaps no longer being safe could bring surprising findings.

Threats also occur when new tenants move in to rented homes or condos. Because they sometimes move things around or store things against your knowledge, a fire hazard is possibly lurking undetected. Some of this affects how insurance companies react to fire hazards around your properties, making it incredibly important that you are aware of any potential hazards.

How Much Will it Cost to Replace Fire Alarms?

The cost of an average fire alarm system ranges from $20 to $30, according to Home Advisor. Some homes or condos may require more sophisticated fire alarms, depending on what kind of hazards there are. Those cost closer to $65 per device.

After a fire risk assessment occurs by HOA board members, unit owners are usually billed accordingly. On occasion, this leads to some billing mistakes or confusion, as one board member experienced in Florida. This is why getting better organized in doing fire assessments is so important through proper email communications. Also, working with fire alarm system companies to conduct assessments needs transparency so everyone involved is clear on billing. These costs might cause gripes sometimes. Still, keeping aware of new fire threats every quarter should become a new imperative out of precaution. N.F.P.A. 72 Standards already require an annual inspection by law. Nowadays, that amount of time might seem like an eternity in the realm of fire threats.

Make sure your fireplace is winter ready and free from fire hazards this year before the holiday season and give yourself one less thing to worry about this holiday season.

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