Sensitivity testing – the Fire Safety Services test you didn’t know you need to take


Smoke detectors are one of the most essential parts of your fire safety services, and definitely the fire protection device that most people are familiar with.

While there are multiple parts that work together to ensure fire systems are working efficiently, smoke detectors are the most visible, and the first step to warning people of a problem.

As of 2012, standard changes dictate that on top of annual testing, all smoke detectors need to undertake routine sensitivity testing 10 years from date of manufacture and then 5 years there for after, to ensure they can detect suitable levels of smoke.

Unfortunately, this has proven to be easier said than done. It can be a time-consuming and expensive process – and not all providers are ready to deliver.

Ensuring you carry out these works is vital for your building operation, and something you need to actively work with your provider to deliver.

If you don’t meet the standards, you’ll wear the consequences

Despite the standard changes being made six years ago, some fire safety service providers and building operators have been a little slow on the take-up.

Many providers haven’t yet equipped themselves with the equipment needed to carry out the works, and many buildings managers or operators don’t know to ask for the service. So often, it’s not getting done.

Your provider doesn’t wear any consequences for failing to carry out the testing, but as the building operator, non-compliance can result in multiple problems for you:

  • OH&S infringements
  • Safe workplace breach of contract
  • Government and council fines
  • Loss of tenants
  • Failing smoke detectors, and the safety risks that ensue

There are multiple bureaucratic issues non-compliance poses, but the most serious is the serious risk for safety. Without proper testing, you’re putting every employee, tenant, and visitor at risk.

Your detectors are working – but how well?

So why is this all so important when up until a few years ago it wasn’t considered mandatory?

It’s not just important to check if your detectors are working, you need to know how well they’re working. The sensitivity test introduces smoke to each individual detector to determine how much smoke is required to activate it.

Too much, and you’ll be waiting for dangerous lengths of time before being notified of a hazard. Too little, and your system will be activating at the slightest trigger.

Therefore, it’s been decided that your detectors need to be tested ten years after installation, and then every five years after that.

Ask questions, keep reports, stay compliant

As the experts, your fire safety service provider should notify you of detector manufacturing dates so you can keep up to date with your testing and servicing. But letting the responsibility sit squarely with them isn’t the best way to ensure compliance.

So, here’s what you can do now:

  • Determine your need to be tested – conventional panels need to be tested manually; addressable panels can be done so automatically
  • Decide on test or replacement – in some cases, it may be easier and more cost-effective to organise replacement of detectors, rather than testing
  • Determine when your detectors are due for testing. Manual testing can be a costly exercise, so you need to budget for it in advance

While you should be able to trust your fire safety service provider to give you the right information and carry out the appropriate testing, the consequences of inaction fall on you. By taking some initiative to ask questions and keep accurate reports, you can ensure you don’t miss your scheduled service and your building remains compliant and safe.

Want to ensure your testing is carried out on time?

TCM Solutions are leading providers of Essential Safety Measures for hundreds of buildings and several industries. Regulation compliance is one of our top priorities, and therefore have ensured we have the equipment and expertise needed to carry out detector sensitivity testing.

If you’d like to know more about how the standard changes affect you, or if you’d like to engage TCM Solutions for testing services, click here to contact TCM Solutions or call us on +61 3 8470 9600.