The Difference Between Annual and Semi-Annual Fire Alarm Inspection


According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), all parts of your fire protection system must be inspected annually (fire alarm, sprinkler, backflows, extinguishers, etc), but the fire alarm system also requires a semi-annual check-up.


The annual alarm testing goes very in-depth requiring a complete 100% functional test, including (but not limited to):

  • All audio/visual notification devices (aka horn/strobes)
  • All initiating devices on the fire alarm system (pull stations, detectors, flow switches, etc.)
  • The control panel itself
  • The batteries in the control panel and all backup power supply panels
  • Two-way radios or phone jacks if present
  • Door releases if present
  • Elevator Recall if present


The semi-annual alarm testing however is substantially less involved per NFPA code, and includes:

  • Visual inspections of initiating and notification devices
  • Functional testing of flow switches, tamper switches, and backup batteries



The time it takes to perform your testing depends on the size and nature of your facility. For a small one-level stand alone building, the inspections could take maybe only an hour or two. Medium-sized office buildings, retail strips, or warehouses can take a half or full day. And major skyscrapers or large industrial plants can take several days because of the size and complexity of the systems! The annual testing always takes longer because it’s a full function test, whereas the semi-annual testing is much quicker. Certain inspections that greatly affect the building occupants (mainly domestic backflow testing and fire alarm audio/visuals) are always scheduled to your specifications and are specific to the type of building. Commercial buildings are typically done early in the morning before building occupants come in, whereas hotels or multi-family residential are done mid-day when occupants are not onsite.


Inconvenient — or Not

None of this is fun, unless you enjoy setting off the horn/strobes and watching the building occupants jump out of their chairs. And we understand these safety check-ups take you away from your business, but it is vital to your property and the lives within that this testing is done. It only takes one accident and if that happens, you want to know you’ve done all you could to ensure your fire protection systems are functional! If not, it could cost you major property damage, costs for restoration, insurance claims, potential fines or jailtime, or worst case it could cost someone’s life.


Life Safety and Fire Protection Systems is one item you don’t want to mess around with, or let the feeling of inconvenience cloud the need to get the testing (and any subsequent deficiencies) taken care of. At Integrity Fire, we’ll do it faster, better and with less cost/hassle. And that very same day that the testing is complete, we’ll get you a handcrafted testing report, the invoice for the testing, and a repair quote if any deficiencies are found. Most important, you’ll get peace of mind knowing it was done right!