Smoke Detector Sensitivity Test
by Brad Keyes, CHSP, on Oct 21, 2020 12:00:00 AM
Q: How often do we have to do our smoke detector sensitivity test? Is it every two years or three years?
A: According to NFPA 72-2010, section 22.214.171.124, the test frequency for smoke detector sensitivity is one-year after installation, then every two years thereafter. However, there are some exceptions:
- After the second required calibration test, if sensitivity tests indicate that the device has remained within its listed and marked sensitivity range, the length of time between calibration tests shall be permitted to extend to a maximum of five years. If the frequency is extended, records of nuisance alarms and subsequent trends of those alarms must be maintained. In areas where nuisance alarms show any increase over the previous year, then a calibration test must be performed.
- Fire alarm systems that have continuous analog smoke detection are exempt from the two-year sensitivity calibration testing but you still must have records of the sensitivity testing results to demonstrate compliance. These records are usually easily down-loaded from the fire alarm system computer.
So, put another way, if the smoke detector was installed in 2010, then the one-year sensitivity testing is required in 2011. Then the first required sensitivity test must be done in 2013, and the second required sensitivity test must be done in 2015. Then, if the results of the sensitivity tests in 2013 and 2015 show there are no abnormalities, then the next sensitivity test is not required until 2020.