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Can I use a magnet to test my fire detector?

A fire detector a generic term that can describe a Heat Detector, Smoke Detector, Flame Detector or Carbon Monoxide fire detector. Some manufacturers include a reed switch within the body of the detector for functional testing. Does using this comply with the requirements of AS1851?

AS1851 Test Record Checklist

Australian Standard AS1851 sets out the requirements for the routine servicing of fire protection systems and equipment. Section 6 covers the functional testing of a Fire Detection and Alarm System.

This section also refers to Appendix G - Fire Detector Testing that specifically describes the test medium for testing fire detectors as follows;

Australian Standard AS1851:2012 (A1), Appendix G - Fire Detector Testing

  • Heat detectors—a source of heated air is the preferred medium. The temperature of the air shall be controlled to produce a predictable rate of increase. The upper temperature shall be limited to a value appropriate to the detector being tested.
  • Smoke detectors—a source of particulate material that does not contaminate the sensing chamber or entry screen and which contains particles in the size range appropriate to the detector.
  • Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors—a source of gas that does not adversely affect the sensing element, or entry screen, of the detector and which contains gas appropriate to the detector.
  • Aspirating smoke detection systems that do not excessively contaminate, impact the test result or be of a nature that adheres to the internal surfaces of the aspirating smoke detector pipe system.

While the manufacturer may incorporate a facility such as a magnet and reed-switch to test the operation of a fire detector, this is not a substitute for using the correct test media as described in Appendix G of the Standard.