Fire Detection System Troubleshooting

in Engine Fire Protection Systems

1. Intermittent alarms are most often caused by an intermittent short in the detector system wiring. Such shorts may be caused by a loose wire that occasionally touches a nearby terminal, a frayed wire brushing against a structure, or a sensing element rubbing against a structural member long enough to wear through the insulation. Intermittent faults often can be located by moving wires to re-create the short.

2. Fire alarms and warning lights can occur when no engine fire or overheat condition exists. Such false alarms can be most easily located by disconnecting the engine sensing loop connections from the control unit. If the false alarm ceases when the engine sensing loop is disconnected, the fault is in the disconnected sensing loop, which should be examined for areas that have been bent into contact with hot parts of the engine. If no bent element can be found, the shorted section can be located by isolating the connecting elements consecutively around the entire loop.


3. Kinks and sharp bends in the sensing element can cause an internal wire to short intermittently to the outer tubing. The fault can be located by checking the sensing element with an ohm meter while tapping the element in the suspected areas to produce the short.

4. Moisture in the detection system seldom causes a false fire alarm. If, however, moisture does cause an alarm, the warning persists until the contamination is removed or boils away, and the resistance of the loop returns to its normal value.

5. Failure to obtain an alarm signal when the test switch is actuated may be caused by a defective test switch or control unit, the lack of electrical power, inoperative indicator light, or an opening in the sensing element or connecting wiring. When the test switch fails to provide an alarm, the continuity of a two-wire sensing loop can be determined by opening the loop and measuring the resistance. In a single-wire, continuous loop system, the center conductor should be grounded.