HOW TO: Use a Manual Pull Station (and Reset it When it’s Pulled)

Photo by Dave Phillips on Unsplash

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS!

It was the forbidden fruit of the school hallway. An iconic red box just above eye level. In the movies, the cool kids pulled it to avoid a tyrannical teacher out to give unwarranted detentions and the bad kids pulled it to slip out of class. We get it- it was our worst nightmare on cold winter days, and our best friend when we were surprised with a pop quiz in history. The term “saved by the bell” does not even begin to explain the importance of pull stations.

These devices aren’t made for kids to have a break from class (though at age 15, it might SEEM like a life-saver) and it is actually a felony. Pull Stations are MADE to protect your life in emergency situations. Manual pull stations allow us to take early action in the occurrence of a fire or another emergency that could threaten the lives of others.

So how does it work? We understand that you pull (or press) the device and an alarm rings to warn others of an emergency. But why and how does it work when you activate it? How can you reset it, as a professional, when it is activated? A pull station works as an early warning system prior to a fire reaching the system sensor range of an automatic fire detection device.

If you are a professional, you probably know how the system works: the lever, when pulled, activates a switch on the inside to trigger an early alarm. Once this level is pulled, it sends a signal to the building’s fire alarm control panel, which then sets off the alarm. Manual stations can either be addressable or conventional. Addressable devices usually have a module built into the back of the device that assigns an exact address in your system to easily target the activated station. Conventional systems generally do not have this, though they can be made addressable onto a system, as long as a new addressable module is installed and programmed specifically for that manual station. While addressable seems to be the best and most convenient way to go, don’t put conventional systems down so quickly—they are often less expensive and work fine for buildings with an overall smaller alarm system.

Let’s look at some examples of single and dual-action pull stations. Our YouTube video gave us some examples of manual pull stations we have in stock: the Edwards/EST SIGA-278 and the Siemens HMS-S.

The Edwards/EST SIGA-278. One of the most common addressable devices, this dual-action manual station works like its title implies—it takes two separate actions to activate the alarm system. The first being to lift a plastic panel cover and the second being the actual pull. These devices can only be reset using the Key included with the device. Granted, the director of facilities/safety should ensure it is in a safe place so that you can operate and reset the device.

The key will, of course, open up to the interior of the device. Inactivate the trigger inside, close and lock up and viola! Your manual dual-action pull station is reset.

After this, you must go back to the system’s control panel, acknowledge the alarm and reset the system. What is most important, as stressed by our Technical Support Engineer—Stephan, is that all key-type manual stations have specific keys used to reset them. All of these keys are different and specific to that device, there is no universal manual station key. Some manual stations may require a CAT 30 or CAT 45 while others, such as Tyco SimplexGrinnell (Johnson Controls) have their own key-types. That’s why it is important to look at the manufacturer’s installation manual to figure out what key is needed.

The Siemens HMS-S.A single-action device. While the device we addressed before required a traditional key, this particular device can only be reset using an Allen or Hex key. Use this to open the exterior box, reset the internal switch if required, and close it up—it’s all set! Remember to return to your control panel to acknowledge the alarm and reset the system.

What we find to be the biggest issue with these types of pull stations is that the Hex keys tend to strip after too much time and usage. This obviously becomes an issue if you cannot open up your station to reset.

Additionally, Stephan brings up that many manual pull stations have a glass rod that is broken when that device is activated. These are replaceable and specifically identifies that that device was activated even if reset. So, it should be replaced ASAP in order for the manual station to remain protected! If you’re a more visual learner, take a look at our accompanying YouTube Video.

We have plenty of time to go into more details with this in the coming weeks, but as this is our first blog post we wanted to tackle something interesting briefly. Feel free to send us topics that you would like addressed(haha) to marketing@firealarm.comand we will be back next week with even more content!