Monthly Archives: June 2014

More Silent Knight Hands-On Training Available for 2014

Silent Knight has released the second half of its 2014 training schedule.  Make sure your technical staff takes advantage of the intense 3 day hands-on training offered through the Tech Ed course.  Instruction includes the recently released 5820XL-EVS addressable fire alarm with emergency communications, SK-FIRE-CO addressable combination fire and CO detector and changes to the SKSS up/downloading software.   Although you or your staff may have attended this course in the past, the course can be a needed refresher and allows technicians to keep up with advancing technology.   In my own career, I value training as a way of staying ahead of the competition and understand the applications and benefits of products that are being introduced into the marketplace.  Click here to view the training sites and sign up for a course near you.

About the Author
Brian Brownell joined Silent Knight as a Technical Trainer in 2011 and has worked within the fire alarm industry for 30 years.​

What’s so Different Between Mass Notification and Voice Evacuation?

​Mass notification systems (MNS) communicate emergency situations involving non-fire emergencies to building occupants (and individuals in an area surrounding a building) using audible and visual means.  Mass notification systems are governed by NFPA 72, Chapter 24 (Emergency Communications Systems). Chapter 24 covers requirements for mass notification systems, fire alarm voice evacuation systems, fireman’s telephone and radio systems, area of refuge communications, and elevator communications.

While mass notification systems and fire alarm voice evacuation systems both use voice messaging (speakers) and visible (strobes) to alert building occupants, the difference between the systems is the action that the systems instruct the occupants to take.   Fire alarm voice evacuation systems typically instruct the occupants to evacuate the building (“there’s a fire, get out”).

Mass notification systems notify occupants of other emergencies that may not necessarily require building evacuation. Mass notification systems may give specific instructions based on the type of emergency.  For example, for a tornado warning, the instructions may be to shelter in place, or for a chemical spill it may be to report to a specific safe area within the building.  For both of these emergencies, having the occupants evacuate the building would not be the best action to take.

System Types
Mass notification systems are classified as in-building and wide area systems.  In-building systems provide occupant notification within a building (just like fire alarm voice evacuation). Buildings that require voice evacuation per the building code and have a need for mass notification as well will often install a combination MNS/voice evacuation system like the 5820XL-EVS, allowing both functions to be performed by a single system.

Wide area systems provide outdoor notification using high power speaker arrays.  Wide area systems may also use distributed recipient mass notification systems (DRMNS) such as text messaging, email, or reverse 911.

Similar Fire and MNS Requirements
The notification requirements for mass notification systems have the same requirements as fire alarm (per NFPA 72, Chapter 18). Speaker/strobes are most commonly used for in-building notification, with the same mounting and spacing requirements as fire alarm. NFPA 72 permits using the same notification appliances for fire alarm and mass notification purposes, but the appliance must have no marking or be marked “ALERT”. A “FIRE” marking is not permitted for notification appliances used for both purposes to help avoid confusion.



About the Author
Bryan McLane is a 33 year veteran of the security and fire industry.  He is currently Vice President of National Training Center, the provider of “The Very Best in Training” to the security and fire industry.

Sounding-Off on Low Frequency Devices

NFPA 72 has initiated a code change to the 2010 edition that starting January 1st, 2014 requires new sleeping areas  utilize a low frequency sounder with a 520 Hz (+/- 10%) square wave.  This new requirement is located in Section 18.4.5: Sleeping Area Requirements.
The new requirement is based on a series of research studies funded by NFPA that concluded that a low frequency tone, around 520 Hz, is more effective at waking sleeping individuals, including those with mild-to-severe hearing loss.

System Sensor has developed a new product offering similar to the wall version of SpectrAlert® Advance Horns and Horn Strobes that provides the required low frequency sound.  Silent Knight addressable fire alarm control panels 5700, 5808, 5820XL, and 5820XL-EVS are now UL listed with these new devices.  Click here to view a data sheet of these low frequency devices.




About the Author
Loren Schreiber has been with Silent Knight for 27 years and currently holds the position of Product Marketing Manager.  Loren’s primary focus is obtaining customer needs and requirements for new product development.


Guide to Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarms

Unwanted fire alarms continue to be a problem for the fire service, fire alarm companies, and the public.   NFPA states approximately 7% of the total fire alarms to which fire departments respond each year are unwanted.  An unwanted alarm is defined by NFPA 72 as any alarm that occurs that is not the result of a potentially hazardous condition.   
Improper placement of fire alarm components, installation, application and maintenance are some of the major causes of these nuisance alarms.   NFPA developed the “Fire Service Guide to Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarms” to provide the fire service with a free resource that offers guidance in the following areas:
·  Understanding commercial and residential building fire alarm systems
·  Understanding single-family alarm causes
·  Providing a framework for developing solutions
Click here to become an NFPA member and download free of charge the pdf of this guide.

Did you know the SK-FIRE-CO uses four sensing technologies in combination to significantly reduce unwanted fire alarms?  Stages that use theater smoke and construction areas that are susceptible to false alarms with standard photoelectric detectors are great applications for this multi-criteria detector.  Checkout the SK-FIRE-CO video demonstrating how this detector uses smoke, infrared, heat and CO in combination to determine a real fire condition.



About the Author
Loren Schreiber has been with Silent Knight for 27 years and currently holds the position of Product Marketing Manager.  Loren’s primary focus is obtaining customer needs and requirements for new product development.

Ground Control to Major Trouble

Lightning season has come in with a big bang causing major trouble with electronic controls including fire alarms.  Why do multi-building applications using copper wire always seem to be the hardest hit and is there a way to decrease this applications vulnerability? 
The number one defense against electrical surges is a solid earth ground connection.  Although multiple buildings may each have separate solid earth ground connections, the lightning damage risk remains high if the buildings are connected with copper wire.  This is due to earth ground differentials between the buildings.  Electrical current always takes the least resistance path to ground and the copper wire between buildings act like a conduit for this path.

The SK-F485C is a SBUS wire to fiber converter.  Used in pairs on a Silent Knight IntelliKnight addressable fire alarm control to its accessories, the SK-F485C eliminates the risk of lightning damage caused by earth ground differentials between buildings.  Click here for more information.




About the Author
Loren Schreiber has been with Silent Knight for 27 years and currently holds the position of Product Marketing Manager.  Loren’s primary focus is obtaining customer needs and requirements for new product development.