Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 Industry Milestones

As 2014 comes to a close soon, December is the perfect time to look back over the last 12 months and check the pulse of our dynamic industry. Although it had its ups and downs, I think many of us can agree that this one is worth remembering.

Some of the biggest milestones I want to call your attention to include:

Growth in most segments

Although the year started off slow—because of a surprisingly severe winter across the nation—the construction market really took off beginning in April. As a result of that slow start, we’ve been enjoying an extended construction season, and that has helped lead the industry to a strong close to 2014. We saw above-market growth in most segments, and I expect the year to wind up exceeding our original forecasts.shutterstock_229635211

Several new growth drivers

We’re experiencing double-digit growth in three main segments: emergency communication, advanced detection and modern central station communications. These trends are helping to grow the industry as a whole, and likely will continue through next year as well:

  • Emergency communication has become a huge boon for the fire alarm industry. These systems offer notification of any emergency, such as severe weather, harmful gas, terrorism and active shooters, and are growing in popularity for both new construction and existing buildings where a fire alarm system already exists.
  • Advanced detection requirements, which are cropping up in a growing number of states and municipalities, also are impacting fire alarm installation. For example, recent code changes require carbon monoxide and traditional smoke detection in many buildings, especially those in the hospitality, education, multi-family and healthcare industries.
  • Modern central station communications through IP and cellular are replacing the use of traditional POTS lines at an increasing rate. These alternative communication methods are helping grow this industry segment, which in-turn helps increase fire and life safety sales.

Revolutionary products

In 2014, we focused on several revolutionary technologies that are certainly milestones for our industry:

  • SK-FIRE-COoffers a time and money-saving solution for the growing numbers of facilities where fire and CO detection are required. This combined detection unit has enabled our dealers to offer their customers a great solution for adding CO detection in their buildings where it’s now required.
  • SK-F485C Wire to Fiber Converterenables new and existing Silent Knight systems to significantly increase the distance of wire runs between fire alarm control panels and remote SBUS devices (e.g., power supplies), while providing a boost in surge protection. SK-F485C is the first wire-to-fiber converter to be UL listed for a non-proprietary line of fire alarm systems and sold over-the-counter at Security Equipment Wholesalers nationwide.
  •  HP1205UL and HP1210UL – Power Supplies from Honeywell Power deliver more DC power to CCTV cameras and their peripheral devices, while also speeding up installation and service calls and maximizing the survivability of system operations when a facility’s AC power is lost.

These advancements have allowed Silent Knight’s customers to enjoy substantial growth this year. Thank you for your part in our success. Together, we look forward to a fantastic 2015 and beyond.

About the Author
David Pakech is Vice President of Sales for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight IntelliKnight and Honeywell Power.

10 Steps to NICET Exam Success

If you’re looking to grab an edge in the fire alarm and protection industry, that’s where the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) comes into play. NICET awards nationally recognized certification programs that are increasingly used by employers to measure job skills and knowledge. But how can you ensure you pass the incredibly chanicet-certifiedllenging NICET exam the first time around? Bryan McLane, vice president of the National Training Center (NTC), has come up with a 10-step game plan to prepare technicians for the difficult test.

“It’s certainly not an easy certification to achieve. It’s kind of like the marines—the few and the proud. The certification is extremely valuable across the industry, and these steps will help get you there,” McLane said during a Nov. 18 webinar titled “10 Steps to NICET Success.”

McLane shared these 10 steps with webinar participants—a plan that has resulted in a 92 percent pass rate on the first test for NTC students, which is about three times greater than the 30 percent national average. Let’s explore this plan of action in detail:

Step 1—Start Studying Early: When students leave McLane’s NICET prep class, they are typically exhausted. But McLane encourages them to go home after class and do some reading on code—devoting plenty of time to studying early on.

Step 2—Get the Right References: Each NICET exam is edition specific, so it’s important that you obtain the most current NICET book edition for the exam you’re taking.

Step 3—Study One Bite at a Time: “This might be the hardest exam you’ll ever take,” McLane said. As a result, you cannot open the books for the first time the night before and cram for it. Start studying early and “in small bites.”

Step 4—Highlight Important Words/Concepts: Steer clear of focusing intently on every single word on every page. Instead, draw your attention to the words and concepts that jump out to you. Study with a highlighter in your hand so when you’re at the exam you can quickly flip through your book and locate the most pertinent and impactful information. At the end of the day, the exam is about effectively managing your time.

Step 5—Attach Permanent Tabs: NICET permits permanent tabbed references affixed to sections of your book during the exam. NICET will not allow for tabs that can be easily relocated during the test; therefore, use your best judgment to place permanent tabs on the most important chapters and sections of the code.

Step 6—Implement a Strategy: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Come to the exam with a strategy so you know how many questions you need to get through to pass, and don’t focus on the research-intensive questions that will take up too much time.

Step 7—Answer Every Question: In the past, a NICET exam strategy was to intentionally leave questions blank. But today’s strategy is to answer all of the questions because an unanswered question hurts your score. Work on the easiest questions first and, if you’re running out of time, it’s OK to guess on the remaining ones.

Step 8—Use the Flag Button: For the more difficult questions, use the flag button and then come back to them later on. You should not be sacrificing your valuable time on these research-intensive questions.

Step 9—Avoid Research-Intensive Questions: McLane cannot emphasize this point enough. You don’t have the luxury to invest a lot of time on the research-intensive questions. You should give an educated guess, flag the question and come back to it later on.

Step 10—Seek Out Study Guides and Training: The best way to succeed is by learning from people who are successful in the field. That’s because they have put together the best study guides and training plans to pass exams, including NTC, which has developed strategies for passing the NICET exam.

This webinar is now viewable on demand on the Silent Knight website. Click here to learn more about the 10 steps to NICET success.

About the Author
Beth Welch is the Manager of Public Relations & Social Outreach for Honeywell Fire Systems. For a decade, she has strived to raise awareness of new technologies, industry trends and information, for the benefit of engineers, integrators and end users.

Five Ways Fire Alarm Dealers Can Market Themselves Locally

As a fire alarm dealer, you can have the most innovative product in the area but if you don’t market yourself effectively, that product remains on the shelf. You may already have a strong promote-businessgrasp of standard marketing concepts, but there are always additional strategies you can implement to improve visibility and market presence within your region.

Let’s take a look at five ways fire alarm dealers can market themselves locally:

  • Build a Company Website: The first step in marketing your fire alarm business is to create a well-designed, navigable website detailing all the information a potential customer would like to know. For example, you can identify the specific safety features, including those that distinguish it from the competition, as well as elucidate on cost. It’s essential to implement a user-friendly design and navigation so visitors can seamlessly scroll amongst product pages and sales pages. Also, don’t forget to include multiple calls to action so the customer can effortlessly request additional information or make a purchase.
  • Join the Social Conversation: One way to bring future customers to your newly-created website is by creating social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. By not taking advantage of networking sites, your company is missing out on a huge market. After all, did you know 74 percent of online adults are on social media, according to Pew Internet Project’s research. Your social media pages should boast daily updates including regular notifications about company news, promotions, events, photos and product enhancements.
  • Launch an Email Campaign: To ensure maximum exposure for your product, you may want to also cast your eye to email. By utilizing vendor-provided email lists, you can touch new and existing customers through all the platforms they frequent. E-newsletters can help you market your social media sites and new website as well as spread the word about new technologies now available, the latest installation success story, updates on local code and more. However, don’t spam your contacts—being overly aggressive could turn them away.
  • Craft and Circulate Press Releases: Your website and social media pages will need a constant stream of content, and crafting press releases is a great way to fill that hole, in addition to keeping your target audience always in the loop of new updates. In these releases, consider highlighting the system’s special features, announcing that local servicing is now more widely available or publicizing the charity campaign your company is taking part in, just to name a few examples. Once you craft your press releases, focus on circulation. Put them up on your website, splash them across social media and build a list of local media contacts and begin emailing them your press releases. A phone call to the local newspaper is also always a smart idea; the paper could jump on your story and give you free advertising in the community.
  • Hire an Extra Helper: This new marketing strategy may seem a bit intimidating, considering you’re already swamped enough at work. As a result, you should explore hiring a marketing professional to lead this campaign. The individual would work on perfecting the website, social media pages and press releases to help increase your company’s visibility in the community. Because this marketing operation will generate more revenue, you’ll be able to afford this new hire.

Interested in finding out more about fire alarm systems? Click here today.

About the Author
Elizabeth Richards is the Manager of Communications for the SED Channel – Fire-Lite Alarms, Honeywell Power, and Silent Knight. Liz joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2003 and is responsible for the communications, collateral, messaging, and events for all three brands.

CO Fact #10 – What Are the Placement Requirements for Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms & Detectors?

Of these 10 CO facts, I saved this one for last in the hopes it clears away some common misconceptions, and it usually stirs up a lot of discussion too. Feel free to share your comments below.nfpa 720

Section 9.4.1.1 of the 2012 edition of NFPA 720 requires CO detection to be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms and on every occupiable level of a dwelling unit, including basements, but excluding attics and crawl spaces.

9.4.1.1* Carbon monoxide alarms or detectors shall be installed as follows:

  • Outside of each separate dwelling unit sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms
  • On every occupiable level of a dwelling unit, including basements, excluding attics and crawl spaces
  • Other locations where required by applicable laws, codes, or standards

Since the molecular weight of CO is almost identical to air and it mixes quickly within a building, Section 9.4.1.2 permits each alarm or detector to be located on the wall, ceiling, or other location as specified in the manufacturer’s published instructions.

9.4.1.2 Each alarm or detector shall be located on the wall, ceiling, or other location as specified in the manufacturer’s published instructions that accompany the unit.

It’s important to point out that NFPA 720 requires the audible alarm notification signal to be at least 75dBA at the pillow in sleeping areas. If the detector is installed outside the sleeping area is unable to produce 75dBA at the pillow, with the door closed, a CO detector or a mini horn should be installed in the sleeping room.

For non sleeping locations in hotels, dormitories and apartment buildings, section 5.8.5.3.1 requires CO detectors to be installed on the ceiling in the same room as permanently installed fuel-burning appliances or centrally located on every habitable level and in every HVAC zone of the building

5.8.5.3.1 Carbon monoxide detectors shall be installed as specified in the manufacturer’s published instructions in accordance with 5.8.5.3.1(1) and 5.8.5.3.1(2), or 5.8.5.3.1(3):

  • *On the ceiling in the same room as permanently installed fuel-burning appliances
  • *Centrally located on every habitable level and in every HVAC zone of the building
  • A performance-based design in accordance with 5.8.5.3.2

The reason NFPA 720 requires CO detectors to be located on the ceiling above permanently installed fuel-burning appliances is because of the buoyancy of the heated combustion gases as compared to normal ambient temperatures.

About the Author

Richard Roberts is Industry Affairs Manager at Honeywell Fire Safety with over 30 years in the fire alarm and carbon monoxide market. His experience spans the installation, sales, and product development of code-compliant products and systems. Currently, Mr. Roberts is a member of eight NFPA Technical Committees and he serves on the Board of Directors for the Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA) and Chair of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) Smoke & CO Committee and Building Codes Committee.

 

Fire Alarm System Design: Top Three Mistakes Dealers Make in the Process

The biggest challenge fire alarm designers face when trying to craft a fire alarm is having the right information beforehand from the dealer. In fact, we remind all dealers/vendors that contact us for system design to get all their ducks in a row and ask the right questions of their clients before bringing the project to us.

All too often, however, when the vendors are out there in front of their clients, they are so eager to make the sale that they fail to ask critical questions, such as: Does the building building-design-assessmenthave sprinkler systems? Do they have duct smokes? Are there going to be any hazardous locations requiring Class 1 or Class 2 type devices? These are questions that often go unanswered, wreaking havoc during the design process.

While we have a cheat sheet online that details the questions we need answered before we can design the fire alarm system, let’s take a few minutes to highlight the common mistakes dealers can make when they go out to bid the project:

#1—Not Finding Out the Building Use Group: Before we can design a system, we need to know whether it’s for a business, factory, or store, for example. Understanding the building use group is critical; it’s going to dictate our design perspective.

For instance, if the facility falls into a business use group, we must consider how many people are on each floor. For residential use groups, we have to know the type (whether R1, R2, R3 or R4), as each comes with different fire alarm design variances. The same goes for the I-institutional use groups; each has its own criteria for fire alarms.

#2—Not Understanding the Occupancy Load: Understanding how many people will occupy a facility is critical when it comes to fire alarm design. Let’s say you have a single-level business and you decide to turn it into a two-story office complex.

For example, having been classified as single floor for Business use and you don’t have more than 500 people occupying the space, you are not even required to install a fire alarm in most cases. But once you add that second floor, code says that if you don’t have the 500 people on the main floor and do have over 100 people on that second floor, then you have to install a fire alarm. Slight variations in regulations like that is where the occupancy load comes into play for several of the use groups.

#3—Not Determining if They Can Even Bid the Project: Dealers can be too quick to close the sale; they don’t realize they can’t even bring the project through to completion do to only certain manufacturers are being specified by the facility owner, architect, or engineering firm. Therefore, if the product the dealer wants to use is not listed, the dealer really can’t sell anything to the client. When bidding the project, dealers must understand exactly what the client, facility owner, architect, or engineering firm is looking to achieve, by referring to the Products section in most bid documents.

As you can see from the list above, perhaps the biggest misstep a dealer/vendor can make is failing to coordinate the fire alarm system design requirements from all the people involved to craft the appropriate system. So, know the questions you need to ask up front, be thorough and make sure you are covering all the bases so that the fire alarm design process can run smoothly and expediently.

About the Author
Jon Setters has been running Design Technology Systems, llc for over seven years. The company has designed and engineered for the big guys, (ADT Security, Tyco Integrated Security, Protection One, Guardian Protective Services, Stanley Security Solutions, Guardian Alarm Company), and numerous Electrical and privately held alarm companies.