Category Archives: Uncategorized

As Summer Heats Up, The Need for Fire Safety Rises

The summer season may feel like it’s flying by, but many dog days lay ahead in the month of August. Normally referred to as the hottest (and most humid) month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, August may be best for beach weather, but it also poses a huge threat to our homes, environment and infrastructure. After all, this final stretch of summer is perpetuating droughts in the West and facilitating severe weather in middle and eastern America, increasing the chances of national disaster and putting government officials on high alert.

According to information posted by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), as of July 27 the United States has seen 22 “large fires” that have burned nearly 850,000 acres in four western states and Alaska in 2015. Worse, these fires aren’t just consuming acres of forests and destroying habitats for wild life; they are also spreading and rapidly decreasing the air quality in communities, forcing families out of their homes with the fear of their livelihoods also being consumed by flames.

The hot summer days have also lead to a drought of historic proportions in the state of California. According to the U.S. drought monitor, the overwhelming majority of the state finds itself facing a level D3 or D4 drought, with a D4 drought being the highest level and described as an “exceptional drought.” In fact, the U.S. Drought monitor labels 71 percent of the state at D3 and 46 percent at D4. These areas are particularly at high risk of setting the scene of the next big forest fire.

If we move our focus across the country, we may see a dramatic decrease in the risk of forest fires, but what we find in their place is equally as worrisome. The hot summer months are a breeding ground for severe weather such as tornadoes, hail storms, heavy winds and violent thunderstorms. In the past two months alone (June and July), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric’s (NOAA) National Weather Service has documented a combined 298 tornadoes, largely falling in middle and eastern America. Furthermore, those 298 tornadoes are just a portion of more than 8,400 severe weather events in the same period of time.

Similarly, these patterns of severe weather in the middle and eastern regions of this country, like the droughts and fires of the west, pose a real and serious threat to the safety and livelihood of families throughout these areas. Furthermore, the month of August will put an increased stress on local government and real estate developers who are tasked with protecting their citizens and future tenants respectively.

To better protect their communities, government officials and developers should consider these two courses of action:

  • Double check fire systems: Severe weather, forest fires and droughts may manifest as different types of natural disasters but they can all end in fire. Just consider a downed power line due to a hail storm, and one can quickly gather how the former can cause a fire event. With that in mind, it is important that all local municipalities and developers double check to ensure all fire systems are up-to-date, functioning properly and are in line with new NFPA standards. Assuring your fire systems function properly and within regulations can save valuable time during a fire event, which will ultimately save lives.
  • Upgrade to ECS: Emergency Communication Systems (ECS) are quickly becoming a standard in public facilities such as airports and government buildings. The reason for this is simple; unlike a fire system, an ECS allows for the communication of almost any emergency event. An ECS can be used to notify local communities of severe weather that could potentially turn catastrophic. For instance, it can alert building tenants that a strong wind has damaged their natural gas supply, causing a carbon monoxide leak in the building. Furthermore, when used by local municipalities an ECS can help communicate the decrease in air quality caused by a forest fire and the need for an evacuation due to an emergency such as encroaching flames, tornadoes or worse.

To learn more about the importance of emergency communications, check out our related post here.

2012 Fire and Building Codes Require College Dorms to Install Automatic Smoke Detection

According to a 2011 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,810 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities and sororities in 2005-2009.dorm

To reduce property damage and civilian casualties, 2012 editions of the International Fire Code (IFC) and International Building Code (IBC) require an automatic smoke detection system to be installed in common spaces outside of dwelling/sleeping units of college and university buildings.

I’ve also covered where some of the bigger changes the 2012 edition of IFC and IBC will bring about, including carbon monoxide detection in new lodging and healthcare facilities; and emergency communication systems in k-12 grade schools.

 

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.

CO Fact #3 – What Are the Sources of Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

CO can be found throughout any residential or commercial occupancy, including one- and two-family dwellings, apartment buildings, hotels, dormitories, schools, hospitals, restaurants and daycare centers. Some of the common sources of CO in buildings are:

  • Boilers, furnaces, hot water heaters or gagas stove burners ranges that are not correctly installed or properly maintained. For example if a furnace flue is improperly sized, blocked or disconnected it will result dangerous level
    s of CO in the building.
  • Gas power tools, portable generators and charcoal grills are also common sources
  • And vehicles left running in garages result in hundreds of people being poisoned every year

I hope you’re finding these facts interesting and useful. I would encourage fire alarm installers and service providers, as well as building owners and members of the fire service, to consider sharing these facts with your customers and tenants. It’s important they understand the dangers behind CO, as well as its effects – which I will be covering in my CO Fact #4 next week.

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.

CO Fact #1 – What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?

With summer over and colder weather on its way, people tend to spend more time indoors. And it’s during the winter months that we see more storgas fire placeies of CO poisonings in the news. That said, I think now is an ideal time to share some facts surrounding this invisible gas.  Let’s start with fact #1 – what is carbon monoxide?

Its chemistry consists of one carbon atom and one oxygen atom. The CO molecule bonds with hemoglobin and reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood in the body. When fuels, such as wood, propane, gasoline, charcoal and oil are burned with insufficient air, it results in abnormal concentrations of CO being produced. Humans and animals are unable to smell it, see it, taste it or here it. Since CO is virtually impossible for humans to detect without an electronic sensing device, it is often referred to as “the silent killer”.

Stay tuned for nine more facts about CO and CO detection, being released over the next nine weeks.

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. 

Communication Compliance – NFPA 72 2013 Edition

If your Authority Having Jurisdiction is already enforcing the 2013 Edition of NFPA 72, you are probably already aware of the changes that have been made to this edition concerning communications to a central station.  If not, there is no time like the present to prepare yourself.

Section 26.6.2.1.4 states, with one exception, that a second communication technology must be used when employing a telephone line.  The transmission means are stated as one-way private radio alarm system, two-way RF multiplex system, or transmission means complying with section 26.6.3.1.  The exception being access to the previous mentioned is not available and approval has been given by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to use two phone lines. If two phone lines are used, each telephone line needs to be tested at alternating 6-hour intervals.IPGSM closed_sm

What does this mean for Silent Knight fire alarm control panels?  The IPGSM-4G IP and Cellular Communicator is UL 864 listed and can be used as a communicator without phone lines or as a second transmission means to a phone line that meets section 26.6.3.1. If two phone lines are used, the telephone lines will need to be tested at alternating 6-hour intervals.  Version 14.0 5700, 5808, 5820XL and 5820XL-EVS now has an option to select 4, 6, 12 or 24 hour dialer test intervals to satisfy AHJs enforcing NFPA 72 2013 edition.  Version 1.06 of the 5104 and version 1.07 of the SK-5208 have also added the test interval options.

Be sure to download the latest version of the 5660 SKSS v3.60 up/downloading software free of charge, prior to programming the new options.

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.