protection during the holidays

IT’S THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS, AND ALL THROUGH THE OFFICE, NOT A FIRE WAS BURNING… BECAUSE OF VFS

The last thing you want to deal with during the holiday season is an office fire or a security breach. Being around extended family is enough stress for all of us! With that being said, it’s important to have all the systems in place to keep your business safe while you’re not there. 

At VFS, we believe in protecting your business like it’s our own. We implement specific systems catered to your business’ needs. A few of the systems and processes we put in place include:

FIRE SPRINKLERS

Our full-service in-house Design/Build departments and our in-house manufacturing shop work together to ensure the highest quality and most accurate results. We use state of the art hydraulic modeling software for our Fire Sprinkler Services. Some of our Fire Sprinkler Services include:

  • Commercial/Industrial and Retail New Construction sprinkler installation
  • Retrofit or Tenant Improvement 
  • Wet or Dry Pipe Systems
  • Special Hazards
  • In-Rack Sprinklers
  • Fire Pumps
  • Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion Testing and Remediation
  • Underground pipe repair
  • NFPA-25 Inspection, Testing and Maintenance
  • 24-hour Emergency Service
  •  Fire Alarm Design, Detection, and Monitoring

ALARMS

VFS offers our clients in-house design experts to develop solutions and meet your site-specific needs. Whether that means protecting your healthcare institution, your education facility, a distribution center, or a refinery, our experts are ready to help. With our alarm systems, we offer a few unique services:

  • Installation by trained and certified technicians
  • In-house design
  • Testing and mass-notification
  • Safety monitoring
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • Preventative maintenance

SECURITY SYSTEMS

Taking proper security measures for your business, especially during the holidays, is essential to its safety. At VFS, we implement the proper security measures that address your specific business needs. These measures include:

  • Access control systems
  • Mass notification systems
  • Video surveillance
  • Intrusion alarm systems. 

We utilize the best combination of hardware and software to provide reliable, cost-effective, integrated solutions for your business’ needs. 

SPECIAL HAZARD PROTECTION 

We pride ourselves on our expertise in special hazard protection. As renowned leaders in Fire and Life Safety Systems for Special Hazard Facilities, we have a reputation to uphold! 

VFS is one of the few companies able to perform the highly technical and sophisticated projects surrounding special hazards. We provide design-build solutions from the concept and budgeting phase to the final construction and occupancy phase for facilities across all 50 states!

Our company pillars are built on safety and security in everything we do, so you have peace of mind that you’re entrusting your business in good hands. Our CEO, Randy Nelson sits on the technical committees for NFPA 16 (code standard for the installation of foam-water sprinkler). Needless to say, we’re prepared to provide your business with the best possible solutions.

ONGOING INSPECTIONS

We utilize state-of-the-art technology to keep inspections simple for our clients. We give you a one-stop-shop to manage all your inspection requirements, whether that be for your single facility or your nationwide portfolio of properties. 

EMERGENCY RESPONSE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS (ERRCS)

VFS Fire & Security Systems is an FCC licensed hold contractor, which is required for the installation of ERRCS. Our experts are prepared to design, furnish, and install the systems that your specific building requires. The ERRCS signal enhancement systems include indoor antennas, coaxial cables, DAS headend (booster amplifier), outside coax cable, outside directional antenna, and vertical 2-hour rated enclosures. 

The holiday season brings about a lot of stress for most people. At VFS, we want to eliminate the stress surrounding your building’s safety and security. Contact us today to implement proper systems and processes today.

5 things not to do

Stop, drop, and roll, that’s all we need to know about fires right? Not exactly… While that advice is extremely important when you catch on fire, during a fire you need to know exactly what to do, and what not to do. Here are a few tips!

ONE OF THE BIGGEST MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE IN STRUCTURAL FIRES IS OPENING VARIOUS DOORS WITHOUT CHECKING FOR AN ALTERNATE ESCAPE ROUTE.

While yes, fleeing the scene is an important instinct during a fire, sometimes opening a door can cause more damage than good.  Fires require oxygen to spread. When you open a door (especially one that is warm) the fire receives that oxygen, therefore exposing you to dangerous heat levels and toxic carbon monoxide gas. 

Before you open a door to exit, check for alternate routes where flames have not spread. If you are on the first level of the building, a window can also act as a great exit plan. 

WHAT IF THE FIRE STARTED OR SPREAD IN THE ROOM YOU’RE IN?

If the fire is in the room you’re in, and you need to open a door to exit the danger, please do! However, be sure you close the door behind you to ensure you give a barrier to the fire. Opening the door will invite the fire to spread and potentially follow you out. In an effort to contain the fire, close the door behind you! 

WHILE THE ELEVATOR MAY SEEM LIKE THE QUICKEST WAY OUT, IF THERE’S A FIRE IT COULD PUT YOU IN REAL DANGER! 

If there’s a fire in your building, avoid the elevators at all costs. The stairs are the safest, best option during a fire. During a fire, elevators can malfunction, disable, or experience various electrical issues. When you are in a high-rise or larger building locate the emergency exits and stairwells to ensure you remain safe. 

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS ARE GREAT, BUT YOU NEED TO KNOW HOW TO USE THEM!

Fire extinguishers can save you during a fire. With fire extinguishers, it is important to understand how to use them. The most common mistake with fire extinguishers is that you aim too high on top of the flames. In order to be most effective, the fire extinguisher needs to be pointed at the base. 

When using a fire extinguisher, pull the pin, aim at the base of the flames, squeeze the trigger, and sweep from side to side. As a business owner, it’s important to check fire extinguishers for expiration. Fire extinguishers should be replaced every few years. 

DON’T BREAK THE WINDOWS

Fire-related deaths are typically caused by smoke inhalation rather than the heat of the fire itself. With that being said, breaking windows during a fire allows the fire to gain more access to oxygen, helping the fire grow, and decreasing your ability to escape. When you keep the windows closed you are starving the fire. 

DO NOT RETURN TO THE BUILDING FOR YOUR BELONGINGS. 

As you’re told when you’re in elementary school, leave all your belongings and allow the first responders to fight the fire. You might think you have time to grab a few things, but fire can move quicker than you expect. 

It’s important to understand what you need to do, and not do in case of a fire. We understand it can be challenging to not panic when a fire occurs. The best thing you can do is leave it in a safe way, and allow the first responders to take care of it.

TOP 5 CAUSES OF COMMERCIAL FIRES

We didn’t start the fire🎶

While Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire is an extremely catchy tune, it’s not something you want to hear as a building manager. It’s important to have all the fire protection systems in place to ensure your building’s safety. Fire prevention should be your main priority.

Having all the important precautions in place is important, but you also need to understand why fires start in commercial buildings. Here are the top 5 causes of commercial fires, so you can be prepared when you need it most. 

Cooking Fires

One of the most common causes of fires in commercial buildings are cooking fires. Any business that has a kitchen area is susceptible to cooking fires. Some of these fires begin by human error, while others stem from appliance malfunction. Your kitchen should be considered a high-risk zone and should be adequately protected with sprinkler systems, alarms, and fire extinguishers.

Here are a few of the leading commercial buildings affected by cooking fires:

  • 64% of fires in healthcare facilities are related to cooking.
  • 61% of fires in restaurants are related to cooking.
  • 38% of fires in educational institutions are related to cooking.
  • 29% of fires in office properties are related to cooking.
  • 13% of fires in stores and mercantile properties are related to cooking.

Heating equipment-related fires

During colder months, most commercial buildings require additional heat in order for workers to remain comfortable. The equipment required to keep your building warm is susceptible to overheating and starting fires. This equipment might include central heating units, fireplaces, water heaters, and other heating appliances. Heating equipment accounts for 14% of fires in industrial/manufacturing properties and 11% of fires in office buildings.

Electrical and lighting equipment

Any electricity within your building carries inherent fire risks. Electrical fires can occur with overloaded circuits, loose connections, faulty fuses, imbalanced electrical loads, and other electrical and lighting problems.

Most electrical fires stem from older buildings’ electrical wiring. However, it is important to stay proactive and have your new building inspected. You should also perform preventative maintenance annually. 

Intentional Fires

Intentional fires account for 10% of fires that occur in commercial buildings. These fires tend to cause the most damage and unfortunately, result in the most civilian injuries and deaths.

It is important to implement active fire safety measures and include fire safety in areas that may seem uncommon. These fires typically occur in bathrooms, trash bins, garages, or open areas like a lawn or field.

Human Error

Human error and unexpected fires account for about 10% of fires started in commercial buildings. Unplanned fires happen. They may stem from a variety of situations. For example, employees may leave a space heater on or plug too many things into an extension cord. 

While you can’t stop carelessness, you can implement proper employee training programs. These programs help educate your employees on how to prevent fires and put them out when they do occur. 

At VFS, we are dedicated to ensuring that your building and your employees remain safe from harm. We partner with our clients to develop the best fire protection solutions and safety training based on your business’s specific needs. Fortify your building, protect your employees and gain the peace of mind you deserve knowing that VFS is protecting your business.

security measures to implement today

Do you know what’s going on in your building when you’re not there? 5 Security measures you should implement today.

Do you know what’s going on in your building when you’re not there? Probably not. Your old school security system just isn’t going to cut it anymore. It’s important to implement a few security measures to better understand what’s happening in your building at all times. Why do you need to know? There are multiple safety issues that can occur, and with proper security measures in place, you can prevent them! Here are 5 security measures you should implement today.

Access Control

Controlling the access into your building helps to mitigate many risks to your business assets, inventory, and employees. When your access control system is running properly it can help you manage your team, restrict access to certain rooms, and track movement throughout your facility.  At VFS, we readily design top of the line Access Control Systems that integrate into your intrusion alarm systems.

Intrusion Alarm Systems

This is not your simple ‘Beware of Dog’ sign! Intrusion alarm systems help to deter trespassers and alert both you and the authorities when someone unlawfully enters your building. Every building is unique, at VFS our alarm systems are designed for your specific building needs, we integrate Access Control with Video Surveillance to ensure your business’s safety.

Mass Notification

If something happens in your building wouldn’t you like to know? Mass notification systems can help guide and direct your team in an emergency situation. With our advanced technology and proper safety protocols in place, these notification systems can help protect against potential threats that could cause damage or loss of critical assets. Whether you are in a municipal, civil, and defense or manufacturing and industrial environment these systems cut through the noise to clearly communicate critical life-saving information as well as general notification announcements throughout your facility. With industry-leading intelligibility VFS can assist your business in delivering the right message, to the right people, at the right time to help save lives and protect your assets. 

Security Analytics

Along with multiple security system offerings, we track activities and reliability through our in-depth reporting system. With these analytics, we can better understand the needs of your business. Which systems are you using most? What areas of your business need more protection? We’ll find out what you need and implement it. 

Video Surveillance

Digital video monitoring can help protect your facility from theft (both internal and external), vandalism, and workplace violence. If an incident occurs, your team can be on top of it. We connect your system to your IP network so that recorded or live video can be viewed from a computer anywhere there is internet access. These systems can also integrate with your Access Control Systems. 

At VFS, we work to keep your business as safe as possible. Our systems are put in place to do just that. If something isn’t working for your business, we pivot and find something that will better serve your specific building. Contact us to learn more!

“RUN LIKE HELL” IS NOT A FIRE SAFETY PROTOCOL

“Run like hell” is not a fire safety protocol. For large corporations, organization is key. For both the safety of your employees and your building, you must prioritize implementing proper fire safety protocols. We’ve put together our top 5 tips for improving fire safety in your building. 

PERFORM A FIRE ASSESSMENT AND CRAFT THE PERFECT FIRE SAFETY PLAN. 

Fire risk assessments should be regularly scheduled to ensure your business has the necessary processes and procedures in place in case of emergency. This assessment will likely include identifying fire hazards, evaluating and reducing the risk, and crafting a plan.

You likely have an old plan, created by a far-off company and tucked away in a drawer, never to be seen again.  This is also not a great fire safety protocol.  For the plan to work, everyone needs to know what the plan is. Be sure to run drills periodically throughout the year. All employees should share problems that arise in those drills with management to avert problems in a real emergency. 

Your fire safety plan should include employee education, fire escape routes, fire drill, and a plan to ensure that all team members have an evacuation plan that fits their needs. The plan should be detailed and robust, to ensure you are prepared for anything that may come your way!

IMPLEMENT THE PROPER TECHNOLOGY. 

We don’t just mean fire extinguishers placed randomly around the office. This means fire detection and alarm systems that can overcome potential loss of power, emergency lighting to guide your team in the dark, industrial fire sprinkler systems to help prevent the spread of a fire, and monitoring to alert the authorities to your emergency. Having the proper technology in place will allow your team to stay safe and your building to come out with limited damage.

DISPLAY SIGNAGE TO HELP LEAD YOUR TEAM TO SAFETY.

Communicate proper health and safety information through illuminated signs, which can include fire safety warning signs, fire-fighting equipment signs, and marking dangerous substances. Be sure the signage is easy to ready and communicates the message clearly.

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE FLAMES… DON’T LET YOUR BUSINESS GO UP IN SMOKE.

Smoke can be just as deadly as flames if your building has a fire. Be sure to have the proper equipment in place, like smoke and fire curtains, to limit the spread of smoke damage as well as the damage caused by fire. 

MAKE SURE YOUR STAFF IS EDUCATED.

Imagining worst-case scenarios is not just for Sci-Fi TV writers… While it can be easy to forget to address the real dangers of fire when you haven’t experienced it, this can be a business’ greatest downfall. Ensure you give your employees annual fire safety training to teach them about the common causes of workplace fires. Address how to prevent a fire, and what to do if a fire takes place in the workspace.

“Run like hell” doesn’t have to be your fire safety protocol. Take these steps to improve your office’s fire safety. Want to know more? Contact us today!

4 REASONS TO INVEST IN FIRE PROTECTION SERVICES TODAY.

Many business owners choose not to invest in fire protection services to cut costs and improve their bottom line. However, these business owners may not realize that the scope of fire protection goes beyond the event of a fire itself. In fact, fire protection services benefit businesses long before and well after an incident occurs.

Read on to learn how investing in fire protection services can protect your business and employees, cut insurance costs, and help your company survive business interruption and make a successful recovery. 

Keep Your Business and Employees Safe 

The most important reason to invest in fire protection service is to keep both your business and your employees safe. 

Protect Your Business

Any fire can devastate your business. Small fires may damage your property enough to halt business operations for a few days. Large fires may result in the complete loss of your building, materials, merchandise, important documents or records and, in the worst cases, harm an employee or customer. 

Each of these outcomes also carries major financial risk. Investing in fire protection services can help to reduce this risk and protect the business you worked so hard to build. 

Protect Your Employees

According to OSHA, “businesses operate more efficiently when they implement effective safety and health management systems.” 

Employees play an essential role in supporting your business. By making them feel safe and protected in their workplace, you are helping them to be more productive as well as treating them with the care they deserve. Your business is their livelihood and protecting it is not just about protecting your assets, it’s about protecting them too. 

Be Prepared to Survive Business Interruption

Over 70% of businesses that experience a major fire either never reopen or close within three years of the event. 

The high percentage of businesses that fail following a fire is largely due to the intensity of business interruption fires cause. If you are well-equipped to handle a major fire, you will be better prepared to survive business interruption. The 30% of businesses that survive fires likely recover because they had plans in place before the event occurred. 

Mitigate Risk For Insurance Purposes

Insurance companies assess your potential risk when determining the cost of your coverage. 

The cost of fire safety is a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of recovering from a fire and subsequent increases in insurance premiums. Therefore, it is important to have all the precautions in place to reduce any potential risk. Additionally, fire safety services can help your business avoid potential workers’ compensation payments.

Reduce Liability Risk

Business owners can avoid potential liability by investing in proper fire safety insurance. If owners do not comply with regulations or keep their building up to code, they are vulnerable to potential liability. The best way to keep yourself and those in your building safe is to invest in high-quality fire protection.

How to Invest in Fire Protection Services

Business owners have a range of fire protection services to choose from to protect their businesses and employees. For example, fire safety services and solutions may include: 

  • Fire sprinkler systems
  • Fire suppression systems
  • Fire alarm and detection systems
  • Portable fire extinguishers
  • And more

At VFS,  we want to help protect your employees, your company, your assets, and your building from any potential fire risk. 

Contact us today to learn more about our services and see how we can help.

Read on to learn the difference between fire protection and fire prevention, here.

On June 14, 2017, one of the most devastating fires hit the Grenfell Towers high rise buildings in London.  There at least 80 people confirmed dead, over 70 additional injured and hospitalized.  The fire burned for over 60 hours and over 250 firemen were involved in putting out this blaze.  The apartment building was a 24 story high rise and the fire started in a fridge-freezer on the 4th floor.

Anger is rising amongst the British people in the aftermath of this fire and many people are calling for justice!  Reports from London state that safety concerns in the building had been ignored for quite some time.  There was no sprinkler system in the building and in fact some of the materials used to renovate the building were considered highly flammable and probably helped the fire to spread.  Joe Ruane, the former deputy chief fire officer for US Air Force bases in Britain, stated that he has never seen a blaze like this before and it appears that more than one fire protection safeguard failed. Labour MP David Lammy denounced the fire as “corporate manslaughter”. He said arrests should be made based on the negligence of the building owners.

This type of tragic fire raises the need for awareness in following the laws and codes set forth by Fire Protection Agencies. A fire sprinkler system could have prevented this catastrophe fire on the 4th floor before it could spread throughout the entire building. Neglecting to protect people, or not to inspect and maintain existing fire & life safety systems at the expanse of corporate savings, can result in tragedy such as the Grenfell Towers fire.

For more details on this tragic story, Click Here:  http://www.newser.com/story/244311/london-blaze-called-corporate-manslaughter.html

VFS held its annual Customer Service and Safety Day in March. The event is held each year and involves all 130+ VFS employees. The VFS team spends the day learning about customer service, safety and team building.

This year’s events focused on five areas:

  • Road Safety
  • Orange Police Department Active Shooter Training
  • General Safety Training
  • Customer Service Training
  • Team Building exercises

The VFS safety program has a superior record of success in every way it can be measured. We recognize that the work we do can be extremely dangerous and our goal is to make the safety of our employees and clients a top priority. Along with our annual safety event, VFS conducts weekly and monthly safety meetings along with weekly surprise on-site safety inspections.  In addition, EVERY company employee from field to office is required to participate in monthly Safety Toolbox Topics.

When it comes to safety, VFS has one of the lowest Experience Modification Rates in the fire & life safety industry. The reason for that is because we take safety very seriously.  The Experience Modification Rate (EMR) has a strong impact on businesses. It is a number used by insurance companies to gauge both past cost of injuries and future chances of risk. An EMR of 1.0 is considered the industry average.

VFS Experience Modification Rate:

2016:                                   0.63

2015:                                   0.76

2014:                                   0.92

2013:                                   0.98

VFS is proud of our safety record and will continue to make safety a priority for our team and our clients. 

reg inspections

As building owners and managers, one of your most important responsibilities is to make sure your building is safe for all its occupants. According to NFPA code, quarterly and yearly inspections of your fire and life safety systems are mandatory. In addition, some components of a system like a fire pump, require weekly and monthly inspections. It is best to consult your VFS Account Executive for details. Having your building inspected by trained and certified inspectors will help keep your safety systems in good working order.

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DELUGE VS. PRE ACTION SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

An article written by Randy Nelson, CEO of VFS Fire & Security Services, for the June 2012 issue of Sprinkler Age.

Although ‘shared support structures’ are nothing new to our industry, the term and additional guidance concerning hanging and seismic bracing when utilizing shared support structures required some long-deserved attention.  Shared support structures can be loosely defined as structures that support more than one object (pipe or equipment) including components from other mechanical disciplines.  Examples of shared support structures are trapeze hangers, pipe stands, pipe rack structures, and other similar assemblies.  It is not intended that permanent structural elements of a building or the building itself be included as a shared support structure.

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WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR FIRE SAFETY TRAINING: A COMPLETE GUIDE

Today we think of firefighters less in terms of putting out flames and more as “first responders” to emergencies. We think of fire safety systems in an entirely new light, and the broader term “emergency notification” has become a greater priority in evacuation. Mere fire alarms are no longer enough. The Department of Defense has determined that most basic fire alarm systems are lacking in their ability to communicate with people in the event of non-fire emergencies such as terrorist attacks or weather emergencies.

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