fire extinguishers in a fire suppression system

Your needs as a commercial real estate owner vary on the type of building you own. You’ve likely heard of many various fire protection systems, but do you know the key differences between a fire sprinkler system and a fire suppression system? It’s important to understand these differences. 

Clean Agent Fire Suppression Systems

Clean agent fire suppression systems utilize environmentally-friendly chemical reagents to put out fires. These are typically found in sensitive areas, such as data centers. The chemicals used are water-free and safe for the environment. Once a clean agent system is activated, clean-up is minimal. 

Carbon Dioxide Fire Suppression Systems

Carbon dioxide systems use CO2 colorless, odorless gas to extinguish a fire. These systems are an incredibly efficient and cost-effective approach to fire protection. Clean-up following the activation of a carbon dioxide system is minimal.

These systems are currently being used by the U.S Navy in commercial shipping applications. It is common to find these systems in industries that handle steel and aluminum. 

Industrial Fire Suppression Systems

Industrial plants need extra attention when it comes to fire protection, as most of the areas are in high-hazard environments. The fires that occur in these areas typically involve some type of chemical, liquid fuel, or other hazardous materials, therefore proper fire protection systems are essential. These systems typically use dry chemicals to extinguish the fire. 

Restaurant Fire Suppression Systems

Kitchens require specific fire suppression systems. Kitchen fire suppression systems are designed to put out grease fires that would be worsened if you attempt to put them out with water. They typically utilize wet chemicals in a mist form to extinguish the fire quickly and effectively.

Fire protection systems needed for high-hazard areas are among the most technical and specialized fire equipment systems. At VFS, we pride ourselves on being a renowned leader in the special hazards sector. 

Our founder and CEO, Randy Nelson, sits on the technical committee for NFPA 16 (Code Standard for the Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler) and understands just how critical proper installation and maintenance are on these specialized systems. We bring our robust knowledge, expertise, and experience to find the safest and most reliable solution for every unique need and environment your building has!

infographic about fire suppression systems

SPECIAL HAZARD FIRE PROTECTION

WE REALLY KNOW HOW TO SUCK THE AIR OF THE ROOM

You have likely heard the rumor that the Yale library’s fire extinguishing system removes the air from the book stacks in the event of a fire, which would doom anyone inside the building. While the special hazard fire protection system utilized is designed to save the books from harmful sprinklers, it actually will not harm anyone inside the building! This is only one example of how special hazard fire protection systems protect your people and your valuable assets. 

WHAT IS A ‘SPECIAL HAZARD’?

An area deemed a ‘special hazard’ area can mean a few things. For one, it can be an area containing equipment or processes of exceptionally high value. It can also be an area containing unique, or irreplaceable assets- like the Yale library! Lastly, they can be areas where the revenue produced or its function is of greater value than the equipment itself. 

A special hazard isn’t simply an area, it can be a building, area, room, or a piece of equipment. From a fire protection standpoint, certain industries bring about additional challenges in the fire safety realm. Places like data centers, telecommunications, power generation, manufacturing and testing facilities, machinery spaces, and healthcare facilities. A typical fire alarm and sprinkler system simply won’t cut it for these types of buildings. 

At VFS, we’re experts in special hazard protection. We know how to ensure your unique building needs are met in terms of fire protection. We also know that special hazard protection begins with fire suppression systems, sounds, and communication systems. 

FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

Fire suppression systems are designed to extinguish or control fires. They are activated by heat, smoke, or a combination of the two. Unlike typical wet-pipe sprinkler systems, suppression systems use gaseous, chemical, or foam agents to suppress the fire. Like the Yale library- we know how to suck the air out of the room! 

Because these fire suppression systems do not utilize water, they aid in protecting and preserving sensitive equipment and content within a very specific environment. Specific environments typically need specific different types of fire suppression systems. At VFS, we have the expertise to design, install, and maintain these systems with integrity. A few of the major special hazard systems we provide our clients include portable fire extinguishers, pre-engineered systems, marine, vehicle, pre-engineered kitchen systems, and gaseous systems. 

SOUND AND COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

In an emergency, especially in a special hazard situation, communication is key. These communication systems work with your fire protection systems to ensure the safety of your people. At VFS, we support our clients in crafting internal and external sound, text, and visual notifications sent from a centralized location. 

These notifications are based on the type and severity of the threat. As well as location tools that identify at-risk personnel and assets. It is essential to have top-of-the-line sound and communication systems that ensure the safety of your most valuable assets.

We are a renowned leader in fire and life safety systems for special hazard facilities. We take pride in being one of the select few companies capable of performing highly technical and sophisticated projects. Our clients have access to our team every step of the way. From the design/ build stages to the implementation. 

The robust knowledge and vast experience our team retains provide the best possible solutions for all clients. Our technical and design expertise is recognized nationally. Our CEO and Founder, Randy Nelson sits on the Technical Committee for NFPA 16 (Code Standard for Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler), so you could say we know what we’re doing! If you need a partner in your fire protection, contact us today!

5 THINGS CRE OWNERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INSTALLING ERRCS

DON’T GET IRKED BY ERRCS

What happens when an emergency occurs in your building? Will people be able to communicate outside the building for help? Will they be guided to safety? Can the occupants dial 911 from their cell phones?

It’s important that first responders are able to communicate with other emergency responders outside of the building. As a building owner, it is your responsibility to manage evacuation, communication, and signal systems. 

Buildings are typically composed of materials that inhibit cellular and other communication signals. In order to boost signals within your building and ensure public safety compliance, you can utilize ERRCS systems. 

WHAT ARE ERRCS?

An Emergency Responder Radio Communication Systems (ERRCS) is a required standard for most buildings. ERRCS is a building communication system that improves communication within the building to those outside. This extension of the public safety network utilizes small antennas called Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) that receive and transmit radio signals from the first-responder network. 

These ERRCS systems are composed of various components that ensure they are working efficiently and effectively. A Bi-Directional Amplifiers system is integrated to connect the smaller antennas to the donor antenna. This antenna then transmits and receives radio frequencies from the public safety network. 

ERRCS IS NOT REQUIRED FOR EVERY COMMERCIAL BUILDING. HOW CAN YOU DETERMINE WHEN YOU NEED TO INSTALL ERRCS?

Start by checking your local jurisdiction to see if there are ordinances in place that relate to public safety communications. The general requirements for all buildings is that public safety radios must work in the building. If public safety radios are tested and work successfully, especially in critical areas like stairwells, electrical rooms, mechanical rooms, and elevators, then you will not be required to install an ERRCS. 

It’s important to understand what might block these signals before you hire someone to test your communication capabilities. Exterior walls and glass are just the beginning when it comes to potential signal blockages. Interior walls, office furniture, equipment, and people can also impact signal transmission. 

WHEN ARE ERRCS REQUIRED?

There are various requirements for installing ERRCS in your commercial building. Here are a few of the common requirements you need to be aware of. 

BUILDING SIZE

Buildings that have 3 or more stories, are 50,000 square feet in area, or have underground parking require the installation of ERRCS. Buildings with complex layouts have a challenging time keeping the signal strength in all areas of the building.

Challenging layouts typically include thick walls and multi-room floors. If your building is made up of metal, concrete, brick, wood, or Low-E glass, the signal may be blocked or disrupted. In order to remain in compliance with IFC regulations, you must ensure the RF signal is amplified in all areas of the building. 

LICENSING REQUIREMENTS

It’s important to ensure your Federal Communications Commission licensed radiotelephone transmitters are adjusted, maintained, and repaired up to code. These services require special training, so it’s important that you hire a trusted resource to perform inspection and maintenance on your equipment. Our experts at VFS are trusted to ensure our clients remain in compliance and up to code. 

PAGING SYSTEMS

It is essential that your ERRCS work cohesively with your fire protection systems. In order for the two to work together, you need to implement paging systems. Paging systems help announce instructions to building occupants to ensure their safety. 

SIGNAL STRENGTH

In order to remain in compliance with ERRCS requirements, a building must have a 95% majority of minimum signal strength of -95 dBm. This level is a standard in emergency responder communication systems. In order to ensure this requirement is met, you may need to boost the signal through DAS or other signal boosters. 

SIGNAL TESTING

Annual testing and maintenance are required to ensure standards are met and any interference is kept to a minimum. VFS is licensed and certified to help your building remain in compliance with these testing and maintenance requirements.

BATTERY BACK-UPS

Battery back-ups are required in case of power outages. When an emergency occurs, the power may need to be cut off to all parts of the building. When your back-ups are reliable, you ensure your emergency systems are running when you need them most. 

Do you know if your building requires ERRCS to be implemented? If not, our experts can help! Contact our team today to see how we can help your building remain compliant and, more importantly, safe!

FIRE SAFETY TIPS FOR COMMERCIAL PROPERTY OWNERS

EYEWASH STATIONS ARE NOT JUST FOR GETTING DEL FUEGO OUT OF YOUR EYES (WE GET IT… WE LOVE TACO BELL TOO)

Commercial Property Owners: Ensuring your building remains safe from harm is essential to your ongoing success. The foundation of your building safety protocol is fire safety. According to Chad Connor at AZ Big Media, about 120,000 commercial property fires occurred in 2019, resulting in $4.3 billion in property damage, 1,200 injuries, and 110 deaths. In order to ensure your commercial property isn’t included in that number, you need to put the proper fire safety precautions in place. 

START WITH REGULAR INSPECTIONS

Safety alert lights, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems must be inspected on a regular basis. Each fire protection system requires a different maintenance schedule. It’s important to stay on top of your inspection schedule in order to ensure your property remains up to code and safe for its occupants. 

  • NFPA 25 Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems
  • NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
  • NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • NFPA 17A Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems (Kitchen Systems)
  • NFPA 17 Standard for Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems (Paint Spray Booths)
  • NFPA 2001 Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems

At VFS, we assist our clients in maintaining their inspection schedules to ensure ongoing fire and life safety success. As a business owner, it’s important that you or your facilities manager are present for all inspections. Knowing the overall health of your facility allows you to plan for future expenses and report accurate safety updates to your insurers. 

ENSURE YOU HAVE THE PROPER FIRE PROTECTION SYSTEMS IN PLACE FOR YOUR UNIQUE BUSINESS

Your commercial property is unique to the needs of your business. Similarly, the necessary fire protection is unique to your commercial property. Understanding what fire protection systems you need in place to ensure your building remains safe is essential. Here are a few fire protection systems you may need to consider:

  • Smoke management systems
  • Automatic closing doors
  • Private fire hydrants
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Communication systems
  • Emergency generator and standby power systems
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Standpipe systems
  • Pressurized stair shaft
  • Elevators automatic Phase 1 & 2
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire pumps

MAINTAIN PROPER SIGNAGE THROUGHOUT THE BUILDING

Indoor and outdoor signage is essential to the safety of your building. Firefighters cannot do their job if they do not have access to equipment and pathways to access the emergency. Floors and rooms should be clearly mapped, access to specific areas like the roof should be clearly labeled, and fire safety equipment and hazardous materials need to be identified. 

Occupants cannot get to safety without understanding where the nearest exit is. Exit lighting can be an overlooked area of your fire safety. When a fire begins, the conditions will likely induce chaos and confusion. Smoke can cause occupants’ vision to be obscured and make it difficult to navigate around the office space. Ensure all exit signs are illuminated and easy to read. Consider auditory alerts as well as visual alerts for those who are visually impaired or in the case of heavy smoke. 

COMMUNICATE YOUR EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN WITH EMPLOYEES

Written emergency action plans are a vital part of ensuring your employees know what to do if an emergency occurs. These plans should cover actions both employers and employees should take to remain safe during fire emergencies. It should include the equipment that needs to be shut down, escape routes, and when and where manual fire suppression efforts should take place. 

Ensure the management team occupying your building reviews the emergency action plan with all employees at various times throughout their time in the building. It should be reviewed when it’s developed, when employee’s responsibilities change, and when the plan changes. 

ENSURE YOU HAVE SPECIAL HAZARD PROTECTION IN PLACE IF NECESSARY.

Special hazard protection is not a commonly discussed fire safety topic. Ensuring buildings are up to special hazard standards takes a very specialized skill set to perform. 

Custom fire and life safety doesn’t stop with fire suppression and sprinkler systems.   Emergency eyewash stations or emergency showers are a vital part of certain special hazardous situations.  In cases where chemicals are in play, eyewash stations are a critical safety element. 

At VFS, we pride ourselves on our expertise when it comes to special hazard protection. We understand that special hazard safety begins with the integration of custom fire sprinkler systems, special hazard solutions, and fire alarms. 

ACTIVE VS. PASSIVE FIRE PROTECTION

WHEN YOUR WIFE SAYS “I’M FINE…” HOW TO PUT OUT FIRES (BECAUSE YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS ABOUT TO GO UP IN FLAMES)

As a husband, the last thing you want to hear is your wife passive-aggressively saying “I’m fine…” You know exactly what that means- it’s time to put out a figurative fire because your relationship is about to go up in flames. As a building owner, the flames you need to avoid aren’t quite as figurative. 

In order to fight very real fires that can occur in your building, you need to implement proper fire protection systems. Both active and passive fire protection systems are necessary to keep your building, and more importantly, your people safe from harm. 

WHAT IS PASSIVE FIRE PROTECTION?

The word ‘passive’ has a connotation that the object in question is something that is not expected to produce results. Your wife’s passive-aggressive comments beg to differ, and so do your passive fire protection systems.  In fact, passive fire protection (pfp) can be equally, if not more, effective than active fire protection. 

Passive fire protection systems are stationary materials designed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. These systems help keep the fire in its original area, therefore, stopping it from spreading throughout the building. The combination of active and passive fire protection systems can help put out fires faster and stop additional damage from occurring. 

These fire protection systems are typically built into your building. When looking to renovate or build on a property, there is a lot of careful planning needed to ensure your building has these passive fire protection systems in place. Our team can help your team design and plan your construction in order to ensure building safety. For example, using cinder block walls as opposed to traditional wood-frame walls help to reduce the spread of flames. 

However, passive systems can still be added after construction. Structures like smoke baffles, fire doors, and fire-resistant glass partitions can be installed after construction has been completed. 

The objective of a passive fire protection system is to hold the smoke and flames in one contained area. They can also be used to channel the flames out of the building. When you have passive fire protection systems in place, fires that do occur are easier to extinguish. 

WHAT IS ACTIVE FIRE PROTECTION?

With an active fire protection (afp) system, some kind of action is taking place. Whether it is manual or automatic, these systems deploy once fire, smoke, or heat is detected. These systems are designed to help combat the fire, and help put it out. 

MOST BUILDINGS ARE EQUIPPED WITH A FEW ACTIVE SYSTEMS THAT CAN BE DEPLOYED ONSITE DURING A FIRE.

SMOKE DETECTORS

Smoke detectors activate when there is smoke in the building. These detectors typically utilize noise and light to alert occupants in the building of the potential fire. 

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

Are manually operated active fire protection measures. These help occupants put out small fires within the building. 

SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

Sprinkler systems are active fire protection systems that automatically activate to help put out the fire while building occupants move to safety. These systems trigger when the heat from the fire causes the sprinkler head to open. There are various types of fire sprinkler systems that can be beneficial for your business. 

Understanding your unique business needs is exactly what we do at VFS. Our in-house teams help with construction services, special hazard needs, inspection maintenance, and preventative maintenance. We are your partner in success. 

VENTILATION SYSTEMS

Ventilation systems help direct smoke out of the building and away from the occupants. 

These active fire protection systems are typically installed based on certain legal criteria such as occupancy and building size. Higher than average risk areas, such as areas with flames or cooking implements might require additional active systems for added protection. 

HOW DO PASSIVE AND ACTIVE FIRE PROTECTION MEASURES WORK TOGETHER?

A combined effort of passive and active systems is essential to the safety of your building and its occupants. Active systems effectively help occupants evacuate or fight the flames, these systems typically have a greater likelihood of error. 

Passive systems should be installed throughout the building as a way to support active systems. A great example of passive and active systems working together is smoke curtains. These passive fire protection systems help direct smoke toward vents, where smoke can leave the building. Passive systems can also help force flames and smoke to remain in one area.

New buildings should implement these passive fire protection systems into the design and build phase of construction. Our Design/Build team at VFS can help ensure your building is protected from harm when it is finished. Older buildings, which do not have these passive systems built-in, can be retrofitted with smoke curtains and panels as an added layer of protection. 

Active and passive fire protection systems together can prevent expensive damages, catastrophic injuries, and potential loss of life. Implementing both systems into your building is essential to the safety of your building. 

At VFS, we believe in helping your company meet the needs of your unique building. Every building is different, every building needs different protection systems in place. Our teams think creatively to come up with solutions that ensure your building remains safe from harm. Reach out to us today to see how we can help your business today! 

YOUR V-DAY BUILDING FIRE PROTECTION CHECKLIST

It May Not Be Romantic, But It Can Be Life-Saving

Valentine’s Day is here and love is in the air. While it’s easy to get swept up in the romance, it’s important to ensure that the air remains clear of smoke. Before lighting the candles and sitting down for dinner, make sure your building is protected. 

The four main goals of fire protection are:

  1. Prevent a Fire From Starting
  2. Prevent Loss of Life When a Fire Does Start
  3. Confine the Fire to Its Origin
  4. Extinguish the Fire

VFS provides systems that can quickly alert everyone that a fire is in the building and to help stop the fire in its tracks. There are many types of fire protection systems in buildings and we can make sure yours are cutting edge. When you need fire protection, you need it to be the best. 

Keep the Flame Alive, Not Ablaze

The first of the four goals of fire protection is to prevent fires from starting in the first place. This is accomplished through cautious actions and awareness of people in the building. Informing building occupants of common fire risks can help them avoid risky mistakes. 

Common Valentine’s Day Firestarters

  • Candles and fireplaces provide light, warmth, and they set the mood for a romantic night — but they can also be a hazard. Many fires begin in the bedroom, usually because candles are too close to bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture that easily lights on fire. 
  • Cooking fires are incredibly common and are often the result of an unattended stove. When pouring your heart into a Valentine’s Day dinner for your significant other, make sure to stay in the kitchen and practice caution.
  • Helium balloons are a delightful surprise, but try to keep them inside. If they float away, they may hit a power line on the way. This can cause a small explosion that melts the electric wire and leads it to fall. The fallen electrical wire can spark a fire. 

Posting warnings around flammable objects can bring awareness and help prevent the romantic gesture from blowing up in your face.  

Smoke Alarms May Kill the Mood, But They’re Vital

It’s not romantic music, but a smoke alarm will respond to fire and smoke to alert everyone in the building that it’s time to leave. While preventing fires altogether is preferable, planning for the event of a fire is an essential step to save lives. 

Both automatic and manual smoke alarms play an important role in a timely evacuation. To prevent the loss of life during a fire, having a highly responsive alarm system can make all the difference. If your alarm systems haven’t been updated for a while, they may not work properly. We’ll make sure your fire alarm system is fully functional and ready to alert you. 

What’s Your Sign? Safe Fire Exits

Once the alarm is going, people need to know where to exit. Having properly marked fire exits expedites the escape plan. Even if you go over a fire safety plan together, the plan can fly out the window in the panic of the moment. 

Clearly marking exits and exit routes can guide people to safety, even when it’s hard to process the situation. LED fire exit signs can easily be seen through smoke and show people where to go. Multiple signs leading the way to the fire exit are helpful in larger buildings where the exit sign may not be visible from down a hallway.  

What’s More Romantic Than Showering Together?

Sprinkler systems are a vital part of stopping fires. Automatic fire sprinkler systems reduce fatalities by 87% when compared to properties without any fire sprinklers. Sprinklers help prevent the spread of fire and confine the blaze to its area of origin. 

Fire sprinkler systems are highly effective at controlling fires and keeping them from growing. They’re triggered individually when the heat of a room reaches a certain temperature, activating the sprinkler. Not all sprinklers will be activated at once, so water damage is minimized. 

If your fire sprinkler systems aren’t checked often, they may not work when they’re needed most. VFS can help you ensure your sprinkler system is functioning properly so your building will be protected in the worst-case scenario. Our inspection and maintenance teams are prepared to help keep your building up to NFPA and local codes. Inspection and maintenance is essential to ensuring your sprinkler and fire alarm systems are functioning properly when you need them most. 

Light a Spark in Your Love Life, Not in Your Building

Building fire systems are essential for keeping your romantic night from going up in flames. While they may not be used very often, the importance of protection can’t be overstated. Top-tier fire protection is better to have and not need than need and not have. 

So before the mood heats up this Valentine’s Day, make sure your building won’t. These tips can keep the romance — as well as everyone in the building — alive and well.

BRING YOUR ALARM MONITORING SYSTEMS BACK TO THE FUTURE

Great Scott! It’s time to bring your alarm monitoring systems back to the future. Mesh network systems are the Delorean ready to bring your systems up to speed with the times.

Choosing mesh technology to support your alarm monitoring system needs means choosing reliability, speed, and convenience. Your antiquated alarm monitoring systems just won’t cut it anymore. 

HOW CAN MESH ALARM MONITORING SYSTEMS HELP YOUR BUSINESS?

RELIABLE

Mesh network monitoring systems are unlike any tower-based, single-route systems. The mesh wireless technology is resistant to environmental disturbances and equipment problems. The multiple signal pathways allow for the alarm monitoring systems to remain in service for your building. 

FAST

Mesh networks communicate with alarms in under three seconds. A traditional telephone line, cellular, or IP can take up to 45-60 seconds. That extra time could be the difference between life and death for your employees. 

With mesh network systems, you don’t have to worry about slow or dropped connections. While cellular and IP systems slow and even sometimes drop when users are added to the systems, MeshWrx’s performance is improved. Radio mesh network technology creates multiple paths for an emergency signal to reach first responders. The self-configuration and smart routing results in 100% uptime. 

CONVENIENT 

Cellular and IP equipment requires consistent upgrades in order to ensure your technology does not become obsolete. With mesh technology, once installed, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. 

Not to mention the money you can save by installing mesh networks. Your current system may be costing you a small fortune. Monthly costs for traditional alarm monitoring systems are increasing as quality and reliability are decreasing.

Increased service calls and time spent tracking down issues are additional costs incurred with outdated systems. With MeshWrx, we eliminate the cost of expensive phone lines, don’t require upgrades, and instead provide more reliable technology.

MeshWrx alarm monitoring systems can help you protect your building when you need it most, just ask our clients! 

“Over the years we have had continued service issues and problems with our fire alarm monitoring telephone liens for our facilities in Southern California, and the cost and fees for phone lines have also increased year over year. By canceling our monthly fire alarm and security telephone lines services and going with MeshWrx monitoring, our organization is saving over $40,000 annually with superior technology, equipment, and service.” 

-Josh Harvey, Manager of Information Systems at Armstrong Garden Centers

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LANDLINES ARE SO 1987… HOW MESHWRX CAN PROTECT YOUR BUILDING AND BRING YOU INTO THE 21ST CENTURY

Implementing Mesh technology into your building is like getting your first cell phone for your birthday. Gone are the days of landlines, and dial-up internet. Mesh technology is designed to ensure your alarm systems run efficiently and effectively. 

HOW CAN MESHWRX HELP YOUR BUSINESS RUN SMOOTHLY?

As a building owner, property manager, or facility manager, one of your main goals is to ensure your property runs smoothly and effectively. To simplify your life, MeshWrx is the most reliable, cost-efficient, and hassle-free alarm monitoring solution. 

ONE OF OUR CLIENTS, WITH 101 SYSTEMS IN PLACE HAS SAVED $218,160 IN JUST THE FIRST YEAR!

Mesh network technology was designed as a means for the demanding military communication pathways. Today these mesh networks are still trusted by military, fire, and police departments, and can be extremely effective at managing your building’s fire safety.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MESH TECHNOLOGY?

YOUR CURRENT SYSTEM IS COSTING YOU A SMALL FORTUNE, UNLESS IT’S MESHWRX, THAT IS!

Monthly costs for telephone lines are increasing as quality and reliability are decreasing. The increase of service calls and time spent tracking down potential issues create additional costs when using these outdated systems. Cellular and IP may require long-term contracts and regular upgrades in equipment costs, as technology changes. 

When landlines, cellular, and IP fail, MeshWrx is there to help. In Houston TX, Hurricane Harvey hit knocking out landlines, cellular, and IP. Mesh technology was the only avenue of communication that survived through the devastation.

With MeshWrx, the cost of expensive phone lines, and upgrades are mitigated, This technology has also been proven more reliable. 

100% UPTIME

When users are added to traditional systems, like cellular and IP systems, the response time slows and can sometimes even drop. The MeshWrx system performance is quite the opposite. The radio-mesh network technology creates multiple paths for emergency signals to reach first responders. The self-configuration and smart routing results in 100% uptime!

NO UPGRADES NEEDED!

The technology bandwidth increases with cellular and IP, their equipment becomes obsolete over time. With MeshWrx, once installed- fawgehtaboutit. No, but really, forget about it! Mesh technology doesn’t require upgrades.

RELIABILITY AND FAST SIGNAL TRANSMISSION SPEED

Tower-based and single-route systems are not nearly as reliable as mesh technology. With environmental disturbances and equipment problems, your alarm systems need multiple signal paths to function effectively. MeshWrx is resistant to these disturbances, as it continually optimizes multiple signal paths. 

Mesh networks were originally designed for military communication pathways due to their reliable connection. Today, these networks are still trusted by military, fire, and police departments. 

The reliability of these systems is due to their fast alarm signal transmission speed. Mesh communicates alarms in less than 3 seconds. Whereas, telephone lines, cellular, or IP can take up to 45-60 seconds. Because of this, the mesh technology is the fastest alarm signal and safest choice for your properties. 

Mesh technology systems are systems put in place to ensure the safety of your building and the people inside. Ensuring you have the best and most effective systems in your building is essential. Contact us today to learn more! 

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WHY SO INSECURE?  BILL, THAT TOOL BELT LOOKS GREAT ON YOU…  HOW TO IMPROVE SECURITY FOR CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES

Construction companies are hot spots for theft. Most construction sites are open without proper security to assist them in combating the growing issue of theft. Stolen construction equipment and materials alone can account for up to $1 billion a year in losses.

As a construction company owner, it’s time to face your insecurities. Here are a few strategies you can implement to get more secure and we mean, improve your worksite’s security. 

START BY ENSURING YOUR SITE IS LIT. (LIKE YOUR AUNT MARTHA ON NEW YEAR’S EVE)

In all seriousness, having a well-lit construction site is one of the most important and simple actions you can take to ensure your site’s safety. Most criminals work hard to stay hidden, so having lighting that ensures they can’t hide is extremely helpful in preventing crimes of opportunity. 

Outside of those crimes of opportunity, construction theft is most perpetrated by employees. With proper lighting, employees will be less likely to move unseen into areas in which they are not authorized and less likely to share the worksite location with nefarious friends and relations who might take advantage of a poorly lit site. 

FENCING (NO, NOT THE SPORT) AND SIGNAGE CAN HELP!

While a sword is an effective weapon, we mean perimeter fencing, not an epee.  Fencing is a simple means of discouraging theft on the construction site.  Signage is a great way to ensure that no one can claim ignorance in the face of a trial. If the job site permits signage and fencing, consider adding a temporary fence (and be sure it remains locked during the night). 

If you’re looking into fencing for your construction site, a fence of at least 8 feet will make it difficult for criminals to climb over. Make sure there is only 1 entrance and exit into the site and install cameras for monitoring activity through the non-active working hours or at night.

Another old-school but effective way to increase your construction site’s security is to post “no trespassing” signs throughout. And if they’re out of those signs at Home Depot you can post your “beware of dog” sign as a backup plan as well! Not even the scariest of criminals wants to have a meet and greet with Cujo.

This signage ensures that outside people know only certain people are permitted in the construction area. Adding that the site is under surveillance (and actually placing the site under surveillance) could help increase awareness and security. 

RECORDS OF INVENTORY AND CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT ARE ESSENTIAL

Because there isn’t a national registration database, like the DMV, that registers construction equipment, it’s important you take on that task on your own. Be sure to document all your materials and equipment, and log who has access to each piece of equipment and when. Photos and a record of tool serial numbers can be extremely helpful when something is stolen or lost.

The National Equipment Register (NER) is the best place to register your equipment and improve your chances of getting stolen equipment back. If equipment does get stolen. Notify the police and the NER to help recover stolen equipment from pawn shops and second-hand tool websites. 

MAKE SURE DELIVERIES ARE SCHEDULED IN A TIMELY MANNER

Ensure your deliveries are scheduled as you need them. Therefore, there will be fewer materials lying around, making it harder for those with criminal intentions to steal from you. Contact your supplier to work out a more efficient delivery schedule for your construction project where materials arrive on time.  Having piles of tools lying around can give thieves the false impression that you won’t notice if just one pneumatic drill is missing. 

CLEAN UP AND LOCK UP MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT

While this tip may seem obvious, it’s important to say. After each workday, make sure all building materials and equipment are organized and locked up. If your tools cannot be locked up and are portable, consider taking them with you. For equipment that is not portable, consider utilizing chains and cables to anchor them to their place, and remove all keys. 

LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, IMPLEMENT SECURITY SYSTEMS

Security cameras and motion detectors can be extremely useful on a construction job site. An important part of these professional monitoring services is to communicate that they are being used. Consider placing these cameras around the perimeter of your property and near the work trailer. And don’t forget those signs we suggested earlier.

Our digital video monitoring can protect your facility against internal or external theft, and vandalism. They can also keep track of movements and people. Our systems can connect to your IP network. Previously recorded or live video can be viewed from a computer anywhere with internet access. 

At VFS, we understand how important the safety of your construction sites are to the success of your business. We always utilize the best combination of hardware and software to provide reliable and cost-effective, integrated solutions for your security needs. Contact us today for your personalized solution!

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IT’S A NEW YEAR… YOU’VE ALREADY SKIPPED THE GYM DON’T SKIP ON YOUR FIRE PROTECTION. HERE’S A CHECKLIST TO HELP

We’re four days into the new year, if you haven’t already ditched your resolutions, you’re amazing. We’re not going to lie… we snuck a piece of chocolate cake after dinner last night. While a piece of chocolate cake, or a day off of the gym won’t seriously harm your wellbeing, there is one resolution you can’t forget about- fire protection for your building.

This year, it’s time to make fire protection a top priority. That being said, we’ve come up with a few items that should be on the top of your mind if you’re committed to fire safety. 

FIRST, ENSURE YOUR BUILDING HAS A CLEAR PATH OF EGRESS/ EXIT. 

Identifying the ‘means of egress’ from your building is essential to keeping your employees safe from harm. Properly designed exits provide a safe path of escape from a fire or other emergency environments. The design of the exit should permit all occupants to reach a safe place before they are endangered by fire, smoke, or heat. The goal of an effective means of egress is to get everyone out of hazardous areas in the shortest amount of time possible.

A FEW COMPONENTS MAKE UP THE MEANS OF EGRESS, INCLUDING EXIT ACCESS, EXIT, AND EXIT DISCHARGE.

  • Exit access is the travel path or area between where a person is located and an exit.
  • Exit is the portion of the means of egress that is separated by construction or equipment from other areas of the building. Components of an exit include walls, floors, doors, etc. An exit may include vertical or horizontal means of travel, like stairways, ramps, and passageways. It is important to note that elevators are not accepted as exits!
  • Exit discharge is the portion of a means of egress between the end of the exit and a public way or other safe places.

As a building manager or owner, it is important that you self-inspect these means of egress. In doing this, you need to make sure each component is easily identifiable, visible, accessible, and unobstructed. The door must operate in the direction of the exit so people won’t be trapped inside. 

NEXT, CHECK YOUR ELECTRICAL WIRING AND POWER CORDS.

NFPA 70: National Electrical Code (NEC) ensures all wiring and electrical installations comply with regulations. Building owners and managers do not need to be an expert in electrical code, however there are a few things you should be on the lookout for to be cautious!

The first thing you should do to ensure your electrical wiring is safe is to ensure all electrical boxes, switches, and outlets have their covers in place. Also, be sure to check that extension cords are in good condition and free of any cuts or splices. Extension cords should never be a substitute for permanent wiring, they are only permitted to be used with temporary equipment. 

Surge protectors must be connected directly to an outlet and, like extension cords, cannot be attached to the structure, extend through walls or the ceilings, be run under doors, or be covered by floor coverings.

The last item to check in the electrical wiring category is electrical panel boxes. Electrical panel boxes and main building disconnect must be identified and accessible for fire department personnel. All panels and breakers must be labeled and open spaces should have proper covers in place. 

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING IS ESSENTIAL– NO WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT DUSTING AND MOPPING. 

In the ‘fire safety’ sense, housekeeping refers to the general condition of the building and the items stored within it. Be sure you properly dispose of flammables, combustibles, trash, and debris, and ensure these items do not accumulate. Flammables and combustible liquids must be stored in approved containers and cabinets and should be clearly labeled to avoid accidental ignition. 

Electrical, boiler and HVAC rooms cannot be used for storage and must remain clear of items that are not essential to the operation of the equipment within them. 

ENSURE FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS RUN EFFECTIVELY IN BETWEEN INSPECTIONS

Fire sprinkler systems must meet NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-based Fire Protection Systems requirements. These standards require that different parts of the sprinkler systems receive inspections in quarterly, semi-annual, annual, and five-year intervals. 

The inspections are performed by the fire protection contractors and other qualified personnel. As a building owner or manager, you do not have to directly handle any of the actual inspections. However, as a building owner, there are a few things you can do to ensure these inspections run efficiently and effectively, starting with scheduling the inspection appointments when due!

Once you receive an inspection, you must maintain the report and other documentation, as well as ensure all problems found are repaired as soon as possible. 

A building owner or manager can utilize a simple visual inspection to ensure these systems run effectively between inspections. First, ensure that no items are stored within 18” of any sprinkler head. Next, ensure all sprinkler heads are free of paint and corrosion and nothing is attached to them. If you come across violations of these requirements during your visual inspections, the issues should be reported and remedied immediately. 

FIRE ALARM MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTIONS

Under NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code all fire alarm systems must be inspected, tested, and maintained at semi-annual, annual, and even quarterly intervals. Like sprinkler systems, these inspections are done by trained and certified inspection personnel. Fire alarm system experts are trained in the inspection, maintenance, and testing of a particular brand of fire alarm systems. 

As a building owner, your responsibility is to maintain all reports and correct any deficiencies noted. Building owners and managers can also make sure the fire alarm panel is accessible, the location is labeled, and all documentation is maintained and available. Manual pull stations should be visible and accessible. All alerts should be reported to the alarm company so that any issues can be addressed quickly. 

LASTLY, LOOK AT YOUR FIRE EXTINGUISHER. 

NFPA 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers illustrates the requirements to select, place, test, and maintain fire extinguishers. A trained and certified expert must perform annual inspection and maintenance. Additionally, building owners are responsible for inspecting all extinguishers once a month.

The inspection requires that extinguishers are visible and accessible. They must also be free of rust, damage, and the gauge read in the “green” operation level. Additionally, all extinguishers must mount on the wall. The weight of the extinguisher determines the appropriate height of placement: 40 lbs or less may be installed at 5 feet above the floor. Any heavier should sit at a maximum height of 3 ½ feet. The base must be at least 4 inches above the floor. 

As you look to ensure your fire safety in your building for the new year, start by utilizing this checklist! Ensuring you remain prepared for the unexpected is the first step to ensuring the safety of your people and your building’s safety.

Building security systems

SANTA’S COMING DOWN THE CHIMNEY, AND SO IS A BURGLAR. ARE YOU KEEPING AN EYE ON YOUR OFFICE WHILE EVERYBODY’S OUT?

Most people know that crime escalates around the holiday season. Whether it be burglary, cyberattacks, or theft, it’s important that your business is prepared for everything. Understanding the importance of implementing proper security measures into your building is essential to the safety of your team. 

WHAT SECURITY MEASURES SHOULD YOU BEGIN IMPLEMENTING TODAY TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS LATER?

START BY TRAINING YOUR EMPLOYEES ON PROPER PROTOCOL.

Inform your employees of the best ways to protect your business and those who work within it. Security efforts throughout your company will not work if your employees are not on board. This training should cover physical security protocols. It should also cover what to do if someone dangerous is within the facility as well as cybersecurity protocols. 

Be sure your upper management has a large role in the implementation of security training and protocols. Upper management’s buy-in is essential. It helps ensure the rest of your staff understands the importance of the training. It also leads to greater follow-through with implementation.

ASIDE FROM EMPLOYEE EDUCATION, IMPLEMENT PROPER ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEMS.

Access control into your facility is one of the most straightforward ways to protect your business’ assets, inventory, and most importantly, your employees. An access control system that functions properly and is custom-tailored for your company is a powerful management tool. It helps to restrict access to certain rooms or track movement throughout your facility. 

At VFS, our security experts understand what it takes to implement proper security controls. We design access control systems that also integrate into your intrusion alarm systems.

ANOTHER ASPECT TO CONSIDER IMPLEMENTING IS INTRUSION ALARM SYSTEMS.

Intrusion alarm systems not only deter trespassers, but they also alert you and the authorities when someone unlawfully enters your building. Because every client has unique needs for their security measures, we design your security plan to meet your specific needs. VFS’ alarm systems integrate into your access control and video surveillance to ensure you are covered in the event of an emergency.

IMPLEMENT VIDEO SURVEILLANCE TECHNOLOGY TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS.

Video monitoring within your facility can help identify internal and external threats, like theft, vandalism, and workplace violence. Video surveillance deters people from actually performing these threats, while also making it easier to identify those that do. 

We connect your video surveillance system to your IP network. This means historical footage and live video can be viewed from a computer anywhere you have internet access. These systems can also work in conjunction with your access control system to ensure your business remains safe and secure.

Implementing video surveillance technology into your business’ security plans can also lower insurance premiums. As the insurance companies see it, your risk goes down immensely with proper security systems in place.

LASTLY, REVIEW YOUR SECURITY SYSTEMS AND PROTOCOLS REGULARLY.

At VFS, we implement security measures for your specific business needs. In doing this we also analyze where your business might need more or less security. We track each client’s activity and reliability using an in-depth reporting system.

These analytics dictate our recommendations and information on which systems you use the most. It also helps to inform us where your business has the potential to improve.

Understanding where your business’ security needs work is essential to keeping your people and your business safe from harm. When you have the proper systems and processes in place, you’re ready to handle anything that may come your way. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business remain safe and secure.

TOP 7 FIRE HAZARDS AROUND THE HOLIDAYS

It’s Lit! Holiday Fire Safety Tips for Roasting Chestnuts on an Open Fire 

JK… Open Fires are Very Dangerous

It’s almost the New Year, and you know what that means… it’s time to light it up! But be careful. 2021 has shown us you can never be too careful when it comes to health and safety. In other words, don’t go out of 2021 with a literal bang…

Keep in mind a few fire safety precautions as you ring in the new year. We’re a fire prevention company, so what else would we be talking about going into the New Year? Here are some fire safety tips to consider.

YOUR SMOKE DETECTOR MAY BE ANNOYING, BUT THERE’S A REASON

We understand the ringing from a smoke detector is the last thing you want to hear during the holidays. (Depending on who you ask, it’s arguably better than hearing Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want’ for the 100th time though…)

Regardless, smoke detectors have a purpose and that purpose is to keep you safe. Be sure your smoke detectors are up-to-date and have working batteries as you ring in the new year.

JUST LIKE THE AIRPORT, UNATTENDED BAGGAGE – IN THIS CASE, POTS AND PANS – SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO REMOVAL

The holiday season brings about quite a few family dinners and get-togethers that are centered around a meal. With aunts, uncles, or even just your immediate family, the kitchen can get a bit chaotic during the holiday season. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and distracted, and potentially forget about a pan on the stove or a simmering pot. Yikes!

Did you know the majority of kitchen fires begin with unattended pots and pans? While you’re cooking it’s important to remain present and aware of your surroundings.

Another useful tip is to keep clutter to a minimum, especially in the kitchen.

ROCKIN’ AROUND AN OPEN FLAME JUST ISN’T AS CATCHY…

The glow of your Christmas tree is beautiful, we agree; however, be sure you take precautions to ensure your safety. Christmas trees are one of the most common fire hazards during the holidays.

Make sure your tree remains hydrated and away from heat sources. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 25% of the Christmas tree fires that occur do so because the tree was too close to a heat source, like a candle or space heater.

YES, WE KNOW IT IS COLD, YES, THE AMBIANCE OF YOUR FIREPLACE IS PERFECT, BUT PLEASE BE CAREFUL

According to the NFPA, heating equipment is the second cause of house fires each year. We understand that heating your home is important.

You want to stay warm and cozy during these cold months, but you also need to stay safe. The last thing you want is to be standing out in the freezing cold while the fire department hoses down your house…

When using a space heater, ensure it is at least three feet from flammable items, including decor, upholstery, and Christmas trees.

As far as your fireplace goes, be sure your damper is open, a protective screen is in play, and gifts and other items remain far away. Fireplaces can crackle and release embers that could spark into something more dangerous than being on the naughty list.

OVERPACKING YOUR OUTLET IS NOT LIKE OVERPACKING FOR YOUR HOLIDAY VACATION… IT’S WORSE!

While there are plenty of things that need to be plugged in during the holiday season, it’s important not to overcrowd outlets. Electrical shorts and malfunctions are some of the leading causes of electrical fires.

As you string your lights and plug more decor into an outlet, be sure the outlet’s total load does not exceed 15 amps. While it may be tempting to have your house shining at all times during the holidays, turn off your decor when you leave the house and when you go to bed as a safety precaution.

BE AWARE OF INDOOR AND OUTDOOR DECOR

As you decorate for each respective holiday, it’s important to test all lights and cords. Then, replace anything faulty prior to use. Candles should be placed out of reach of children and be sure to extinguish them before you leave the room.

As far as outdoor decor goes, only use extension cords and light displays intended for outdoor use. Those cords should be kept away from both snow and standing water to avoid damage to the insulation.

Cords should not be pinched in doors, windows, or placed under furniture. Keep in mind, metal ladders conduct electricity, so opt for a wood or fiberglass ladder instead.

THE LAST THING YOU NEED THIS YEAR IS TO LOSE A FINGER, BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR FIREWORKS

You may want to celebrate the start of 2022 with fireworks. We understand, it’s tradition. It’s important, however, to be aware of the safety hazards that come with fireworks.

According to the NFPA, 10% of fireworks fires occur during the period from December 30- January 3, with a peak on New Year’s Day.

If you choose to set off fireworks on your own:

  • Check local laws prior
  • Choose a location away from buildings and trees
  • Ensure any spectators stand well away from the site
  • Keep water or a fire extinguisher close by in case of emergency

As we Californians know, if you’re experiencing a drought in your area, it is recommended that you cancel the fireworks show altogether.

While all of these safety precautions may seem daunting or even annoying as you tackle the holidays, they are extremely important to your safety. From our team at VFS, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

Speaking of stressful seasons, are you worried about preparing your property for hurricane season? Read how to prepare on our blog.

7 holiday fire hazard tips

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.

5 movie myths

THE ONLY THING THAT SHOULD BURN IS A DISCO INFERNO

We’ve all seen the scene in The Incredibles when a small amount of smoke from a self-destructing note causes the entire sprinkler system to go off and douse the family. Movies are designed to bring impossibility to reality for viewers. With alien invasions, transforming cars, and flying humans that’s just fine. But one movie effect that is misconceived too frequently is fire safety, and it can be dangerous. 

SPRINKLER SYSTEMS DON’T DRENCH YOU.

One of the most blatant false portrayals of fire protection systems is the use of fire sprinklers. Countless movies have shown us characters getting doused with water after a tiny amount of smoke is near a single sprinkler. 

Sorry to disappoint, but the scene in Die Hard when John McLean sets off all the sprinklers with a lighter is not feasible outside of the big screen. Hollywood dramatics make our perception of fire protection systems skewed.

In reality, each sprinkler head is triggered individually. As the heat spreads throughout a building, more sprinkler heads are activated. While deluge systems do exist, they are not as common and are typically used in very specific applications such as power plants, aircraft hangers, and chemical plants. 

A LITTLE SMOKE DOESN’T TRIGGER YOUR SPRINKLER SYSTEM

Smoke actually does not trigger a sprinkler system to turn on. Despite what The Incredibles depicts, sprinkler systems detect heat in a building and activate based on the heat temperature within the room. In Changing Lanes we see a similar movie myth, Ben Affleck lights a piece of paper on fire and holds it under a sprinkler head, triggering all the sprinkler heads in the office building. As this might add to the theatrics of a Hollywood flick it is not the mechanical truth of a fire sprinkler system.

PULLING THE FIRE ALARM DOES NOT DISCHARGE WATER.

Remember the scene in Mean Girls when the principal hits the fire alarm pull station with a baseball bat and all the sprinkler heads go off? Yeah… that’s not true either. Activating a pull station doesn’t trigger the sprinklers to dispel water, it sends a signal to the main fire alarm panel which activates the alarm and notifies occupants to get out of the building. 

If every time a fire alarm pull station was activated, even accidentally (which happens quite frequently especially in educational environments) and the sprinklers went off, it would cause an immense amount of property damage. Here’s how it REALLY works: when pulling a fire alarm pull station, the alarm sends a signal to the fire alarm panel and activates the alarm to notify occupants to leave. 

YOU CAN USE THE WRONG TYPE OF FIRE EXTINGUISHER. 

Firefighters use dry chemical extinguishers or hose lines to extinguish fires, like the car fire in Terminator 3. The firefighters in Terminator 3 use carbon dioxide fire extinguishers to try to put out the car fire, which, in reality, could have made it worse. In real fire situations, the wrong type of fire extinguisher could spread the fire or not put out the flames. Here’s a quick recap of the different types of fire extinguishers and their uses: 

  • Class A: freely burning, combustible solid materials such as wood or paper
  • Class B: flammable liquid or gas
  • Class C: energized electrical fire (energized electrical source serves as the ignitor of a class A or B fire – if electrical source is removed, it is no longer a class C fire)
  • Class D: metallic fire (titanium, zirconium, magnesium, sodium)
  • Class K: cooking fires – animal or vegetable oils or fats

USING THE ELEVATOR AFTER THE FIRE ALARM OR SPRINKLER GOES OFF WON’T WORK.

A fire breaks out on the 13th floor, the main character jumps into the elevator to get away. If this was actually possible, it would be extremely dangerous. When fire protection systems activate, the elevators will be removed from normal service and recalled to a specific landing. This action prevents the possibility of occupants being delivered to a smoke or flame-filled area. 

Understanding what fire protection services can do for you is an important part of your building safety. While most of the movie scenes are extremely entertaining, they don’t give you an accurate representation of what you should do when a fire occurs. As you start considering your fire prevention tactics, begin with implementing the proper fire safety measures in your building.

HOW TO PROPERLY PREPARE FOR A FIRE DISASTER

Fire safety is important in the workplace– just like it is anywhere else. A well-developed and thought-out course of action can keep you and your peers from recreating Dwight Schrute’s fire safety preparedness plan. Let’s discuss how to properly prepare for a fire disaster.  

Why do you need to prepare for potential office fires?

A fire in your commercial building isn’t something you expect to encounter on a Wednesday afternoon. If a fire breaks out, you don’t want to be caught unsure of what to do. Exhibit A– the entire fire episode “Stress Relief” from “The Office.”  

 

On a serious note, fire damage is considered one of the most destructive elements to your commercial building because it can cause: 

 

  • Disruption of business activities
  • Loss of business documents
  • Damage to property 
  • Liability claims
  • Injury 
  • And more

 

Not convinced? Here are a few statistics from 2017-2019 gathered by the U.S. Fire Administration on nonresidential building fires:

 

  • 108,5000 nonresidential building fires were reported to U.S. fire departments each year 
  • Nonresidential fires caused over $2.8 billion in property loss 
  • These fires occur mostly during the hours of 2 pm – 7 pm
  • The leading cause of nonresidential fires is cooking 

 

Now that you know why you should prepare for potential office fires, let’s discuss the fire preparation measures that can help. 

 

Fire Preparation Tips

In the wise words of Miguel De Cervantes, “To be prepared is half the victory.” 

 

Here are a few tips on how to prepare in the event of a fire. 

1. Take the proper precautions for your building.

Fire prevention programs and precautions are put in place to ensure your building remains safe in case something happens. No… we don’t mean lighting the door handles on fire or setting off smoke bombs throughout your office. 

via GIPHY

 

Here are some precautions you can take today.

 

  • Control smoking materials and open flames 
  • Store flammable and combustible liquids safely 
  • Use electrical equipment correctly 
  • Perform housekeeping tasks regularly 
  • Purchase fire-safe furnishings and decor 
  • Maintain commercial kitchen exhaust systems 
  • Control special hazards 

 

2. Fire Safety Education

Fire prevention relies on people knowing what to do when an emergency occurs. Fear and ambiguity are not a recipe for success, however, knowledge and preparedness are. While Dwight Schrute had good intentions for his fire safety education day, the way he went about employee education could use some work.

 

via GIPHY

Educate your staff on the proper procedure if a fire occurs.

 

Safety plans can be explained through training, sent via email, and be posted on walls. When building a fire safety education program, include: 

 

  • How to identify and correct fire hazards
  • A detailed office building evacuation plan
  • How to use fire extinguishers
  • Examples of recent fires to highlight the importance of fire safety
  • Details of how to put out various types of fires, and when they are likely to occur

 

3. Implement Fire Protection and Life Safety systems

Fire protection shouldn’t be improvised. Put systems in place that protect the building, people, and items from fire hazards. These systems include fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, and other building measures. There are both active and passive fire protection systems.

 

Active Fire Protection Systems

prepare for a fire the right way

Active fire protection systems require some amount of action or motion to work efficiently. These systems can be manually operated, like a fire extinguisher, or automatic, like sprinkler systems. 

 

Some of these systems include: 

  • Fire/smoke alarm systems
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Firefighters are also considered active fire protection 

 

Passive Fire Protection Systems

Passive fire protection systems compartmentalize buildings to help prevent the spread of fire and smoke from one room to another. These systems help limit the amount of damage done to a building and give the occupants more time to evacuate.

 

Some of these systems include:

  • Fire/smoke dampers
  • Fire doors
  • Firewalls/floors

 

Both active and passive fire protection systems can help keep your building and your employees safe from harm.

A Final Word

Your building’s fire preparation plan should be well thought out and organized in advance. By doing so, you help further pro

tect your staff, business materials, and the commercial building from the dangers of fire hazards.  If we’re being honest, it’s much more fun to watch Dwight’s preparedness plan than to live it. 

 

For more information on the difference between fire prevention and fire protection, read our article, here

 

 
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!

Get to Know CEO Randy Nelson

At VFS one of our core values is to remain transparent with our clients. In an effort to live by this value, we want to give you a look inside the early life of our CEO, Randy Nelson. We sat down with Randy to see what most people may not know about his upbringing. Get to know our CEO, Randy Nelson…

Q: What are a few things people don’t know about your upbringing?

A: A lot of people know my story, I don’t hide much. A few things that might surprise some people…

  • I grew up on a small farm in Minnesota. Two older sisters and 3 younger brothers, 6 kids total. My father worked the farm and was a full-time maintenance man at the local Municipal Airport (for 35 years). My mother was a stay at home mom until she took up real estate once all the kids were out of grade school. We were by definition, poor… but I didn’t know it at the time.
  • Farm life was great but hard work. Twelve-hour days were not uncommon. The whole family pitched in and we did our ‘chores’ without the thought of getting paid. This instilled a work ethic and an appreciation of the team concept that I have to this day.
  • We were primarily a cattle farm, we also grew corn and soybeans. One of my more vivid memories of the farm was helping with the ‘delivery’ of calves in the wintertime (the usual time for the cows to calve). Sometimes my father would still be at work and I had to do it myself. An unpleasant, messy, and sobering thing to do for a teenager at age 14, but necessary.
  • Courage has always been a ‘core value’ for me, both within myself and what I like to see in others.  Throughout my life, I have put myself in situations to help conquer fears. In grade school, I was petrified to speak in front of groups, so in the 7th grade, I joined the Competitive Speaking Team in High School. Three years later, as a freshman, I became the first person in my high school to go to the State Championships of Competitive Speaking. 
  • As graduating from high school approached, I was contemplating my future. I thought farm life was very respectable and a great way to raise a family… Plan A. I told my father that I wanted to be a farmer and that was one of the very few times I heard him use the ‘F’ word, he was not supportive of Plan A.  He said, ‘You are going to get an education and be able to provide for your family better than I did’.  Time for Plan B, I went to college and got a degree in Engineering.
“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.