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

Retrofits

VFS Fire & Security Services and Edwards™ have joined forces to offer a free Lunch and Learn in Anaheim California, September 2017.

Whether you are an Architect, Engineer, AHJ, existing or potential client of VFS, we invite you to learn about our company and our new Edwards™ product line.

Join us and enjoy a delicious lunch from King Taco while you learn about the latest and greatest technology!

Details of our upcoming lunch and learn will follow. To be added to the free lunch & learn pre-register list, simply email your request and contact information to [email protected].

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. 

One of the requirements of NFPA is the regular testing of emergency generators.  This testing helps to ensure that generator powered backup lighting will operate as expected and that proper signage will be in place to illuminate egress paths if backup lighting should fail.  There are two types of tests that must be performed:

  • It is required that a monthly test be performed on Level 1 and Level 2 generators. A Level 1 generator is one whose failure could result in death or serious injury. A level 2 generator is one whose failure would not result in life-threatening injury. During testing, a generator should operate under available load for a minimum of thirty minutes.
  • If a generator fails the monthly test, it should be operated under a load supplied by a load bank (i.e. load bank testing) for two continuous hours each year.

Monthly and annual generator tests are important measures for preparing generators for power outages, but they should not be the only measures. It is also important for building owners to make sure that their generators receive scheduled maintenance, annual infrared scanning, and modernization and retrofitting, as necessary. Testing is designed to test a generator’s efficiency, but maintaining or improving that efficiency requires a diverse approach that includes the measures above.

VFS is pleased to announce that we can provide this service for our building owner clients.  We offer both the monthly testing and the annual testing as required by NFPA.  If you are a building owner, contact VFS today to learn more about out services and how we can help you to stay in compliance.

STEEL PRICE INCREASES IN 2016

According to gensteel.com, the website for General Steel Buildings, steel has seen its value decrease over the past few years. This has been because supply has been higher than demand. This has been a good thing for consumers as the cost of steel buildings as been lower than in the past. The steel industry has been in decline, but many experts are predicting that 2015 was the low point of pricing and that 2016 will see a rebound in pricing. Both worldsteel.org and knoema.com predict steel demand rising 1.4% in 2016 with forecasts showing strong upward pricing pressures through 2019 in global steel commodity prices.

Steel prices are rising in 2016. US Mill capacity is tightening, while iron ore, scrap, and other raw material costs are also increasing. Suppliers are talking about increases continuing through the second quarter and perhaps even into the third quarter of 2016. This will cause manufacturers, including sprinkler pipe manufacturers to increase pricing.

So what does this mean to you? If you are a property manager, building owner or end-use that has outgrown your storage capacity and now in the process of budgeting to expand your existing building, VFS can help you maximize your current square footage by storing higher rather than going wider. VFS design experts will upgrade your existing fire sprinkler system to increase your storage height and store higher commodities, without costly construction buildouts.

The main thing to know is that partnering with VFS for your fire and life safety needs will help mitigate the effects of these price increases on your business. At VFS, our expert design team will design the right system to minimize pipe size while maximizing your fire sprinkler system for your unique needs. With a highly efficient fire protection system with minimized pipe size, your costs will stay low – even with steel prices increasing.

The bottom line is that VFS has the expertise to help you keep your costs low – even when steel pricing is on the rise. Contact VFS today to find out more about how we can help!

5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT EMERGENCY EYEWASH STATIONS

In January 2009, new revisions to ANSI standard Z358.1-2009 for emergency eyewash took effect. The most important thing is to make sure that emergency eyewash stations are installed and maintained correctly.   There are some basic requirements of ANSI which include:

  • A means of flushing injured eyes must be available at the site of any hazardous materials.
  • Eyewash must be within a 10-second walk of the hazard
  • An injured person must be able to flush their eyes for a full 15 minutes.
  • ANSI also calls out the rate of flow, fluid angle, temperature, user’s position, and station location, installation and maintenance.

With that said, there are five steps that your business can take to ensure that you are in compliance with the ANSI emergency eyewash standards.

  1.  Assess your facility to determine if your site requires emergency eyewash.

Most businesses are required to have eyewash stations if any of the following hazards are at the site: paint, solvents, battery charging stations, hazardous chemical storage, tool parts washers, or chemical pumping/mixing areas. Also,If employees use chemical-resistant gloves, cartridge or air-supplied respirators, chemical-resistant goggles or flammable storage containers, emergency eyewash is also required.

  1. Choose the right eyewash system for your facility

There are several questions that you can ask to determine your needs:

  • What are the most common hazards?
  • Does the workspace layout change as new jobs commence?
  • Is plumbing readily available at the site of every eye hazard?

There are two types of primary emergency eyewash delivery stations to consider: plumbed and portable. Plumbed eyewash units deliver plumbed tap water to the eyes in plentiful amounts. The downside of plumbed stations is that they are expensive to install, impractical to move and require weekly maintenance. Another problem with the plumbed systems is that they use tap water. Because its temperature is not easily regulated, plumbed tap water is often too hot or too cold to flush with for the required 15 minutes. Also, since It does not match the eye’s natural pH, so flushing with it can cause irritation.

The alternative is portable stations, which come in many varieties to meet a wide variety of needs.   These systems contain water, saline solution or 100 percent sterile saline, each of which is maintained at room temperature inside the unit. Stations that deliver sterile flushing fluid offer the best possible safety and because they are devoid of harmful impurities, sterile saline reduces employers’ risk of liability if further injury results.

  1. Emergency Eyewash must be Readily Accessible

It is important to remember that an injured worker may have limited or no vision if an emergency occurs, so it is important to select a location for the unit that is quickly and easily accessible during an emergency. ANSI specifies that stations be located within a 10-second walk from the hazard and on a travel path from the hazard that is free of obstructions. It must also be on the same level as the hazard (no stairs) and in an area that is well lit and clearly marked with a sign.

  1. It is critical to train employees on proper emergency response

It is the your responsibility to ensure that every employee is trained in using emergency eyewash units. Employees must know how to get to the eyewash station and must know how to activate the system in order to properly rinse contaminants from their eyes. The proper flushing technique calls for the worker to hold both eyes open with their forefingers and thumbs and let the fluid rinse across the eyes from the inside corner out for 15 minutes.

  1. Develop a safety plan that encompasses eyewash safety

The best way to ensure eyewash compliance in the workplace is by building it into the company’s safety plan. Employ a safety manager, assign safety stewards or use a third-party vendor to be responsible for employee training and station maintenance. The appointed safety leader should train staff regularly as a group and new associates as they join.

It is also important for your company to maintain eyewash units as required according to ANSI and/or the manufacturer.   Plumbed stations require the most maintenance – they must be activated weekly to get rid of particle buildup in the pipes. According to OSHA, a weekly activation “long enough to verify operation and ensure that flushing fluid is available,” is required. Portable units require less frequent maintenance but still need to be cleaned and disinfected every 3-6 months.

VFS Fire & Security Services has extensive experience in working with eyewash systems. Our team of experts can help with system design, plumbing, compliance and system maintenance. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

NITROGEN GAS MITIGATION TO INHIBIT CORROSION

Dry and pre-action systems are the world’s second most common type of fire suppression system. With increasingly widespread use of these systems, the issue of corrosion has become very common.   Internal corrosion of dry and pre-action fire suppression systems is a growing concern for the fire sprinkler industry. Corrosion in these systems causes failures resulting in property damage, production downtime, and increased maintenance costs. Additionally, corrosion impacts system hydraulics and reduces the efficiency of fire sprinkler system designs. Historically, dry and pre-action fire suppression systems have used compressed system air as the primary supervisory source. Compressed air, however, contains both oxygen and moisture promoting a corrosive system environment.

Approval agencies, design engineering firms, and component manufacturers have teamed up to investigate the main cause of corrosion in fire sprinkler systems. Recent testing shows the removal of Oxygen in both wet and dry pipe fire sprinkler systems can extend the life cycle of the systems by as much as 3-6 times.

Based on the test results, venting wet fire sprinkler systems and using Nitrogen in dry and pre-action systems will give you the maximum life cycle for your system components. The recent NFPA 13 code change for 2016 requires the venting of wet pipe fire sprinkler systems. This can be accomplished by manually or automatically venting of oxygen. The approval agency FM is now aware of the benefits of reduced oxygen in both wet and dry fire sprinkler systems to the point of restricting the use of air compressors and requiring wet systems to be vented.

Because of the strong need for corrosion protection sprinkler systems, Potter Electric Signal Company conducted a test comparing the effects of using 98% pure nitrogen gas compared to compressed air systems. The systems were half filled with water and then allowed to sit for 12 months. After 12 months the systems were tested and it was found that:

  1. The use of 98% nitrogen in lieu of compressed air as a supervisory gas reduces corrosion in both galvanized and black steel systems regardless of whether or not trapped water is present. The corrosion reduction potential ranges from 48% to 91% when compared to compressed air.
  2. Using 98% nitrogen gas in lieu of compressed air increases the life expectancy of a dry or pre-action system on an average of 5.3 times.
  3. The use of galvanized steel instead of black steel results in higher metal loss rates when compared in equivalent environments.
  4. The use of 98% nitrogen gas in a relatively dry, black steel environment has the lowest corrosion rate overall.

Based on these results, using nitrogen gas for fire protection systems will help increase the life of the system by causing less corrosion.

For more information on nitrogen gas use for fire protection systems, please contact VFS today!

Nitorgen
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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CITY OF LOS ANGELES REGULATION NO 4 TESTING
City of Los Angeles Regulation No 4 Testing

VFS is pleased to announce the expansion of our services for Regulation No. 4 testing and repairs requirement in the City of Los Angeles. The full breath of services VFS now offers to clients in order for them to meet the requirements of LA City Reg. 4 testing and repairs include:

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CODE LIMITS THE USE OF ESFR K14 SPRINKLERS
Code Limits the Use of ESFR K14 Sprinklers

In accordance with NFPA 13, 2013 Edition, the option to use K-14 ESFR sprinklers for ceiling only protection without in-rack sprinklers was eliminated in buildings with a ceiling height of 35’-0” and greater. Effective January 1, 2014 the new limitations in NFPA 13, 2013 Edition, limit the use of K14 ESFR sprinklers to a maximum ceiling height/ridge height of 35’-0”. 

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VFS ANNOUNCES NEW OFFERING DATA CABLING AND COMMUNICATION

VFS Fire & Security Services is excited to announce the launch of our new offering in Data Cabling and Communications – featuring the Leviton Certified Cabling System products. Leviton is the first company to offer a lifetime extended warranty against defects in material and workmanship for all certified cabling system products, as long as the product is installed by a certified Leviton distributor.   Leviton produces the highest quality products in the industry and backs this with one of the strongest warranties industry-wide. The new cutting-edge voice & data product line allows VFS to offer our clients a complete total low voltage offering, adding to our breadth of services currently provided to clients.   This new offering is a natural extension of our low voltage offerings which already include nurse call and departure alert systems.

“VFS is always challenging the status quo and we continue to look for innovative solutions to better service our clients”, says Mario Lopez, VFS Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “Adding Voice and Data to our exiting low voltage business (that already includes Fire Alarm, Mass-Notification and Security) offers peace of mind to our clients.  Our clients know that one team is designing and coordinating in-house all the components and infrastructure of their entire low voltage system.”

VFS is also pleased to announce that Chris Ward has joined our team to head the low voltage division. Chris has over 20 years of experience and brings a wealth of knowledge to the business. As president of WardCom Systems Inc. which he co-founded in 1999, Chris used his strong operational and project management skills to build a company known for customer service and quality. Prior to that he held management positions with low voltage firms and has in-depth experience with voice and data cabling, fiber optics, telecommunications and wireless solutions for computer networks as well as Fire Alarm, Security and PA systems.

VFS puts our client’s needs at the forefront of every project. VFS offers and provides support services and can assist organizations with pre-planning, value engineering and budgets for projects in the pre-planning stages. VFS has the experience, expertise and people to provide organizations with the best solutions for their unique needs.

For more information on all of the services provided by VFS, please visit: http://vfsfire.com

Fire Protection

Building owners, property managers or developers could use an advocate to help assess their current and future fire protection needs. Whether retrofitting or developing an office building, retail complex, distribution warehouse, manufacturing facility, server room or any other type of occupancy, understanding the facility fire protection needs is critical. Understanding project scope and budgets prior to making a commitment on fire and life safety systems is also important. With that in mind, VFS has developed Support Services for our clients to help with these needs.

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VFS Fire & Security Services Sprinkler

The fire and life safety industry defines Special Hazards projects as those that require a fire protection system other than the traditional wet or dry system. This can include flammable or combustible solids or liquids such as:

  • Aerosols
  • Solvents
  • Corrosives
  • Pyroxylin Plastics
  • Gases
  • Cryogenic Fluids

From a fire protection standpoint, Special Hazards environments provide a unique set of challenges. These types of fires can spread rapidly in multiple directions even when there is a fire protection system in place. If you don’t have the appropriate fire protection system design and installation, a Special Hazards fire may not be controlled.

Special Hazards

At VFS, our experience in Special Hazards projects dates back to the beginning of our company over 20 years ago. We understand that these projects are unique in the fire protection industry and VFS is one of the few resources in the country qualified to handle these projects nationwide.

VFS takes the time to understand the type of hazards at your facility, and designs and installs the appropriate fire protection system for that type of hazard. It is critical to design and install the proper system for each application and with our in-house Design-Build services, we are able to apply our expertise to all of the systems that can be used in high hazard environments including:

  • Foam Systems
  • Suppression Systems (such as FM200, Inergen, CO2, Novec)
  • Detection Systems (Flame Detection, Spark Detection, Gas Detection)

A key element of the Special Hazard fire protection system is the integration of the fire sprinkler system, fire alarms and mass evacuation systems. VFS has divisions that specialize in all of these elements and we are the best in the business when it comes to this integration.

Whether your application is for a Refinery, Chemical Warehousing Facility, Tank Farm, Airplane Hangar, Data Center or any other Special Hazard environment, we have the experience, expertise and people to provide you with the best solution for your unique needs. VFS gets involved in your project starting with design, all the way through installation, maintenance, and monitoring of the system.

Contact us today to find out more about our expertise in Special Hazards!

Industrial Fire Safety

VFS Fire & Security Services is proud to announce their 20th anniversary this year. The company started in 1993 servicing the Southern California market with just two people and has grown to over 70 employees doing work in 46 states. In addition to the 70+ employees in Southern California, VFS has over 75 affiliate companies around the country to supplement their workforce.

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VFS Fire & Security Services Communication and Sound

John Deutsch who sits on the NFPA 13 committee with Randy Nelson, CEO of VFS Fire & Security Services, has joined the VFS team. John draws on over 28 years of experience in fire sprinkler design for industrial, commercial, mixed-used occupancies, public works and special hazards industries.

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VFS Fire & Security Services

The Quell™ Fire Protection System is the total cold storage/outdoor warehouse fire protection solution that delivers unprecedented advantages to Facility Managers including higher-level storage and added hazard configurations.  With these leading edge advantages, The Quell™ system helps improve the bottom line for your cold storage/unheated storage facility.  Now you’re able to stock more commodity classifications, achieve higher roof and storage heights, gain more flexible stocking configurations, reduce installation cost and eliminate costly in-rack sprinklers service repairs and maintenance.

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VFS Fire & Security Services Fire Suppression

Our National Accounts Program takes VFS all over the country and was developed to help our clients with multiple locations.  The VFS National Accounts Program gives our customers a single point of contact for all of their fire and life safety needs.  According to Randy Nelson, CEO of VFS, “Managing our clients’ needs from a single location in Orange County, California is the best way to consistently provide a positive experience for them.  The feedback has been fantastic.”

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WHY DOES YOUR BUILDING NEED PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE?

VFS is proud to introduce the Mesh Radio Alarm Monitoring Program. Mesh radio is 100% reliable and has a low cost of ownership, plus it’s easy to install, easy to manage and faster than any alarm communication system available. Mesh radio eliminates your two costly required telephone lines or cellular services for cellular monitoring and significantly reduces fees you pay each month.

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STEEL PRICE INCREASES IN 2016

Just for fun, we thought we would test your knowledge about some of the Fire Sprinkler Codes. See how well you do!

  1. What is the minimum requirement for the routine Inspections of the fire sprinkler system – Alarm Devices?

A. Quarterly            B. Semiannually             C. Annually

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FIRE SAFETY INSPECTIONS FOR YOUR FACILITIES: YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE

There have been a number of refinery fires in the past several months in several locations around the world. In one case outside of the United States, the fire resulted in 42 deaths. The fires that we have seen in our country have typically had no major injuries, but local residents get treated for respiratory problems. In all cases, the property damage from these fires is significant.

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