VFS is your partner from start to finish: A walk through the onboarding process

Maybe you’re on the fence about hiring VFS. Maybe even wondering, “How would VFS go about onboarding my company into fire protection services?”

We offer a wide variety of services, so here’s a timeline of our involvement, and remember, we partner with you from START TO FINISH (not an exaggeration). 

Since you’re on our website, odds are you need help with fire protection services. This is a smart move for you as we approach fire season. Great news, you’ve already completed the first step! By simply showing interest in protecting your commercial property and employees. 

Free Consultation

Yes, you read that right. A FREE consultation, a hard offer to pass up. Click here to schedule your consultation today. It’s as simple as having a quick conversation with one of our fire protection experts to identify your unique needs.  

Who We Serve 

No matter the industry, VFS has you covered. From our dispatch team to our field technicians we are equipped with a full staff of fire protection experts and a robust knowledge of each specialized environment. We are constantly staying up to date on emerging trends in technology as well as new requirements and code changes to keep you informed and in compliance. Here are some of the markets we help to protect: 

  • Property Management 
  • Industrial & Manufacturing 
  • Oil & Gas
  • Transportation 
  • Retail 
  • Education 
  • Data Centers
  • Hospitality 
  • Healthcare 

The Specifics

Once we’ve decided that our companies will be a great fit as partners, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. We offer a variety of services for all of your fire protection systems including the following: 

  • Service & Repair 
  • Testing & Inspection
  • Design/Build 
  • Retrofits
  • System Upgrades 

Just to name a few. 

How We Help 

At VFS we believe in a proactive business model. We manage the who, what, why and where of your fire protection assets and their inspection and maintenance schedule. It is essential to stay on top of your fire protection systems to prevent any potential accidents or costly repairs. 

Our advanced platforms and highly trained dispatch team allow us to manage inspections and testing from inception to execution. We tell you what’s due, when it’s due and why it’s due, and are constantly communicating to your team to keep you up-to-date on the latest information within your facilities. Fortify your building with reliable fire protection systems inspected and maintained by the experts at VFS

Once we help you decide which of our services are right for you, it’s go time. Visit the VFS website today for more information on becoming a partner. 

Prepping your commercial property for fire season! (Yes, you need to)

Surprise, fire season has come again. 

This means hot weather, dry winds, and perfect conditions for a fire that could destroy your property. 

Duh Duh DUhhhh!

Fire season is scary and unpredictable, but don’t worry, VFS is here to help prepare your commercial property for an emergency. Fire safety regulations for a commercial building can look differently depending on the property. 

Video Surveillance

VFS offers systems from video surveillance to business intelligence. This means that if a fire starts, your company will have access to visuals around the property. We design systems that optimize your existing infrastructure and augment them with the latest in proven technologies. 

Adding this extra layer of security is just a stepping stone towards having a foolproof plan in place for fire season. 

Outside the Building

The surrounding area of any property should be cleared of extra brush and dead plants. This includes trees, shrubs, bushes and dead grass. Another good rule of thumb to follow is to make sure any tree branches stay at least 10 feet from any other trees. 

The area outside the building needs to be free of flammable materials is also known as a ‘buffer zone.’ This buffer zone would help slow down the pace of the fire.

Another hazard to be aware of is gutters. The key is to maintain a consistent routine of cleaning out the building gutters to avoid build-up of dry leaves and other highly flammable materials. 

The parking lot is another focus area for fire prevention. Depending on the commercial building layout, parking lots can become a hotspot for sparks to fly. To avoid this, inform your staff that they need to avoid parking over any grass or spilled oil.

Inside the Building

Aside from video surveillance, there are other steps you can take to ensure your commercial building is prepped for fire season. 

Any vents throughout the building should be cleaned consistently because they are highly flammable. There are metal vents that can be added that would act as a temporary barrier between embers and vent. 

An evacuation plan is something that should be perfected and taught to all employees. Performing practice drills with your company will ensure everyone understands their role in the event of an emergency. 

Remember, VFS Fire & Security Services take you from idea to operations and everything in between. Schedule your free expert consultation today, and get prepared for the dreaded fire season. 

Get it together and inspect your building more than once a year!

You’ll thank us later. 

Owning a commercial building comes with a lot of responsibilities — that doesn’t mean you should slack on simple inspections. 

VFS believes that your fire protection systems are only as effective as the inspections on them. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (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.

Hot Inspection Tips

  1. Annual inspections are required for all fire and life safety systems. But, once a year isn’t the best option for overall safety of employees and the buildings. 
  1. Some systems or components of a system may require more frequent inspections like monthly or quarterly. 
  1. Inspectors should be certified by a nationally recognized organization.
    • Inspectors should wear company clothing or nametags identifying them as professionals authorized to be in the building.
  1. Your inspection reports should deliver the following information:
    • Location of every device in building
    • Whether each device passed or failed inspection and why
    • Date/time stamp when each device was inspected
    • Device inventory & warranty status
    • Indication of length of time devices have been in service
    • Verification of report results
  1. Detailed inspection reports are excellent supporting documents for insurance companies or authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs).
  1. Make sure your employees or building tenants are aware of a scheduled inspection 24 hours in advance.
    • For Fire Alarm Systems, audio/visual testing may interfere with trainings, meetings or site visits.
  1. Let inspectors know of any construction or remodeling, and additions or problems to the fire protection systems in your building since the last inspection.

We tell you what’s due, when it’s due and why it’s due. At VFS, we constantly communicate with your team to keep you up-to-date on the latest information within your facilities. Fortify your building with reliable fire protection systems inspected and maintained by the experts at VFS!

It's summer vacation ... but not for you. Get your fire safety up to par

The sun is out, the air smells like sunscreen and … summer school! 

School buildings provide an important space for youth and educators, so there is great risk if there is no evacuation plan in place. 

Seems overwhelming? Don’t worry, the best part is that we do the work for you! 

Evacuation Plan

There are other outlier factors that need to be considered while creating a solid evacuation plan. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides some startling facts about fires that start in school buildings: 

  • “School fires most often originated in a lavatory or locker room
  • Fires that were intentionally set were the leading cause of school fires, accounting for almost two of every five fires
  • Two-thirds of school fires occurred between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
  • In 2014-2018, the U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,230 structure fires in schools each year
  • These fires caused annual averages of one civilian death, 39 civilian injuries, and $37 million in direct property damage.” 

Since most fires start in locker rooms and bathrooms, the evacuation plan must be centered around those geographical locations. This will look different for each educational building based on the layout of the property. 

Draw a Floor Plan

When making a blueprint of the building, highlight exits and other fire safety tools (think fire hoses, extinguishers, and emergency phones). Make sure all staff know this plan inside and out, so in case of an emergency everyone’s prepared with the evacuation plan. 

More Tips

Cluing in students at an educational facility is also important to successfully follow through an evacuation plan. Assemblies and test fire alarms are a great way to start. 

Another option is to have posters around the educational building with reminders of fire safety tips and what to do in an evacuation. Some of these may include: 

  • Don’t use the elevator, always choose the stairs
  • Never go back into the building unless given permission by authorities
  • Call 911 as soon as possible
  • Always leave through the nearest exit
  • Leave your personal items behind

We protect property and lives, while providing a sense of security and peace of mind. 

VFS is here to help you improve your fire safety plan in educational buildings, find more on our website.  

Back-to-School Already? Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Students Safe on Campus

Is it time to go back to school already?! Not quite… you still have a few more months of freedom! However, it’s never too early to start thinking about fire protection precautions as you head back to the classroom. The NFPA states that 4,980 structure fires occurred in educational buildings each year from 2011 to 2015. Fire safety training and implementation are essential in schools to ensure the safety of your students, faculty, and staff. 

In a study performed by the NFPA, they found:

  • Most school fires occur in the daytime—especially around lunch.
  • About 41% of school fires are started intentionally
  • Around one-third of these fires occur in school bathrooms
  • In preschools, about two-thirds of fires occur between 6 am and 3 pm

In an effort to help get those fire safety wheels turning and mitigate these school fire risks, we’ve put together a few tips for your educational building’s fire safety.

Fire Protection Practices

Office Protocols and Procedures

First and foremost, your faculty and staff must be familiar with fire evacuation protocols and fire safety training. Fire emergencies don’t stop because your fire safety administrator is out sick or on vacation. Therefore, you must ensure all employees are well-equipped to handle an emergency. Be sure your school officials and faculty are familiar with the chain of command in order to mitigate commotion during an emergency. 

Fire Evacuation Plans

Every student is excited for a fire drill because that typically means cutting the math or history lesson short! As exciting as they can be for your students, they are also essential to your fire safety success as a school.

Fire drills get more complicated with larger buildings, changing class schedules, and changing faculty members. Therefore, students and faculty should be made aware of the proper routes to safety regardless of where they are in the building. These fire evacuation drills should be planned monthly at various times in the day to provide training on the best route to safety for everyone in the building. 

Fire Safety Training

You can find fire training courses, webinars, conferences, videos, and events at the NFPA or with your local fire department. These resources can be extremely useful for students at the elementary level, as building foundational knowledge for fire safety is important at this age. During this training, students will receive a greater understanding and knowledge of fire hazards and fire safety protocols.

Campus safety for those not-so-responsible college students:

According to Fire Science, firefighters respond to about 3,810 college fires each year. The large majority of these fires are due to kitchen fires. At the university level, it is important you provide four types of fire safety training: on-campus fire safety, campus lab fire safety, off-campus fire safety, and a general overview of college fire precautions.

On-Campus Fire Safety

Be sure your students know a few key fire safety tips when they reside on campus or are utilizing your facilities. First and foremost, cook only in designated areas––we all know what a cooking mishap with a hot plate in a college dorm can turn into! Additionally, it’s important that your students understand cooking areas should be kept clean, free of clutter and grease, and always attending to anything dealing with fire or heat in the kitchen. These among many additional fire safety tips are essential to teach your first-time cooks in college dorms! 

Campus Lab Fire Safety

The campus lab can be an extremely fun place to experiment and study all that science has to offer. It can, however, be dangerous if fire and chemicals are involved. Therefore, it is essential that students understand the danger of a potential fire in the lab. Be sure students know to never leave lab experiments or pressure vessels unattended. They should also know to keep flammable gases and chemicals away from heat. You don’t want their science experiment to go up in flames!

Off-Campus Fire Safety

As your students begin to move off-campus and into apartment buildings and homes, it’s important that they are prepared for fire off-campus as well. It can be helpful to train students on what to look for as they look to move away. They should know to look for working smoke alarms in every room, as well as ensuring the building has a well-maintained sprinkler system. Students should also be prepared to ask their building manager if building heating and fire prevention systems have been checked annually by fire officials.

General College Fire Precautions

Lastly, there is some general knowledge that can help college students navigate the world of fire safety. First and foremost, they should identify possible exits and evacuation routes as soon as they walk into a building. They should also identify the locations of fire alarms and the best way to use them. Lastly, students should know that fire equipment that has been vandalized must be reported to campus security.

At VFS, we take fire safety seriously and our team of experts is ready to assist you in all your fire safety needs. From design and build to testing and maintenance, we’re with you every step of the way. Our goal is to ensure your students, faculty, and staff remain safe from harm, which is why we implement top-of-the-line fire safety equipment into every building we work with.

not a spelling error

There’s a good reason for the codes and standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  Compliance isn’t a punishment, it’s a roadmap to safety, protection, and long term sustainability. Building Compliance vs Building Complaints (not just a spelling error)– it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. 

With over 300 codes written in “legal-ese”, it’s not always as intuitive as it should be to comply with fire safety codes so we’ve created a cheat sheet to steer you in the right direction. 

300 Fire Protection Compliance Codes?!?

The likelihood is that your building does not have to comply with all 300 NFPA codes and standards. Searching the NFPA’s database can simplify the process: https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards

There are codes you’ll regularly encounter such as 

NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code

And 

NFPA 72® National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®

And others that are very specific such as: 

NFPA 418 Standard for Heliports

Compliance isn’t the goal, safety is the goal, and – in that vein – we always recommend the following precautions be taken: 

Dispose of excess packaging in real-time.  Piles of boxes can fuel a fire that might otherwise be easily managed. 

Oily rags can spontaneously combust, it seems like the stuff of action moves, and yet, it happens all the time.  Rag disposal is essential to safety. 

Don’t put a lantern in the shed with the cow. 

Check your fire extinguishers.  An expired extinguisher is not only frustrating, it can be deadly. 

A popping sound when you turn on the light is a warning!  Inspect electric lines that are old or unreliable. 

Refine your disaster preparedness plan for fire, earthquake, flood, locusts, and any other eventuality.

Make sure everyone knows what to do, who is in charge, how to get out, and where to go once they get out. 

Bring in the experts at VFS.  We’ve seen it all. 

Our teams can ensure compliance and ensure that compliance isn’t all you’re doing to prevent fires. We are a full fire and life safety contractor and after-market service provider. Whether your needs are related to fire sprinkler systems, alarms systems, extinguishers, backflows, fire pumps, suppression, special hazards, monitoring, DAS systems, emergency notification (the list goes on and on) we can not only inspect and maintain those systems but we also design, build and install! With our inspections program, we manage, schedule, and track your inspections, deficiencies, and repairs so you don’t have to. 

At VFS we pride ourselves on the caliber of our team members, our commitment to a holistic understanding of your needs, and our sommelier level wine collection (get to know our founder).  We are the team you want to bring on to your project.  Connect with us, take a look inside.

Sound and Communication vs. Alarm and Detection... what?

Communication is key, especially in an emergency situation. The type of communication used is also an important factor in ensuring your building and, more importantly, your people remain safe from harm. 

When it comes to alarm & detection and sound & communication, it’s important to understand what your unique building needs in order to remain safe. 

Sound and Communication

Your building requires sound and communication systems that work cohesively with your fire and security systems. These should include internal and external sound, text, and visual notifications that are sent from a centralized location. At VFS, our clients have access to:

  • Localized notifications based on the type and severity of the threat
  • Emergency responder notification systems
  • Location tools to identify at-risk personnel and assets
  • Two-way voice communication for loud environments
  • Code compliance tools and support

There are a few different types of sound and communication systems that you can implement. 

Emergency communications

These notification systems are customized for your specific needs and location size. These include audible and visual notifications and text displays. These communication systems are used to alert people of events like natural disasters, fires, active shooters, and other emergency events. At VFS, we offer our clients emergency voice systems, fire alarm voice systems, visual strobes, and visual displays. 

PA and Intercom

These solutions can be utilized in multi-level buildings, campuses, warehouses and factories, airports, restaurants, and other shared-use spaces. PA and Intercom sound and communication systems can be live or pre-recorded, and offer 2-way communication through the speaker systems. These systems also allow for programmatic distribution, as well as audio transmission using LAN/WAN and internet connectivity.

Telephone Networks

Telephone networks are a sound and communication system that should not be overlooked. These systems help with communication on and off-site through telephone networks, as well as transferring calls off-site in case of incapacity of a site location.  Telephone networks can be integrated with these systems to incorporate intercoms, microphones, and loudspeakers. 

Wireless networks

Wireless networks utilize app-based technologies to remain in contact with on and off-site workers using existing wireless handsets. These networks allow alerts and emergency notifications to be delivered in real-time and integrated with other alert systems.

EVACs

EVAC systems are an extremely reliable option as they can be used when voice communication is not required by code. Voice alerts have a higher success rate of getting people out of the building, therefore it’s important to share accurate, specific information that reinforces the evacuation instructions and increases evacuation response time and adherence.

Alarm and Detection

Alarm and detection systems, on the other hand, are designed to discover fires early in their development while there is still time for evacuation. Fire alarm and detection systems work together to detect the fire and then alert people when smoke/fire is present through smoke detection, heat detection, or manual pull stations. 

Inspection, testing, and maintenance are crucial to the success of your alarm system. 

Pull Stations

Pull stations are a manual version of fire alarm systems that are triggered by people in the building. The pulled alarm station triggers the alert for the building as well as necessary authorities. These stations are typically located in fire-prone areas, like electrical rooms and mechanical workshops. 

Visual Alarm Systems

These alarm systems are flashing lights that are used to signal to occupants that there is a fire. These can be used in both self-contained units, as well as building-wide systems. ADAAG requires that when fire detection systems are installed, they must have a visual component. 

Audible Alarm Systems

There are a few options when it comes to audible alarm systems. These include air horns, sirens, bells, buzzers, and speakers. 

Flame Detection

Infrared flame detectors use charge-coupled devices (CCD) to identify fire. On the other hand, ultraviolet detectors work with wavelengths shorter than 300nm. These detect fires and explosions within 3-4 milliseconds. With UV detectors, false alarms are more commonly triggered due to UV sources, like lightning, arc welding, radiation, and sunlight. 

Smoke Detection

Smoke detectors are electronic fire protection devices that automatically sense the presence of smoke and sound a warning to building occupants. Smoke detectors used in commercial and industrial properties issue a signal to a fire alarm control panel as part of the building’s central fire alarm system.

Heat Detection

Lastly, heat detection devices detect heat rather than smoke. These devices are extremely beneficial in areas where other means of detection may be damaging or inefficient for your unique building. 

VFS is a nationwide source for exemplary fire and security services for commercial buildings, and special hazards. Our teams work with the most advanced technologies and systems to create intelligent, efficient fire and life safety solutions.

HIGH-RISK, HIGH REWARD? NOT WHEN IT COMES TO FIRE SAFETY! (NOT A CANNABIS REFERENCE)

When it comes to buildings that contain flammable chemicals, gases, and other materials, fire protection is not something to gamble with. Not only will top-of-the-line fire protection keep your building safe, but it will also ensure that workers remain safe from harm. In this high-risk industry, it is essential that you don’t roll the dice on fire safety measures. 

According to OSHA, from 2013 to 2017, 489 oil and gas extraction workers were killed on the job. Getting your fire protection systems in check is like having pocket aces, it sets you up for the greatest success possible. Here are a few tips for you to begin prioritizing your fire safety protocols. 

Assess workplace preparedness

It’s essential to start with an inspection of your fire safety. These inspections lead to a greater understanding of your preparedness, and typically reveal vulnerabilities that you were previously unaware of. During this inspection, be sure to look for particular areas that have a higher risk for flash fires and explosions. 

You should also be on the lookout for fire equipment that is old or malfunctioning, and be sure to replace them with ones that are in good working condition. Not only should you look for vulnerabilities in your fire extinguishers, but also in your fire sprinkler systems. 

A great preventative measure is doing your own monthly visual inspections, as there are developments that can occur between the required NFPA inspections. Grab a notepad, take a walk and canvas your facility looking for any obvious visual deficiencies – corrosion, leaks, obstructions or painted sprinkler heads. With any luck you’re clear of any obvious deficiencies but if you’re not, call your fire protection company (hopefully VFS) to get these assessed and repaired preemptively. A little proactive measure can go a long way to prevent unnecessary accidents and keep your systems working in prime condition. 

Ensure emergency equipment is accessible onsite

With workers coming in and out of your facility, it’s important to have a supply of emergency equipment at their workstations and other areas near these stations. The equipment should include materials like fixed and portable fire extinguishers. This helps ensure the safety of your workers, as well as allows your employees to put out a small fire before it begins to spread. 

Ensure workers are trained to utilize equipment

In order to ensure your plan is effective, you must train your employees to know what to do in the event of a fire. They should receive instructional materials for the tools they may need to use, as well as participate in training that shows them how to physically use the equipment, and how to exit the building in case of emergency. 

Part of this training should include fire drills that help to reinforce the safety procedures and educate your workers on how to exit the building. You should also ensure all evacuation signage and exits are clearly marked, enough to see in the event of a fire. 

Utilize detection equipment to measure gas levels

In the oil and gas industry, it is essential to monitor the gas levels throughout your building. Combustible and toxic gas detection systems can help ensure your team avoids activities that may trigger a fire to occur. If a flammable gas goes beyond 10% of the lower explosive level, your workers should refrain from working. Ensure your employees know what levels are acceptable to remain working in, and which gases may be potentially hazardous. 

Ensure alert systems are installed to communicate fire risks

Lastly, ensure you have alert systems in place to communicate with your workers regarding the safety hazards throughout the facility. When a fire occurs, employees need to be immediately made aware in order to allow them to evacuate the building/work area safely. Alarm and mass notification systems are needed to alert employees of the danger.

At VFS, your high-risk facility is our top priority. We specialize in providing top-of-the-line fire safety support for special hazard facilities. Our fire and life safety systems integrate every aspect of a building from security systems, to fire protection and suppression to alarm and communication systems. We operate in 35 of the 50 states through our partnerships with local experts.

FACILITIES MANAGERS! JUMP INTO THE MESH PIT

Why You Need MeshWrx in your Building

Announcing! MeshWrx alarm monitoring systems are coming to a building near you. Take a leap into the mesh pit and see what all the hype is about! 

Facilities managers, ensuring you have top-of-the-line alarm monitoring systems throughout your facility is essential. Traditional alarm systems just won’t cut it anymore. It’s time to cut the cords. Mesh alarm monitoring systems are designed to make alarm systems more reliable, cost-effective, and fast.

What is MeshWrx?

MeshWrx was created from the experience that VFS Fire & Security Services had in making sure our clients fire safety was top-of-the-line. VFS has continually developed industry-leading technology that complements our services to provide the best customer experience in the fire and life safety industry. 

Our CEO, Randy Nelson, recognized a need to deliver a more reliable fire and life safety monitoring system in the market. He invested in technology to impact life-saving communication and, thus, MeshWrx was born! Contact us today to see how our MeshWrx systems can help your company!

What are mesh network alarm monitoring systems?

Mesh network alarm monitoring systems were designed to be reliable, cost-effective, and hassle-free. Traditional tower-based solutions and other single-route systems can be affected greatly by environmental disturbances and equipment problems and interrupted more frequently with more dead spots than mesh network systems. Mesh networks continually optimize multiple signal pathways to find a way to send a signal. 

When Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, mesh technology was the only uninterrupted communication source. All landlines, cellular, and IP failed during this emergency. When an emergency occurs you need to ensure your alarm systems are up to the task of communicating to the outside. Mesh networks provide a holistic approach to ensuring your alarm monitoring needs are met. 

The networks were originally built for the demanding military, police, and fire communication pathways. The radio frequency’s quick response times and reliability have proven to be the most effective choice in protecting lives and property.  MeshWrx has created a solution for facilities managers to get the greatest reliability based on industry standards and the fastest method available in the industry for fire alarm monitoring. 

Why do you need a mesh network alarm system?

Prevent Property Damage

Top-of-the-line alarm monitoring systems respond when they detect the slightest amount of smoke, which allows the fire department and those in the building to respond as quickly as possible. Quick response times help you ensure that smoke doesn’t turn into a large fire. 

COMMUNICATE WITH THE FIRE DEPARTMENT QUICKLY

Quick response is essential to saving your building and your people. The alarm monitoring system you choose needs to be able to communicate quickly and consistently with the fire department. Instead of worrying about calling and reporting the fire, people inside can focus on evacuating the building and helping those in need.

24-HOUR PROTECTION AND RELIABILITY

When you install a mesh alarm monitoring system your building remains protected 24/7. You can ensure your building is protected when people aren’t in it. With mesh network systems, you can feel at ease that your building is safe especially during an emergency.

Cellular and IP systems tend to slow or drop as more users are added to the system. MeshWrx’s performance is actually improved when more users are added. Mesh networks create multiple pathways for an emergency signal to reach first responders. 

MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT KEEPS YOUR EMPLOYEES SAFE

Lastly, and most importantly, installing an alarm monitoring system ensures your employees remain safe. It’s important your employees know that they can safely exit the building when a fire occurs, as the alarm system will notify emergency responders. 

CHECK OUT WHAT OUR HOUSTON TEAM IS UP TO!

Our Houston team has been hard at work expanding their business and ensuring their clients remain safe from harm!  To acknowledge their accomplishments over the last few months and show them we appreciate all the hard work they have put in; we want to recognize some of their big wins!

Here are some examples of the current projects the Houston Team is working on. The team has secured work with Port of Houston Barbour’s Cut Terminate and a venture partner Dayna Mechanical. They have also been working to service tugboats for Enterprise Marine, Devvall Towing, Florida Marine Transporters, Golding Barge Lines, and Intratug.

Our Houston District has done an impeccable job of building relationships with customers, ensuring they provide on-time inspections and same day service.   As a result, the feedback from our customers has been exemplary.

Let us dive a little deeper into the Houston District’s technical expertise!

MARINE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

The Marine Department is ramping up! They have now acquired four new Tug & Barge customers, including NGL, Canal Barge Co., Intratug, and Martin Marine. VFS now has approximately 375 total vessels receiving fire safety inspections and testing annually.  When it comes to your marine fire suppression needs, our team in Houston is ready to help!

About 90% of onboard fires start in the engine room and half of those start from electrical wiring issues. With the proper fire suppression systems in place that trigger automatically, is essential to fighting the fire early and keeping it contained. There are a few different types of boat fires that can occur:

CLASS A

These fires are ordinary combustible fires, which include paper, plastic, and fiber as well as cabinets, berths, hatch covers, and synthetic materials (including cushion vinyl, foam and fabric covers, and bedding).

CLASS B

These fires include flammable gases and liquids including diesel, gasoline, and propane. They can quickly ignite the rest of the boat. Ensure the source of fuel is cut off immediately!

CLASS C

Electrical fires can start other classes of fire and are extremely dangerous. The most important part of stopping these fires is to shut off the electricity first and foremost.

The best way to protect your vessel from fires is to choose extinguishing agents that are effective for all three types of fires.

INDUSTRIAL FIRE PROTECTION

37,910 fires occurred in industrial and manufacturing facilities between 2011 and 2015. It is essential that you prioritize fire protection in your industrial facility. Prioritizing your fire protection looks like:

  • Regular inspections and maintenance to ensure you remain compliant and your systems function at their best.
  • Walkthroughs and fire hazard assessments help to identify your needs, risks, and strategies for your specific industry.
  • Implement regular training for your employees to ensure fire prevention, protection, and safety is the top priority.

It is important to understand where your risk may lie within an industrial facility. Some of the most common industrial fire and explosion risks include the following:

  • Electrical hazards: Exposed wires, extension cords, and overloaded electrical circuits.
  • Combustible dust: Ensure regular housekeeping is done to avoid accumulation of dust.
  • Hot work: avoid hot work as often as possible. If you need to engage in these activities, ensure all staff are properly trained and supervised. Keep the area thoroughly cleaned.
  • Flammable liquids and gases: Ensure all flammable liquids and gases are properly stored and handled in the workplace.

It is important to understand how fires may start in your industrial facility.

OIL & GAS

Oil & gas facilities offer a special challenge when it comes to fire protection. These facilities are high-hazard occupancies when it comes to fire protection. These environments are harsh, complicated, and often in remote locations. These special hazard facilities include:

  • Off-shore oil platforms
  • Oil pumping stations
  • Refineries
  • Gasoline storage tanks
  • Compressor stations
  • Gas processing plants
  • LNG receiving facilities.

At VFS, we utilize our robust knowledge, expertise, and experience to provide the best possible solutions for every client. Our Houston team is uniquely positioned to protect your special hazard facility.

meshwrx_post p2

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! 

that-guy-just-stole-a-drill-1

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!

One-resolution-you-cant-skip-out-on-is...-2

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.

7 hazards

WHEN YOU LIGHT IT UP ON NYE, MAKE SURE IT’S NOT AN ACTUAL FIRE HAZARD!

It’s almost the New Year, and you know what that means… it’s time to light it up! But be careful, as 2020 has shown us, you can never be too careful with your health and safety. In other words, don’t go out of 2020 with a literal bang.

Figuratively, yes light it up, go out with a bang, and forget about the past 365 days! But keep in mind a few fire safety precautions as you do it. We’re a fire prevention company, what else would we be talking about going into the New Year?

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

We understand the ringing from a smoke detector is the last thing you need during the holidays. However, smoke detectors have a purpose and that is to keep you safe. Be sure your smoke detectors are up-to-date and have working batteries. 

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. 

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 the clutter away as much as possible. 

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. Be sure your tree remains hydrated and away from any heat source. According to the 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.  Christmas trees are one of the most common fire hazards during the holidays.

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-greatest cause of home fires each year. We understand that heating your home is important, you need to stay warm and cozy during these cold months, however 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 3 feet from items that might burn, including decor, upholstery, and your Christmas tree.

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

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 to be careful not to overcrowd outlets. Electrical shorts and malfunctions are one of the leading causes of devastating 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, be sure you turn off your decor when you leave the house and when you go to bed. 

BE AWARE OF INDOOR AND OUTDOOR DECOR

As you decorate for each respective holiday, it’s important to test all lights and cords and replace anything faulty before you use them. Ensure all candles are placed out of reach of children and away from flammable objects, be sure to extinguish them before you leave the room and go to sleep. 

As far as outdoor decor goes, be sure to 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. Be sure the cords are not pinched in doors, windows, or placed under furniture. Keep in mind, metal ladders conduct electricity, opt for a wood or fiberglass ladder instead. 

THE LAST THING YOU NEED IN 2020 IS TO LOSE A FINGER, BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR FIREWORKS. 

You may want to celebrate the start of 2021 with fireworks, understandable, it’s tradition, but be aware of the potential safety hazards that fireworks come with. When used inappropriately, fireworks can present a few added risks. 

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

Be sure if you do set off fireworks on your own, you check local laws prior, you choose a location away from buildings and trees, and your spectators stand well away from the actual 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 show. 

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

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.

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

How to properly prepare for a fire disaster (Not like Dwight Schrute)

Interested in learning more about fire safety protocols? Check out this blog!
be alarmed be very alarmed

Be alarmed, be very alarmed. Not about ghosts, witches, and warlocks. About your building’s alarm system! It’s time to invest in Fire Alarm systems that work effectively and keep your business safe from harm. Not only will it save your business, but it will also save you money. Here’s how.

PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE

One of the biggest reasons to invest in a commercial fire alarm system is to protect your team. Your people are your biggest asset and are the people who care most about your business. It is so important that they are protected with the best and most reliable fire alarm systems on the market. Just as important as the system itself, is the company you entrust to inspect and maintain them! Entrust VFS Fire & Security Services to support the integrity and reliability of your fire alarm systems and the safety of your people!

THE COST OF RECOVERY

Recovering from a catastrophic fire can bring about a greater investment for your company than protecting your business in the first place. Even if one catastrophic fire can be prevented, the investment in a professionally installed fire alarm system is worth it. Not only do they help you prevent fires while you’re in the office, but they also prevent them when you are away. With proper design, early detection, and advanced technology you can avoid potential damage and loss of assets from an unforeseen fire. 

HAVE YOUR ALARM SYSTEM INSTALLED PROFESSIONALLY

A fire event can have devastating consequences for businesses and their employees. A professionally installed fire alarm system can help to prevent or lessen the severity of such events. Through proactive measures such as staying up-to-date on required inspections, professional maintenance,  and mass notification systems VFS can help protect your employees, your customers, and your property. 

SAVE ON INSURANCE

Insurance companies offer discounts for systems that guarantee their investment in your building. When you implement a top-of-the-line commercial fire alarm system, insurance companies feel safe insuring your business. As an insurance agency, if a fire alarm system saves your building during the night, when you’re on vacation, or if any other unforeseen circumstance occurs, they will feel much better about their investment. The average savings on insurance for installing a commercial fire system is around 20%! 

At VFS, safety is our top priority. We offer top-of-the-line fire alarm systems installed and maintained by licensed professionals to keep your business and people safe! Our team offers in-house design, inspection and testing, maintenance and repair, mass notification systems, safety training, monitoring, 24-hour emergency service, and preventative maintenance. Want to know more? Contact us!