Professional Conducting a inspection on a fire system in need of repair

Frequent fire system inspections and repairs can help commercial real estate owners prevent fires from damaging or destroying their buildings. According to U.S. Fire Administration,  out of the 100,000 fires that occur annually, 52% of the larger fires in commercial properties occur in buildings that either:

  • Do not have smoke detectors
  • The smoke detectors do not function properly

At VFS Fire and Security Services, we believe that being proactive minimizes your chances of an emergency. 

If your building’s fire system is being regularly inspected and is up to code, it significantly decreases the probability that your property will be destroyed in the event of a fire. 

To help you prepare, we’ve broken down what a fire system inspection is, outlined some common fire code violations as well as offered some tips on how to stay up to code and in compliance. 

What Is a Fire System Inspection?

A fire inspection is a process in which the fire department inspects a building or proper

ty to identify and access potential fire safety hazards. 

How Often Should Fire System Inspections Occur?

According to the NFPA code, inspections of your fire and life safety systems are required to occur on a quarterly and annual basis. 

What is NFPA Code?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has over 300 codes and standards that apply to nearly all buildings, services, installations, and processes. NFPA codes are designed to reduce or minimize the effects of fires and other safety risks. 

 

A little intimidated to start reading 300 NFPA codes and standards? That’s okay- we get it! Begin by checking out our article, make fire safety part of your New Year’s resolution, where we break down a couple of codes and help you get started.

What Will Be On My Inspection Report?

Your inspection report will include:

  • The location of every device in the building
  • Whether each device passed or failed inspection
  • The reasons why each device passed or failed inspection
  • Date and time stamps of when each device was inspected
  • Device inventory 
  • Device warranty status
  • Indication of the length of time devices have been in service
  • Verification of report results

Yikes, kind of a lengthy list, right? Consider using a professional fire safety service to inspect your property–and make sure you didn’t miss anything–to ensure your building is up-to-code and in compliance. 

Do All Fire System Components Need to Be Checked With The Same Frequency?

In the same way that the brakes in your car should get checked every six months but your oil should be checked every few weeks, some components of a fire system need to be checked more often than others. 

For example, a fire pump may require weekly or monthly inspections whereas sprinkler systems may only need a quarterly check. 

What Fire Code Violations Should I Look Out For?

We’re so glad you asked. According to the NFPA,  the most common fire code violations are:

  • Blocked exits or fire doors
  • Extension cords
  • Improper storage
  • Exit signs and faulty lighting
  • Fire extinguisher issues
  • Broken smoke detectors
  • Improper records
  • Hanging items from sprinkler heads or pipes
  • Fire alarms or pull stations not working
  • Incorrect sprinkler system
  • Blocked valves or exterior access points

Learn more about understanding inspections and maintenance for your building, here.

How Do Repairs Affect My Fire Code Compliance?

Components of the fire system needing repair can result in your property being out of compliance and penalized with hefty fines. And, as you can see from our list of common code violations, components in need of repair –ranging from broken smoke detectors, fire alarms, and pulls stations to faulty lighting– aren’t a rare occurrence. 

Avoid the penalties and let us help with fire system inspection and repairs to make sure your building is safe and up to code. 

Tips for Staying Up 

To Code and In

 Compliance

Keep Hallways and Storage Areas Clear

Clutter and disorganized spaces can serve as both fuel for the fire as well as block emergency exits. Clean up messes, such as piles of cardboard boxes or papers, that may fuel a fire and move large objects, such as furniture, out of the path of a fire exit. 

 Properly Dispose of Combustible and Flammable Materials

These materials could be a safety risk to your building. Follow protocols in disposing of items such as cooled ashes and oiled rags.

Create and Post an Evacuation Plan

Designing and posting an evacuation plan can lead to a more efficient evacuation in the event of a fire. The plan and escape route information should be posted in the public areas of your building to familiarize residents and employees with safety precautions. 

Work with a Professional Fire Protection Company 

Ensure your building is safe and up to fire protection code compliance by partnering with a company that specializes in fire protection. While these tips can get you started in ensuring your building is in compliance, with over 300 NFPA codes and standards, the rules can get complicated quickly– especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Luckily, we do. 

At VFS Fire and Security, we offer a range of services to make sure your building is safe and in compliance. Start a conversation with us today.

Still have more questions about your building’s compliance? We’ve got 

you covered with our building compliance cheat sheet. 

Fire Extinguisher on Wall

In the event of a fire, knowing the five classes can help you to use the most effective fire extinguishing agents and techniques to safely suppress the flames. 

In this article, we’ll cover each fire class, how each type of fire can happen, the varying materials that can serve as fuel, and how you can safely extinguish the flames. (Hint: don’t always use water to put out fires– it can make it worse!) 

Please note these fire classifications follow the U.S. standard system for classifying fires. 

What is a Fire Class?

Fire classes are a system of categorizing fires by factors such as the type of material and fuel for combustion as well as the best methods to extinguish or suppress them. The fire classes are Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class K.

Class A Fires: Ordinary Combustibles

Class A fires are the most common of the classes of fires. Class A fires occur when common combustibles–such as wood, paper, trash cloth, and some plastics– serve as fuel for the fire.  Some of these materials may include:

  • Cloth and fabric: clothing, home furnishings, curtains
  • Wood: furniture, building, crafting or construction supplies, logs in fireplaces
  • Paper: books, office supplies, magazines, newspapers, trash 
  • Plastics: plastic containers, toys, disposable bags
  • Rubber: such as the rubber in shoes

How Do Class A Fires Start?

Class A fires are the most common because ordinary combustibles are often found in everyday life. An ordinary combustibles fire can start through scenarios such as a candle falling over or a hot match being tossed into the trash.

How to Extinguish Class A Fires

According to the Fire Equipment Manufacturer’s Association, the best methods to extinguish Class A fires is either with a foam fire extinguisher or with water.   

Class B Fires: Flammable Liquids and Gases

Class B fires involve flammable liquids and gases, especially petroleum or petroleum-based products. Some examples include:

  • Gasoline
  • Paint
  • Kerosine
  • Propane
  • Butane

However, Class B does not typically include fires involving cooking oils or grease. These materials are in their own class, Class K.

How Do Class B Fires Start?

Class B fires occur when flammable liquids ignite. For example, lighter fluid may catch fire on a charcoal grill or gasoline, grease or paint may ignite while a mechanic is working on a car. 

How to Extinguish Class B Fires

The best method of extinguishing Class B fires is by smothering them or cutting the oxygen supply using foam, powder, or carbon dioxide fire suppression equipment, such as extinguishers. 

It is important not to use a water extinguisher on a Class B fire as water may spread the flammable material and cause the fire.

Class C Fires: Electrical Fires

Class C fires involve an electricity source and/or electric equipment. They may begin from:

  • A short circuit
  • Faulty wiring
  • Electrical/power cord damage 
  • Faulty Breaker boxes
  • Damaged appliances
  • Overloaded electrical outlets

How Do Class C Fires Start?

Class C fires can occur in many situations. An example would be an overloaded outlet causing the plug and/or cord of the device to spark and set on fire.

How to Extinguish Class C Fires

Since suppressing Class C fires can be complicated, we’ve broken down the process into a few short steps:

  1. If it is safe, disconnect the item from its power source. 
  2. Extinguish the fire using a carbon dioxide or dry powder fire extinguisher. These are non-conductive extinguishing agents that will help protect you from electrical shock and cut off the fire’s oxygen supply.
  3. Do not use water or a foam extinguisher, as you would with Class A fires. Water and foam conduct electricity and could make the situation more dangerous.

Class D Fires: Combustible Metal Fires

Class D fires involve metals catching on fire. Flammable metals include, but are not limited to:

  • Titanium
  • Aluminum
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

How Do Class D Fires Start?

Metallic fires require extreme heat to ignite and start most often when the materials are in the form of fines, such as metal dust. This may occur, for example, at manufacturing plants, laboratories or warehouses that cut, drill or mill metal materials.

How to Extinguish Class D Fires

Class D fires should not be put out with water because water can make the fire more dangerous. Instead, use a dry powder fire extinguisher or other dry powder agents to smother the fire. 

Class K Fires: Cooking Fires

Class K fires, similar to Class B fires, occur as a result of the combustion of flammable liquids. Class K fires are categorized separately because of their unique setting and are instead associated with cooking liquids in the food service and restaurant industry. These liquid cooking materials include:

  • Grease
  • Oils
  • Animal fats
  • Vegetable fats 

How Do Class K Fires Start?

Cooking fires can happen by leaving cooking food unattended–remember when your mom told you not to do that? This is why!– or forgetting to turn off the stove. 

Commercial kitchens have a high risk of a Class K fire occurring and can contain an array of safety risks and hazards. Learn more about kitchen fire safety management, here. 

How to Extinguish Class K Fires

It may be your instinct in the kitchen to toss a glass of water on the fire, but that could make it worse. Cooking fires can spread quickly and are often worsened by water.  Instead, smother the fire-like putting a large metal lid over a small fire in a pan- to cut off the oxygen supply or use a wet agent fire extinguisher.  

Still have some questions on how to best protect your property from the five classes of fire? Contact us at VFS Fire and Security Services and we’ll find a solution that fits your needs, property, and budget.

Fire Alarm in Building

The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that fires in commercial buildings cost owners over $2.4 billion per year. Wowza! This considered, monitored fire alarm systems are essential in the prevention of fires in commercial buildings.

Moreover, fire alarm systems can help to:

  • Reduce damage to property
  • Protect valuable assets
  • And, save lives

But today, we have to ask: Is a regular fire alarm system enough?

OK, OK… Before you roll your eyes, hear us out. Fire alarm systems are an excellent and crucial first step in protecting your property. However, as a property owner, you may be able to do more!

A monitored fire alarm system can help to further prevent or reduce costly damage to your property while also better protecting its residents.

Read on to learn what a monitored fire alarm system is and how it can better protect your property.

What is a Monitored Fire Alarm System?

A monitored fire alarm system is an alarm system that has been programmed to transmit signals to a central station or fire control center. In simple terms, when the alarm goes off, the system will immediately alert an operator who will dispatch the appropriate fire protection team to your building.

A monitored fire alarm system ensures that the fire department is alerted to the fire as quickly as possible, without someone having to make the call. The seconds or minutes that a monitored fire alarm system might save you could make the difference between life and death (as dramatic as it sounds, it’s true!)

Monitored fire alarm systems are most commonly used in commercial facilities—and for good reason.

What is the Difference Between a Fire Alarm System and Fire Alarm Monitoring?

A fire alarm system sets off an alarm—usually a series of local, audible devices—to alert people in the building that a fire has been detected and to evacuate immediately. A fire alarm system does not notify the fire department of the detected fire. The fire department will not be dispatched unless someone calls 911.

On the other hand, a monitored fire alarm system will transmit a signal to a central station or fire control center where an operator will dispatch the appropriate fire department to your building—without anyone in the building calling 911.

How Does a Monitored Fire Alarm System Work?

A monitored fire alarm system has an installed control panel that will detect a fire and immediately transmit a signal to a monitoring station. The operator at the station will notify the fire department when they receive the signal. 

 

Signals can be transmitted via:

  • Cell phones
  • Phone lines
  • Radios
  • The internet

Why Does My Building Need a Monitored Fire Alarm System?

The answer to this is simple: Monitored fire alarms buy you, at the very least, a few extra minutes. In the case of a fire, a few extra minutes can be the difference in both saving buildings and saving lives.

In as little as thirty seconds, a fire can double in size, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Additionally, a fire will spread even quicker if its surroundings are flammable, such as products that may be found in a warehouse or particular furniture.

If your building is equipped with a fire alarm system that isn’t monitored, the fire department will only be dispatched when someone manages to call 911 after sounding alarms, a fire suppression system or sprinklers, and a quick evacuation of all residents.

Considering these stressful protocols, how quickly do you trust your residents to call 911?

When Will the Monitored Fire Alarm System Protect My Building?

Monitored fire alarm systems provide 24-hour protection, seven days a week. 

For instance, even if a fire occurs at nighttime or while your building is unoccupied, a monitored alarm system will ensure there is no delay in notifying the fire department.

How Do I Know If My Fire Alarm is Monitored?

A common error amongst commercial building owners is incorrectly assuming their fire alarm systems are monitored. Consequently, when a fire occurs, the call to 911 is severely delayed. This error leads to the destruction of the buildings that might have been saved if the proper precautions had taken place.

At VFS Fire & Security Services, we urge you not to wait until a catastrophic loss to have your system inspected.

The default option for many fire alarm systems is the installation of a single-station fire alarm, which doesn’t include the feature of sending a signal to the fire department.

If you’re not sure if your fire alarm system is monitored, you can have a fire and security service quickly inspect your system to let you know. At VFS, our system upgrades team can review your existing plans and make scalable proposals to meet your building, code, safety needs, and budget. 

Not sure if your building is due for an inspection? Read our complete guide to fire and safety inspections for your facilities.

The Bottom Line

Fires happen often—every 63 seconds, in fact. This considered, commercial property owners should be adequately prepared to avoid the costly damages to their valuable assets and protect their residents.

Monitored fire alarm systems are a strong method of improving the protection of your property and its residents by ensuring the fire department is dispatched as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Start a conversation with us today and let’s figure out how to best protect your building.

What is ERRCS/DAS and how does it work?

ERRCS don’t have to irk you! VFS Fire & Security Service’s Director of Fire Alarm Operations, Kevin Gregory, joins us to explain the importance of updating your alarm and communication systems.

 

What Are ERRCS and DAS? 

ERRCS stands for Emergency Responder Radio Communication Systems, also known as Bi-Directional Antenna Systems, or DAS. 

The ERRCS and DAS are very similar; both systems are used within commercial and residential buildings to allow emergency responders to communicate with each other via two-way radio in areas that they may not have been able to in the past.

As an amplification system, ERRCS amplifies the radio signals between first responders’ radios during an emergency. 

Why Did ERRCS Systems Become So Important?

During the September 11th attacks in New York City, emergency responders experienced difficulty communicating with each other in rescue and recovery efforts. These difficulties included full radio communication failures, which made the first responders inside buildings lose contact with dispatch and fire crews outside, risking the lives of the first responders and hindering their rescue efforts.

The communication failures on 9/11 spiked awareness for high-functioning ERRCS/DAS, highlighting the need for tools that would allow responders to communicate without interruption or signal loss in the event of an emergency. Since 9/11, ERRCS and DAS have become a critical priority for commercial building owners. 

What Are the Requirements of an ERRCS System?

While the requirements for ERRCS used to apply only to buildings within the specific guidelines–any building over three stories or with underground parking–requirements can now apply to most new buildings or projects.

The building department and/or fire department can enter a new building project, regardless of its size, and review the ERRCS. In this review, the building department may test for signal strength and require that an additional amplifier be installed. 

How Many Systems Are Required in Commercial Buildings?

Typically, buildings require one system. However, several factors can affect the number of systems required in a space, such as the building’s size and layout. These factors may suggest additional amplifiers or other components need to be installed. For more information, learn the five things CRE owners should know about installing ERRCS, here.

To determine the number of antennas required in your building, an inspection team may utilize heat maps and sweep tests. 

What is a Heat Map?

A heat map is generated through a sweep test or a 20 grid test. In a sweep test, an inspection team will divide the building into 20 sections and test each section with a spectrum analyzer and either a fireman’s radio handset or a signal generator. 

The team will then run the results through software to create a report and a heatmap. This report will display the areas of the building which need better coverage as well as the locations in which the signal is strong. 

Do ERRCS Need Testing and Inspection?

ERRC systems need to be tested regularly. The fire department requires that these systems are inspected and tested on an annual basis. 

How is an ERRCS Inspection Conducted?

An inspection team will conduct an inspection process similar to the 20 grid test in which they will divide and sweep the building to locate areas of poor coverage. Their reports will be forwarded to the building department and fire department for approval. 

Inspections are Essential in Maintaining ERRCS/DAS

Inspections and maintenance are critical to the safety of your building. At VFS Fire and Security Services, we specialize in installing and inspecting ERRCS. There’s an ongoing need and requirement for testing and inspection on an annual basis to ensure that the integrity of the system is still operational with NFPA updates and requirements

What are LEED Buildings and How Do They Affect ERRCS?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a third-party green building certification program that focuses on efficiency in designs. For instance, LEED buildings can have innovative windows made from low-E glass which stops outside weather conditions from affecting the interior temperature of the building and more efficient insulation.

However, low-E glass can cause low signal attenuation that impacts ERRCS. Most commonly, E-glass alters the requirements for your ERRCS in regard to needing additional amplification systems throughout the building. 

Can Other External Factors Affect ERRCS?

ERRC systems can be affected by an array of outside forces. For instance, the signal can be impacted by the construction of neighboring buildings as well as construction supplies and choices. These external factors should be considered in the installation, inspection, and maintenance of a building’s ERRCS. 

Read more about your inspection and maintenance schedule in our blog It’s time to get it together and inspect your building more than once a year!

Why do fire inspection reports take so long?

Don’t tell anyone, but we know that a fire inspection report takes a long time. 

In an effort to explain why we’re going to lead you in a ‘behind the scenes look at the internal processes and why these reports take what seems like forever. 

When systems or devices need maintenance we often can send a repair technician to you within 24 hours (or sooner in emergencies!) Our goal is to be proactive and ensure that our systems keep you safe from harm.

What’s Included in a Fire Inspection Report? 

Clear Sightlines

One of the main elements of your fire inspection report is ensuring there are clear paths for firefighters to reach the building and for patrons to exit the building. If an emergency does happen at your commercial property, there needs to be easy access in and out of the building. This part of the inspection report will likely also include making sure your building remains up to date with fire codes. 

If there are main identifiers around the building that firefighters should be aware of (think trees or other identifying information), that also needs to be included in the fire inspection report. 

Certified Fire Extinguishers

Included in this inspection is counting the number and type of fire extinguishers throughout the building.  VFS Fire and Security services specialize in portable fire extinguishers. Per NFPA code fire extinguishers are required to be inspected and certified by a licensed fire protection contractor. There are a LOT of different types of fire extinguishers including:

  • Water Mist
  • Clean Agent
  • Foam
  • Wet Chemical
  • CO2
  • ABC Dry Chemical
  • Class A, B, C, D, and K

Inspecting all of these extinguishers takes time, which further delays that report hitting your desk. 

Emergency Lighting

Emergency illumination could mean life or death in an intense situation. Ensuring your emergency lighting is working and in the correct areas is essential to the fire prevention and safety of your building. 

We can help! 

There are so many other moving parts that are included in a fire safety inspection. The expert team at VFS Fire and Security Services has a breadth of knowledge to provide all regularly scheduled and code-mandated fire protection system inspections. The frequencies of these inspections ensure the most effective operating conditions for your building all year round and are critical to keeping current with industry and insurance codes. 

We have a diverse team of experienced fire protection professionals capable of inspecting and servicing even the most complex fire protection systems. 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. 

How frequently do you need fire inspections? Learn more about your inspection schedule in this blog post. 

VFS Cookbook

It’s almost Thanksgiving! 

Get your ovens (or deep fryer- but please be careful!) warmed up before Thursday. It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year. Families come together and sit around a table full of delicious food to reflect on what they’re thankful for. And what brings people together better than food? 

Delicious dishes have the ability to bring back memories, to take you back in time to some of your favorite moments. In an effort to get in the spirit of Thanksgiving, our team put together a few of their favorite family recipes that they make with their families.

Read on for the recipes and ideas, and let us know if you try them!

Blueberry Pomegranate Mule 

Blueberry Mule

Starting off with one of the most important food groups on Thanksgiving- booze! Hear from our CEO, Randy Nelson, on his favorite cocktail recipe below:

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

The ingredients are: 2oz Vodka, 1oz blueberry liqueur, 1oz pomegranate juice, 1oz lime juice, and 2oz ginger beer. 

Combine all ingredients, except ginger beer, in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a Collins glass over ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with a mint sprig

What does this dish mean to you? 

This is a great holiday drink to share with family and friends. 

– Randy Nelson, VFS Fire & Security Services President

Pasta Siciliano

While this may seem un-traditional for Thanksgiving, who doesn’t like to spice it up a bit. Italy here we come!

Pasta Thanksgiving dish

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

Ingredients 

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked farfalle pasta 

 ¼ cup olive oil 

3 cloves chopped garlic

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup pine nuts

1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced kalamata olives

½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step 1:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Place farfalle pasta in the pot, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, and then drain the pasta. 

Step 2:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook the garlic until lightly browned. Mix in red pepper and lemon juice. Stir in the pine nuts, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss in the cooked pasta and feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper

What does this dish mean to you? 

It’s a simple meal anyone can make, and who doesn’t love pasta? 

Bacon Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Bacon loaded mashed potatoes

This one is bound to get your mouth watering!

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

You need potatoes, bacon, mascarpone or cream cheese, and fresh parmesan.  You can prepare the night before and bake before dinner.

What does this dish mean to you? 

Since I made this the first time for my family, they ask for it every year so I’m happy to oblige and make them happy! 

Candied Yams

Candied yams

Something a little sweet to balance out all the savory flavors on your plate.

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

The main ingredients are brown sugar and maple syrup. And yams of course. Yum! 

What does this dish mean to you? 

Sweet goodness! 

Vanilla Bean Sage Blackberry Galette

blackberry pastry

Delicious freshly baked vegan almond berry galette on wooden rustic background, from above. Sweet food, summer dessert.

Sprinkle a little love and happiness into your holiday dish!

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

Ingredients include: Love, happiness, vanilla beans, blackberries, and sage. 

What does this dish mean to you? 

The dish reminds me of amazing memories from a long time ago.

– Elizabeth Ziebell, Director of HR

Honey Ham, Turkey, and Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffing

A special take on the traditional dishes. Butter makes everything better, right?

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

It needs to be cooked with plenty of spices and butter. 

What does this dish mean to you? 

A time of giving and fellowship. 

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

rice thanksgiving dish

While broccoli isn’t always the first on people’s favorite food list, we’re excited to try this delicious take on it.

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

Ingredients: 

1 Cup Margarine or butter

1 Cup Chopped Onion

1 Cup Chopped Celery

 2 Cans Cream of Mushroom Soup

 1 Large Jar of Cheese Whiz

 2- 10 or 12 ounces of frozen chopped broccoli (thawed)

1 Cup Minute Rice

Bread Crumbs

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large pan saute’ onion and celery in margarine or butter. Add soups, cheese whiz, thawed broccoli and rice. Stir all the ingredients together.

Pour in a 9 x 13 baking dish and top with bread crumbs.  You can make your bread crumbs from day old bread or buy bread crumbs. 

Bake for 45 minutes.

What does this dish mean to you? 

My family always requests I bring this dish to the Thanksgiving meal. 

– Brenda Harrelson

Spinach Salad

spinach salad

It’s always good to have some greens added into the mix, but of course, add some bacon to make it better.

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal?

Ingredients: 

1 pack of bacon (center cut)

Mustard

Salt &  pepper

Splash of apple cider vinegar

Spinach

1 or 2 Shallot cut up

Directions:

Cut bacon into pieces and fry. Remove bacon from grease and place on paper towel. Add the cut-up shallots to the bacon grease for maybe 1 minute (don’t brown it). Add splash of apple cider vinegar, about 3 tablespoons of mustard, salt and pepper to the grease. This is your dressing for the salad.

Place spinach in a bowl with stems removed and pour grease (dressing lol) over it and toss the salad. This should be done right before you sit down to eat otherwise the spinach will wilt if it sits for too long.  

What does this dish mean to you? 

My aunt always made it for Thanksgiving and I enjoy it now.

– Michelle Day 

Turkey Pizza

turkey pizza

Who doesn’t like pizza on Thanksgiving?! It has turkey on it, right?

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

It’s like pepperoni pizza, but with turkey instead. 

What does this dish mean to you? 

It means I’m having pizza on Thanksgiving! 

Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey VFS Cookbook

As we said above, butter makes everything better- don’t limit yourself during the holidays!

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

Use a LOT of butter! 

What does this dish mean to you? 

It reminds me of family. 

As you head into the holiday season, we hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving and are reminded of all of the areas in your life of which you are grateful. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with yummy food and even better company (and don’t light anything on fire while you’re at it!) 

Let us know what your favorite dishes are to try during the holiday season. Connect with us on our social media pages!

Choose your player… the Best Fire Safety Equipment of 2021

Protecting your commercial building is a huge decision and financial commitment. Here are some of the best options in Southern California for fire prevention. 

Autocall

Autocall believes that people and facilities everywhere deserve to be protected by fire detection systems that deliver unparalleled performance. Backed by a legacy of innovation and invention, Autocall is pushing the industry forward with feature-rich fire detection systems that help to ensure that our customers are safe and their facilities are secure.

AES Corporation

AES Corporation is the leading manufacturer of communication products and services designed for the fire, burglary, and facility applications. Learn how an investment in AES’s wireless mesh telecommunications technology can help you take control of your network, pricing, and future.

Ansul

ANSUL® is a global premium brand of Tyco Fire Protection Products. ANSUL special hazard fire protection products are designed and manufactured to strict standards and tested under the scrutiny of national and international independent testing laboratories and approval agencies.

Kidde Fire Systems

Since 1917, Kidde Fire Systems has been a global leader in fire protection, protecting people, property, and processes from fire hazards. Our fire protection solutions include conventional & intelligent detection and control systems that complement a complete line of fire suppression systems.

Potter

Potter Today, Potter is carrying on the legacy of Charles E. Potter by combining the latest technology in fire protection with the dedicated manpower for which they have been known for over one hundred years. With an unwavering dedication to their customers, Potter looks to continue as the industry standard in both product and service.

Valcom

Valcom’s long tradition of communication leadership and innovation addresses our customers’ most complex communication concerns. Our products are developed based on the customer’s need to relay information rapidly so individuals in various locations throughout an organization receive relevant instructions, and act upon them in emergency situations.

Learn what sprinkler system would work best for commercial buildings here

Best Fire Safety Equipment

How much does a fire alarm system cost?

Well, the short answer is ‘it depends.’

The long answer is that we can help you understand the factors that will influence the cost of a fire alarm system for your commercial property! Let’s get started.

What to Consider

Depending on your property, each of these factors could require different levels and types of fire alarm systems. A good rule of thumb to follow is understanding that the larger and more complex your facility is, the more you will need to invest in your fire protection systems to keep everyone safe in case of an emergency. 

Size of Building

Yes, the cost of a fire alarm system for Knottsberry farms is going to be different than the tiny mom and pop shop on the corner. 

In general, a good rule of thumb to follow is the larger your building, the higher the cost to keep everyone safe in case of an emergency. If the building is older, there will most likely be obstacles for a fire safety crew (like VFS!) to work with.

Additionally, if there are special system preferences and repairs, the cost will reflect this. 

Types of Facilities

The cost of your fire alarm system depends greatly on the environment. Below are some of the more complex environments that may require a little more fire alarm TLC: 

  • Oil Refineries
  • Data Centers
  • Aircraft Hangers
  • Manufacturing & Testing Facilities 
  • Power Generation
  • Healthcare Facilities

What Are You Storing? 

Another big factor in cost depends on what contents you are storing within your facility. More complex environments usually mean high hazard equipment or contents such as: 

  • Chemicals
  • Combustibles
  • Flammable Liquids
  • Corrosives
  • Spray Painting Equipment
  • Welding Equipment

Fire Season 

Fire season is in full swing. As a result, fire safety costs and insurance is going up in price! This can be a factor in how expensive a fire alarm system will cost. This can be another factor in the cost of your fire protection. 

There are different aspects that will contribute to the cost of a fire alarm system like: 

  • Where is it? 
  • What state? 
  • How big is the building?

Depending on these factors, additional monthly fees could apply. 

Looking for more specifics about your commercial or educational building? Reach out to VFS Fire and Security Services today to learn more information. For more on the different fire sprinkler systems available to you, read on here. (Psst! Fire suppression and fire sprinklers are not the same!)

Kitchens: More Than a Place to Steal Your Coworker’s Lunch!

Commercial kitchens should be at the top of the priority list for fire safety management.

Educating your employees on proper fire safety protocols is essential to ensure their workplace safety. In order to keep them safe from harm, they need to know what steps to take in the event of a fire—and no, ‘fricken large ones’ is not correct. In an effort to help guide your fire safety training endeavors, we’ve put together a few tips to improve your employees’ education surrounding building fire safety.

Start With Necessary Information

We think it’s safe to say that most employees do not want to sit through a three-hour-long fire and life safety training. To start, ensure you’re touching on all the ‘need to know’ topics of fire safety.

As you dive deeper into fire safety training, you can go over additional topics that may not be as urgent. Urgent topics to review and discuss should include:

  • Types of fires that occur in the workplace
  • How to extinguish the different types of fires that may occur
  • Major causes of fire accidents in the workplace
  • The exits are available to employees in case of emergency

Make sure your employees know the various hazards in your workplace.

Cooking Equipment

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) claims that the main cause of fires in office buildings is cooking equipment. Office and commercial buildings typically have cooking equipment. Whether there is a mass amount of equipment or one small kitchen for employees, there are safety measures that should be taken as a part of fire prevention.

A few of these safety measures include:

Clean Grease Often 

The office kitchen isn’t known for being the cleanest place to cook food, and grease build-up can cause fires to spread quickly.

Ensure Equipment is Maintained Regularly 

Old equipment increases fire risk and puts employees and the building property at risk. There are specific commercial kitchen requirements that may apply to an in-office kitchen. 

The precautions with gas-fired appliances include being installed by professionals, no oil with gasoline, and only specific locations within the building containing gas-fired appliances.

Kitchens are typically protected by et chemical suppression systems. These Extinguishing methods are specific to the type of cooking fires that may occur in a commercial kitchen. When triggered, the system discharges immediately with a liquid that, when sprayed onto the fire, cools the flames almost instantaneously.

When this liquid comes into contact with oils and fats it creates a foam, subsequently cooling the affected area and preventing the spread from reigniting. 

At VFS, your building’s safety is our top priority. With over 25 years of experience, our fire and life safety experts are prepared to ensure your building remains safe from harm. 

The equipment we install, inspect, and maintain is only one component of your fire and life safety initiatives. The other aspect includes employee training! Your employees must be educated on what to do in case of an emergency.

Contact us today to talk about how we might work together!

Suppress Fires, Not Feelings

We get it, you’re working with a tight budget and didn’t consider fire safety as a part of the bottom line. While each commercial building might have different needs and pricing, investing in a clean agent fire suppression system is cheaper than the financial consequences of your building burning down. 

Fire Suppression Systems

Fire suppression systems are used to extinguish or control fires and are activated by heat, smoke, or a combination of the two. Suppression systems are typically found in places like museums, libraries, data centers, and archives. 

Unlike wet-pipe sprinkler systems, suppression systems use gaseous, chemical or foam agents to suppress the fire, rather than water. This aids in the preservation of sensitive equipment and content within a particular environment. There are many different applications of fire suppression depending on the area in which these systems are housed. 

There are different types of fire suppression systems that VFS can install. 

Clean Agent Fire Suppression

Clean agent fire suppression is a term used to describe the use of inert gases to extinguish a fire. These systems all have three main components: 

  • Smoke Detector
  • Control Panel
  • Notification Devices

When the smoke detector is triggered, it sends a signal to the control panel which then alerts the notification devices, activating the release device to suppress the fire.

Clean agent fire suppression systems are fast-acting and most effective in protecting sensitive equipment and environments because they are designed to suppress the fire in its incipient stage. Clean fire agents are electronically nonconducting and unlike water, they won’t ruin electrical components or electronics.

Clean agent fire suppression systems are most often found in server rooms, record/file repositories, and data centers that require an increased level of protection to prevent unnecessary and accidental discharge of systems. 

The Details

  • Inert gases: Nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide work together by lowering oxygen content in a room below the level that supports combustion, while still allowing a person to breathe keeping your environment and your personnel safe. 
  • Fluorocarbon-based extinguishers are described as “clean agents” as they do not leave any oily residues, particulates, or water damage and rapidly extinguish fires with a superb weight to effectiveness ratio. These extinguishing agents are also safe to use in occupied spaces and offer unique advantages in speed, performance, and safety. 

Fun stuff, right? 

There is a range of costs and options available when it comes to clean agent fire suppression systems. Contact VFS Fire & Security Services today to learn more! 

What is a Public Safety DAS? NFPA, ERRCS and AHJ (Plot Twist, these letters actually mean something...)

You’re not alone if you see all the abbreviations in fire safety and think, “How the h*ll am I supposed to know what that all means?” 

DAS Explained

The amount of NFPA codes is a large number (like large as in over 300…), so we understand it’s hard to keep track of them all! Actually, are you trying to test your knowledge? Take our NFPA Fire Codes quiz and see how you do! 

Anyways, DAS stands for, “Distributed antenna system.” And no, we don’t mean the antenna for your cable TV.

The NFPA requires that “Buildings and structures that cannot support the required level of radio coverage shall be equipped with a radiating cable system or a distributed antenna system (DAS) with FCC-certified signal boosters, or both, or with a system that is otherwise approved, in order to achieve the required adequate radio coverage.” 

There are additional factors of the distributed antenna system that any commercial property owner should consider (based on NFPA standards). This might include:

  • Signal Strength
  • Isolation
  • System Radio Frequencies
  • Frequency Changes
  • Critical Areas
  • Radio Coverage

Another main component of NFPA 72 Section 24.5.2 is non-interference. 

In other words, “no amplification system capable of operating on frequencies or causing interference on frequencies assigned to the jurisdiction by the FCC shall be installed without prior coordination and approval of the authority having jurisdiction,” according to the NFPA. “The building manager/owner shall suspend and correct other equipment installations that degrade the performance of the public safety radio system or public safety radio enhancement system.” 

Let’s Talk ERRCS

So surprise, ERRCS is one in the same as DAS. An Emergency Responder Radio Communication (ERRCS) is crucial to have in commercial buildings. An ERRCS can also be identified as a Public Safety or First Responder DAS. 

It turns out all of the fire protection abbreviations can be interchangeable!

How About AHJ?

AHJ, the last acronym to understand for today’s lesson! AHJ stands for, “Authority Having Jurisdiction.” It can be a common misconception that the local fire marshall is responsible for any updates in fire safety. But this is not the case. Oftentimes there are multiple people or authorities who have jurisdiction and are responsible for a facility’s fire safety standards and practices.

The NFPA has regulations set under Code 70E

“In a commercial or industrial facility, subsequent installation of electrical equipment or modification of the distribution system is often not done under a government permit nor is this inspected by the government AHJ.” 

A good question to keep in mind listed from the NFPA is, “Does your management invite a government AHJ to inspect and approve the installation of a new subpanel, the move of a production line, the retrofit for a breakroom, the extension of a circuit, or the addition of a backup generator in your facility?”

Have more questions about these confusing acronyms? Reach out to VFS Fire & Security Services today! 

What is a Public Safety DAS? NFPA, ERRCS and AHJ (Plot Twist, these letters actually mean something...)

What is a Public Safety DAS? NFPA, ERRCS and AHJ (Plot Twist, these letters actually mean something…)

Building Compliance vs. Building Complaints (clearly marked fire exits)

Building Compliance vs. Building Complaints (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.

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— it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.

300 Fire Protection Compliance Codes?!?

Do you think you know them all? If you dare, check out our latest quiz to test your fire code knowledge. 

Unless you score perfectly on the fire safety quiz, it’s likely that your building does not have to comply with all 300 NFPA codes and standards. Searching the NFPA’s database here can simplify the process.

Codes you’ll regularly encounter, however, might include: 

NFPA 99

Health Care Facilities Code

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

It seems like the stuff of action moves, and yet, it happens all the time. Piles of boxes can fuel a fire that might otherwise be easily managed. Oily rags can spontaneously combust. Rag disposal is essential to safety. Ensure you dispose of excess packaging in real-time.

Don’t Put a Lantern in the Shed with The Cow. 

Check your fire extinguishers. An expired extinguisher is not only frustrating, but it can be deadly. A popping sound when you turn on the light is a warning! Inspect electric lines that are old or unreliable. These tips and tricks might all seem out of pocket, but one day you might thank us for not putting that lantern next to your beloved cow, Betty. 

Get Honest Regarding our Disaster Preparedness

Whether it be for fire, earthquake, flood, locusts, and any other eventuality, get honest about your current disaster preparedness.

If you haven’t already, make sure everyone knows what to do, who is in charge, how to get out, and where to go following. This is a serious one for anyone who owns a business in California especially. The earthquakes have already started and don’t seem to be slowing down. 

Bring in the VFS Experts

We’ve seen it all. Our teams can ensure compliance and that it 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 fire prevention 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 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 Fire & Security Services, we pride ourselves on the caliber of our team members, our commitment to a holistic understanding of your needs, and our-list wine collection (get to know our founder!). We are the team you want to bring to your project.  Connect with us, take a look inside our new site!

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 is just around the corner, which means it’s time to spring into action to prevent fires. 

 

As summer approaches, hot weather and dry winds create the perfect conditions for a fire that could destroy your property. 

 

Duh Duh Duhhhh!

 

Last year, in California alone, the state reported

 

  • 2.5 million acres burned 
  • 8,835 incidents 
  • 3,629 structures damaged or destroyed. 

 

Erring on the side of caution when it comes to protecting your commercial property can help prevent damage to your building. 

 

Your commercial property can suffer damage from a fire through:

 

  • Flames directly contacting your building 
  • Radiant heat that can cause combustible materials to ignite 
  • The wind blowing burning embers onto your property (the most common occurrence)

 

Fire season is unpredictable and frightening, but don’t worry, VFS is here to help prepare your commercial property for a potential emergency. Fire safety regulations for a commercial building may look different from one property to another. 

 

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

Establishing fire protection elements outside your commercial property may save you from the unpredictable and devastating effects of a fire. When preparing the surrounding area for fire season, create three “buffer zones” that act as lines of defense. These areas outside of the building need to be free of flammable or combustible materials. 

 

Zone Three

Typically, this region is the first line of defense against a fire. It ranges about 100 or more feet from the building depending on where the building is located.  In the case of commercial properties built on a slope, buffer zones are recommended to extend further, about 150-200 feet total, due to faster and longer flaming fires. This buffer zone would help slow down the pace of the fire.

 

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

If you need to keep a storage shed, wood, a trailer or other similar objects on your property, try to keep them in this zone. 

Zone Two

This is the second line of defense against a fire. Its purpose is preventative damage control if the fire breaks through zone three. Zone two ranges about 30 to 100 feet from the building. 

 

Buildings with grass surrounding the property should avoid tall grasses, also known as ladder fuels, because they make it easier for fires to climb trees. Any grass should be kept no taller than four inches high. 

 

Any dead plants, bushes, or trees should be removed from this area. When maintaining the trees in this zone, prune the branches so they are at least ten feet from the ground, and remove any low-hanging branches. 

 

Zone One

Zone one, also known as the last line of defense, includes the area up to 30 feet away from your property. 

 

If your building has a deck or a porch, avoid storing any combustible materials like wood underneath it. 

 

All dry or dead plants or dry vegetation in this zone must be cleared away. This includes:

 

  • Brush 
  • Bushes 
  • Pine needles 
  • Dry leaves 

 

When landscaping this area, it’s important to keep zone one in mind. It’s best to use noncombustible materials such as rocks or gravel to help keep flames at bay.

 

Cut down any tree branches hanging over the roof of the building. 

Other Outside Hazards

Another hazard to be aware of is gutters. The key is to maintain a consistent routine of cleaning out the building gutters to avoid the 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

 

There are other steps beyond video surveillance that 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. Metal vents can be added to act as a temporary barrier between embers and the vent. 

 

An evacuation plan 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. 

 

Get prepared for fire season before it starts this year. We promise you’ll thank us later. For more information about fire prevention vs fire protection, read our article here. 

 

prep for 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.  

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.

WHY DOES YOUR BUILDING NEED PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE?

Preventative fire and life safety system maintenance can save your building costly repairs.  More importantly, it can keep your people safe from faulty equipment accidents.

Why does your building need preventative maintenance inspections?

Your building occupants’ safety and wellbeing is your top priority as a building owner. Fires and other incidents are unpredictable, but you should prepare for the possibility they do occur. In order to stay properly prepared for emergencies, regular fire system inspections are essential. You need to know when your systems are faulty, in order to fix them before potential emergencies occur. 

The National Fire Protection Association, your local authorities who have jurisdiction, and the International Code Council implement fines for not following inspection standards. Fines and penalties, however, are the least of your worries if your alarm, sprinkler, or fire suppression systems don’t work when you need them.

How else can fire system inspection help your business?

With ongoing fire preventative maintenance, you create a safer work environment for your employees. Your employees won’t fear the danger of a fire breaking out in the office, because your systems will be running efficiently and effectively. Because of this, your employees, visitors, and customers will have a greater sense of security.

Your employees will also be able to be more productive. Not to mention, avoiding costly long-term losses and limited operations in a building that has experienced fire. 

Fire system inspections can also prevent your business from paying large fees for noncompliance, as stated above. When you perform preventative maintenance on your systems, you mitigate the cost of replacing unmaintained, corroded, or damaged equipment.

What types of fire systems need inspection and maintenance?

Your fire inspection requirements will vary depending on your facility, the state you operate in, and the various fire protection systems within your building. The type of preventative maintenance varies based on the type of fire system. The NFPA and ICC require that these systems receive an inspection regularly as follows: 

Fire Sprinkler Systems

These systems require weekly, employee inspections for dry, pre-action, deluge systems gauges, and control valves. Monthly employee inspections for wet pipe system gauges, and alarm valves.

Annual professional inspections are required for specific pieces of equipment. They are required for the building, hanger/seismic bracing, pipes/fittings, and sprinkler heads. Along with information signage, spare sprinkler heads, pre-action/deluge valves, dry pipe valves, and backflow prevention assemblies.

Lastly, they require a 5-year inspection for internal inspection of sprinkler piping, obstructions, and a valve check. 

Backflow Preventer Assemblies

Backflow preventer assemblies require a licensed sprinkler inspection company to inspect these systems annually. These inspections ensure your facility’s drinking water is safe and to ensure the sprinkler systems work properly.

Fire Suppression Systems

These non-water based fire suppression systems require a bi-annual inspection by a licensed fire protection technician. These inspections ensure there is the proper amount of clean agent available, the container is pressurized, and there is no damage to the container. 

Kitchen Hood Suppression Systems 

A licensed fire protection company must inspect your kitchen hood fire suppression systems every 6 months. These inspections are done to ensure your suppression systems will activate in the event of a fire. It ensure they put the fire out and shut off the gas or electricity used to run the equipment.

Fire Alarms

Routine maintenance is required by a trained employee must inspect the fire alarm components, control panels, power supplies, fuses, LEDs, and trouble signals once a week. They must also inspect the batteries for corrosion once a month. A licensed technician must inspect the initiating devices (heat, smoke, dust detectors) semi-annually. They must also inspect all the fire components and equipment once a year. 

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers require monthly inspections to ensure the pressure gauge is on full, the hose is intact, and the pin is secure. A certified professional must inspect the fire extinguishers yearly. 

At VFS, we provide inspections, testing, and maintenance of fire sprinklers and fire alarm systems. Our trained personnel conduct all inspections as outlined by the requirements of NFPA. As well as abiding by the local codes that apply to your specific area of operation.

With VFS, your preventative maintenance is top-of-mind. Your inspections will always be up to code and easy to access and schedule with our team!

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.