Tag Archive for: alarm system

employees walking in a healthcare building with sound and communication systems

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities face a unique set of challenges in an emergency, such as mobility issues with patients, additional obstacles with emergency evacuation, and a large staff to inform of safety protocols.

This is why sound and communication systems in healthcare buildings are essential in protecting property and residents in the event of an emergency.

Sound and communication systems serve to protect property and residents as well as combat these challenges in the event of an emergency.

Let’s discuss a few sound and communication systems, how they work, and how they can be used for the safety of residents in healthcare facilities.

ERRCS and DAS

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

ERRCS and DAS are similar; both systems are used within commercial and residential buildings to allow emergency responders to communicate with each other via two-way radio.

Why Are ERRCS and DAS Important?

During the September 11th attacks in New York City, emergency responders struggled to communicate with each other in rescue and recovery efforts. 

These difficulties, such as full radio communication failures, made the first responders inside buildings lose contact with dispatch and fire crews outside. Ultimately, these communication issues risked the lives of the first responders and hindered their rescue efforts.

The communication failures on 9/11 raised awareness of the need for tools that would allow responders to communicate during an emergency. Since 9/11, these systems have become a critical priority for commercial building owners.

How Do ERRCS and DAS Work?

ERRCS and DAS are made of distributed antennas that are installed within a building to amplify particular radio and/or cellular signals ensuring the highest functioning communication for first responders.

These antennas receive external public safety radio signals and retransmit them within the building to ensure penetration in all areas of the building including stairwells, elevators, basements, and other heavily shielded areas.

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

Read on to learn more about ERRCS and DAS and how they are crucial in protecting lives and your building.

Area of Refuge

Like an intercom system, an area of refuge two-way communication system ensures that healthcare buildings have a way for individuals to call for help in the instance of an emergency.

These systems are also used in schools, commercial buildings, and other public venues.

How Do Areas of Refuge Work?

Areas of refuge provide a location for building occupants to assemble by an exit and await assistance. These residents may require assistance for a variety of reasons, such as difficulty using stairs or other disabilities.

With these difficulties in mind, these systems were designed to provide hands-free, two-way communication with intelligible audio and visible signals to indicate communication has occurred. These features will allow patients and staff to more easily communicate and receive the assistance they need in the event of an emergency.

Voice Paging and Intercom

Voice paging and intercom systems allow for one-way communication with a larger audience. These systems allow users to announce information to others. This allows the called party to receive information without having to pick up a handset or radio.

How Do Video Paging and Intercom Systems Work?

The paging employee speaks into the telephone and the message is broadcast through a network of speakers to relay. Messages can also be prerecorded and broadcast at different times, depending on the needs of the facility.

Patient Wandering

These systems are essential to preventing patients from getting lost, injured, or exposing themselves to potentially life-threatening situations.

How Do Wander Management Systems Work?

Wander management systems consist of RFID-enabled technology that keeps track of patients within the set parameters of the system to guarantee their protection within the hospital, nursing home, or senior living home. 

Infant Protection Systems

Infants are some of the most vulnerable patients in a hospital. Ensuring infant security is critical not only to the reputation of your hospital but also to nursing staff and new moms.

How Do Infant Protection Systems Work?

These systems can vary depending on the wants and requirements of the hospital. Typically, hospital staff will put some form of location system on the infants, which will monitor their location throughout the building.

With these tracking systems, staff can monitor the location of the infants during an emergency as well as be notified if the infant is taken out of the secured area of the hospital. These systems allow the staff to better protect infants in the healthcare building.

The Bottom Line

These systems allow various teams to communicate with each other to optimize safety protocols and protect staff, patients, and other residents. Further, sound and communication systems can bring peace of mind to building owners as well as the staff and patients in the healthcare facility.

Read on to learn more about our other sound and communication system options.

infographic describing sound and communication systems

security system on a building

As a business owner, building security is crucial to protecting your property and staff.  According to statistics provided by the FBI, 60% of burglaries occur outside of working hours. Why? Outside of working hours, your staff is typically less equipped to respond quickly and efficiently to the incident. In some cases, the staff may not even notice the incident is occurring.

Additionally, following the COVID-19 pandemic, more business owners are managing their business remotely. Not being at their building in person can cause business owners to feel concerned about the security of their business, but they don’t have to!

With the right protocols and systems in place, business owners can feel confident that their building is secure and safe, whether they are clocking in upstairs or from their living room. 

Let’s dive into how to make this possible.

First, How Can Improved Security Benefit Your Business?

We understand–business owners have a lot on their plate and security may not always be the first priority. However, the right security can provide a host of benefits for your business. For example:

  • Improved customer confidence in shopping on the premises
  • Prevention of issues like  break-ins, vandalism, or robbery
  • Heightened employee safety both during and outside of business hours 

Let’s Talk about Integrated Security Systems

Integrated security systems provide a solution to many security challenges faced by business owners. Let’s discuss what integrated security systems are and how they can protect your building and business (even after business hours or from home!).

Intrusion and Detection Alarm Systems

Intrusion systems are designed to use your existing IT infrastructure to increase efficiency. These solutions are scalable, reliable systems used for a wide variety of applications. They can be utilized in spaces such as mixed-use commercial office complexes to high-risk facilities.  

How do Intrusion and Detection Alarms Work?

State-of-the-art technologies in intrusion systems implement event notifications sent to mobile phones and remote system management. These technologies can keep you up-to-date with the status of your facility, even when you are not there. 

Closed-Circut Television (CCTV)

Closed-circuit television, or CCTV,  is a television system in which signals are monitored for surveillance and security purposes. These signals are not publicly distributed. 

How Does CCTV Work?

CCTV relies on the strategic placement of cameras as well as the consistent monitoring of the footage. CCTV cameras communicate with monitors and/or video recorders through private coaxial cable runs or wireless communication links. This allows the communication to be private and allows only the intended audience to be able to view the footage.

Access Control Systems

As the name implies, access control systems manage access. These systems control who enters the building or site and prevents unauthorized visitors from entering the facility. Access control systems are designed to maintain control over who comes into the building without impeding the work of those who are authorized.

How Do Access Control Systems Work?

While the details can vary depending on the types of access control and system the business owner selects, the main elements of an access control system are typically the same. These elements include: 

  • The tag
  • Tag reader
  • Access control panel
  • Lock(s)

These elements cooperate to create an easy and simple experience for the user. 

Further, these systems can be scaled from small businesses to multi-location companies with thousands of employees.

Video Monitoring Systems

Video monitoring systems provide an array of benefits for a business, such as improving employee safety and productivity.  Hybrid digital and analog camera systems deter theft by preventing unfounded lawsuits and reducing incidents of work-site harassment. 

How Do Video Monitoring Systems Work?

Video Monitoring systems can be analog, digital or hybrid. Business owners can select which of these options works best for their business and their budget.

A digital video surveillance system is “a surveillance system capable of capturing images and videos that can be compressed, stored or sent over communication networks. Digital video surveillance systems can be used for nearly any environment.” Depending on the system, internet protocol (IP) cameras may be used. These cameras require only a local network.

Analog systems use traditional cameras you see in camera systems. These cameras record images to a video recorder and send them through a coaxial cable to a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Analog systems tend to be simpler than digital surveillance systems. 

Need Help With Building Security For Your Business?

We got you covered.

From high-end access control systems to basic intrusion detection components, our highly skilled VFS Teams design systems that optimize your existing infrastructure and augment them with the latest in proven technologies.

Learn more about our security systems here and start a conversation with us today.

infographic about business owner building safety

leader showing How to Implement Fire Safety Training in Your Workplace

We’ll be honest… “Stop, drop, and roll” paired with a colorful poster in your company’s break room isn’t going to cut it. Proper fire safety training saves lives, time, and money and is essential in any workforce or industry.

Nearly 4,000 people die in fires each year in the United States; that is eleven fire-related deaths per day. Additionally, the U.S. Fire Administration estimates that fires in commercial buildings cost owners over $2.4 billion per year.

Let’s not contribute to these statistics! Instead, employers can help prevent injuries, losses, and damages by implementing proper fire safety training in the workplace.

We’ll break down the basics of fire safety training, starting with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements.

What Are OSHA’s Requirements for Fire Safety Training in the Workplace?

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a “safe and healthful workplace.” Therefore, fire safety training is required in most American workplaces. 

Basic Requirements

The minimum requirements outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ensure employees know how to protect themselves in the event of a fire. To summarize:

  • Employees know how to recognize the signs of a fire
  • Employees understand how to safely evacuate the building

Requirements Per Industry

OSHA requirements are different in each industry. OSHA categorizes its standards into five sections:

  • General Industry
  • Maritime
  • Construction
  • Agriculture
  • Federal Employment Programs

Each of these categories contains specific information that employers may find useful in planning fire safety training for employees in their industry. For more information, check out the booklet OSHA provided for training requirements.

Now, let’s look at how to implement fire safety training outside of the minimum requirements.

How to Implement Fire Safety Training in Your Workplace

Outline Your Goals

First, fire safety training should begin with an analysis of your goals and objectives for the training. Employers may ask themselves the following questions:

  • What do I want my team to gain from this training?
  • What points do I need to cover for their safety?
  • What do I want today’s training to accomplish?
  • What do I want this training to improve in the future?
  • How many training sessions will allow me to present this information to my team?
  • What resources does my team already have?
  • What resources do my employees need to reach these safety goals?

Develop a Fire Safety Plan

If your organization hasn’t already, it is crucial to develop a fire safety plan. To build an efficient plan, employers and employees should be familiar with:

  • The type of fire suppression or alarm system in the building
  • All exits in the building
  • A list of all major fire hazards
  • Potential fuel sources for fires
  • The types and locations of fire protection equipment in the building

Once the employer has collected this information, they can form a plan and present it to their team. 

Presenting a Fire Safety Plan

Employers should take time to ensure their team understands their workplace’s fire safety plan.

For instance, employees should have a complete understanding of:

  • Where fire protection equipment is located and how to use it
  • Expectations for if they are the first to see a fire in the workplace
  • How they will communicate with their team in the event of a fire
  • The route they will use to evacuate the building
  • Options to exit the building
  • How to activate the fire alarm
  • When to call 911
  • A location to regroup outside of the building

Every workplace may have slightly different safety plans, procedures, and requirements.

Don’t want to rely on an employee to notify emergency services of the fire? Consider a monitored fire alarm system.

Why? Suppose the building is equipped with a non-monitored fire alarm system. In that case, the fire department will only be dispatched when someone manages to call 911.

Additionally, leaders should consider the following topics when crafting their workplace fire safety training.

Workplace Fire Safety Training Topics

Fire safety training in the workplace can vary depending on the company and industry. However, all workplace training should include a general overview of basic topics to ensure employee safety and help protect property against damages.

Fire Prevention

An employer’s primary goal in fire safety training should be to stop the fire from happening in the first place.

Fire prevention training may have the goals of:

  • How to recognize fire hazards
  • How to reduce the risk of hazardous situations
  • Steps to fix or reduce a fire risk

Hazard Recognition

If employees know the most common causes of fires, they will be more successful in preventing similar situations in the future. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the most common causes of fires in commercial buildings are:

  • Cooking equipmentHow to Implement Fire Safety Training in Your Workplace infographic
  • Heating equipment
  • Electrical and lighting equipment
  • Smoking materials
  • Intentional fire setting

Types of Fires and How to Contain Them

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

Fire classes—which include Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class K—are a means of categorizing fires by factors such as:

  • The type of material and fuel for combustion
  • The best methods to extinguish or suppress them

Read on for more detail on the five classes of fires and how to contain them.

 

How to Implement Fire Safety Trainings

Employers should be mindful of OSHA’s guidelines and local codes, then pass this information to their team.

Additionally, consistent refreshers of fire safety training topics can help keep your property and team members safe. Leaders can mix training options that range from short presentations to demonstrations and full courses.

Looking For Other Ways to Protect Your Team or Commercial Building?

At VFS Fire & Security Services, our mission is to grow our business by serving our community and protecting what matters most to our clients; life and valued assets.

For more information, check out our fire protection solutions.

Fire Suppression System Pipes without Blockages

Fire sprinkler obstructions can hinder the effectiveness of any fire protection system, resulting in costly damages. Luckily, building owners can take steps to prevent these obstructions to ensure their fire system is protecting their commercial property at the highest level of efficiency.

Let’s dive into how to avoid the most common fire sprinkler obstructions; but first, let’s review what fire sprinkler obstructions are and why they happen.

What is a Fire Sprinkler Obstruction?

A fire sprinkler obstruction is any material that causes partial or full blockage of a pipe and prevents water from flowing through.

As you can guess, these blockages stop fire sprinkler systems from doing their job in the event of a fire. Think: If the correct amount of water can’t flow through the pipe properly, the fire system is not able to release the amount of water necessary to reduce heat, flames, and smoke quickly.

Therefore, fire sprinkler obstructions can lead to increased damage to property and even put lives at risk.

Read on for more information about fire protection systems.

What Causes Fire Sprinkler Obstructions? 

Pipes in fire sprinkler systems can be as small as 1” in diameter. This considered, it doesn’t take much to cause a blockage! Obstructions can be caused by many objects and materials, but some occur more frequently than others. The most common fire sprinkler obstructions are:

  • Ice
  • Corrosion
  • Foreign materials

Let’s review each of these in detail and take a look at some strategies on how to prevent these blockages.

Ice Blockages

When temperatures dip below 32°F, water in pipes may freeze and create blockages in your fire sprinkler system. Water can freeze into solid ice plugs, which can damage your system and prevent water from flowing through the pipes.

Many building owners assume that ice plugs only occur during the winter months; however, ice can form in pipes at any time of year because ice plugs occur most often based on their surroundings in a building, not by the weather. For example, ice plugs most commonly occur in sprinkler systems surrounded by storage or freezer systems.

How to Avoid Ice Plugs in Fire Sprinkler Systems

Building owners can prevent ice plugs by dehumidifying air supplied into the sprinkler system. Most ice plugs are caused by the air supply being cooled as it travels from a heated area into an extremely cold environment, such as near a freezer system.

Moisture collects in the air and freezes once the condensation reaches the cold environment. 

By dehumidifying the air going into the system, owners can prevent condensation from freezing and turning into an ice plug. Additionally, building owners can take measures to ensure their system is air-tight. 

Read on to learn more about how to prevent your fire system from freezing.

Corrosion

The combination of metal, water, and oxygen in some systems makes it extremely difficult to avoid corrosion entirely. Although corrosion is common in fire sprinkler systems, it usually doesn’t pose a significant risk. 

However, when corrosion becomes extreme, obstruction can occur. A few types of corrosion that commonly obstruct fire sprinkler systems include:

  • Iron oxide corrosion (i.e. Rust)
  • Microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC), and
  • Galvanic corrosion

Read on to learn more about MIC prevention.

How to Avoid Corrosion in Fire Sprinkler Systems

Building owners can install a system that maintains an extremely high level of pure nitrogen to combat corrosion. While these systems can’t reverse existing corrosion, they can help to prevent corrosion from becoming extreme and causing obstructions.

Foreign Materials

Raw or poorly filtered water sources may lead to foreign materials entering and obstructing pipes in a fire sprinkler system. For example, water from rivers or ponds may carry sands or stones. Even if these materials are extremely fine, they can still build up and cause a blockage.

How to Avoid Foreign Materials in Fire Sprinkler Systems

Building owners can prevent foreign materials from blocking pipes in their sprinkler systems by correctly filtering their water source and understanding specific risks a source may pose.

How to Know if Your Fire Sprinkler System is Obstructed 

Fire sprinkler systems often don’t show signs of obstruction, which means building owners may not know there is an issue until it’s too late (AKA your system doesn’t work properly when there’s a fire…)

Because of this, the best way to know if your building’s fire sprinkler system is functioning properly is to have the system assessed and inspected. Fire protection system assessments can help property owners determine what repairs are needed to ensure their system will protect their building in the event of a fire.

Not sure if you need servicing? Read on to learn more about how often fire protection systems should be serviced.

Worried Your Fire Sprinkler System Might Have An Obstruction?

Let VFS Fire & Security Services help—fortify your building with reliable fire protection systems inspected and maintained by the experts at VFS!

When systems or devices need maintenance, we most often can send a repair technician to you within 24 hours (and sooner in emergencies!) Our goal at VFS is to be proactive, staying ahead of the curve.

Read on for more information about our testing and inspection services.

Ships in Supply Chain being delayed due to issues

Current supply chain issues affect many industries and goods. These impacts range from limited toilet paper on shelves, expensive loaves of bread, and cars taking months at a shop. In addition to these effects, supply chain issues also significantly affect the fire and security industry. 

Let’s discuss what supply chains are and how these issues came to be before we hand the reins over to IFSEC Global.

What is a Supply Chain?

According to Fire Apparatus Magazine, a supply chain is defined as “the entire process of making and selling commercial goods including every stage from the supply of materials and the manufacture of the goods to their distribution site.” Supply chains include many elements and moving parts, such as warehouses, production sites, various modes of transportation, fulfillment centers, and inventory storage. 

What Caused the Supply Chain Issues?

 

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed inefficient areas by creating a series of issues that trickled down the chain.

First, any lockdowns, regulations, or ordinances kept workers out of the workplace. Additionally, workers missed work due to COVID-19-related illness, exposure, or other issues. This led to a labor shortage and soon a deficit in materials. The pandemic caused freight costs to spike, shipments to delay and the costs of goods to increase. 

Read on for the full article from FSEC Global to learn how these issues affected the fire and security industry. 

What are the current supply chain issues affecting the fire and security industry?

Supply chains provide companies with the certainty that raw materials and components will be continually available to ensure the smooth production goods. In this article, Euralarm looks at current issues within the supply chain, and the repercussions those problems are having on the fire and security industry.

The various lockdowns due to the pandemic, paired with high demand due to digitization and economic recovery, meant that the certainty surrounding supply chains was, and is still being, challenged. When manufacturers are looking for alternative material and components they can face re-certification of their products, or newly developed products cannot be released.

As a result, existing products must stay available for longer. The fire safety and security markets are highly dependent on electronics and are largely affected by the supply chain crisis.

Supply chains are formed by complex connections between companies. It starts with the raw materials and ends with finished goods for industry and end user; one chain can include thousands of companies.

Thanks to proven forecasting methods, the activities of the companies in the supply chain are precisely coordinated. This considers demand, supply, seasonal influences or specific characteristics of regions.

What is not considered – and what is not possible – are unknown factors. These can lead to the forecasts no longer being correct. The well-oiled machine of the supply chain then quickly starts to creak and squeak.

COVID-19

One unknown factor the world faced in 2019 was COVID-19, making it clear that society is not prepared for events that are not likely to happen but can have a major impact on society.

Unfortunately, the start of pandemic happened in a country where a large part of the world’s production takes place.

Several industries had problems even before COVID-19. Producers of chips, computer parts and other components needed for the digitalisation of our society were already under great pressure. The production capacity of these goods is limited worldwide and the slightest change in demand can cause supply problems.

This was already the case with smartphones, (game) computers or televisions. Chips had already entered the automotive industry on a large scale, and with the electrification of this industry, the demand for chips soared. We are seeing a similar development in industries and parts of society where the (Industrial) Internet of Things is becoming commonplace.

Risky dependencies

The consequences of the COVID-19 crisis have led many governments to recognise that the high dependence on producers out of one region poses a great a risk to certain sectors. For example, the fact that many European countries have no production capacity for facemasks which were needed during the pandemic.

For electronic chips and components, we face the same challenge; to reduce the risks there is simply a need for more distribution facilities. In the pursuit of lean manufacturing, production has been outsourced to Asia which means that a shutdown of factories in one country can have a global impact. The EU also recognised this even before the pandemic. Accelerated by the corona crisis, the EU is focusing its policy, among other things, on increasing domestic capacity and diversifying the number of suppliers.

Following the rapid spread of the coronavirus in China, European companies were affected. The lockdowns introduced in China led to a virtual standstill in production and restricted the freedom of movement of residents, which also brought logistics providers to a standstill. As quickly as companies were caught off guard by these lockdowns, the recovery in demand was also swift.

For many companies that were caught off guard by global lockdowns, the speed of recovery is almost as insidious and led to another supply chain crisis during the pandemic. Increased consumer spending and thus demand for products, combined with delayed transportation by sea and air, caused major shortages and record backlogs.  The tightness on container capacity is expected to continue for some time. This will not help to clear shortages of electronic components, which is expected to continue for some time.

Fire and security

Manufacturers of electronic fire safety and security equipment are affected by the disruption in transport and shortages on natural resources and core materials. COVID-19 has shown that unexpected events can shatter the basic premise that materials will be easily accessible, disrupting supply chain performance. The chain reaction initially caused by the shutdown of factories in countries effected not only the supply chains but also the workflows within and between companies.

Product compliance

Paul van der Zanden, General Director of Euralarm adds: “Another relevant topic that affects our industry is the compliance of the products that the industry delivers. With electronic components not being available due to the supply chain problems, manufacturers need to reconsider replacement of parts that aren’t available. However, with the replacement of certain components, the conformity of the final product may also be at stake.”

This could make it necessary to have the product retested and recertified, resulting in high costs.

When service and maintenance companies were faced with problems in reaching the customers during the pandemic, these organisations learned other flexible ways to stay in contact with their customers.

Many industries and businesses have started modifying their operational methods, now operating online. The fire safety and security industries are doing the same, forming virtual offices and using remote service and diagnostic tools to support their customers.

Customers are moving to hybrid working models which are applied throughout society and could lead to downsizing or repurposing of buildings.

The Green Deal

Securing a sustainable supply of metals and minerals used for components in fire safety and security equipment is also key to meet the energy and climate targets for 2030 and beyond. The European Green Deal aims to make the EU’s economy sustainable. That creates many opportunities for the European society and industry in the current context of both the climate crisis and the COVID-19-outbreak.

However, the transition towards green technologies, like renewable energy, e-mobility and stationary energy storage relies heavily on critical raw materials, such as cobalt, neodymium, tungsten, etc. and on new products and services.

Both globally and in Europe it is expected that the demand for these materials will continue to increase, creating challenges for the Green Deal.

The impact of extracting and processing these resources is high while the supply chains are often not transparent and may lack traceability. Another challenge is the recycling of the materials. For most critical raw materials, the recycling efficiencies are low while the dependency on non-EU countries is high and still increasing.

The green ambitions of the EU could therefore also lead to certain activities being brought back to the West, either to reduce the dependency of non-EU countries, or to avoid CO2 emission as result of transporting goods from other parts of the world to Europe. This could lead to shorter logistics chains and more sustainability in several sectors. In that sense the current crisis in the high-tech supply chains contributes to a greener world and a stronger Europe.

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.

Emergency Lights and Exit Signs Deserve Love and Attention, too!

Although they are sometimes overlooked, emergency lights and exit signs actually should fall into regular fire safety maintenance rhythms. It’s actually a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) fire safety requirement to keep up-to-date emergency lights and exit signs. So, stay up-to-date and understand NFPA 101.

The code states that “emergency illumination shall be provided for a minimum of 90 minutes in the event of failure of normal lighting. The illumination must not be less than an average of one foot along the path of egress at floor level.”

Here’s what giving some love and attention to your overlooked exit signs and emergency lights might look like.

Emergency Lights and Exit Signs Deserve Love and Attention, too!

Testing

Since there are clear NFPA codes in place, there are guidelines to follow for annual inspections and emergency protection. Professionals are trained to know what to look for when it comes to emergency illumination.

There are a few steps you can take in your commercial building to ensure that your inspection goes as smoothly as possible. For one, make sure all emergency exit signs are easily accessible for the fire safety professional. 

This means making sure that the area surrounding the emergency illumination is free of obstructions for full access. For monthly inspections, some emergency exit signs have test buttons that can easily be pressed with the help of a ladder. Again, each commercial and educational building will have a different setup and might require specific inspections and maintenance. 

Red flags to look for while testing includes dull lighting, light bulbs that have blown out, and flickering. Overall, there is an emergency light combo that will work for your commercial building.

What Could Go Wrong?

If you fail to have your emergency lights and exit signs checked monthly (or at least annually), lives could be at risk. These systems are essential to guiding occupants out of a building in an emergency situation.  If the equipment in your commercial building malfunctions during an actual emergency, there is a huge liability risk. Fire prevention is our specialty, so connect with us to learn more about annual inspections.

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.

Learn more on our updated website today! 

 

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

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

HOW CAN MESHWRX HELP YOUR BUSINESS RUN SMOOTHLY?

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

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

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

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MESH TECHNOLOGY?

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

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

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

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

100% UPTIME

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

NO UPGRADES NEEDED!

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

RELIABILITY AND FAST SIGNAL TRANSMISSION SPEED

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

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

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

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

4 REASONS TO INVEST IN FIRE PROTECTION SERVICES TODAY.

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

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

Keep Your Business and Employees Safe 

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

Protect Your Business

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

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

Protect Your Employees

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

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

Be Prepared to Survive Business Interruption

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

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

Mitigate Risk For Insurance Purposes

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

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

Reduce Liability Risk

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

How to Invest in Fire Protection Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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