Building Compliance vs. Building Complaints (Not a Spelling Error!)
There’s a good reason for the codes and standards established by theNational 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 latestquiz 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 databasehere can simplify the process.
Codes you’ll regularly encounter, however, might include:
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.
AtVFS 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!
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/iStock-532981839-scaled.jpg20072560Aaron Looshttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngAaron Loos2021-08-01 12:23:212021-07-28 15:38:36Building Compliance vs. Building Complaints (Not a Spelling Error!)
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.
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:
Industrial & Manufacturing
Oil & Gas
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
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.
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/iStock-495343052-scaled.jpg18072560The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-07-25 14:33:002021-07-19 16:31:04VFS is your partner from start to finish: A walk-through of the onboarding process
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.
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.
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.
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, 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:
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.
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/iStock-1318212900.jpg13792174The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-07-18 14:14:002022-02-25 14:19:01Prepping your commercial property for fire season! (Yes, you need to)
Is it time to go back to school already?! Not quite… you still have a few more months of freedom! However, it’s never too early to start thinking about fire protection precautions as you head back to the classroom. The NFPA states that 4,980 structure fires occurred in educational buildings each year from 2011 to 2015. Fire safety training and implementation are essential in schools to ensure the safety of your students, faculty, and staff.
In a study performed by the NFPA, they found:
Most school fires occur in the daytime—especially around lunch.
About 41% of school fires are started intentionally
Around one-third of these fires occur in school bathrooms
In preschools, about two-thirds of fires occur between 6 am and 3 pm
In an effort to help get those fire safety wheels turning and mitigate these school fire risks, we’ve put together a few tips for your educational building’s fire safety.
Fire Protection Practices
Office Protocols and Procedures
First and foremost, your faculty and staff must be familiar with fire evacuation protocols and fire safety training. Fire emergencies don’t stop because your fire safety administrator is out sick or on vacation. Therefore, you must ensure all employees are well-equipped to handle an emergency. Be sure your school officials and faculty are familiar with the chain of command in order to mitigate commotion during an emergency.
Fire Evacuation Plans
Every student is excited for a fire drill because that typically means cutting the math or history lesson short! As exciting as they can be for your students, they are also essential to your fire safety success as a school.
Fire drills get more complicated with larger buildings, changing class schedules, and changing faculty members. Therefore, students and faculty should be made aware of the proper routes to safety regardless of where they are in the building. These fire evacuation drills should be planned monthly at various times in the day to provide training on the best route to safety for everyone in the building.
Fire Safety Training
You can find fire training courses, webinars, conferences, videos, and events at the NFPA or with your local fire department. These resources can be extremely useful for students at the elementary level, as building foundational knowledge for fire safety is important at this age. During this training, students will receive a greater understanding and knowledge of fire hazards and fire safety protocols.
Campus safety for those not-so-responsible college students:
According to Fire Science, firefighters respond to about 3,810 college fires each year. The large majority of these fires are due to kitchen fires. At the university level, it is important you provide four types of fire safety training: on-campus fire safety, campus lab fire safety, off-campus fire safety, and a general overview of college fire precautions.
On-Campus Fire Safety
Be sure your students know a few key fire safety tips when they reside on campus or are utilizing your facilities. First and foremost, cook only in designated areas––we all know what a cooking mishap with a hot plate in a college dorm can turn into! Additionally, it’s important that your students understand cooking areas should be kept clean, free of clutter and grease, and always attending to anything dealing with fire or heat in the kitchen. These among many additional fire safety tips are essential to teach your first-time cooks in college dorms!
Campus Lab Fire Safety
The campus lab can be an extremely fun place to experiment and study all that science has to offer. It can, however, be dangerous if fire and chemicals are involved. Therefore, it is essential that students understand the danger of a potential fire in the lab. Be sure students know to never leave lab experiments or pressure vessels unattended. They should also know to keep flammable gases and chemicals away from heat. You don’t want their science experiment to go up in flames!
Off-Campus Fire Safety
As your students begin to move off-campus and into apartment buildings and homes, it’s important that they are prepared for fire off-campus as well. It can be helpful to train students on what to look for as they look to move away. They should know to look for working smoke alarms in every room, as well as ensuring the building has a well-maintained sprinkler system. Students should also be prepared to ask their building manager if building heating and fire prevention systems have been checked annually by fire officials.
General College Fire Precautions
Lastly, there is some general knowledge that can help college students navigate the world of fire safety. First and foremost, they should identify possible exits and evacuation routes as soon as they walk into a building. They should also identify the locations of fire alarms and the best way to use them. Lastly, students should know that fire equipment that has been vandalized must be reported to campus security.
At VFS, we take fire safety seriously and our team of experts is ready to assist you in all your fire safety needs. From design and build to testing and maintenance, we’re with you every step of the way. Our goal is to ensure your students, faculty, and staff remain safe from harm, which is why we implement top-of-the-line fire safety equipment into every building we work with.
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/iStock-1268517553-scaled.jpg17072560The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-06-27 09:06:012021-07-19 12:23:34Back-to-School Already? Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Students Safe on Campus
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.
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 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!
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/iStock-539329616.jpg14142121The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-06-20 12:59:432021-06-22 13:09:45WHY DOES YOUR BUILDING NEED PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE?
WHILE THE KIDS ARE AWAY THE FIRE PROTECTION MUST STAY
School’s almost out for the summer!
Time to spend the next three months recovering from the last school year… Er, we mean preparing for the next school year! But before you all head off to the beaches for a long-anticipated vacation, ensure your building remains protected.
What do you know about fire protection for education buildings? As we say, though the kids may be away, the fire protection must stay.
Fire Protection… The Bare Minimum!
Educational facilities’ minimum fire protection and life safety requirements are outlined in NFPA 101: Life Safety Code. In this code, educational occupancies are defined as “any building used for educational purposes through the twelfth grade by six or more persons for four or more hours per day or more than 12 hours per week.”
This is expanded to include preschools and kindergartens that meet these requirements:
The purpose of the building is primarily educational, even though the children who attend such schools are of preschool age
The children are all 24 months of age or older
WHAT REQUIREMENTS ARE INCLUDED FOR EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES?
There are various requirements when it comes to fire protection for educational facilities. But what are they? Let’s discuss.
Determining your code requirements for your specific facility starts with the capacity of your building.
According to NFPA 101, the capacity of a building is assessed by calculating the occupant load of the space, which means how large the area needs to be based on the total number of people in the facility. To remain compliant with the occupant load required, you need to plan for at least 20 square feet per person.
The NFPA 101 code provides information on where and how students can be located in your building. For example, younger children must be located closer to the ground floor to make evacuation easier and more efficient. Classrooms for preschool, kindergarten, and first grade must be on the level of exit discharge.
Classrooms for second grade can be located no more than one floor above the level of exit discharge.
WHAT IS THE LEVEL OF EXIT DISCHARGE?
The level of exit discharge is defined as “the story that is either the lowest story from which not less than 50% of the required number of exits and not less than 50% of the required egress capacity from such a story discharge directly outside at the finished ground level; or where no story meets the conditions of the item (1), the story that is provided with one or more exits that discharge directly to the outside to the finished ground level via the smallest elevation change.”
Lastly, for education facilities, flexible and open floor plans that have more than 300 students per room, require at least two means of egress. They also must open to separate atmospheres. It’s important that your local fire marshal or authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) signs off on these floor plans and configurations.
Education facilities are required to have an emergency action plan to ensure building inhabitants remain safe from harm. The emergency action plan should include plans for various emergency situations.
As you prepare your emergency action plan, consider common emergencies as well as area-related emergencies. On a basic level, without area-specific emergencies in mind, you should include the following in your action plan:
A procedure for reporting emergencies
Evacuation, relocation, and shelter-in-place procedures
Elevator use details
Occupant and staff response information
The design and conduct of fire drills
The various fire protection systems and their coverage areas
Other information required by local jurisdiction and fire authorities
It’s important you define which administrators will be responsible for the emergency action plan creation process as well as which positions will be responsible for managing it in the event of an emergency.
Educational facilities should conduct and document fire and emergency egress drills at least once per month when school is in session. In these drills, all building occupants must participate and all alarms must be activated.
Staff members should inspect all exit areas and ensure stairwells, doors, and exit passageways are clear, unobstructed, and in proper working condition. Moreover, these inspections should be documented.
A final note: For schools, there are very specific requirements regarding what items can be placed on the walls. Fire codes only allow for 20% of a wall area to be covered with art and paper products as they are extremely flammable. If fire sprinklers are installed throughout the school, that coverage can be increased to 50% of the wall area.
FIRE SAFETY EQUIPMENT
Ensure you have proper fire safety equipment in place to keep your building, faculty, staff, and students safe from harm. Let’s dive into what equipment is essential.
FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
Educational facilities typically require fire alarm systems. Small facilities that are no larger than 1,000 square feet, with a single classroom, and located further than 30 feet from another building, however, can be without fire alarms. For example, this includes mobile or portable buildings that are utilized as classrooms and spaced 30 feet from the school and other mobile classrooms.
There are multiple exceptions and specifications depending on specific facility needs that may affect fire alarm implementation. This may include:
The elimination of manual alarm pull stations
Or, the addition of a mass notification or emergency alarm communication system
A building greater than 1.000 square feet with multiple rooms requires an automatic fire sprinkler system. Additionally, all kitchens and cooking appliances should be protected with special hood and fire suppression systems.
Lastly, education facilities require fire extinguishers to be installed throughout the building. The specific placement and number of extinguishers are determined by the size and the layout of a building. Extinguishers should be installed, tested, maintained, and selected following NFPA 10, the standard for portable fire extinguishers.
Our team at VFS Fire & Security Services is equipped to help support your unique fire safety needs. We firmly believe in building long-lasting relationships with our clients. From planning to implementation to testing and maintenance, our services are always tailored to meet our clients’ specific needs.
Facilities managers, ensuring you have top-of-the-line alarm monitoring systems throughout your facility is essential. Traditional alarm systems just won’t cut it anymore. It’s time to cut the cords. Mesh alarm monitoring systems are designed to make alarm systems more reliable, cost-effective, and fast.
What is MeshWrx?
MeshWrx was created from the experience that VFS Fire & Security Services had in making sure our clients fire safety was top-of-the-line. VFS has continually developed industry-leading technology that complements our services to provide the best customer experience in the fire and life safety industry.
Our CEO, Randy Nelson, recognized a need to deliver a more reliable fire and life safety monitoring system in the market. He invested in technology to impact life-saving communication and, thus, MeshWrx was born! Contact us today to see how our MeshWrx systems can help your company!
What are mesh network alarm monitoring systems?
Mesh network alarm monitoring systems were designed to be reliable, cost-effective, and hassle-free. Traditional tower-based solutions and other single-route systems can be affected greatly by environmental disturbances and equipment problems and interrupted more frequently with more dead spots than mesh network systems. Mesh networks continually optimize multiple signal pathways to find a way to send a signal.
When Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, mesh technology was the only uninterrupted communication source. All landlines, cellular, and IP failed during this emergency. When an emergency occurs you need to ensure your alarm systems are up to the task of communicating to the outside. Mesh networks provide a holistic approach to ensuring your alarm monitoring needs are met.
The networks were originally built for the demanding military, police, and fire communication pathways. The radio frequency’s quick response times and reliability have proven to be the most effective choice in protecting lives and property. MeshWrx has created a solution for facilities managers to get the greatest reliability based on industry standards and the fastest method available in the industry for fire alarm monitoring.
Why do you need a mesh network alarm system?
Prevent Property Damage
Top-of-the-line alarm monitoring systems respond when they detect the slightest amount of smoke, which allows the fire department and those in the building to respond as quickly as possible. Quick response times help you ensure that smoke doesn’t turn into a large fire.
COMMUNICATE WITH THE FIRE DEPARTMENT QUICKLY
Quick response is essential to saving your building and your people. The alarm monitoring system you choose needs to be able to communicate quickly and consistently with the fire department. Instead of worrying about calling and reporting the fire, people inside can focus on evacuating the building and helping those in need.
24-HOUR PROTECTION AND RELIABILITY
When you install a mesh alarm monitoring system your building remains protected 24/7. You can ensure your building is protected when people aren’t in it. With mesh network systems, you can feel at ease that your building is safe especially during an emergency.
Cellular and IP systems tend to slow or drop as more users are added to the system. MeshWrx’s performance is actually improved when more users are added. Mesh networks create multiple pathways for an emergency signal to reach first responders.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT KEEPS YOUR EMPLOYEES SAFE
Lastly, and most importantly, installing an alarm monitoring system ensures your employees remain safe. It’s important your employees know that they can safely exit the building when a fire occurs, as the alarm system will notify emergency responders.
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/FACILITIES-MANAGERS-JUMP-INTO-THE-MESH-PIT-.png10801080The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-04-11 14:38:412021-06-22 16:01:12WHY YOU NEED MESHWRX IN YOUR BUILDING FACILITIES MANAGERS! JUMP INTO THE MESHPIT
You have likely heard the rumor that the Yale library’s fire extinguishing system removes the air from the book stacks in the event of a fire, which would doom anyone inside the building. While the special hazard fire protection system utilized is designed to save the books from harmful sprinklers, it actually will not harm anyone inside the building! This is only one example of how special hazard fire protection systems protect your people and your valuable assets.
WHAT IS A ‘SPECIAL HAZARD’?
An area deemed a ‘special hazard’ area can mean a few things. For one, it can be an area containing equipment or processes of exceptionally high value. It can also be an area containing unique, or irreplaceable assets- like the Yale library! Lastly, they can be areas where the revenue produced or its function is of greater value than the equipment itself.
A special hazard isn’t simply an area, it can be a building, area, room, or a piece of equipment. From a fire protection standpoint, certain industries bring about additional challenges in the fire safety realm. Places like data centers, telecommunications, power generation, manufacturing and testing facilities, machinery spaces, and healthcare facilities. A typical fire alarm and sprinkler system simply won’t cut it for these types of buildings.
At VFS, we’re experts in special hazard protection. We know how to ensure your unique building needs are met in terms of fire protection. We also know that special hazard protection begins with fire suppression systems, sounds, and communication systems.
FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS
Fire suppression systems are designed to extinguish or control fires. They are activated by heat, smoke, or a combination of the two. Unlike typical wet-pipe sprinkler systems, suppression systems use gaseous, chemical, or foam agents to suppress the fire. Like the Yale library- we know how to suck the air out of the room!
Because these fire suppression systems do not utilize water, they aid in protecting and preserving sensitive equipment and content within a very specific environment. Specific environments typically need specific different types of fire suppression systems. At VFS, we have the expertise to design, install, and maintain these systems with integrity. A few of the major special hazard systems we provide our clients include portable fire extinguishers, pre-engineered systems, marine, vehicle, pre-engineered kitchen systems, and gaseous systems.
SOUND AND COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
In an emergency, especially in a special hazard situation, communication is key. These communication systems work with your fire protection systems to ensure the safety of your people. At VFS, we support our clients in crafting internal and external sound, text, and visual notifications sent from a centralized location.
These notifications are based on the type and severity of the threat. As well as location tools that identify at-risk personnel and assets. It is essential to have top-of-the-line sound and communication systems that ensure the safety of your most valuable assets.
We are a renowned leader in fire and life safety systems for special hazard facilities. We take pride in being one of the select few companies capable of performing highly technical and sophisticated projects. Our clients have access to our team every step of the way. From the design/ build stages to the implementation.
The robust knowledge and vast experience our team retains provide the best possible solutions for all clients. Our technical and design expertise is recognized nationally. Our CEO and Founder, Randy Nelson sits on the Technical Committee for NFPA 16 (Code Standard for Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler), so you could say we know what we’re doing! If you need a partner in your fire protection, contact us today!
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/SPECIAL-HAZARD-FIRE-PROTECTION-.png10801080The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-03-07 14:12:372021-06-22 14:21:46SPECIAL HAZARD FIRE PROTECTION
What happens when an emergency occurs in your building? Will people be able to communicate outside the building for help? Will they be guided to safety? Can the occupants dial 911 from their cell phones?
It’s important that first responders are able to communicate with other emergency responders outside of the building. As a building owner, it is your responsibility to manage evacuation, communication, and signal systems.
Buildings are typically composed of materials that inhibit cellular and other communication signals. In order to boost signals within your building and ensure public safety compliance, you can utilize ERRCS systems.
WHAT ARE ERRCS?
An Emergency Responder Radio Communication Systems (ERRCS) is a required standard for most buildings. ERRCS is a building communication system that improves communication within the building to those outside. This extension of the public safety network utilizes small antennas called Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) that receive and transmit radio signals from the first-responder network.
These ERRCS systems are composed of various components that ensure they are working efficiently and effectively. A Bi-Directional Amplifiers system is integrated to connect the smaller antennas to the donor antenna. This antenna then transmits and receives radio frequencies from the public safety network.
ERRCS IS NOT REQUIRED FOR EVERY COMMERCIAL BUILDING. HOW CAN YOU DETERMINE WHEN YOU NEED TO INSTALL ERRCS?
Start by checking your local jurisdiction to see if there are ordinances in place that relate to public safety communications. The general requirements for all buildings is that public safety radios must work in the building. If public safety radios are tested and work successfully, especially in critical areas like stairwells, electrical rooms, mechanical rooms, and elevators, then you will not be required to install an ERRCS.
It’s important to understand what might block these signals before you hire someone to test your communication capabilities. Exterior walls and glass are just the beginning when it comes to potential signal blockages. Interior walls, office furniture, equipment, and people can also impact signal transmission.
WHEN ARE ERRCS REQUIRED?
There are various requirements for installing ERRCS in your commercial building. Here are a few of the common requirements you need to be aware of.
Buildings that have 3 or more stories, are 50,000 square feet in area, or have underground parking require the installation of ERRCS. Buildings with complex layouts have a challenging time keeping the signal strength in all areas of the building.
Challenging layouts typically include thick walls and multi-room floors. If your building is made up of metal, concrete, brick, wood, or Low-E glass, the signal may be blocked or disrupted. In order to remain in compliance with IFC regulations, you must ensure the RF signal is amplified in all areas of the building.
It’s important to ensure your Federal Communications Commission licensed radiotelephone transmitters are adjusted, maintained, and repaired up to code. These services require special training, so it’s important that you hire a trusted resource to perform inspection and maintenance on your equipment. Our experts at VFS are trusted to ensure our clients remain in compliance and up to code.
It is essential that your ERRCS work cohesively with your fire protection systems. In order for the two to work together, you need to implement paging systems. Paging systems help announce instructions to building occupants to ensure their safety.
In order to remain in compliance with ERRCS requirements, a building must have a 95% majority of minimum signal strength of -95 dBm. This level is a standard in emergency responder communication systems. In order to ensure this requirement is met, you may need to boost the signal through DAS or other signal boosters.
Annual testing and maintenance are required to ensure standards are met and any interference is kept to a minimum. VFS is licensed and certified to help your building remain in compliance with these testing and maintenance requirements.
Battery back-ups are required in case of power outages. When an emergency occurs, the power may need to be cut off to all parts of the building. When your back-ups are reliable, you ensure your emergency systems are running when you need them most.
Do you know if your building requires ERRCS to be implemented? If not, our experts can help! Contact our team today to see how we can help your building remain compliant and, more importantly, safe!
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/5-THINGS-CRE-OWNERS-SHOULD-KNOW-ABOUT-INSTALLING-ERRCS-.png10801080The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-02-28 13:36:512021-06-22 14:11:425 THINGS CRE OWNERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INSTALLING ERRCS
WHEN YOUR WIFE SAYS “I’M FINE…” HOW TO PUT OUT FIRES (BECAUSE YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS ABOUT TO GO UP IN FLAMES)
As a husband, the last thing you want to hear is your wife passive-aggressively saying “I’m fine…” You know exactly what that means- it’s time to put out a figurative fire because your relationship is about to go up in flames. As a building owner, the flames you need to avoid aren’t quite as figurative.
In order to fight very real fires that can occur in your building, you need to implement proper fire protection systems. Both active and passive fire protection systems are necessary to keep your building, and more importantly, your people safe from harm.
WHAT IS PASSIVE FIRE PROTECTION?
The word ‘passive’ has a connotation that the object in question is something that is not expected to produce results. Your wife’s passive-aggressive comments beg to differ, and so do your passive fire protection systems. In fact, passive fire protection (pfp) can be equally, if not more, effective than active fire protection.
Passive fire protection systems are stationary materials designed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke. These systems help keep the fire in its original area, therefore, stopping it from spreading throughout the building. The combination of active and passive fire protection systems can help put out fires faster and stop additional damage from occurring.
These fire protection systems are typically built into your building. When looking to renovate or build on a property, there is a lot of careful planning needed to ensure your building has these passive fire protection systems in place. Our team can help your team design and plan your construction in order to ensure building safety. For example, using cinder block walls as opposed to traditional wood-frame walls help to reduce the spread of flames.
However, passive systems can still be added after construction. Structures like smoke baffles, fire doors, and fire-resistant glass partitions can be installed after construction has been completed.
The objective of a passive fire protection system is to hold the smoke and flames in one contained area. They can also be used to channel the flames out of the building. When you have passive fire protection systems in place, fires that do occur are easier to extinguish.
WHAT IS ACTIVE FIRE PROTECTION?
With an active fire protection (afp) system, some kind of action is taking place. Whether it is manual or automatic, these systems deploy once fire, smoke, or heat is detected. These systems are designed to help combat the fire, and help put it out.
MOST BUILDINGS ARE EQUIPPED WITH A FEW ACTIVE SYSTEMS THAT CAN BE DEPLOYED ONSITE DURING A FIRE.
Smoke detectors activate when there is smoke in the building. These detectors typically utilize noise and light to alert occupants in the building of the potential fire.
Are manually operated active fire protection measures. These help occupants put out small fires within the building.
Sprinkler systems are active fire protection systems that automatically activate to help put out the fire while building occupants move to safety. These systems trigger when the heat from the fire causes the sprinkler head to open. There are various types of fire sprinkler systems that can be beneficial for your business.
Understanding your unique business needs is exactly what we do at VFS. Our in-house teams help with construction services, special hazard needs, inspection maintenance, and preventative maintenance. We are your partner in success.
Ventilation systems help direct smoke out of the building and away from the occupants.
These active fire protection systems are typically installed based on certain legal criteria such as occupancy and building size. Higher than average risk areas, such as areas with flames or cooking implements might require additional active systems for added protection.
HOW DO PASSIVE AND ACTIVE FIRE PROTECTION MEASURES WORK TOGETHER?
A combined effort of passive and active systems is essential to the safety of your building and its occupants. Active systems effectively help occupants evacuate or fight the flames, these systems typically have a greater likelihood of error.
Passive systems should be installed throughout the building as a way to support active systems. A great example of passive and active systems working together is smoke curtains. These passive fire protection systems help direct smoke toward vents, where smoke can leave the building. Passive systems can also help force flames and smoke to remain in one area.
New buildings should implement these passive fire protection systems into the design and build phase of construction. Our Design/Build team at VFS can help ensure your building is protected from harm when it is finished. Older buildings, which do not have these passive systems built-in, can be retrofitted with smoke curtains and panels as an added layer of protection.
Active and passive fire protection systems together can prevent expensive damages, catastrophic injuries, and potential loss of life. Implementing both systems into your building is essential to the safety of your building.
At VFS, we believe in helping your company meet the needs of your unique building. Every building is different, every building needs different protection systems in place. Our teams think creatively to come up with solutions that ensure your building remains safe from harm. Reach out to us today to see how we can help your business today!
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ACTIVE-VS.-PASSIVE-FIRE-PROTECTION-.png800800The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-02-07 13:25:472021-06-22 13:31:07ACTIVE VS. PASSIVE FIRE PROTECTION
Great Scott! It’s time to bring your alarm monitoring systems back to the future. Mesh network systems are the Delorean ready to bring your systems up to speed with the times.
Choosing mesh technology to support your alarm monitoring system needs means choosing reliability, speed, and convenience. Your antiquated alarm monitoring systems just won’t cut it anymore.
HOW CAN MESH ALARM MONITORING SYSTEMS HELP YOUR BUSINESS?
Mesh network monitoring systems are unlike any tower-based, single-route systems. The mesh wireless technology is resistant to environmental disturbances and equipment problems. The multiple signal pathways allow for the alarm monitoring systems to remain in service for your building.
Mesh networks communicate with alarms in under three seconds. A traditional telephone line, cellular, or IP can take up to 45-60 seconds. That extra time could be the difference between life and death for your employees.
With mesh network systems, you don’t have to worry about slow or dropped connections. While cellular and IP systems slow and even sometimes drop when users are added to the systems, MeshWrx’s performance is improved. Radio mesh network technology creates multiple paths for an emergency signal to reach first responders. The self-configuration and smart routing results in 100% uptime.
Cellular and IP equipment requires consistent upgrades in order to ensure your technology does not become obsolete. With mesh technology, once installed, you don’t have to worry about it anymore.
Not to mention the money you can save by installing mesh networks. Your current system may be costing you a small fortune. Monthly costs for traditional alarm monitoring systems are increasing as quality and reliability are decreasing.
Increased service calls and time spent tracking down issues are additional costs incurred with outdated systems. With MeshWrx, we eliminate the cost of expensive phone lines, don’t require upgrades, and instead provide more reliable technology.
“Over the years we have had continued service issues and problems with our fire alarm monitoring telephone liens for our facilities in Southern California, and the cost and fees for phone lines have also increased year over year. By canceling our monthly fire alarm and security telephone lines services and going with MeshWrx monitoring, our organization is saving over $40,000 annually with superior technology, equipment, and service.”
-Josh Harvey, Manager of Information Systems at Armstrong Garden Centers
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/BRING-YOUR-ALARM-MONITORING-SYSTEMS-BACK-TO-THE-FUTURE-.png10801080The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2021-01-31 13:14:042021-06-22 13:19:50BRING YOUR ALARM MONITORING SYSTEMS BACK TO THE FUTURE
Fire safety is important in the workplace– just like it is anywhere else. A well-developed and thought-out course of action can keep you and your peers from recreating Dwight Schrute’s fire safety preparedness plan. Let’s discuss how to properly prepare for a fire disaster.
Why do you need to prepare for potential office fires?
A fire in your commercial building isn’t something you expect to encounter on a Wednesday afternoon. If a fire breaks out, you don’t want to be caught unsure of what to do. Exhibit A– the entire fire episode “Stress Relief” from “The Office.”
On a serious note, fire damage is considered one of the most destructive elements to your commercial building because it can cause:
Disruption of business activities
Loss of business documents
Damage to property
Not convinced? Here are a few statistics from 2017-2019 gathered by the U.S. Fire Administration on nonresidential building fires:
108,5000 nonresidential building fires were reported to U.S. fire departments each year
Nonresidential fires caused over $2.8 billion in property loss
These fires occur mostly during the hours of 2 pm – 7 pm
The leading cause of nonresidential fires is cooking
Now that you know why you should prepare for potential office fires, let’s discuss the fire preparation measures that can help.
Fire Preparation Tips
In the wise words of Miguel De Cervantes, “To be prepared is half the victory.”
Here are a few tips on how to prepare in the event of a fire.
1. Take the proper precautions for your building.
Fire prevention programs and precautions are put in place to ensure your building remains safe in case something happens. No… we don’t mean lighting the door handles on fire or setting off smoke bombs throughout your office.
Fire prevention relies on people knowing what to do when an emergency occurs. Fear and ambiguity are not a recipe for success, however, knowledge and preparedness are. While Dwight Schrute had good intentions for his fire safety education day, the way he went about employee education could use some work.
Educate your staff on the proper procedure if a fire occurs.
Safety plans can be explained through training, sent via email, and be posted on walls. When building a fire safety education program, include:
How to identify and correct fire hazards
A detailed office building evacuation plan
How to use fire extinguishers
Examples of recent fires to highlight the importance of fire safety
Details of how to put out various types of fires, and when they are likely to occur
3. Implement Fire Protection and Life Safety systems
Fire protection shouldn’t be improvised. Put systems in place that protect the building, people, and items from fire hazards. These systems include fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, and other building measures. There are both active and passive fire protection systems.
Active fire protection systems require some amount of action or motion to work efficiently. These systems can be manually operated, like a fire extinguisher, or automatic, like sprinkler systems.
Some of these systems include:
Fire/smoke alarm systems
Firefighters are also considered active fire protection
Passive Fire Protection Systems
Passive fire protection systems compartmentalize buildings to help prevent the spread of fire and smoke from one room to another. These systems help limit the amount of damage done to a building and give the occupants more time to evacuate.
Some of these systems include:
Both active and passive fire protection systems can help keep your building and your employees safe from harm.
A Final Word
Your building’s fire preparation plan should be well thought out and organized in advance. By doing so, you help further pro
tect your staff, business materials, and the commercial building from the dangers of fire hazards. If we’re being honest, it’s much more fun to watch Dwight’s preparedness plan than to live it.
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Better-Safe-than-Sorry.png10801920The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2020-11-15 11:56:492022-03-23 13:21:13How to properly prepare for a fire disaster (Not like Dwight Schrute)
Do you know what’s going on in your building when you’re not there? 5 Security measures you should implement today.
Do you know what’s going on in your building when you’re not there? Probably not. Your old school security system just isn’t going to cut it anymore. It’s important to implement a few security measures to better understand what’s happening in your building at all times. Why do you need to know? There are multiple safety issues that can occur, and with proper security measures in place, you can prevent them! Here are 5 security measures you should implement today.
Controlling the access into your building helps to mitigate many risks to your business assets, inventory, and employees. When your access control system is running properly it can help you manage your team, restrict access to certain rooms, and track movement throughout your facility. At VFS, we readily design top of the line Access Control Systems that integrate into your intrusion alarm systems.
Intrusion Alarm Systems
This is not your simple ‘Beware of Dog’ sign! Intrusion alarm systems help to deter trespassers and alert both you and the authorities when someone unlawfully enters your building. Every building is unique, at VFS our alarm systems are designed for your specific building needs, we integrate Access Control with Video Surveillance to ensure your business’s safety.
If something happens in your building wouldn’t you like to know? Mass notification systems can help guide and direct your team in an emergency situation. With our advanced technology and proper safety protocols in place, these notification systems can help protect against potential threats that could cause damage or loss of critical assets. Whether you are in a municipal, civil, and defense or manufacturing and industrial environment these systems cut through the noise to clearly communicate critical life-saving information as well as general notification announcements throughout your facility. With industry-leading intelligibility VFS can assist your business in delivering the right message, to the right people, at the right time to help save lives and protect your assets.
Along with multiple security system offerings, we track activities and reliability through our in-depth reporting system. With these analytics, we can better understand the needs of your business. Which systems are you using most? What areas of your business need more protection? We’ll find out what you need and implement it.
Digital video monitoring can help protect your facility from theft (both internal and external), vandalism, and workplace violence. If an incident occurs, your team can be on top of it. We connect your system to your IP network so that recorded or live video can be viewed from a computer anywhere there is internet access. These systems can also integrate with your Access Control Systems.
At VFS, we work to keep your business as safe as possible. Our systems are put in place to do just that. If something isn’t working for your business, we pivot and find something that will better serve your specific building. Contact us to learn more!
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/security-measures-to-implement-today.jpeg14142121The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2020-10-19 11:33:252021-06-22 11:40:105 SECURITY MEASURES YOU SHOULD IMPLEMENT TODAY
“Run like hell” is not a fire safety protocol. For large corporations, organization is key. For both the safety of your employees and your building, you must prioritize implementing proper fire safety protocols. We’ve put together our top 5 tips for improving fire safety in your building.
PERFORM A FIRE ASSESSMENT AND CRAFT THE PERFECT FIRE SAFETY PLAN.
Fire risk assessments should be regularly scheduled to ensure your business has the necessary processes and procedures in place in case of emergency. This assessment will likely include identifying fire hazards, evaluating and reducing the risk, and crafting a plan.
You likely have an old plan, created by a far-off company and tucked away in a drawer, never to be seen again. This is also not a great fire safety protocol. For the plan to work, everyone needs to know what the plan is. Be sure to run drills periodically throughout the year. All employees should share problems that arise in those drills with management to avert problems in a real emergency.
Your fire safety plan should include employee education, fire escape routes, fire drill, and a plan to ensure that all team members have an evacuation plan that fits their needs. The plan should be detailed and robust, to ensure you are prepared for anything that may come your way!
IMPLEMENT THE PROPER TECHNOLOGY.
We don’t just mean fire extinguishers placed randomly around the office. This means fire detection and alarm systems that can overcome potential loss of power, emergency lighting to guide your team in the dark, industrial fire sprinkler systems to help prevent the spread of a fire, and monitoring to alert the authorities to your emergency. Having the proper technology in place will allow your team to stay safe and your building to come out with limited damage.
DISPLAY SIGNAGE TO HELP LEAD YOUR TEAM TO SAFETY.
Communicate proper health and safety information through illuminated signs, which can include fire safety warning signs, fire-fighting equipment signs, and marking dangerous substances. Be sure the signage is easy to ready and communicates the message clearly.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE FLAMES… DON’T LET YOUR BUSINESS GO UP IN SMOKE.
Smoke can be just as deadly as flames if your building has a fire. Be sure to have the proper equipment in place, like smoke and fire curtains, to limit the spread of smoke damage as well as the damage caused by fire.
MAKE SURE YOUR STAFF IS EDUCATED.
Imagining worst-case scenarios is not just for Sci-Fi TV writers… While it can be easy to forget to address the real dangers of fire when you haven’t experienced it, this can be a business’ greatest downfall. Ensure you give your employees annual fire safety training to teach them about the common causes of workplace fires. Address how to prevent a fire, and what to do if a fire takes place in the workspace.
“Run like hell” doesn’t have to be your fire safety protocol. Take these steps to improve your office’s fire safety. Want to know more? Contact us today!
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/RUN-LIKE-HELL-IS-NOT-A-FIRE-SAFETY-PROTOCOL-.jpeg14142119The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2020-10-05 11:06:052023-07-25 07:27:12“RUN LIKE HELL” IS NOT A FIRE SAFETY PROTOCOL
There have been a number of refinery fires in the past several months in several locations around the world. In one case outside of the United States, the fire resulted in 42 deaths. The fires that we have seen in our country have typically had no major injuries, but local residents get treated for respiratory problems. In all cases, the property damage from these fires is significant.
On October 3, 2011, a chemical plant in Waxahachie, TX erupted in flames. Clouds of toxic smoke and rivers of fire came spewing out of the plant. No one was seriously injured in what officials said was a rare mishap. But should Waxahachie fire officials have done more to anticipate this kind of accident? Could the fire have ever been contained once it got started?
https://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/YOUR-MARINE-FIRE-SAFETY-CHECKLIST-.png10801080The VFS Teamhttps://www.vfsfire.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Fortis_Brands-Logos_V1_rgb_VFS-Horizontal-White-Text-Logo.pngThe VFS Team2011-11-17 13:07:312021-06-23 13:09:15Waxahachie Chemical Fire – What Could Have Been Done to Prevent This Disaster?
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