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

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

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

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

Free Consultation

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

Who We Serve 

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

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

The Specifics

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

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

Just to name a few. 

How We Help 

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

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

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

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

Surprise, fire season has come again. 

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

Duh Duh DUhhhh!

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

Video Surveillance

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

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

Outside the Building

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

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

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

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

Inside the Building

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

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

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

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

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

You’ll thank us later. 

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

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

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code, quarterly and yearly inspections of your fire and life safety systems are mandatory. In addition, some components of a system, like a fire pump, require weekly and monthly inspections. 

It is best to consult your VFS Account Executive for details. Having your building inspected by trained and certified inspectors will help keep your safety systems in good working order.

Hot Inspection Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evacuation Plan

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

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

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

Draw a Floor Plan

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

More Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assess workplace preparedness

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

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

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

Ensure emergency equipment is accessible onsite

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

Ensure workers are trained to utilize equipment

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

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

Utilize detection equipment to measure gas levels

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

Ensure alert systems are installed to communicate fire risks

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

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

WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR FIRE SAFETY TRAINING: A COMPLETE GUIDE

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

START WITH THE NECESSARY INFORMATION.

We think it’s safe to say that most employees do not want to sit through a 3-hour long fire and life safety training. To start, ensure you’re touching on all the ‘need to know’ topics of fire safety. As you dive deeper into fire safety training, you can go over additional topics that may not be as urgent. Urgent topics to review and discuss should include:

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

OTHER INFORMATION REGARDING FIRE SAFETY CAN BE INCLUDED AS ADDITIONAL RESOURCES. 

First, it’s important to ensure your fire and life safety training is compatible with various devices. Giving employees access to the training on the device of their choice will ensure they complete the training without the headache of trying to navigate a different device! 

Another way to ensure employees remain engaged in the content you’re providing is to use various types of content. Utilizing text, images, and audio helps communicate with all employees in a way that keeps them engaged in the content. 

IMPLEMENT ACTIVITY-BASED LEARNING 

Combining your assessments with activities helps reinforce the content your employees are learning. For example, you can offer simulations or other interactive assessments that make the learning feel more casual while they learn how to operate a fire extinguisher. 

MAKE SURE YOUR EMPLOYEES KNOW THE VARIOUS HAZARDS IN YOUR WORKPLACE. 

COOKING EQUIPMENT

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

CLEAN GREASE OFTEN 

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

ENSURE ALL EQUIPMENT IS MAINTAINED REGULARLY 

Old equipment increases fire risk and puts employees and the building property at risk. There are specific commercial kitchen requirements that may apply to an in-office kitchen. The precautions with gas-fired appliances include that they must be installed by professionals, oil with gasoline is not allowed, and only specific locations within the building can contain gas-fired appliances. 

MAINTAIN FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

Suppression systems are essential in your building. They can save your small kitchen fire from spreading to the rest of your building and putting your employees at risk. Maintaining these suppression systems is essential to the safety of your building. 

ELECTRICALS

Electrical fires are common and complex and preventing them can be tricky. Some of the common precautions that should be performed routinely are checking for corroded wiring, keeping a clear space around electrical units, and preventing a circuit overload. The same precautions should be taken with heating equipment. 

LIQUID FLAMMABLES

Liquid flammables are dangerous and require special precautions. Fires are multifaceted, and stopping the flames can still fail to extinguish the hazard fully. Liquid flammables can expand into the air, which is almost impossible to contain. 

Fire protection products like foam agents can dispel flammable vapors to portable equipment including fire hoses and dry chemical agents. 

Cleaning chemicals are flammable, and should always be stored in an airtight container. The traditional plastic containers that cleaning supplies come in are not enough to protect against hot flames. Buying containers that are made of glass or metal can help. 

COVID-19 has significantly increased the amount of alcohol-based hand sanitizer stored in buildings. If a company purchases gallons of hand sanitizer, they can split up the bulk into smaller amounts of flammable liquids. 

THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION SAYS THE ACCEPTABLE AMOUNT IN EACH CONTAINER IS, “1.2 LITERS FOR DISPENSERS IN ROOMS, CORRIDORS, AND AREAS OPEN TO CORRIDORS,” AND 18 OZ FOR AEROSOLS. THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION CLAIMS THAT THE LIKELIHOOD THAT HAND SANITIZER COMBUSTS IS LOW, BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE. THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT THIS IS TO SEPARATE THE LIQUID INTO SMALLER CONTAINERS AND STORE THEM AT A LOW ROOM TEMPERATURE. 

SMOKING AREAS

Depending on the type of work, a non-smoking environment can prevent fatal fires. Fire danger increases in the presence of welding and sparks. The flammable air vapor that can surround liquid flammables will combust if met with a spark from machines of smoke. This is true for all forms of smoking including vaping. 

At VFS, your building’s safety is our top priority. With over 25 years of experience, our fire and life safety experts ensure your building remains safe from harm. The equipment we install, inspect, and maintain is only one component of your fire and life safety initiatives. The other aspect includes employee training. Your employees need education on what to do in case of an emergency. 

MIC PREVENTION (NOT THE KIND YOU DROP AFTER KARAOKE)

Most people hear the word MIC and are brought back to either a cringy middle school talent show or a late karaoke night. 

After reading this article, your second thoughts are going to be, “Oh, Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion.” 

M.I.C.

Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion (MIC) sounds scary—because it is. The tiny bacteria follow the process of attachment, growth, and dispersal. There are many reasons why preventing MIC is essential for fire and safety security services. 

The quick process of MIC will cause massive damage to specific points in the surface, instead of universally and evenly throughout the surface. As a result, there are costly repairs that will set your business back. 

The attachment phase needs to be targeted first in prevention. During the attachment phase, free-floating microbial bacteria anchor to a surface within minutes of the encounter and start to produce a polymer film. 

Again, within minutes. 

The rest of the MIC process is just as crucial to prevent, but harder to catch. Some of the hazards that are threatening your spaces during the MIC process are: 

  • Self-organized highly-structured biofilm starts to rapidly reproduce and grow
  • Because of the evolution portions, the cells are released to colonize new surfaces
  • The tubercle starts with the creation of biofilm in the attachment phase
  • There is a deprivation of oxygen that causes the bacteria to thrive
  •  Highly acidic environments result in a concentrated and accelerated rate of corrosion
  • This all can lead to pinhole leaks

Sounds fun, right? 

The short time frame (of once again, minutes) doesn’t leave any room for mistakes in MIC prevention.

Fear not, because VFS is here to assist in showing that there are daily habits that you can take to avoid Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion. 

GENERAL CORROSION

There are a lot of scientific terms thrown into the paragraphs above, so you may be wondering: what’s the difference between MIC and general corrosion? 

Well to sum it up, they’re both bad news. 

General corrosion is less significant than MIC because it fails to alter a pipe’s interior surface, causes less damage and repair. While MIC targets concentrated surface areas at a greater force, general corrosion is an even layer, with a slower rate of disintegration.

Both types of corrosion can cause a lot of damage, but focusing on Microbiologically Influenced Corrosion prevention will help your business for the long haul.

WHY IS IT A THREAT?

Well, MIC is primarily an issue of corrosion in both dry and pre-action sprinkler systems.

Corrosion of any type (especially MIC), is a growing concern for anyone with commercial fire protection in place. The aftermath of corrosion is not pretty and a guaranteed out-of-pocket expense. Corrosion might result in:

  • Property damage
  • Production time lost
  • Increased maintenance costs
  • Shorter service life
  • System inefficiency: pipe obstruction, plugging
  • The worsening quality of system hydraulics
  • Pinhole leaks

Both dry and pre-action fire suppression systems primarily use compressed air. This, however, is what leads to corrosion. Compressed air is made of both oxygen and moisture. Trapped oxygen within the sprinkler system mixes with water, which reacts negatively with the material of the internal pipes—the perfect environment for MIC bacteria to thrive!

OKAY WE KNOW IT’S A PROBLEM… NOW WHAT? 

There are various solutions to the scary “C-word” … aka corrosion. Some of the solutions are more intensive and expensive than others. 

CHEMICAL INJECTIONS

Chemical Injections can be included in regular system maintenance, but there are some potential side effects:

  • It’s very costly
  • Chemicals can become harmful when exposed
  • MIC can become immune to the chemicals overtime

PIPE COATINGS

Pipe coatings are specifically designed to only work as an option for new construction. 

ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

Checking in and doing sprinkler inspections and water analysis is another prevention method that should be adapted. There is Annual Single Bottle MIC testing that has MIC and mineral analysis. Another option is the 5 year, 4 bottle MIC testing and water analysis.

AIR RELIEF VALVES

Air relief valves are doable for most sprinkler systems. Because air travels upward these valves are installed at the highest points of the sprinkler system where they automatically release small amounts of air from the system.

Auto-Air relief valves are the most common solution to prevent MIC. There are multiple reasons they’re the crowd favorite: 

  • Safe
  • Cost-Effective
  • Reliable
  • Venting 

Auto-Air Relief valves are reliable because air travels at the top of pipelines and rises in water, which helps maintain proper water pressure and consistent flow. 

Automatic venting is a process that happens while the sprinkler system is being filled, where the air travels up and gets trapped. VFS has all of the knowledge and expertise to prolong the life cycle of your sprinkler system. 

WE’RE HERE TO HELP!

This all sounds scary, and not as fun as dropping the mic after karaoke. 

But remember, that we’re here to help!

At VFS Fire & Security Services, we have over 20 years of experience protecting what matters: people, property, and businesses. We recognize that fire sprinkler corrosion is still a problem many property owners and building managers don’t suspect until it’s too late!

So, get your head start! At VFS, we’re here to help you develop and implement an effective strategy for all of your industrial fire protection needs. Keep your systems in tip-top shape and call us today to see what we can do for you!

YOUR MARINE FIRE SAFETY CHECKLIST

You wouldn’t think fire could stand a chance when surrounded by a body of water—but it does. Boom! It feels like in every action movie ever created, a boat explodes in a bay or on the ocean. Although dramatized, there’s a reality to it. Directors paint the danger picture perfectly!

At VFS Fire & Security Services, we are the drivers of innovation within the fire protection industry, including specialization in marine fire safety. Although most fires seem to look the same in movies, there are a variety of different types of fires that may occur on your vessel. We’re in the business of educating people and keeping them safe when it comes to fire protection, which is why a marine fire safety checklist is necessary for any marine-related organization.

YOUR MARINE FIRE SAFETY CHECKLIST

There is a multitude of boxes to check when it comes to keeping your maritime operations safe and fire-free. We’re providing a comprehensive list to get you thinking about the safety of your marine operations.

CERTIFICATES AND DOCUMENTS

There is a long list of certificates and documents that must be carried on board at all times. This list varies based on region, whether or not your vessel carries passengers, and vessel type. 

This list might include a Cargo Ship Safety Equipment or Passenger Ship Safety Certificate, all servicing records including proof of fire extinguisher servicing and pressure tests, a damage control manual, any records of testing, drills, and maintenance, a variety of training manuals, the list goes on! For more specific information on staying up to code and what you need to keep on board, contact our VFS team!

FIRE SAFETY EQUIPMENT

There are hundreds of safety measures in place to prevent fire aboard your vessel, including a handful of safety equipment that must be carried and tests that must be performed. Let’s shoot for smooth sailing, please! 

  • Sprinkler systems: Valves, alarms, pumps, and pressure gauges must be tested and properly working with pipework in fair condition
  • Ventilators and fire dampers: Must be clean and free of debris with flaps in fair condition
  • Proper fire detection and fire alarm systems that provide the necessary  coverage and protection of assets on board
  • Properly installed extinguishing systems
  • Personal equipment, including fire fighting protective wear, self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs), and emergency escape breathing devices (EEBDs)
  • Properly functioning gas and CO2 systems

Additionally, pathways must be always free of obstruction and clearly marked in the event of an emergency evacuation. Doors must always only be held open by approved methods.

ENGINE ROOM MAINTENANCE

Did you know that approximately 90% of marine fires start in the engine room? This considered, don’t underestimate the importance of routinely checking your engine room’s fire pumps, emergency shutdowns and valves, high-pressure fuel lines, and main zones for proper functionality and cleanliness.

DECK MAINTENANCE AND CREW READINESS

In case of an emergency, your crew should be familiar with the use of these fire protection systems and able to abandon ship if necessary. Fire drills should be performed routinely. Preparation is key for tip-top marine fire safety. As for deck safety, structures in place might include a variety of paint lockers, ventilators, and international shore connections.

EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT

Fingers crossed, this equipment doesn’t need to be used! Your emergency equipment, including emergency generators, batteries, pumps, and tankers, however, must be properly maintained, inspected, and ready to be used at any moment.

HERE TO HELP!

While you’re on the water, whether it be for pleasure or work, marine fire safety and preparation cannot be overlooked. Having the right fire safety equipment and performing the right maintenance and routine inspections may be the difference between life and death.

Our VFS team is prepared to get your vessel in tip-top shape with the right marine fire safety equipment. In fact, the VFS Houston Team has been continuing to grow our marine department and has recently acquired four new Tug & Barge Companies—bringing their annual total of vessels to perform fire safety inspections and testing to approximately 375.

With VFS by your side, you’ll be the fire protection talk of the town! Get in touch today to see what we can do for you.

FIRE SAFETY INSPECTIONS FOR YOUR FACILITIES: YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE

Your palms are sweating, you’re biting your nails, what’s that? It’s time for your building’s routine fire safety inspection! Geez, it’s like you’re taking an exam back in high school! But it doesn’t have to be such a stress.

At VFS Fire & Security Services, we are experts in fire protection no matter what environment your facility is housed. Whether your fire inspection is for a health care center, school, oil and gas facility, or even a vessel, we’ve got you covered. But first, let’s talk about fire safety inspections, why they’re important, and what to expect during yours.

What is a Fire Safety Inspection?

A fire safety inspection is a necessary examination of a building or structure and its relevant fire safety documents. A fire safety inspection measures how well your building—whether it be a business, school, health care center, and so on—is managed in regards to fire safety. Legally, buildings must comply with a set of building codes and ordinances to keep their occupants safe. A fire safety inspection ensures you are doing so and calculates the potential risk factor in a given facility. 

Why?

Fire can be an extremely detrimental force not only to people but also to a business or organization. Whether small or large, the damage from fire to a building is often irrevocable without a large financial cost.

Fire safety inspections are often pre-arranged and are preventive at heart. They help building owners and managers to identify potential fire hazards and to make the necessary changes. For those who choose not to comply with fire safety inspections and guidelines, the punishment is substantial.

Although this routine inspection might feel like a hassle in your tight schedule, there’s no such thing as being too safe.

What to Expect

Each fire safety inspection will vary, of course, depending on your organization and building. In all inspections, however, you will be asked to provide all relevant fire safety documents. This might include:

  • Evacuation Protocol
  • Fire Risk Assessment
  • Fire Drill and Staff Fire Training Records
  • Proof that Preventative Fire Systems have been tested (fire detection, alarms, sprinklers, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, ventilation, firefighting equipment, electrical wiring, and so on)
  • List of potentially dangerous substances in building or on grounds
  • Fire Safety Maintenance Checklist

During your fire safety inspection, you can anticipate a walk-through inspection with your examiner, and for said examiner to speak with others on the premise to validate the fire safety information that you’ve provided.

Here, we’ve compiled a brief summary of what to expect within different facilities: health care, education, oil and gas, and marine.

Health Care

Fire safety inspections for health care are especially important considering a large number of people in health care facilities at any given time. This considered you should be familiar with the inspection processes—yay! Here’s a rundown of what you can expect:

During your visual inspection, the examiner will take occupancy limits and clear exit paths into special account. That means no unruly electrical wiring and definitely no using the sprinkler heads as coat racks! Hazardous materials, chemicals, and extinguishers are to be stored properly and in correct locations.

Considering the number of patients in a building, your examiner will pay special attention to your evacuation plan, policies, and maps posted. Additionally, your examiner will need proof of your fire drills, which are to be documented and executed annually if not quarterly in your building.

Lastly, the inspection will cover disaster protocols and preparation. This includes effective parking measures (i.e. can make clear, unobstructed use of fire hydrants and lanes) and questioning employees about the health care center’s fire safety measures. To ace your inspection, ensure all employees are undergoing periodic fire training and drills.

Education

There’s nothing scarier than the thought of our children being unsafe! Fire safety is extremely important in schools, especially considering the wide variety of ages and abilities in a school. Requirements for educational fire protection, in most states, are based on NFPA codes. Here are some pointers of what to expect in an educational fire safety inspection:

Educational facilities hold strict requirements on space. According to the NFPA, your examiner will ensure that there are at least 20 square feet per person. Space requirements influence how and where students can be in a building and are important in considering where certain aged children need to be in regard to floors.

Schools additionally are required to have proper fire detection systems, fire sprinkler systems, and extinguishers. Routine fire drills are a regular and necessary part of educational fire safety, and all schools must have an approved emergency action plan (EAP).

And of course, examiners pay special attention to exits, flammability and amount of decor and artwork, flammable materials, and areas of assembly.

Oil and Gas

Considering the high number of petrochemicals at an oil and gas facility—not to mention their high level of combustion—the biggest danger here is fire. Oil and gas facilities are extremely high risk, so here are some tips to successfully prepare for your fire safety adult:

We already know that properly working fire detection systems and alarms are a legal essential but have you considered installing a mass notification system? This way, a message or call can be sent out to your employees, notifying them of a potential fire or dangerous system.

Similarly, installing a gas monitoring system is a great step. Gases are often, at oil and gas facilities, highly flammable and the reason for combustion. A gas monitoring system can work to reduce fire by tracking dangerous gas levels.

During your fire safety inspection, an examiner will be looking to ensure not only that your facility goes through routine inspections and drills but also that your fire protection systems offer sufficient coverage and protection from the combustibles and chemicals that are stored within your facility. A fire brings enough chaos of its own so it is essential that your employees are informed on what to do in case of an emergency.

Additionally, implementing on-site emergency equipment is a wise choice, as often, emergency services get there after the damage has already been done. If, however, you make this choice, ensure that your employees have been properly trained on how and when to use said equipment.

Marine

We know, we can’t believe it either… fire on water! But it’s more common than you’d think. There are a lot of boxes to be checked when it comes to keeping your maritime operations safe. Let’s get you thinking about the current safety of your marine operations with a checklist.

For starters, there is a long, varying list of certificates and documents that are to be carried on board at all times. This might include a Cargo Ship Safety Equipment or Passenger Ship Safety Certificate, servicing records including proof of fire extinguisher servicing and pressure tests, a damage control manual, records of testing, drills, and maintenance, and a variety of training manuals.

Of course, let’s not forget safety equipment that must be carried and inspected during your inspection.

  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Ventilators and Fire Dampers
  • Proper fire detection and fire alarms
  • Properly installed extinguishing systems
  • Personal Equipment, including fire fighting protective wear, SCBAs (self-contained breathing apparatus), and EEBDs (emergency escape breathing devices)
  • Properly functioning gas and CO2 systems

Additionally, pathways must be always free of obstruction and clearly marked in the case of evacuation. Doors must always only be held open by approved methods.

Approximately 90% of marine fires start in the engine room, so be sure that this will be a big check zone during your inspection, including your engine room’s fire pumps, emergency shutdowns and valves, high-pressure fuel lines, and main zones

Lastly, ensure your crew is familiar with the use of these fire protection systems and able to abandon ship if necessary. Fire drills should be routinely performed. Preparation is key for tip-top marine fire safety! As for deck safety, structures in place might include a variety of paint lockers, ventilators, and international shore connections.

Emergency equipment, including emergency generators, batteries, pumps, and tankers, however, must be properly maintained, inspected, and ready to be used at any given moment. Now go ace that inspection!

What Happens Next?

Well, this depends on how well your inspection went and how your structure scored! With VFS by your side, we promise you’ll get a gold star!

You should receive a report after your inspection is conducted, which contains any findings from your walk-through and action steps for you to take. These action steps will address any ways in which your building might be deemed unsafe and identify a solution. Typically, minor breaches in fire safety law are informal and the examiner will set a deadline as to when the issue needs to be fixed. However, there can be more serious deficiencies that could result in fines or possibly disruptions to your facility. At VFS Fire & Security Services, we know that there is nothing more important than keeping people safe—and we have the expertise and the tools to do so. Don’t get caught up in a fine, serving time in prison, or worst of all, putting individuals in danger. Contact us today to see how we can help make your fire safety inspections a breeze!

DO YOU HAVE A RELIABLE ALARM SYSTEM?

Do you know the benefits of having a reliable alarm monitoring system? Or the potential dangers of not implementing one? With everything that’s been thrown our way in the past year, you should have at least one reliable system in your life: a reliable alarm system!

The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, Australian Bushfires, and Hurricane Laura across the Midwest, 2020 showed us the importance of being prepared against natural disasters. I mean, really, this past year made us expect the unexpected!

Despite the uncontrollable nature of these events, we’re pushed to remember the importance of investing in the health and safety of our organizations. Is your fire alarm monitoring reliable and ready to take on whatever comes its way? If it’s MeshWrx, it is!

There are lots of options when it comes to fire alarm monitoring services. We know, it can be overwhelming. But MeshWrx makes it easy! Here’s a rundown of what our reliable alarm systems look like.

WHAT IS THE MESH NETWORK DIFFERENCE?

Did you know that mesh network technology was originally developed for demanding military communication pathways? Talk about reliability! Today, mesh networks are still trusted by military, fire, and police departments. Simply put: Mesh networks are the crème de la crème of reliability.

But what is a mesh network system? Wireless mesh networks consist of a collection of wireless routers that provide network access to clients, typically in commercial buildings. These specific mesh routers act as entry points to reliable and established central monitoring stations.

Mesh network alarm monitoring systems were designed with the intent to be reliable, cost-effective, and hassle-free. And that’s exactly how they operate today.

Traditional, low-tier alarm systems and other single-route systems are widely susceptible to environmental disturbances and even equipment problems.

For example, a cellular alarm system uses local cellular service to relay fire alarm signals from the building to the nearest cell tower. The signal is then relayed to an internet gateway by point-to-point microwaves or fiber optic cables. Once it is on the internet, it is routed to the central monitoring station.

A traditional alarm system only shares a percentage of the reliability of a mesh network system and experiences more dead spots. And as far as reliability is concerned, cellular networks do have a single point of failure, which may cause issues. If any part of the communication system goes down, the communication link is broken.

It’s a lengthy process to contact the help you need—up to 45 seconds in some cases. In a situation like this, every second matters. And think, how many times have your cellular calls dropped or failed? Do you really want to be relying on the quality of a cell phone tower?

On the opposite side, mesh networks are continually optimizing a variety of signal pathways to get theirs through to the help you rely on most. With our network of towers, you never have to worry about the reliability of your signals getting through to the central station. We’ve got your back! 

HOW ABOUT A REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE?

Do you remember Hurricane Harvey? Way back in 2017? The aftermath of this category 4 hurricane was devastating—with catastrophic flooding that resulted in over 100 deaths. But did you know that mesh technology was the only uninterrupted source of communication during this natural disaster? 

Landlines, IP, and cellular all crashed during this emergency, but not their mesh network system. And that’s the MeshWrx difference.

A HANDY LIST OF BENEFITS

If you’re still not convinced of the reliability of a mesh network system, 1) we’re surprised and 2) let us help you. Here are some additional reasons as to why a MeshWrx alarm system might be right for you.

  • Prevent property damage
  • Communicate with professionals at top speed
  • 24-hour protection and reliability

And the greatest benefit of all? The sense of comfort and security you gain when choosing MeshWrx. Choosing MeshWrx fire alarm monitoring gives you an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality.

You can be more productive, safe, and focused on the work at hand, knowing that you and all members of your organization are safe.

Your employees will exhale a sigh of relief knowing that if a fire were to occur, emergency responders would be notified immediately and that they could proceed to safely exit the building.

IS YOUR ALARM RELIABLE?

Whatever your industry, from education to healthcare, we have a one-stop fire alarm monitoring solution that will give you confidence and peace of mind. You don’t want to be wondering if your alarm system is up to the task when an unexpected emergency hits. You need to ensure your alarm system is reliable and up for the challenge.

Mesh networks provide a holistic approach to ensuring your alarm monitoring needs are met and are trusted by the demanding military, police, and fire communication pathways.

Because when it comes to the safety of yourself and your organization, being out of style isn’t cute. Mesh networks are the future of alarm monitoring systems. Don’t be ‘that guy.’ Instead, stay prepared, stay safe. Contact MeshWrx today to see how we can help your company’s fire protection systems thrive!

FIRE PROTECTION FOR EDUCATION BUILDINGS

WHILE THE KIDS ARE AWAY THE FIRE PROTECTION MUST STAY

It’s SPRING BREAK! Woohooo! But before you go off to the beaches, ensure your building remains protected. What do you know about fire protection for education buildings? Though the kids may be away, the fire protection must stay.

Educational facilities have a few specific regulations when it comes to fire protection since so many lives need to be protected at all times. What fire protection systems do you need to be aware of?

Educational facilities’ minimum fire protection and life safety requirements are outlined in NFPA 101: Life Safety CodeIn 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 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?

SPACE REQUIREMENTS

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 school. To remain compliant with the occupant load required, you need to plan for at least 20 square feet per person. 

This code provides information on where and how students can be located throughout your building. Younger children must be located closer to the ground floor in order to make evacuation easier and more efficient. Specifically, 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 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.”

Finally, for education facilities, flexible and open floor plans that have more than 300 students per room, require at least 2 means of egress. They must open to separate atmospheres. It’s important that your local fire marshal or authority with jurisdiction signs off on these floor plans and configurations. 

OPERATIONS AND PLANNING

Education facilities are required to have an emergency action plan in place to ensure the inhabitants of the building remain safe from harm. The emergency action plan should illustrate a plan for various emergency situations. As you work to prep this plan, ensure you 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 authority

It’s important that you define which administrators will be responsible for the emergency action plan creation process and 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 all stairwells, doors, and exit passageways are clear, unobstructed, and in proper working condition. Ensure all these inspections are documented. 

For schools, there are very specific requirements when it comes to what can go on the walls. Fire code only allows 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 and your faculty, staff, and students safe from harm. Let’s dive into what equipment is essential to the safety of your building and your people. 

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 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 your fire alarm system implementation. This may include the elimination of manual alarm pull stations or the addition of a mass notification or emergency alarm communication system. In order to understand your specific building needs, contact your authority having jurisdiction or a fire safety expert, like our team at VFS!

FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

A building greater than 1.000 square feet with multiple rooms requires automatic fire sprinkler systems. Buildings under 1,000 square feet and those with single rooms do not require fire sprinklers. All kitchens and cooking appliances should be protected with special hood and fire suppression systems. 

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

Lastly, education facilities require fire extinguishers to be installed throughout the building. The specific placement and number of extinguishers are based on the size and the layout of a building. Extinguishers should be installed, tested, maintained, and selected following NFPA 10: Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers. 

Our team at VFS Fire & Security Services is equipped to help with 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. 

UNDERSTANDING INSPECTIONS AND MAINTENANCE FOR YOUR BUILDING

Wowsers! You don’t have to worry about inspections anymore

Did you know that the fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the nation every 24 seconds? The numbers of fires and fire deaths have decreased since the 1970s, largely due to advancements in fire technology and quickened response time. With this being said, it’s important that your fire protection systems remain up to inspection and testing standards provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Here at VFS, we are the Inspector Gadget for your fire protection systems. We find what’s not working and we help fix it. Here are a few things you need to know as you look to ensure your fire protection systems remain up to date with their inspection and testing.

What items need to be inspected and maintained? How often?

Quarterly Inspection and Maintenance

There are a few fire protection systems that require quarterly regular inspections—mainly fire sprinkler systems. Fire sprinkler systems need to be inspected and maintained on a quarterly basis. This inspection and maintenance includes inspection of water flow devices, wolves, valve components, low air pressure alarms, and other components of your fire sprinklers.

Semi-Annual Inspection and Maintenance

Twice a year, your kitchen suppression systems need to be inspected (that is, if your facility has a kitchen). In addition, if your facility uses magnetic door locks, these must be inspected twice a year to ensure they remain operating correctly in the event the fire alarm is activated. 

Annual Inspection and Maintenance

Most of your fire protection systems need to be inspected and maintained annually. These inspections will be your most comprehensive and intensive inspection periods for fire alarms, fire suppression, and bi-directional amplification systems. 

In this annual inspection, over 20 components of your fire alarm systems will be tested and inspected. The major components include:

  • Control panel and component inspections
  • Fuse, LEDs, and power supply inspections
  • Component battery replacement
  • Pull station inspection
  • Voice/alarm communication system inspection

Your fire sprinkler systems will also be inspected during this time. These inspections also include 20 major components of your sprinkler systems. The major components include:

  • Main drain
  • Antifreeze solutions
  • Hose valves
  • Pump system
  • Drain test

Long-Term Inspection and Maintenance

There are a few components and systems that require long-term maintenance and inspection. Some of these components include fire alarm audibility testing, which should be performed every three years. In addition, fire extinguishers are scheduled for replacement every six years. Hood suppression systems in kitchens have multiple components that will need to be replaced every 12 years.

Fire Safety Inspection Requirements

Requirements for fire safety inspections vary state-by-state. Therefore, business owners and property managers need to be familiar with individual state fire codes, ordinances, and standards, and how to comply with these requirements. In general, some specific industries require more frequent fire safety inspections. These facilities include places of public assembly; including theaters, nightclubs, hotels, and hospitals. High-rises also need to adhere to strict fire code requirements, as these buildings have high occupancy and complex exit plans.

Are you prepared for your fire safety inspections?

Preparing for your fire inspections is essential—especially if you’re in the industries that are subject to unscheduled inspections. In order to prepare properly, you need to know how inspectors evaluate your building.

Let’s start with what inspectors are evaluating as a whole

As inspectors go through your building, they look for a few key things; including:

  • The ways fire could start within your specific building.
  • Safety systems in place, like smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems. They ensure these systems are regularly maintained and in good working order. You should expect to be asked to see documentation on the regular maintenance of these systems.
  • Systems assisting in fire egress are working effectively, like lighted exit signs and exit doors. 
  • Lastly, inspectors ensure emergency personnel have easy, immediate access to the building. 

As you look to prepare for your inspections, here are a few steps you can take to make sure they occur without any issues

Collect copies of previous inspection reports and proof of system service and inspections.

When you show up with all of your inspection reports and proof of inspections ready to go, you signal to the inspector that you take your fire protection seriously. Ensure your documentation illustrates the steps the company has taken to address previous violations. 

All paperwork must prove licensed professionals have serviced your fire alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, and fire pumps within the required timeframe are collected and kept to show your inspector.

All appointments need to be scheduled for outstanding safety systems maintenance.

Inspection, testing, and maintenance of your fire safety equipment is complex and should be outsourced to a licensed contractor and trained professionals. At VFS, our team is ready to assist you in your inspection and maintenance needs.

Make appointments for outstanding heat systems maintenance

Appliances that generate heat should be regularly maintained. These include boilers, furnaces, radiators, stoves, ovens, and other heat-producing manufacturing equipment. 

Protect special hazards

Special hazard protection is essential to keep up with for your safety. Some special hazards include gasoline pumps, computer server rooms, chemical storage areas, and other places with a high concentration of flammable or combustible materials. To ensure these hazards remain protected, you must ensure your maintenance and inspection schedules are up to date. 

Clear hallways and stairwells 

Proper means of fire egress are essential to the safety of your building. Businesses who fail their fire inspections typically do so because they have not provided adequate means of egress. Stairways, corridors, and hallways leading to the exit should remain clear of obstructions. Stairways and corridors should also include fire doors and latch release mechanisms.

Be mindful of hazardous material storage

Combustible and flammable materials should be stored at a certain distance from the ceiling in approved containers. Do not store them in the room where heat is produced, or near appliances that produce heat. 

Incompatible materials, like ammonia and bleach, should also be stored separately. Usually, they must be at least 20 feet away from each other or separated with a noncombustible partition that extends at least 18 inches above and beyond the incompatible substance.

Ensure easy and efficient entrance for the fire department

As you walk through your building, ensure all exits that emergency personnel utilize are free of obstructions. You should also ensure your address numbers are clearly marked and can be seen from the road. In order to provide safe and immediate access to your building, most businesses provide a fire department lockbox on the exterior of the building.

Label and maintain electrical system components

Electrical panels should have circuits properly labeled. These panels should have a clear space of 30 inches in front of them, so employees can reach them easily and be shut off in the event of an emergency. All electrical outlets and circuit panels should also have plate covers for safety. 

ENSURE COMPUTERS HAVE POWER STRIPS AND EXTENSION CORDS ARE USED PROPERLY

Extension cords should be kept in good condition. Ensure you and your employees do not use extension cords that are split or frayed. You should also verify all computers are plugged into a surge projector with built-in circuit breakers. Circuit breakers help reduce the risk of electrical fires. 

TEST EXIT SIGNS AND EXIT LIGHTING

Exit signs and emergency lighting must work properly on regular power and backup power. These signs and lights are essential to ensuring your employees escape the building safely in case of a fire. 

ENSURE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS ARE IN EASY-TO-ACCESS AREAS

First and foremost, ensure you have enough fire extinguishers to cover the square footage of your building. Fire extinguishers should be clearly marked and easy to access by employees and guests in the building.

ENSURE SPRINKLER HEADS HAVE PROPER CLEARANCE

Sprinkler heads should have 18 inches of clearance. The space required for overhead sprinklers is designed to help sprinkler systems distribute water effectively in a fire. Any building that is not protected by sprinkler systems requires a minimum of 24 inches of clearance from ceiling to storage.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROPER SIGNAGE THROUGHOUT YOUR BUILDING

Signage including the best escape routes should be posted in all the main areas of the building. The front door should be unlocked at all times when occupants are in the building. Additionally, ensure you have proper signage by the door to inform all employees. Maximum occupancy signage should also be posted in rooms designated for assembly. Lastly, signage reminding people to use the stairs during an emergency should be posted near elevators.

YOUR PARTNER IN INSPECTIONS AND TESTING

At VFS, we partner with our clients to ensure their maintenance and inspections are scheduled and performed regularly. The expert team at VFS Fire & Security Services has the breadth of knowledge to provide all regular scheduled and code-mandated fire protection system inspections. We have a diverse team of experienced fire protection professionals, capable of inspecting and servicing even the most complex fire protection systems. 

Our advanced platforms and highly trained dispatch team allow us to manage inspections and testing from inception to execution. We tell you what’s due when it’s due, and why it’s due, and we constantly communicate to your team to keep you up-to-date on the latest information within your facilities. Allow us to be your trusted Inspector Gadget, and take on all your inspection and maintenance needs.

FACILITIES MANAGERS! JUMP INTO THE MESH PIT

Why You Need MeshWrx in your Building

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

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

What is MeshWrx?

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

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

What are mesh network alarm monitoring systems?

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

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

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

Why do you need a mesh network alarm system?

Prevent Property Damage

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

COMMUNICATE WITH THE FIRE DEPARTMENT QUICKLY

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

24-HOUR PROTECTION AND RELIABILITY

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

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

MOST IMPORTANTLY, IT KEEPS YOUR EMPLOYEES SAFE

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

DELUGE VS. PRE ACTION SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS- AND ALSO BUILDING PROTECTION

As they say, April showers bring May flowers, we just hope those showers stay on the outside of your building. However, if you happen to need your indoor showers (sprinkler systems and fire suppression systems) it’s best to understand what systems serve your specific building’s needs. Deluge vs. Pre Action Sprinkler Systems—what’s the difference? —–When it comes to fire protection for your building there are many options to consider, and it’s important to understand what these options may entail. 

DELUGE SYSTEMS 

WHAT IS A DELUGE SYSTEM?

Deluge suppression systems are typically used in special hazard installations when water must be applied to an entire area for fire protection. These systems are considered a ‘dry fire protection system’ as the piping for the system is empty and at an atmospheric pressure with the sprinkler heads all open. When heat or fire is detected by the system, the deluge valve releases the water, dry chemicals, inert gases, or foam. 

The type of agent used in the systems is dependent on the hazard type and location of the fire protection system. Once filled, it releases from all sprinkler heads simultaneously, which helps to blanket the entire area, which, in turn, controls the fire. 

These systems are typically used for facilities where an entire area needs to be protected immediately, rather than by a zone or specific location of the source of the heat or fire. Typical facilities that utilize deluge suppression systems are airport hangars, chemical plants, processing plants, and data storage centers. These systems are especially useful when you need to quickly flood an area to prevent a fire from expanding. 

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DELUGE SYSTEMS?

There are a few different types of deluge systems. These systems can be electronically operated, others are pneumatic. The electronically operated systems work when an alarm is set off via a detector, pull station, or another alarm system. Once the alarm is activated, it will energize the solenoid valve, which releases the prime water, or other agents, off the top of the valve, which allows the deluge valve to trip and deliver the agent to the hazard. 

PRE-ACTION SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

WHAT IS A PRE-ACTION SPRINKLER SYSTEM?

Pre-action sprinkler systems, on the other hand, are used to protect areas where water damage from damaged sprinklers or piping needs to be avoided. These are a middle ground between dry and wet fire protection systems. 

The major difference between a deluge suppression system and a pre-action system is that pre-action systems are filled with compressed air. The sprinkler heads remain closed until needed, and a pre-action valve holds back the water. It is a hybrid dry/wet system as it is a dry system until it is activated at which point it becomes a wet system. 

Pre-action fire sprinkler systems require two steps to discharge the agent. When the system first detects heat or fire the pre-action valve opens. Next, the pipes are flooded with water, dry chemicals, inert gases, or foam. After it’s filled, the specific sprinkler head must detect heat or fire to open. Then, the system will work to extinguish the fire in the immediate area.

Unlike deluge systems, these systems only cover an area that detects heat or fire. Coverage expands as more sprinkler heads detect heat/fire.

WHY WOULD YOU CHOOSE A PRE-ACTION SPRINKLER SYSTEM?

One of the best reasons to incorporate pre-action sprinkler systems into your building is because sprinkler heads may be falsely triggered. When these sprinkler heads accidentally activate, there may sometimes be costly, irreversible property and water damage to your building. Because pre-action fire sprinkler systems require two-part discharge, they provide an elevated level of protection from accidental discharges. 

Another reason to utilize pre-action fire sprinkler systems is the ability of the pressurized air or nitrogen to detect leaks in the system. This allows you to ensure your system is functioning properly when you need it most. 

WHAT OTHER SPRINKLER SYSTEMS SHOULD I CONSIDER?

There are a few other fire sprinkler systems to consider as you work to ensure your building remains protected. 

WET PIPE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

These systems are the most popular sprinkler systems. They are extremely effective, low-cost, and low-maintenance. This system’s pipes remain filled with water. Once triggered by the heat-source, water flows through the activated sprinkler to the source of the fire. These systems are extremely quick to react to potential fires, however they are at risk of freezing in cold environments. 

DRY PIPE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

In freezing climates, dry pipe sprinkler systems are a better choice than wet pipe systems. These systems do not carry water in the piping until they are activated. 

Instead, these pipes are filled with pressurized air and nitrogen. When the system is activated, the dry pipe valve opens and water flows in when the sprinkler head is triggered. 

The disadvantage of these systems is that their response time is delayed. Another potential downfall to these systems is the required maintenance. Sprinkler corrosion is more prevalent in these systems, as the compressed air and oxygen create an enticing environment for corrosion. 

SINGLE INTERLOCK

These systems require a single, preceding fire detection event. This event is typically an activation of heat or smoke detectors. When the event occurs, the pre-action valve allows water to enter the piping system. With these systems, if a sprinkler head activates before this, it will sound a trouble alarm. However, no water will be discharged. 

DOUBLE INTERLOCK

Double interlock pre-action systems provide an added layer of protection. These systems require a preceding fire detection to occur in conjunction with an automatic sprinkler activation, prior to water releasing into the pipes. One alarm activation will not be enough to discharge these sprinkler systems. 

At VFS Fire & Security Services we understand that your unique building needs unique fire protection systems. Our team is equipped to ensure you receive the fire protection you need to keep your building and your people safe from harm.

CHECK OUT WHAT OUR HOUSTON TEAM IS UP TO!

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

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

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

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

MARINE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

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

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

CLASS A

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

CLASS B

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

CLASS C

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

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

INDUSTRIAL FIRE PROTECTION

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

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

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

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

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

OIL & GAS

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

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

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

SPECIAL HAZARD FIRE PROTECTION

WE REALLY KNOW HOW TO SUCK THE AIR OF THE ROOM

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!

5 THINGS CRE OWNERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INSTALLING ERRCS

DON’T GET IRKED BY ERRCS

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. 

BUILDING SIZE

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. 

LICENSING REQUIREMENTS

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. 

PAGING SYSTEMS

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. 

SIGNAL STRENGTH

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. 

SIGNAL TESTING

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

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!

FIRE SAFETY TIPS FOR COMMERCIAL PROPERTY OWNERS

EYEWASH STATIONS ARE NOT JUST FOR GETTING DEL FUEGO OUT OF YOUR EYES (WE GET IT… WE LOVE TACO BELL TOO)

Commercial Property Owners: Ensuring your building remains safe from harm is essential to your ongoing success. The foundation of your building safety protocol is fire safety. According to Chad Connor at AZ Big Media, about 120,000 commercial property fires occurred in 2019, resulting in $4.3 billion in property damage, 1,200 injuries, and 110 deaths. In order to ensure your commercial property isn’t included in that number, you need to put the proper fire safety precautions in place. 

START WITH REGULAR INSPECTIONS

Safety alert lights, fire alarms, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems must be inspected on a regular basis. Each fire protection system requires a different maintenance schedule. It’s important to stay on top of your inspection schedule in order to ensure your property remains up to code and safe for its occupants. 

  • NFPA 25 Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems
  • NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code
  • NFPA 10 Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • NFPA 17A Standard for Wet Chemical Extinguishing Systems (Kitchen Systems)
  • NFPA 17 Standard for Dry Chemical Extinguishing Systems (Paint Spray Booths)
  • NFPA 2001 Standard on Clean Agent Fire Extinguishing Systems

At VFS, we assist our clients in maintaining their inspection schedules to ensure ongoing fire and life safety success. As a business owner, it’s important that you or your facilities manager are present for all inspections. Knowing the overall health of your facility allows you to plan for future expenses and report accurate safety updates to your insurers. 

ENSURE YOU HAVE THE PROPER FIRE PROTECTION SYSTEMS IN PLACE FOR YOUR UNIQUE BUSINESS

Your commercial property is unique to the needs of your business. Similarly, the necessary fire protection is unique to your commercial property. Understanding what fire protection systems you need in place to ensure your building remains safe is essential. Here are a few fire protection systems you may need to consider:

  • Smoke management systems
  • Automatic closing doors
  • Private fire hydrants
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Communication systems
  • Emergency generator and standby power systems
  • Sprinkler Systems
  • Standpipe systems
  • Pressurized stair shaft
  • Elevators automatic Phase 1 & 2
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire pumps

MAINTAIN PROPER SIGNAGE THROUGHOUT THE BUILDING

Indoor and outdoor signage is essential to the safety of your building. Firefighters cannot do their job if they do not have access to equipment and pathways to access the emergency. Floors and rooms should be clearly mapped, access to specific areas like the roof should be clearly labeled, and fire safety equipment and hazardous materials need to be identified. 

Occupants cannot get to safety without understanding where the nearest exit is. Exit lighting can be an overlooked area of your fire safety. When a fire begins, the conditions will likely induce chaos and confusion. Smoke can cause occupants’ vision to be obscured and make it difficult to navigate around the office space. Ensure all exit signs are illuminated and easy to read. Consider auditory alerts as well as visual alerts for those who are visually impaired or in the case of heavy smoke. 

COMMUNICATE YOUR EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN WITH EMPLOYEES

Written emergency action plans are a vital part of ensuring your employees know what to do if an emergency occurs. These plans should cover actions both employers and employees should take to remain safe during fire emergencies. It should include the equipment that needs to be shut down, escape routes, and when and where manual fire suppression efforts should take place. 

Ensure the management team occupying your building reviews the emergency action plan with all employees at various times throughout their time in the building. It should be reviewed when it’s developed, when employee’s responsibilities change, and when the plan changes. 

ENSURE YOU HAVE SPECIAL HAZARD PROTECTION IN PLACE IF NECESSARY.

Special hazard protection is not a commonly discussed fire safety topic. Ensuring buildings are up to special hazard standards takes a very specialized skill set to perform. 

Custom fire and life safety doesn’t stop with fire suppression and sprinkler systems.   Emergency eyewash stations or emergency showers are a vital part of certain special hazardous situations.  In cases where chemicals are in play, eyewash stations are a critical safety element. 

At VFS, we pride ourselves on our expertise when it comes to special hazard protection. We understand that special hazard safety begins with the integration of custom fire sprinkler systems, special hazard solutions, and fire alarms. 

ACTIVE VS. PASSIVE FIRE PROTECTION

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

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. 

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS

Are manually operated active fire protection measures. These help occupants put out small fires within the building. 

SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

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

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! 

YOUR V-DAY BUILDING FIRE PROTECTION CHECKLIST

It May Not Be Romantic, But It Can Be Life-Saving

Valentine’s Day is here and love is in the air. While it’s easy to get swept up in the romance, it’s important to ensure that the air remains clear of smoke. Before lighting the candles and sitting down for dinner, make sure your building is protected. 

The four main goals of fire protection are:

  1. Prevent a Fire From Starting
  2. Prevent Loss of Life When a Fire Does Start
  3. Confine the Fire to Its Origin
  4. Extinguish the Fire

VFS provides systems that can quickly alert everyone that a fire is in the building and to help stop the fire in its tracks. There are many types of fire protection systems in buildings and we can make sure yours are cutting edge. When you need fire protection, you need it to be the best. 

Keep the Flame Alive, Not Ablaze

The first of the four goals of fire protection is to prevent fires from starting in the first place. This is accomplished through cautious actions and awareness of people in the building. Informing building occupants of common fire risks can help them avoid risky mistakes. 

Common Valentine’s Day Firestarters

  • Candles and fireplaces provide light, warmth, and they set the mood for a romantic night — but they can also be a hazard. Many fires begin in the bedroom, usually because candles are too close to bedding, mattresses, or upholstered furniture that easily lights on fire. 
  • Cooking fires are incredibly common and are often the result of an unattended stove. When pouring your heart into a Valentine’s Day dinner for your significant other, make sure to stay in the kitchen and practice caution.
  • Helium balloons are a delightful surprise, but try to keep them inside. If they float away, they may hit a power line on the way. This can cause a small explosion that melts the electric wire and leads it to fall. The fallen electrical wire can spark a fire. 

Posting warnings around flammable objects can bring awareness and help prevent the romantic gesture from blowing up in your face.  

Smoke Alarms May Kill the Mood, But They’re Vital

It’s not romantic music, but a smoke alarm will respond to fire and smoke to alert everyone in the building that it’s time to leave. While preventing fires altogether is preferable, planning for the event of a fire is an essential step to save lives. 

Both automatic and manual smoke alarms play an important role in a timely evacuation. To prevent the loss of life during a fire, having a highly responsive alarm system can make all the difference. If your alarm systems haven’t been updated for a while, they may not work properly. We’ll make sure your fire alarm system is fully functional and ready to alert you. 

What’s Your Sign? Safe Fire Exits

Once the alarm is going, people need to know where to exit. Having properly marked fire exits expedites the escape plan. Even if you go over a fire safety plan together, the plan can fly out the window in the panic of the moment. 

Clearly marking exits and exit routes can guide people to safety, even when it’s hard to process the situation. LED fire exit signs can easily be seen through smoke and show people where to go. Multiple signs leading the way to the fire exit are helpful in larger buildings where the exit sign may not be visible from down a hallway.  

What’s More Romantic Than Showering Together?

Sprinkler systems are a vital part of stopping fires. Automatic fire sprinkler systems reduce fatalities by 87% when compared to properties without any fire sprinklers. Sprinklers help prevent the spread of fire and confine the blaze to its area of origin. 

Fire sprinkler systems are highly effective at controlling fires and keeping them from growing. They’re triggered individually when the heat of a room reaches a certain temperature, activating the sprinkler. Not all sprinklers will be activated at once, so water damage is minimized. 

If your fire sprinkler systems aren’t checked often, they may not work when they’re needed most. VFS can help you ensure your sprinkler system is functioning properly so your building will be protected in the worst-case scenario. Our inspection and maintenance teams are prepared to help keep your building up to NFPA and local codes. Inspection and maintenance is essential to ensuring your sprinkler and fire alarm systems are functioning properly when you need them most. 

Light a Spark in Your Love Life, Not in Your Building

Building fire systems are essential for keeping your romantic night from going up in flames. While they may not be used very often, the importance of protection can’t be overstated. Top-tier fire protection is better to have and not need than need and not have. 

So before the mood heats up this Valentine’s Day, make sure your building won’t. These tips can keep the romance — as well as everyone in the building — alive and well.