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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.  

WHY DOES YOUR BUILDING NEED PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE?

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

Why does your building need preventative maintenance inspections?

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

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

How else can fire system inspection help your business?

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

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

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

What types of fire systems need inspection and maintenance?

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

Fire Sprinkler Systems

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

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

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

Backflow Preventer Assemblies

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

Fire Suppression Systems

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

Kitchen Hood Suppression Systems 

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

Fire Alarms

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

Fire Extinguishers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assess workplace preparedness

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

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

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

Ensure emergency equipment is accessible onsite

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

Ensure workers are trained to utilize equipment

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

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

Utilize detection equipment to measure gas levels

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

Ensure alert systems are installed to communicate fire risks

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

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

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!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

THE FOAM ON THE TOP OF YOUR GUINNESS SHOULDN’T BE THE ONLY THING YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT THIS ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Your needs as a business owner vary on the type of building you own. You’ve likely heard and implemented many fire protection systems, but do you know the key differences between a fire sprinkler system and a fire suppression system? It’s important to understand these differences. 

CLEAN AGENT FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

These fire suppression systems utilize environmentally-friendly chemical reagents to put out fires. These are typically found in sensitive areas, such as a data center. The chemicals used are water-free and safe for the environment. Once a clean agent system activates, the clean-up is minimal. 

CARBON DIOXIDE FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

These systems use CO2 colorless, odorless gas to extinguish a fire. This option is an incredibly efficient and cost-effective approach to fire protection. The clean-up after the system has been activated is minimal.

These systems are currently being used by the U.S Navy in commercial shipping applications. It is common to find these systems in industries that handle steel and aluminum. 

INDUSTRIAL FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

Industrial plants need extra attention when it comes to fire protection, as most of the areas are in high-hazard environments. The fires that occur in these areas typically involve some type of chemical, liquid fuel, or other hazardous materials, therefore proper fire protection systems are essential. These systems typically use dry chemicals to extinguish the fire. 

RESTAURANT FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS

When you’re at the pub this St. Patrick’s Day (virtually or with a mask on) you’ll find that in the kitchen there are specific fire suppression systems. (We know you won’t notice, because you’ll be singing along to Sweet Caroline with a Guinness in hand- and we don’t blame you, we’ll be doing the same.)

However, those fire suppression systems are essential to keeping you and your drunk counterparts from going up in flames! These suppression systems extinguish fires fueled by grease in a kitchen environment. They typically utilize wet chemicals in a mist form to extinguish the fire quickly and effectively. 

Fire protection systems needed for high-hazard areas are among the most technical and specialized fire equipment systems. At VFS, we pride ourselves on being a renowned leader in the special hazards sector

Our founder and CEO, Randy Nelson, sits on the technical committee for NFPA 16 (Code Standard for the Installation of Foam-Water Sprinkler) and understands just how critical proper installation and maintenance is on these specialized systems. We bring our robust knowledge, expertise, and experience to find the safest and most reliable solution for every unique need and environment your building has!

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! 

reg inspections

VFS Fire & Security Services is a company that challenges the status quo in the industry. According to Randy Nelson, CEO, “VFS has grown into a cutting edge company that focuses on innovation in an industry where the way things are done, quite frankly, has not changed much in the past 100 years. This industry has typically been slow to adopt new technology, but VFS is leading the way!”

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Cold storage fire protection systems have traditionally been an area of concern.  Managers of these systems have had difficulty in the past with the ability to store at high levels and also the ability to expand the hazard classification for what could be stored.  Now, VFS is pleased to announce a new solution – the Quell™ Fire Sprinkler System.  

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