Tag Archive for: VFS

pipe in a fire sprinkler system

Did you know more fires occur during winter than in any other season? Additionally, cold weather can cause damage to fire sprinkler systems through freezing pipes.

So, what does this spike in fires and damage to fire protection mean for business owners? They must be more vigilant than ever during the winter season to properly protect their property and occupants.

The good news: You don’t have to have powers like Jon Snow to protect your fire sprinkler system from damage!

While building owners can take preventative measures, the most effective method to protect fire sprinkler systems during the winter is to keep up with regular maintenance and inspections – no battling White Walkers necessary! Let’s dive in.

Why Are Fire Sprinkler Systems at Risk During the Winter?

In the winter months, temperatures drop, which can cause water or condensation in pipes to freeze. This can result in the following effects:

  • A frozen pipe can burst and lead to water damage, and/or
  • Pipes with frozen water will not be effective in preventing a fire from spreading

Let’s discuss how building owners can prevent these risks from occurring in their wet and dry pipe fire sprinkler systems.

How to Protect Wet Fire Sprinkler Systems in the Winter

As the name suggests, wet pipe sprinkler systems hold water in their pipes. These systems are most common in structures such as offices and commercial buildings.

These buildings are often temperature controlled during the winter, meaning that the pipes are not likely to freeze.

However, simple issues – such as a problem with the building’s heating system or part of the pipe being exposed to low temperatures – can lead to the pipes freezing and significantly damaging the system.

Maintain Warm Temperatures

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard 25, wet sprinkler systems must be maintained at a minimum of 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This situation may occur when:

  • Insulation is disrupted
  • Pipes exit and reenter the building, or
  • If there’s a lack of building heat

These occurrences may be more common in warehouses, for example.

Wet sprinkler systems may be common in buildings with unheated maintenance closets or equipment rooms. Building owners can open vents or doors to make sure that warm air is moving into these spaces to keep pipes from freezing.

How to Protect Dry Fire Sprinkler Systems in the Winter

Dry sprinkler systems keep pressurized air inside their pipes rather than water. Because of this, these systems can withstand freezing temperatures. However, this does not guarantee these systems will not be damaged.

Dry fire sprinkler systems can freeze if they are exposed to sub-32-degree temperatures. Moreover, condensation can collect over time and damage the pipes, especially during winter.

Dry sprinkler systems may be at risk in areas such as: 

  • Fire sprinkler control rooms
  • Parking garages
  • Outdoor event spaces
  • Isolated rooms
  • Unoccupied rooms, and
  • Mechanical rooms

Inspect Drains and Low Points

Building owners can check drains and low points where condensation collects. Building owners can drain these points to keep the condensation from freezing and damaging their dry pipe sprinkler systems.

Inspect Pipe Angles

The angle of pipes is important to ensuring the condensation is reaching the low point drains. Building owners should enlist the help of an experienced technician to complete this step.

The Most Important Step… Inspection and Maintenance!

While building owners can complete the above steps to check in on their systems, the most effective method of preventing fire sprinkler systems from freezing during winter is to keep up with inspections and maintenance.

After all, your fire protection systems are only as effective as the inspections performed on them.

How Often Should These Systems Be Inspected?

How often you service or inspect your fire protection services depends on the device. Some systems require weekly, monthly, semi-annual, or annual inspections. However, all fire and life safety systems require at least an annual inspection.

Worried Your System is Being Damaged by Low Temperatures?

When systems or devices need maintenance, our team at VFS Fire & Security Services can typically send a repair technician to you within 24 hours—sooner in emergencies!

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

Does Your System Need an Inspection?

VFS Fire & Security Services wants to help with your winter maintenance. Fortify your building with reliable fire protection systems inspected and maintained by the experts at VFS!

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

infographic about maintaining fire protection systems

leader showing How to Implement Fire Safety Training in Your Workplace

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basic Requirements

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

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

Requirements Per Industry

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

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

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

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

How to Implement Fire Safety Training in Your Workplace

Outline Your Goals

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

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

Develop a Fire Safety Plan

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

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

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

Presenting a Fire Safety Plan

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

For instance, employees should have a complete understanding of:

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

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

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

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

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

Workplace Fire Safety Training Topics

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

Fire Prevention

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

Fire prevention training may have the goals of:

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

Hazard Recognition

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

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

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

Types of Fires and How to Contain Them

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

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

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

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

 

How to Implement Fire Safety Trainings

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

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

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

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

For more information, check out our fire protection solutions.

fire protection services employee working

We’re thrilled to share that the career opportunities at VFS Fire & Security Services are growing!

Check out our video below for all the details, or read on to learn more about our career opportunities.

 

 

Why We’re Growing

VFS has been acquired by Fortis. This acquisition allows us to provide significant opportunities for our team. Just to name a few:

  • Benefits
  • Opportunities for growth
  • Investment in your success

We see fire protection as a noble profession and we love what we do. Through this partnership, we are evolving into the next generation of fire protection.

Let Us Tell You About Fortis

Fortis provides industry-leading fire protection services across the United States. Fortis is on a mission to build the premier Fire Protection company in the United States. To accomplish this, we are acquiring the best fire safety companies –like VFS!– and welcoming them into the Fortis family of brands.

 

AT VFS, We’re a Team

 

When one of us succeeds, we all celebrate.  If you’re looking for a company where you can grow and evolve, VFS is the place for you.

Our leadership is involved and invested and our staff enjoys coming to work every day.

We make a difference in our customers’ lives by creating peace of mind and tangible safety. Purpose, vision for the future, and a sense of pride in everything we do are at the core of how we live our lives.

Let’s Talk About Open Positions

We urge you to keep an eye on our careers page for an updated list of all our open positions. 

If the position you are looking for is not listed below, PLEASE tell us about yourself.  At VFS we are always looking to hire top talent!

We are more than happy to explore new opportunities with candidates who feel could be a great addition to our family.

At VFS we value culture, passion, courage, and having the drive to succeed no matter what it takes and we provide the environment to do just that!

Let’s succeed together!

Our Current Open Positions

Fire Alarm Trainee Apprentice – HQ Orange, CA

Fire Alarm Construction – HQ Orange, CA

Account Executive – National Orange, CA

AIA Contract Specialist – Orange, CA

Fire Sprinkler Trainee Apprentice – HQ Orange, CA

Executive Receptionist | Administrative Assistant – Orange, CA

Fire Marine Technician – Houston Pasadena, TX

Fire Alarm Service Technician – HQ Orange, CA

Truck Driver | Shop Assistant – HQ Orange, CA

Customer Service Representative – Orange, CA

Sales – Industrial Fire Protection Account Executive – Houston Pasadena, TX

Sales – Fire Alarm Account Executive – Houston Pasadena, TX

Fire Alarm Technician – Houston Pasadena, TX

Sales – Account Executive – Houston Pasadena, TX

Human Resources Administrative Assistant – Orange, CA

Fire Sprinkler Foreman – HQ Orange, CA

Fire Sprinkler Technician – Houston Pasadena, TX

Fire Sprinkler Inspector – Houston Pasadena, TX

Account Executive – Orange, CA

Alarm Designer – Orange, CA

Account Executive – Golden State Fontana, CA

Fire Inspector – Orange, CA

Our Mission

Our mission is to grow our business by serving our community and protecting that which matters most to our clients; life and valued assets.  As the provider of choice within our markets, we provide complete fire protection and integrated life safety solutions, focused exclusively on exceeding our customer’s expectations every time.

Our customers choose to be protected by us.

Learn more about who we are, here.

Ready to Join Our Team?

Check out our careers page, here. 

Remember: even if the position you’re looking for isn’t listed here, please still tell us about yourself. We’re happy to explore new opportunities for talented people who would make great additions to our team.

To learn more about our nationwide offerings, read our national accounts article, here.

National Accounts Business fire and security building

At VFS, our national accounts business helps us accomplish our mission of growing our business by serving our community and protecting that which matters most to our clients; life and valued assets. 

As the provider of choice within our markets, we provide complete fire protection and integrated life safety solutions, focused exclusively on exceeding our customer’s expectations every time.

Watch the video below as Michael Wick, Director of National Operations, provides an insightful look inside our national accounts. 

Or, read on to learn about our national accounts.  

 

What is the VFS National Accounts Business?

VFS has built a sophisticated network of affiliate partnerships across all 50 states and the 10 Canadian provinces. 

How Did the VFS National Accounts Business start?

According to Michael, “the national account business has been going for over ten years now. At the very beginning, VFS was using vetted subcontractors. Over the years, they’ve become true partners. These [subcontractors are maintaining] long-term relationships with us and our customers.”

How Does VFS Choose Partnerships?

VFS invests time into vetting affiliates before they are brought into a partnership. This vetting process includes reviewing their technician qualifications, assessing their reporting structure and ensuring their service aligns with our core values. 

How Do the VFS National Partnerships Work?

With these carefully selected and pre-vetted partners, we are confident in our ability to perform superior service and efficient account management – no matter where you are located. Our team works within carefully integrated frameworks and advanced platforms to facilitate the management of multi-facility national accounts.

 

Michael expands on the partnerships, stating “as a result of our long-term relationships and bonds with our partners, we speak to them directly as if they were our own technicians. We receive real-time data and feedback firsthand from multiple locations.” 

 

This communication with our technicians provides us with the information we need to successfully manage the accounts of our customers. 

infographic about national accounts

How Does VFS Support Its Partners?

 

VFS works directly with our partners and maintains open communication. We will never put the affiliate in a situation where they’re unsupported. 

 

 

If VFS is bringing partners onto challenging locations –such as those with special hazards or highly technical systems– VFS will integrate one of our own managers or foreman to work with the partners. This experienced team member will help to guide the partners through the first inspection, ensure all sites have been assessed properly as well as provide any other support they may need. 

 

Additionally, VFS introduces partners to customers to make sure customers feel confident in the services the partners are providing for them. 

How is VFS Expanding Its Footprint Through National Accounts?

Through the national accounts business, VFS has the opportunity to increase its footprint across the country. VFS has opened in Texas and Florida. These locations, in combination with the network of affiliate partners, allow VFS to build a presence and provide services to customers throughout the United States. 

How Do the VFS National Accounts Share Information with Customers?

Using our customer portal CNCT we are steadfast in our approach to sustaining the integrity of your businesses as we manage, track, view, and communicate your critical fire and life safety information.

Customers will have access to:

  • All documentation
  • Account information
  • Reporting and deficiency tracking
  • Project management
  • Resources and product specifications

What are the Goals of the VFS National Network? 

Our goal is transparency and compliance. We accomplish this by ‘CNCTing’ you to your facilities’ valuable and critical information across North America.

 

Check out our blog for more information on fire and security services, such as Monitored Fire Alarm Systems, and how often your systems should be inspected. 

Read on to learn more about VFS and who we serve

Ships in Supply Chain being delayed due to issues

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

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

What is a Supply Chain?

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

What Caused the Supply Chain Issues?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COVID-19

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

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

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

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

Risky dependencies

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

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

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

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

Fire and security

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

Product compliance

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

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

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

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

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

The Green Deal

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

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

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

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

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

Make Fire Safety Part of your New Year’s Resolution

2021 was a dumpster fire that we can roast marshmallows in for 2022.

Looking at the new year is an exciting time. 2022 has created a fresh start after a challenging year (or two or three!).

If you’re like most people, one of your practices is making New Year’s resolutions. We applaud everyone who will try that new diet, meditate in the morning, and go to the gym consistently (then bail after a month— but hey, it’s the thought that counts!)

At VFS, we’ve realized there’s one resolution that always seems to be left out, which is fire safety!

Please, we’re begging you, don’t let fire safety fall by the wayside like the gym. Here are some tips to help guide you into making fire safety part of your New Year resolutions (one that will actually stick!)

Stay Up-To-Date with NFPA Codes

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is constantly updating codes for fire safety for commercial buildings, above-ground storage tanks, and everything in between.

The NFPA Journal highlights changes that are crucial to be aware of as a business or property owner in 2022. The two codes to keep top of mind in the new year include NFPA Code 72 and 13.

NFPA Code 72

NFPA 72 is a National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. This means that the Code includes requirements for “mass notification systems used for weather emergencies, terrorist events, biological, chemical, and nuclear emergencies.”

The newest change in 2022 to be aware of is the introduction of cybersecurity guidance for fire alarms. There has been a rise in break-ins through older fire security systems because hackers have incentives to steal data and sell it.

Some of the 2022 additions listed by the NFPA include:

  • Remote Access
  • Color Tagging
  • Survivability
  • Multi-Criteria Detectors

So, make sure to keep an eye out for more updates with cybersecurity and fire alarms.

NFPA Code 13

NFPA Code 13 is the Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems. If you’re new to our blog, we’re the experts in sprinkler systems. Learn more about the updates in sprinkler systems on our blog.

Anyway, Code 13 is considered, “The industry benchmark for design, installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems.”

The NFPA Journal claims that the main changes to Code 13 will include sprinkler density, rack storage, and elevator shaft protection. The most impactful change will be the shift towards “beyond single-point density.” 

Update Team Training

With the constant change in NFPA Codes, it’s valuable to also keep your team updated with the differing fire safety measures.

The updates to highlight and refresh your team with could include the following:

  • Updated Equipment
  • Fire Protection Systems
  • Safe Operation of Equipment and Tools
  • Emergency Action Plan
  • And More

There are various online training available through the NFPA. For example, the online series on “NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (2022) Online Training Series” is a great starting point. 

Create a Calendar of Safety Inspections

At VFS Fire and Security Services, we believe that your fire protection systems are only as effective as the inspections performed on them. The inspections we specialize in include:

  • Fire Sprinkler Systems
  • Fire Suppression Systems
  • Alarm and Detection Systems
  • Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • Sound and Communication 
  • Integrated Security
  • Life Safety
  • Above Ground Storage Tanks

That’s kind of a long list, right? That’s exactly why the professionals are here to help keep your commercial property up-to-date with the proper equipment and fire safety measures.

On the topic of fire safety, have you heard of the cargo crisis that’s going on? The lag in shipping has created bottlenecks in many industries. Read more about how the cargo crisis has impacted our VFS Houston branch on our blog.

sprinkler systems updates in commercial buildings

Scott Santos, our Director of Sprinkler Operations at VFS Fire and Security highlights the changes that have occurred in fire sprinkler systems over the past year. Watch the video below for more information. 

 

Fire Industry Changes

We’ve seen a lot of recent challenging changes in our sprinkler industry including:

  • Finding enough manpower 
  • Finding employees with talent  

Project Shifts 

Types of projects have also changed. We used to have a world where retail and brick and mortar were a big commodity of projects. Today with the uptake of e-commerce and increased online shopping, we’ve seen big changes in the types of projects. For example,  brick and mortar retail spaces are not as prevalent as warehousing. Warehousing now has been pushed up.

Clientele 

Many of our clients are big-box companies that are looking for storage. This means they are searching for warehousing. However, there’s not enough warehousing out here. What we’ve seen in the last two years is that simply rehabilitating buildings, upgrading buildings provides a higher level of storage. Currently, many distribution centers are coming up. The Amazons and the Targets of the world are looking for space and for distribution centers.

So as we look at warehouse spaces, things do change. The solutions to the sprinkler systems definitely change. We need to upgrade them. The systems that are in there now are only as good as the storage that they had previously. As the storage grows in height, and as we start to put more material handling equipment in there, we need to upgrade systems.

Three Sprinkler System Updates

There are three different ways that we usually look at it. The first and easiest way is looking at the systems that are in place already. If we change sprinkler heads and make current ones larger sprinkler heads to provide more water, that’s one way to update the system. 

A second way is to actually upgrade the system for a higher density. Once those higher densities are in there, we must consider if interactive sprinklers or any other sprinklers need to be included that are different from what the system demands.

The third way is we have to consider if they’re storing plastics and higher commodity systems or higher commodities. If so, we need to protect the commodities with ESFR systems. This means early suppression and fast response systems are popular now. Now we’re going into the buildings and tearing out old systems to put in new ones to accommodate what they’re putting in the buildings.

Material Shortage 

As we upgrade these systems, the most challenging part is trying to actually buy materials. There’s a shortage throughout the industry trying to find piping and materials for actual systems. Pricing throughout the industry has also gone through the roof, making purchasing material tough.  

It also costs building owners more money. Many owners want to lease out these buildings to the Amazons, the Targets, or the Sketchers. What’s tough for us is that we’re getting pushed on every project to upgrade this quickly. That’s probably one of the challenges that we’re meeting right now is materials, manpower, and getting things done on time for customers.

One of the things that we’re doing is trying to get contracts in place quickly. And then what we’re able to do is try to go out and procure our materials early. 

So we’re saying, “Hey, if we can buy the materials quickly, then we can have it on site. We’re not having to worry about time spans or how long it’s going to take to get equipment.”

Client Communication

One of the things we’re trying to ensure is going out and purchasing the materials as quickly as possible. On our side, it’s good because we’re getting quicker contracts.

The other solution is just making sure that we communicate well with our clients, to say, “Hey, what exactly are you doing?” 

We make sure that we provide them with the correct systems, the correct products, and that everything that meets their needs because there’s nothing worse than getting something in that doesn’t meet their needs. So we’re really aiming to satisfy our customers. Obviously, our customers are number one, so we’re making sure that we go after them.

How do we train new employees? 

We’ve been able to bring in individuals with less experience. We provide them with a training program or an apprenticeship program that allows them to eventually receive their certification as a pipe fitter. 

In the state of California, they’re required to have a fitter card. So we’re bringing them in, and we’re trying to grow them from down up, right from the bottom up. Let’s get these employees in quickly and train them. It’s a five-year program that develops them and our crew. 

When it comes to manpower, we are aiming at growing within through finding tradesmen. We’re even speaking to high schools, trade schools, or anywhere we can to get somebody interested in the fire protection industry. That’s probably been our biggest gap in this industry throughout the last 30 years. 

At VFS we’re trying to grow, whether through pipefitters, sprinkler designers, fire alarm designers, and beyond, we are looking to grow from within. We do this by providing them with training and continuing to be the best professional company we can be.

Do you know what to do in case of an oil or grease fire? Heads up, don’t throw a bucket of water on it. Learn more about what the right steps are.

VFS Cookbook

It’s almost Thanksgiving! 

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

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

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

Blueberry Pomegranate Mule 

Blueberry Mule

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

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

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

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

What does this dish mean to you? 

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

– Randy Nelson, VFS Fire & Security Services President

Pasta Siciliano

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

Pasta Thanksgiving dish

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

Ingredients 

1 (16 ounce) package uncooked farfalle pasta 

 ¼ cup olive oil 

3 cloves chopped garlic

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup pine nuts

1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced kalamata olives

½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Step 1:

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

Step 2:

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

What does this dish mean to you? 

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

Bacon Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Bacon loaded mashed potatoes

This one is bound to get your mouth watering!

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

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

What does this dish mean to you? 

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

Candied Yams

Candied yams

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

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

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

What does this dish mean to you? 

Sweet goodness! 

Vanilla Bean Sage Blackberry Galette

blackberry pastry

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

Sprinkle a little love and happiness into your holiday dish!

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

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

What does this dish mean to you? 

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

– Elizabeth Ziebell, Director of HR

Honey Ham, Turkey, and Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffing

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

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

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

What does this dish mean to you? 

A time of giving and fellowship. 

Broccoli and Rice Casserole

rice thanksgiving dish

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

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

Ingredients: 

1 Cup Margarine or butter

1 Cup Chopped Onion

1 Cup Chopped Celery

 2 Cans Cream of Mushroom Soup

 1 Large Jar of Cheese Whiz

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

1 Cup Minute Rice

Bread Crumbs

Directions: 

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

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

Bake for 45 minutes.

What does this dish mean to you? 

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

– Brenda Harrelson

Spinach Salad

spinach salad

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

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal?

Ingredients: 

1 pack of bacon (center cut)

Mustard

Salt &  pepper

Splash of apple cider vinegar

Spinach

1 or 2 Shallot cut up

Directions:

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

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

What does this dish mean to you? 

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

– Michelle Day 

Turkey Pizza

turkey pizza

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

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

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

What does this dish mean to you? 

It means I’m having pizza on Thanksgiving! 

Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey VFS Cookbook

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

What are some ingredients & tips on making this meal? 

Use a LOT of butter! 

What does this dish mean to you? 

It reminds me of family. 

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

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

Fire Prevention vs. Fire Protection

VFS Fire and Security Services believes in protecting what matters most. A major component of fire protection that is often overlooked is fire prevention. 

It’s important to understand the difference between fire prevention and fire protection as you look to create a holistic approach to your building’s fire safety.

What is fire prevention?

Fire prevention consists of the actions you take outside of your fire protection systems to help prevent a fire from occurring. The prevention really occurs before a fire occurs, while the protection is for during a fire emergency. While there are many ways to bring fire prevention into the workplace, we’ve pulled together a few of the most common, and most essential parts of your fire prevention plan.

Establish an evacuation strategy.

Establishing an evacuation strategy for your team is essential to the safety and protection of your people. Your evacuation strategy makes it safer and more efficient for your employees and potential customers to exit the building. 

Not only is it essential to keep your employees safe from harm, but OSHA guidelines also require that a business have an emergency evacuation plan in place. See the OSHA regulations for emergency action plans here.

Maintain & Service Your Fire Safety Equipment.

Testing and Inspection

VFS Fire and Security Services believes that your fire protection systems are only as effective as the inspections performed on them. There are main systems that should be considered when looking at your commercial property during a fire and safety inspection: 

  • Fire Sprinkler Systems
  • Fire Suppression Systems
  • Alarm & Detection Systems
  • Portable Fire Extinguishers
  • Sound and Communication
  • Integrated Security
  • Life Safety

Annual (or even more frequent) inspections are a huge part of fire prevention because if a system or piece of equipment fails, then any efforts towards fire protection are most likely to fail. 

Service and Repair

Service and repair of equipment and systems is the next step in understanding fire protection. Service and repair mean staying up to code and in compliance with all service and repair requirements is the goal of fire prevention. 

System Upgrades

How long do you think a fire protection system is supposed to last? If your first thought is 30 years, think again. 


The average lifespan of a fire protection system is 12 to 15 years. 

Keeping your systems updated is a key role in fire protection. Fire protection systems are complicated and there are a lot of moving parts involved. Don’t worry, when an individual part fails, the entire system does not need to be replaced (most of the time). Even if a single part being replaced doesn’t automatically mean throwing out the whole system, there are components that might need to be upgraded with older systems to improve your interconnectivity. 

Fire prevention is the first piece of the puzzle when diving into fire safety for your commercial property.

Employee Fire Prevention Training

One of the major causes of fires in the workplace is human error. People can start fires in a variety of ways in the workplace (really… we’ve seen some crazy stuff!), a few of the most common mishaps typically deal with mishandling chemicals, improper storage of combustible materials, and kitchen accidents. 

Because of this, it is essential that your employees understand proper fire safety and understand what to do in case a fire occurs. Train your employees on the proper ways to operate the business’ machinery, and how to store and remove of hazardous materials. 

Communicate with your Team

One of the best ways you can prevent fires from occurring is with communication. Perform routine fire drills, how to leave the building in a calm and safe manner during this stressful situation. We recommend having both scheduled and unannounced fire drills to ensure your employees are ready when they need to be.

Communication goes beyond practice and proper training. Communication also refers to clear exits and escape routes. Smoke can easily fill a room with people still in it. This smoke makes it difficult to see and find the exit. Posting easy-to-read exit signs and escape routes is essential to the safety of your employees. We would also recommend installing floor lights for easy visibility. 

What is fire protection? 

Safeopedia defined fire protection as, “Measures are taken to prevent fire from becoming destructive, reduce the impact of an uncontrolled fire, and save lives and property.” 

So, a fire protection system exists to lessen the damage of a fire if it occurs. The three main essentials of fire protection are: 

  • Study of Fire
  • Active Fire Protection
  • Passive Fire Protection

The study of fire is our role at VFS Fire and Security Services and paves the way for how we implement fire protection systems. 

Fire protection systems all orchestrate together to prevent the fire from becoming even more destructive or deadly. Making sure that all NFPA building codes are followed with building construction and fire protection system implementation is important with fire safety. 

Having both active and passive fire protection systems in place is important to ensure your building, and more importantly, your team remains safe from harm. 

What is passive 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. 

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. 

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 helps 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. 

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. 

What active fire protection systems do I need?

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 a 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. 

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. 

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. 

Are you thinking it might be time for a fire protection system upgrade? Learn how much they cost here. (Hint there are many factors that will impact the final cost.) 

Choose your player… the Best Fire Safety Equipment of 2021

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

Autocall

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

AES Corporation

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

Ansul

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

Kidde Fire Systems

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

Potter

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

Valcom

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

Learn what sprinkler system would work best for commercial buildings here

Best Fire Safety Equipment

News Flash! Fire Suppression and Fire Sprinklers Are Not the Same!

Your general thought process might look something like this: “Water puts out fires, so sprinklers must be a type of fire suppression, right?”

Wrong. 

There is a difference between fire suppression and fire sprinklers, and VFS Fire & Security Services is here to help figure out which fire safety measures are right for your commercial building!

Fire Suppression

Fire suppression systems are considered one of our specialties at VFS. Fire suppression systems are used to extinguish or control fires and are activated by heat, smoke, or a combination of the two.

These systems are typically found in places like museums, libraries, data centers, and archives. Unlike wet-pipe sprinkler systems, suppression systems use gaseous, chemical or foam agents to suppress the fire, rather than water. 

This aids in the preservation of sensitive equipment and content within a particular environment. There are many different applications of fire suppression depending on the area in which these systems are housed. There are various types of fire suppression systems.

Clean Agent 

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

  • Smoke Detector
  • Control Panel
  • Notification Devices

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

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

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

The Details

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

CO2 Systems

C02 is an effective method of extinguishing a wide range of flammable and combustible materials in both surface and deep-seated fires. Carbon dioxide is a colorless and odorless three-dimensional clean agent. It is typically harmless to equipment, materials, and property preventing excessive damage to equipment to your facility in the event of a discharge.

There are high and low-pressure CO2 systems. High-pressure systems use individual storage cylinders ranging from 35 lbs to 120 lbs. Low-pressure C02 systems are ideal for non-occupied fire hazards requiring large amounts of extinguishing agents in a limited space. 

Wet Chemical 

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

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

Dry Chemical

Dry chemical is a type of fire protection system that makes use of a dry chemical powder to extinguish a fire. Most dry chemical fire suppression systems use a large tank that is filled with dry chemical powder, which is then pressurized. 

There are other types of fire suppression systems (including pre-engineered system applications and water mist systems), but what’s the difference between suppression and sprinkler systems? 

Fire Sprinkler Systems

The biggest difference between the suppression systems already mentioned and sprinkler systems is the use of water instead of foam. 

All sprinkler systems are designed and engineered in different ways depending on the environment, the assets being stored in a particular space, and NFPA requirements and specifications. 

The methods of activation vary depending on the system but one thing is for sure-fire sprinkler systems are designed to protect your assets by controlling and extinguishing fires!

The different types of fire sprinkler systems include: 

  • Wet Pipe
  • Dry Pipe
  • Pre Action
  • Deluge
  • Foam Water Systems
  • Fire Pumps
  • Fire Backflow

There are a lot of factors that go into commercial sprinkler systems. Learn more details about the different types of sprinkler systems on our blog.

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

Building Compliance vs. Building Complaints (Not a Spelling Error!)

There’s a good reason for the codes and standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Compliance isn’t a punishment, it’s a roadmap to safety, protection, and long-term sustainability.

With over 300 codes written in “legal-ese,” it’s not always as intuitive as it should be to comply with fire safety codes. So, we’ve created a cheat sheet to steer you in the right direction— it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming.

300 Fire Protection Compliance Codes?!?

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

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

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

NFPA 99

Health Care Facilities Code

NFPA 72®

National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®

And others that are very specific, such as: 

NFPA 418

Standard for Heliports

Compliance isn’t the goal. Safety is the goal, and—in that vein—we always recommend the following precautions be taken.

Dispose of Excess Packaging in Real-Time

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

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

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

Get Honest Regarding our Disaster Preparedness

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

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

Bring in the VFS Experts

We’ve seen it all. Our teams can ensure compliance and that it isn’t all you’re doing to prevent fires. We are a full fire and life safety contractor and after-market service, provider. Whether your fire prevention needs are related to fire sprinkler systems, alarms systems, extinguishers, backflows, fire pumps, suppression, special hazards, monitoring, DAS systems, emergency notification (the list goes on and on!), we can not only inspect and maintain those systems but also design, build, and install! With our inspections program, we manage, schedule, and track your inspections, deficiencies, and repairs so you don’t have to. 

At VFS Fire & Security Services, we pride ourselves on the caliber of our team members, our commitment to a holistic understanding of your needs, and our-list wine collection (get to know our founder!). We are the team you want to bring to your project.  Connect with us, take a look inside our new site!

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

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

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

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

Free Consultation

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

Who We Serve 

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

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

The Specifics

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

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

Just to name a few. 

How We Help 

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

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

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

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!

not a spelling error

There’s a good reason for the codes and standards established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  Compliance isn’t a punishment, it’s a roadmap to safety, protection, and long term sustainability. Building Compliance vs Building Complaints (not just a spelling error)– it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. 

With over 300 codes written in “legal-ese”, it’s not always as intuitive as it should be to comply with fire safety codes so we’ve created a cheat sheet to steer you in the right direction. 

300 Fire Protection Compliance Codes?!?

The likelihood is that your building does not have to comply with all 300 NFPA codes and standards. Searching the NFPA’s database can simplify the process: https://www.nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/list-of-codes-and-standards

There are codes you’ll regularly encounter such as 

NFPA 99 Health Care Facilities Code

And 

NFPA 72® National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code®

And others that are very specific such as: 

NFPA 418 Standard for Heliports

Compliance isn’t the goal, safety is the goal, and – in that vein – we always recommend the following precautions be taken: 

Dispose of excess packaging in real-time.  Piles of boxes can fuel a fire that might otherwise be easily managed. 

Oily rags can spontaneously combust, it seems like the stuff of action moves, and yet, it happens all the time.  Rag disposal is essential to safety. 

Don’t put a lantern in the shed with the cow. 

Check your fire extinguishers.  An expired extinguisher is not only frustrating, it can be deadly. 

A popping sound when you turn on the light is a warning!  Inspect electric lines that are old or unreliable. 

Refine your disaster preparedness plan for fire, earthquake, flood, locusts, and any other eventuality.

Make sure everyone knows what to do, who is in charge, how to get out, and where to go once they get out. 

Bring in the experts at VFS.  We’ve seen it all. 

Our teams can ensure compliance and ensure that compliance isn’t all you’re doing to prevent fires. We are a full fire and life safety contractor and after-market service provider. Whether your needs are related to fire sprinkler systems, alarms systems, extinguishers, backflows, fire pumps, suppression, special hazards, monitoring, DAS systems, emergency notification (the list goes on and on) we can not only inspect and maintain those systems but we also design, build and install! With our inspections program, we manage, schedule, and track your inspections, deficiencies, and repairs so you don’t have to. 

At VFS we pride ourselves on the caliber of our team members, our commitment to a holistic understanding of your needs, and our sommelier level wine collection (get to know our founder).  We are the team you want to bring on to your project.  Connect with us, take a look inside.

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.

BRING YOUR ALARM MONITORING SYSTEMS BACK TO THE FUTURE

Great Scott! It’s time to bring your alarm monitoring systems back to the future. Mesh network systems are the Delorean ready to bring your systems up to speed with the times.

Choosing mesh technology to support your alarm monitoring system needs means choosing reliability, speed, and convenience. Your antiquated alarm monitoring systems just won’t cut it anymore. 

HOW CAN MESH ALARM MONITORING SYSTEMS HELP YOUR BUSINESS?

RELIABLE

Mesh network monitoring systems are unlike any tower-based, single-route systems. The mesh wireless technology is resistant to environmental disturbances and equipment problems. The multiple signal pathways allow for the alarm monitoring systems to remain in service for your building. 

FAST

Mesh networks communicate with alarms in under three seconds. A traditional telephone line, cellular, or IP can take up to 45-60 seconds. That extra time could be the difference between life and death for your employees. 

With mesh network systems, you don’t have to worry about slow or dropped connections. While cellular and IP systems slow and even sometimes drop when users are added to the systems, MeshWrx’s performance is improved. Radio mesh network technology creates multiple paths for an emergency signal to reach first responders. The self-configuration and smart routing results in 100% uptime. 

CONVENIENT 

Cellular and IP equipment requires consistent upgrades in order to ensure your technology does not become obsolete. With mesh technology, once installed, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. 

Not to mention the money you can save by installing mesh networks. Your current system may be costing you a small fortune. Monthly costs for traditional alarm monitoring systems are increasing as quality and reliability are decreasing.

Increased service calls and time spent tracking down issues are additional costs incurred with outdated systems. With MeshWrx, we eliminate the cost of expensive phone lines, don’t require upgrades, and instead provide more reliable technology.

MeshWrx alarm monitoring systems can help you protect your building when you need it most, just ask our clients! 

“Over the years we have had continued service issues and problems with our fire alarm monitoring telephone liens for our facilities in Southern California, and the cost and fees for phone lines have also increased year over year. By canceling our monthly fire alarm and security telephone lines services and going with MeshWrx monitoring, our organization is saving over $40,000 annually with superior technology, equipment, and service.” 

-Josh Harvey, Manager of Information Systems at Armstrong Garden Centers

Fire Protection

Building owners, property managers or developers could use an advocate to help assess their current and future fire protection needs. Whether retrofitting or developing an office building, retail complex, distribution warehouse, manufacturing facility, server room or any other type of occupancy, understanding the facility fire protection needs is critical. Understanding project scope and budgets prior to making a commitment on fire and life safety systems is also important. With that in mind, VFS has developed Support Services for our clients to help with these needs.

Read more
Industrial Fire Safety

VFS Fire & Security Services is proud to announce their 20th anniversary this year. The company started in 1993 servicing the Southern California market with just two people and has grown to over 70 employees doing work in 46 states. In addition to the 70+ employees in Southern California, VFS has over 75 affiliate companies around the country to supplement their workforce.

Read more
VFS Fire & Security Services Communication and Sound

John Deutsch who sits on the NFPA 13 committee with Randy Nelson, CEO of VFS Fire & Security Services, has joined the VFS team. John draws on over 28 years of experience in fire sprinkler design for industrial, commercial, mixed-used occupancies, public works and special hazards industries.

Read more