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Posts Tagged ‘Fire system monitoring’

Shut the door for fire safety.

When it comes to fire safety, fire alarms and sprinkler systems are the first pieces of safety equipment that come to mind.

But could the humble door actually be key to slowing or preventing the spread of a fire and saving lives?

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, a non-profit which studies and trains both firefighters and the general public on fire safety, kicked off a campaign this year encouraging people to close their bedroom doors before turning in at night. Closed doors depress oxygen flow, which starves fire and slows its progress. Slowing a fire down gives occupants time to escape and gives fire crews more time to arrive on scene and fight the fire.

That same thinking translates from residential applications to office buildings, hospitals, schools and other public spaces. Facilities managers and building owners should think carefully about door placement, and how strategic door placement and use can slow or block fire progress and prevent loss.

The issue is especially urgent for hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers where moving patients may take more time or might even be impossible. In those cases, specially designed fire doors must be in place so buildings can be compartmentalized and occupants can shelter in place if necessary until the fire is suppressed.

Fire doors must be inspected at least twice a year. Fire doors are deceptively complicated, and even small defects can threaten their integrity and heighten risk, so inspections should be carried out by someone trained to recognize and correct any defect or misuse of the door.

Door monitoring can be integrated along with all other building systems such as security video, fire alarms and suppression systems and more. Maintaining awareness of these key systems all in one place provides key insights that can help identify and reduce risks.

Interested in learning more about integrating building systems? ECT Services can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

Floods = fires? Sounds crazy, but it’s true

Spring and summer often mean severe weather in the Ohio Valley. In addition to the typical storms caused by weather fronts rolling in from the west, the remnants of tropical storms and hurricanes occasionally sweep up from the south. Both can bring deluges and flash flooding.

 

Flooding brings a particular set of safety risks. The National Fire Prevention Association offers these six tips for managing electrical risks brought on by storms:

• Keep in touch with local authorities, and be prepared to turn off utilities and propane tanks as instructed.
• Don’t ever drive into flooded areas, even if water is only a few inches deep. The current could be much stronger than you realize, and the water can conceal or distort hazards like holes and washed out roadways.
• Every downed wire is a live wire, whether you see sparks or not. Call the utility company immediately if you spot any downed wires in your area, and do not approach. Downed wires are a risk not only in flash flooding situations, but in storms with high winds.
• If you smell gas in your area, do not turn on any lights or equipment. Even the smallest spark could trigger an explosion.
• If your facility is flooded, don’t turn power back on until you it has been inspected – including equipment – and either been remediated or declared safe to operate.
• If you choose to use gas generators to power equipment, be sure to operate it safely. Carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper ventilation is a real risk. Operate generators outdoors only, well away from doors, windows and other openings and well away from air intake for HVAC systems.

Review these safety tips with your team, and be sure to add them to your emergency plans and procedures with other safety policies. All emergency plans should be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.

Fire safety systems should be reviewed and updated regularly, too. An updated, integrated system runs more efficiently and offers better protection. Interested in learning more about our fire systems? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

Will 2018 be the year artificial intelligence makes a big impact on your business?

As 2017 winds down, trend watchers are looking ahead to 2018 and thinking about the trends taking shape. Artificial Intelligence is top of mind for many.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI), and what is the difference between AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning? According to techopedia, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.” AI computers might be used for speech recognition, learning, planning and problem solving.

Machine Learning takes AI a step further, allowing computers to be challenged by and learn from new scenarios for testing and adaptation. The goal is for the machines to use pattern recognition and trend detection to “learn” so that it can make independent decisions about similar situations in the future.

Deep Learning collects what Machine Learning computers have learned and uses those algorithms to develop larger networks that mimic the high-powered decision-making capability of the human brain.

AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning all have significant potential for real-world application, particularly in video security.

The boom in digital video means a voluminous amount of data is available to analyze. Couple that data with more data available via API – weather data, financial data, etc. – and the possibilities for pulling together patterns and making predictions is nearly endless.

“While the technologies aren’t particularly new, this year they have more than ever captured the attention of the market due to various factors: an increase in data that’s available for meaningful analysis, the emergence of hardware devices with high computing power, as well as the maturity of networking infrastructure for both landline and wireless transmissions,” wrote William Pao of a&s International in a recent post on asmag.com.

Some are predicting a boom in AI-driven analysis. “The next step in video analytics is to dive deeper to gain very specific insights into video content, including analyzing human behavior through the use of neural network video analysis. Video will not only be used to track the usual movement of cars and people or detect items left behind, but will also be relied on more frequently to bring behaviors of interest to the attention of security personnel,” said Jammy DeSousa, Senior Product Manager for Security Products for Building Technologies and Solutions at Johnson Controls in the post.

Others are slightly more conservative in their outlook. “Machine or deep-learning is mostly used for video analytics, but I expect the technology will be an important component in many different applications and products in the future. Over time it will become a common tool for software engineers and will be included in many different environments and devices,” said Johan Paulsson, CTO of Axis Communications in the post. “However, the surveillance industry has a history of sometimes over-promising with video analytics, and we are especially conscious of that when it comes to deep learning. We think deep learning has to mature further before it is ready for market in a broader perspective.”

Interested in learning more about new products and integrations on the horizon for 2018? Contact us at (800) 567-1180.

Four steps for dousing fire risks

On a cold night in mid-February, a piece of Kentucky history went up in flames.

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Rabbit Hash General Store, a landmark clapboard store that stood on Lower River Road in Boone County for more than 185 years, was decimated by a fast-moving fire. The family that owns the store, and the community that loves it, have vowed to rebuild on the same spot.

While you can’t prevent every disaster, you can mitigate risk. Some ideas for protecting property and people:

Inspect fire protection systems quarterly. Test alarms and systems regularly, and perform any required maintenance promptly. Questions about inspections? Contact Tom Barrett at (800) 567-1180.

Inspect property for fire risks. Fires need ignition and fuel. Are sources of ignition and fuel present? Look for frayed electrical cords or other spark risks, and repair or replace when necessary. Be sure fuel sources like papers or chemicals or any other combustible materials are properly stored. Check out this list from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for more ideas to reduce risk.

Review your emergency action plans. Be sure your plan includes: a plan for reporting, an evacuation plan for employees and guests that includes floor plans and maps, procedures for employees who must remain in place to perform critical operations, and rescue and medical duties for designated employees. Use this guide to create or review your plans.

Plan a drill. Plan and execute fire evacuation and other safety drills at least once a year.

Benefits of System Integration

When individual systems are not integrated, facilities staff has to learn how to operate each element separately. These systems can consist of: fire alarm system, HVAC system, access control system, elevator system, lighting system, and even utility metering. Many of the elements associated with these separate systems have to be manually adjusted at different times and through different front-ends. When it comes to better facilities management and truly efficient methods, system integration needs to be established. The following benefits of system integration can make facilities management more efficient:

Single Work Station

System integration allows facilities managers to work from a single work station. Problems can be solved and changes can be made with a few clicks rather than visiting multiple computer systems. It simplifies the process and makes it easy to manage.

Energy Savings

Integration can reduce energy consumption and bring significant energy savings. Tying together and monitoring temperature fluctuations as well as making necessary adjustments or repairs to equipment can produce energy savings almost immediately.

Lower Labor Costs and Improve Operations

Reduced energy consumption isn’t the only benefit, companies see reduced labor costs through streamlined operations.

Improve Response Time

When integration is done properly, real-time alerts (Alarms) will be sent and can potential generate work orders (if the proper systems are in place). Many software companies now offer mobile capabilities, so management can get alerts through their mobile phone or other device.

Performance

Integrated systems perform well and should be easy to use.  A good partnership with your system integrator is crucial to maintain and keep your system in tune with the dynamic changes of your facility.

Data Collection

The wealth of data that is collected by systems integration will lead to better decision making. Data ranges from the temperature fluctuation, routine maintenance, to power outages and underperforming facilities.

Software and Device Compatibility

Most modern vendors make software products that are compatible with each other. Communication protocols also aid in integration of systems and products (ie. BACnet, LON, MODbus).

 Multiple Sites

Integration can include multiple buildings on multiple sites, and is not limited to one individual building.

Work with your system integrators on a plan to help bring your building systems together.  ECT Services can help!

 

…Dave Stumler