New Wireless Technology is Poised to Revolutionize the Fire Alarm Industry

The safety industry is adopting wireless solutions on a wide scale

Some in the fire community have hesitated when it comes to unproven technological trends. For example, while other industries jumped on the wireless bandwagon as early adopters, the safety industry paused because of a rational concern that new equipment wouldn’t work as they were accustomed to in the event of a fire.

But with advances in technology and its proven reliability, wireless fire alarms are now embraced on a wide scale. Newly-released systems offer a host of features that are welcomed by safety professionals, and they address many of the original concerns about wireless equipment performing in the event of an emergency. Let’s take a look.

The benefits of wireless fire technology

1. Installation times have decreased dramatically: With wireless fire alarms, installation is completed quickly, as no construction work needs to be done to accommodate the new equipment. Contractors can simply mount the wireless devices, configure them, and be on their way. No running wires or installation of other complicated infrastructure.

2. Less disruption to businesses: There is little that businesses despise more than disruption during business hours, a common concern when updating or replacing fire safety equipment. But minimal major renovations are required for the installation of basic fire safety equipment with wireless technology. This lack of complexity is especially beneficial in older buildings, where installing wired equipment can be cost prohibitive.

3. As reliable as other connection methods: There is a common misconception that wireless devices are not as reliable as wired devices. It’s simply false. Today’s wireless transmitters include low battery indicators, as well as anti-tamper triggers. And because wireless devices constantly send status messages to the system’s control equipment, any issue with any device is immediately spotted.

4. Can be used in conjunction with existing wired systems: Wireless fire alarms are capable of being used in both standalone systems and in combination with an existing hardwired system. This provides significant flexibility in deployment and installation.

Notifier’s SWIFT wireless fire alarms

Notifier has been a leader in the development of wireless fire alarm systems for quite some time. The company recently released an entire line of wireless alarms under their SWIFT brand. Their most popular models include:

  • FWSG Wireless Gateway: Think of the FWSG as the brains behind your wireless fire alarm system. This device acts as a bridge between all your wireless equipment and can support up to 48 SWIFT detectors or modules, and one display driver.
  • FWD-200P Wireless Photoelectric Smoke Detectors: These devices use wireless photoelectric detectors to detect fire in large, open areas and employ a mesh network to communicate with fire alarm control panels.
  • FWH-200 Wireless Heat Detectors: Heat detectors simply detect heat instead of smoke. They are designed to minimize property damage by reacting to the temperature change caused by a fire. Wireless heat detectors are beneficial in areas where smoke detection may not be practical, and a fast acting heat reading could provide a much quicker response time. These devices also communicate with fire control panels through a wireless mesh network.
  • FW-MM Wireless Modules: These monitor the status of other devices that feature contacts, such as Pull Stations, Water Flow switches, and Tamper Switches, and integrate them into the wireless system.

The future of fire safety technology is wireless

There is little doubt that the future of fire safety is wireless. While our industry may have been hesitant to adapt to this dominant technology, the time for businesses to take advantage of the cost savings as well as the safety benefits of wireless fire safety equipment is now. For more information on what’s currently available, feel free to reach out to LifeSafety Management today by phone at (800) 330-1158 or through our online contact form.

Learn Why GSM Radio Technology is Quickly Replacing Landlines in Fire and Security Systems

How does fire and security monitoring work without a phone line? And what are the benefits?

For the past several decades, most fire and security systems used POTS (aka “plain old telephone service”) lines to communicate with a central-monitoring system. But the way our society connects is changing. According to a Pew Research Center study, more than two-thirds of individuals now own a cell phone, and traditional landlines are being dropped altogether in huge numbers. The fire safety and alarm monitoring industry is following suit, with cellular or Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology becoming increasingly popular.

Why GSM radio technology is taking over

Traditionally, digital and wireless alarm systems were used as a backup to phone lines to prevent issues caused by power outages or cut lines. Now, they are becoming the main way to connect. Technological advances have made mobile GSM extremely reliable, and its expanded use is saving business owners significant money while offering a variety of features not possible with fire or security systems that use a traditional POTS to communicate with a central monitoring station.

The primary benefits of GSM radio monitoring

  • Cost: Businesses which choose a GSM monitoring solution can eliminate their landlines, saving significant monthly fees. The two landline systems required by regulatory agencies cost an average of about $120 per month; using GSM communicators instead can lower monthly monitoring fees by as much as half. In addition, GSM-based systems can often be serviced remotely – eliminating expensive service calls.
  • Reliability: With GSM radio technology, your system is much more secure than one using a landline. A cellular-based solution eliminates the threats from power outages or severed phone lines.

In addition, GSM communicators have been tested for fire code compliance (NFPA 72 and UL 864) and can be employed in a cellular-only configuration or with multi-path redundancy through the use of IP internet in addition to GSM transmission. The GSM wireless connection itself is also redundant: if a cell tower goes offline, your radio automatically connects with another one to maintain coverage.

And while a traditional landline communicator likely checks in with a central monitoring station only once every 24 hours, a GSM communicator will check in about every five minutes, allowing you to more quickly address any potential issues with your fire alarm system. GSM has become the safer, more reliable alternative.

How to add GSM technology to your fire and security systems

There are two primary ways to add GSM monitoring to your current system:

1. Retrofit your current solution with a GSM radio that allows your system to communicate without a traditional phone line. Many existing systems can support an updated communicator, making this a cost-effective option.

2. Upgrade your existing solution with an entirely new model that includes a GSM radio communicator. While this method costs more than retrofitting an existing system, it gives you a variety of new features not found in older fire and security solutions.

Don’t let your system become compromised due to a faulty landline

Wireless technology will prevent your business from ever being compromised by a faulty phone line. GSM technology enhances the reliability of your fire and security systems, while giving you added features and benefits not possible with landline connection. Even if you plan to continue using POTS communications, it’s important to have wireless technology as a backup to ensure that an alert never gets missed.

For more information about how GSM technology can improve your fire and security systems, don’t hesitate to contact LifeSafety Management at (800) 330-1158 or through our online contact form. We’re offer a full range of life safety solutions, including security products and services, security alarm systems, and system design and installation with complete system monitoring.

The Benefits of Installing Fire Sprinklers in Single-Family Homes

They’re inexpensive and save lives and property. So why haven’t sprinklers become commonplace in residences around the country?

While fire sprinklers have been a requirement in many types of buildings in the U.S. for some time, they have remained uncommon in single-family homes. Nevertheless, sprinklers offer huge benefits that have been proven over the many years since they were widely installed in most commercial facilities. At LifeSafety Management, we join a number of fire departments and other life safety companies in encouraging the placement of this technology in residences. Here are a few reasons why:

Sprinklers lower your insurance rates

Most insurers offer discounts to homes that have sprinklers installed, because they lower the risk of injury or death from fire and reduce overall property damage. A study measuring 15 years of data after a home-sprinkler ordinance was passed in Scottsdale, Arizona, where about half of all homes are equipped, showed that sprinklers used an estimated 341 gallons of water to control an average fire, whereas firefighters utilized about 2,935 gallons.

In addition, the average fire loss for an incident covered by sprinklers was only $2,166, whereas the average “unsprinklered incident” had a price tag of $45,019.

This huge disparity indicates just how much less fire damage typically occurs in homes with sprinklers, and insurance companies offer discounts to reflect the difference. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) reports an average premium discount of seven percent, with some providers reducing rates by up to 10 percent.

Peace of mind

When it comes to your family, you’ll likely stop at nothing to protect them from harm. Whether it’s a home alarm system or a car with airbags, most people make purchasing decisions to ensure optimal safety. The same goes for home sprinkler systems.

No one wants to be involved in a catastrophic fire, but in the event that disaster strikes, they will mitigate damage and potentially save lives. Even if you never fall victim to a fire, simply having the safety measure installed will make you sleep easier at night knowing that you’re ready.

Fires are more common than you might think

According to statistics released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 2013, the most recent year data was available, there were 380,300 residential building fires resulting in 2,755 deaths, 12,450 injuries, and over $6 billion in damages. While a fire in your home isn’t likely, it’s a very real possibility. And it’s a good idea to be prepared.

Residential fire sprinklers are inexpensive

You might assume that fire sprinklers are expensive because they’re typically seen in commercial facilities, but this is simply not the case. On average, it costs just $1.50 per square foot to install sprinklers in a new home during construction, which is usually less than the expense of carpet installation. Why not invest in something that will protect you and your assets for years to come?

Interested in learning more about installing fire sprinklers in your home?

We hope you’ve learned something useful about the benefits and economic reality of installing this home safety feature. At LifeSafety Management we offer fire sprinkler design, installation, and other safety advisory services. If you’re interested in learning more about this technology or other measures to protect your home in the event of a fire, feel free to reach out to our team today at (800) 330-1158 or through our online contact form.

Proper Extinguisher Placement for a Variety of Different Hazards

Know the details about when and where your business needs prominently displayed fire extinguishers.

Fire extinguishers are the first line of defense in the case of a sudden fire, helping to contain a blaze before fire personnel can arrive on the scene. In this blog we’ll be highlighting a few common examples of extinguisher placement in a variety of hazardous environments. Keep in mind that this list is not all encompassing, and if you have any questions about extinguisher placement for your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to LifeSafety Management today.

Gas stations: fuel processing and storage of flammable materials

Just over 5,000 fires and explosions occurred at public gas stations each year from 2004-2008. This means that on average, one out of every 13 stations experienced a fire during this time period. The need to comply with code is pretty obvious.

In the state of Florida, our primary regulatory guidelines and agencies are the Florida Fire Prevention Code (FFPC) and the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). Section 30A of the NFPA specifically rates a gas station as an extra high hazard that requires a minimum extinguisher rating of 40BC.

Auto repair centers with flammable liquid storage

Because many auto repair centers store flammable liquids, these establishments must also abide by strict guidelines from the NFPA 10, where the maximum distance one would have to travel to access a fire extinguisher is 50 feet.

General office hazards

Gas stations and other businesses with obviously flammable inventory aren’t the only candidates for fire safety, however. Everyday office environments pose risks that require the right fire extinguisher and proper placement. For examples:

  • IT server rooms – Because of the sensitive equipment found in IT server rooms, clean agent extinguishers that won’t destroy the servers are required. These units are “electrically nonconductive,” and therefore do not leave any type of residue after evaporation.
  • Break rooms – Because of the risk of fire in break rooms with toaster ovens or microwaves, 2A10BC ABC dry chemical extinguishers, which can be used on Class A, B, or C fires, are the right equipment.

Airports: fuel processing and storage of flammable liquids

Similar to service stations, the fuel processing and storage of flammable liquids at airports can be extremely dangerous. For this reason, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outlines a variety of requirements in accordance with those outlined in NFPA 10, to help promote safety for airline passengers and employees:

  • Fire extinguishers are required on all aircraft fuel-servicing carts or vehicles.
  • Each aircraft fuel-servicing tank vehicle must have two fire extinguishers.

o One must be physically mounted on the side of the vehicle

o Both extinguishers must have a rating of at least 20-B:C

  • Hydrant fuel-servicing carts or vehicles must have one fire extinguisher with a rating of 20-B:C, at a minimum.

Machine shops that deal with burning metals

According to NPFA 10, fires in machine shops that deal with burning metals fall into Class D, because they could occur due to the presence of combustible materials such as titanium, zirconium, magnesium, lithium, sodium, and potassium. In these instances, Class D fire extinguishers must be present no more than 75 feet from the hazard.

Unclear about fire extinguisher placement in your business?

If you’re unclear about the type of fire extinguisher you may need at your Florida business, it’s important to keep in mind that the 2A10BC fire extinguisher is the minimum for all municipalities in Florida except Boca Raton, where the minimum is 4A60BC.

But keep in mind: depending on the type of business that you operate, you could fall into one of the above examples where you have a unique hazardous environment that needs different fire protection. If you have any questions about the NPFA 10 or the Florida Fire Prevention Code, the professionals at LifeSafety Management would be happy to help. We offer a free commercial security consultation to ensure that you’re staying in compliance with both state and national regulations. To contact our team of fire safety experts, call us today at (800) 330-1158 or reach us via our online contact form.

Is Your Building Protected by UL/ETL Certification or an FM Placard?

Learn the importance of making sure that your building is protected by these third-party safety organizations.

As a building owner, the safety of your structure and the contents within it are of the utmost importance. One way to protect your building is to install fire and alarm monitoring equipment that communicates with a central station which can provide around-the-clock monitoring and reporting services.

These central monitoring companies must comply with the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code, which requires that they are placarded or certified by a third-party organization, such as FM Approvals, UL or ETL.

What’s the difference between FM placarded and UL or ETL certified?

FM Placarded:

An FM Placard shows that your building’s fire alarm system has been tested, installed, monitored, and maintained based on NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code requirements.

If you’re a central station company, this certification can help to differentiate your offerings from other suppliers, while also benefiting from the brand recognition attached to the FM placard.

UL/ETL Certified:

Both UL and ETL are referred to as Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTL). These labs exist to offer independent quality and safety certifications on various products. UL actually develops the standards and tests to them, while ETL tests using UL standards.

The difference between UL and ETL really comes down to a preference as to which laboratory provides you with the best service and responsiveness. When you need a product tested, you want to work with a lab that will keep your best interests in mind, and provide you with greater efficiency throughout the testing process.

How can your building benefit from being UL/ETL certified or FM placarded?

First of all, if your building handles any type of hazardous materials, it must be inspected and certified by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). One of OSHA’s requirements is that your fire equipment be certified by a third party organization such as FM Approvals, UL or ETL.

Being UL or ETL certified or FM placarded ensures that your building is protected in the event of a fire or other accident. These certifications verify that, as a building owner, you are doing all you can in terms of promoting safety within your establishment.

Interested in learning more about UL/ETL certifications or FM placards?

If you’re looking to learn more about the benefits of UL and ETL certifications or FM placards, don’t hesitate to contact LifeSafety Management today. We’re a fully licensed inspector that can come out to your building and ensure that your fire safety system has been properly maintained and approved in accordance with the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code requirements. To speak with one of our fire safety experts, give us a call today at (800) 330-1158 or fill out our online contact form.