Emergency Communication Outpacing Fire

In my last post, I talked about some of the emerging trends in the fire alarm industry.  If you look at the history of the industry, some very high profile fire events in the last century led to our current code-driven, failsafe system requirements.  These systems must be inspected regularly to ensure proper operation.  In fact, some have said that the threat of a Fire is a non-issue in commercial buildings due to all of the emphasis that’s been placed on fire prevention, protective building materials and rapid detection.

In recent years, it’s not fire but the increase of high-profile tragedies involving severe weather, bombings, and active shooters that are attracting the attention of the media and broader public.  Because of this, greater focus has been placed on the adoption of Emergency Communication Systems (ECS) across a number of markets.  Recent market reports project double-digit annual growth for the ECS market, far greater than the growth of the Fire Alarm industry.  Some verticals such as Military / Government are leaders in adoption, with Education and Healthcare following closely.  Other public gathering places such as stadiums and places of worship are starting to develop their respective ECS plans.

A report by MarketsandMarkets, “Mass Notification Market – Global Advancements, Market Forecasts and Analysis (2013 – 2018)” estimates the global mass notification market will grow from $2.41 billion in 2013 to $6.41 billion in 2018 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 21.6% during that time. In this report, Honeywell, which includes its endorsed brands, is named as a major player in the mass notification (a.k.a. emergency communication) market.

Although these numbers are big, I can’t see any reason for them to be wrong. On the contrary, I wouldn’t be surprised if these numbers turn out to be low. As the media continues to place a strong focus on non-fire tragedies, pressures will continue to mount for public places to have a means of communicating with occupants during emergencies.

 

 

About the Author:
Samir Jain is the Director of Strategic Marketing for Honeywell Fire Systems. In this role, Samir leads the development of the company strategy and oversees the product marketing group.​​​

Markets and Technology: What’s Hot, What’s Not

The construction market continued its post-recession recovery in 2013.  So what can we expect in 2014?  From the data I’ve seen, nonresidential markets will see 7-10% growth in new construction starts, versus the 2-3% for 2013.  Looking at specific verticals:

  • Education is still a big market, but it’s not growing at the same rate as in the past few years
  • ​​The government shutdown put a halt to a lot of federal government facilities spending, and the Affordable Care Act is causing some uncertainty in health-care construction
  • Vacancy rates for office space and hotels are steadily decreasing, which means more spending on new construction for these markets
  • As for retail, we’re seeing the same trends as last year where your dollar stores and big-box discount stores continue to grow

Customers are becoming more sophisticated when purchasing systems.  Nowadays, end users expect to find online resources to allow them to research a product before buying.  Certainly the manufacturers have to have easy-to-navigate and content-rich websites, but so do the dealers and integrators that are selling and installing this equipment.

One of the really fascinating trends is what some have dubbed the “Apple effect”.  Many a journalist has written about how Apple has productized so many disruptive, breakthrough technologies.  They also share a common theme: their focus on human factors; that is, their ability to focus on the entire customer experience, from researching a product, to buying it, installing it, and maintaining / upgrading it.  Customers want an Apple-like experience with all of their products, including their fire alarm systems.  So you’ll see more emphasis on products that are easier to install, easier to program, etc.

The one knock against Apple is the reason that Google / Android does well.  Apple has a closed (or proprietary) system, vs. Android’s open (or non-proprietary) system.  Building owners are wary of being held captive by a system that can only be serviced by a highly specialized firm.  As with anyone, they want choices.  So you’re starting to see more and more building specs that call for a non-proprietary system.

The final trend is around integration.  Many users want an integrated system, one that incorporates fire, security, HVAC, and other controls.  Some large manufacturers have reorganized their corporations to be better aligned for this.  All of this will lead fire systems to do more than just detect Fire.  All of which I’ll be discussing in my next post!

 

About the Author:
Samir Jain is the Director of Strategic Marketing for Honeywell Fire Systems. In this role, Samir leads the development of the company strategy and oversees the product marketing group.​​​

 

Selling IP/Cellular Reporting – Too Good to be True?

I’ve spoken to a number of dealers over the past few years for case studies, press releases and articles on various communication technologies used for fire alarm reporting, most notably IP and Cellular (GSM). And it seems like everyone I interviewed that used IP and cellular have had high praise for these new technologies. But if these new fire alarm communicators are so great, why aren’t they flying off the shelves?

According to Justin MacDaniel of ASG S​​​ecurity’s Wilmington, NC, branch, the primary barrier here is a “reluctance to change” on the part of end users. END USERS?? I thought Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) were the ones we had to sell on the merit of these new technologies? And I thought dealers were faced with a learning curve that scared some off from trying out IP or GSM on a job.

MacDaniel agreed gaining AHJ acce​ptance was difficult, when IP and cellular communicators were first born within the fire alarm industry – we’re talking six or more years ago. Today it’s about the sale, not the acceptance, of these new communicators.

“I would say the only halt would be customers’ willingness to pay for the upfront cost of the product,” exclaimed MacDaniel. “The product and savings to the customer are often perceived as ‘too good to be true,’ leaving them waiting for the catch.”

Wenceslao R. Baez of Fire Safe, Inc., an integrator serving Puerto Rico, agrees that end users are uneducated on the benefits of newer communication methods and therefore, unwilling to pay more upfront. He believes sales of IP and cellular communicators in his market have remained flat over the past two years and attributes this to a lack of education.

“Since IP/cellular communication is not required, they [end users] decide to save the money,” said Baez. “Well educated end users tend to accept new technologies, as long as it demonstrates to be cost effective.”

Many other dealers I’ve interviewed have echoed these comments, underlining the importance of being able to clearly demonstrate the cost-savings that can be had, following the expense of a fire alarm communication upgrade.

What’s more interesting is it appears those dealers with a strong track record of IP/cellular communicator sales are not only approaching their existing customer base. These entrepreneurs have created such a strong value proposition for dropping phone lines and upgrading to newer reporting methods, they are using this information to get in the door with new accounts – starting with the upgrade, then monitoring and eventually taking over the whole test and service contract for a new customer.

Hmm, sneaky or smart? Whatever you believe, be sure your customers know you set them up with the best fire alarm reporting method to fit their needs – before another dealer tries to change their mind.

 

About the Author:
Beth Welch is the Manager of Public Relations for Honeywell Fire Systems. For a decade, she has strived to raise awareness of new technologies, industry trends and information, for the benefit of engineers, integrators and end users.

Building Business Socially: An Easy Peasy, How-To Guide

Social media has become a seemingly unstoppable force in the last several years. From our personal lives to our professional careers, marketing strategy and day-to-day business operations, sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter now play a huge role in most corners of our lives.

The influence of social media in the business world is constantly growing, even among smaller organizations. In fact, 92 percent of small businesses say social media is an effective marketing technology tool, according to a 2013 survey by e-Strategy Trends. Consumers have come to expect businesses of all types to have a social media presence. As a fire alarm dealer, now is the ideal time to leverage the power of social to reach your customers like never before.

However, don’t feel you need to dive into the world of social media. Try dipping your toe into the water first. There are hundreds of social media sites out there – some more popular and more fitting for business than others. We’re going to take a look at three of the top sites often used for small business: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Whether you’re familiar with these sites or not, we’ll slowly wade into this subject, starting with an overview of each. In future posts, we’ll slowly uncover how you can utilize Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the benefit of your business.

 

Facebook

According to Mashable, 67 percent of adults online use Facebook, proving that social media isn’t just for kids. And it’s not just individuals who have Facebook pages; companies are also a major part of the site. Any company, large or small, can create a Facebook page, which includes company information, contact details, photos, and more. Customers and prospects can find your company on Facebook, and anyone who “likes” your page will receive status updates from you in their news feed. This site is more open to businesses sharing both professional and fun, personal information, with the goal of creating a closer bond with customers. We’ll explore more on Facebook in future posts.

 

LinkedIn

This site is all about career networking and industry news. Businesses can create a company page on LinkedIn, which usually contains general information, press releases and sometimes even job opportunities. You can check out Fire-Lite’s LinkedIn company page as an example. Other LinkedIn members can “follow” your business, which means they’ll see any updates posted by your company on their homepage’s news feed. With more than 200 million members, LinkedIn is a great way to connect with people within your industry—engineers, end users and potential employees.


Twitter

Twitter is a website where members (including individuals and companies) share information in posts of 140 characters or less, called “tweets.” Any company can create a Twitter profile to publish news items, industry trends, interesting factoids, brief observations and more. For example, you can follow us on Twitter @FireLiteAlarms. Other users can “follow” your company to read your tweets and can even “retweet” a tweet to share it with their own followers. In this way, tweets can move quickly through Twitter, reaching incredible numbers of people.

Over time, you can grow your social media audience by advertising your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presence on your website and business cards. Encourage your existing customers to follow you on each site to help get the word out. Before long, you’ll add followers and start seeing the benefits that these sites hold for your business.

 

Check out Fire-Lite Alarms on these social media sites: Twitter and LinkedIn

 

 

About the Author:
Beth Welch is the Manager of Public Relations for Honeywell Fire Systems. For a decade, she has strived to raise awareness of new technologies, industry trends and information, for the benefit of engineers, integrators and end users.

It’s Not Just High-Rise Buildings (Part 2)

“What really is an Emergency Communication System (ECS)?” and “How do I get started?” are also common questions.  A good place to begin is by understanding the codes that are in place. NFPA 101 (Life Safety Code) and building codes provide applications where voice evacuation is required. NFPA 72 (National Fire Alarm and Signaling) – Chapter 24 goes beyond voice evacuation and into detail to describe Emergency Communication Systems. The code breaks ECS into the following layers: In-Building ECS, Wide-Area Mass Notification System (MNS), Distributed Recipient MNS, and Broadcast Radio/TV. Some or all of these layers are implemented based on the needs of the facility. For Government/Military applications, the Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) prescribes the solution for these installations.
The next step is to evaluate the risks. This is commonly referred to as a risk analysis or risk assessment. The risk analysis helps you understand what the risks are to the facility and helps guide you toward a solution to mitigate the risks. There are a number of stakeholders involved and it should be performed and/or reviewed by a professional experienced in this area. Stakeholders should include the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), Facility Manager, Fire Protection Design Professionals, and so on. The outcome of the risk analysis determines the appropriate layers and the type of ECS solutions to implement.

Once you have had a chance to review the codes and evaluating risks in more detail, it’s time to identify ECS opportunities in your area. As you think about what ECS really is and the recent events around the world, you will realize that It’s Not Just High-Rise Buildings.

Check out the “How to Conduct a Risk Analysis” Webinar on-demand for more guidance.

 

 

About the Author:
Richard Conner is the Director of Marketing for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power. Richard joined Honeywell in 2002 and has over 15 years of experience in the fire alarm industry in Marketing, Engineering, and Product Support positions. Richard is responsible for developing brand strategy and marketing programs for all brands.

Who Moved my End of Line Resistor?

When upgrading a Notification Appliance Circuit (NAC) power supply on a retrofit job, one of the key challenges installers might come across is locating the End of line (EOL) resistors. Many hours can be spent searching for these EOL resistors if they were not properly documented by the original installer. Also, some installations might be several years old and the documentation might not even be existent anymore. Therefore, the technician could potentially spend hours physically removing each device on every NAC circuit until the EOL resistor is found. Only then can they be replaced with the appropriate value that is required by the new power supply being installed. Locating EOL resistors on retrofit installations can result in several hours of labor charges dependent on the amount of devices as well as the accessibility of each device. This can result in loss of revenue and extended delays in the project.

Alternatively, the Honeywell Power HPFF8 and HPFF12 NAC extender power supplies were designed specifically to meet the needs of retrofit installations. These power supplies help eliminate hours spent locating each EOL resistor on a retrofit job by allowing the installer to “program” the HPFF8 or HPFF12 to match a value that is already present on a circuit. The installer would simply have to measure an existing NAC circuit with an ohm meter to determine the current value. Once the existing value is determined, the power supply can be programmed to supervise each circuit without any additional time spent physically removing each device. This feature can save countless labor hours and allow installers to finish a project on time. For retrofit installations, Honeywell Power’s HPFF8 and HPFF12 power supplies help keep your installations quick and profitable.

For more information visit:

http://www.honeywellpower.com/fire-hpff8.html

http://www.honeywellpower.com/fire-hpff12.html

 

About the Author:
Ken Gentile is a Product Manager for Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power. Using his more than 15 years of marketing and engineering experience, Ken’s primary focus lies in the development of new products.

 

 

It’s Not Just High-Rise Buildings (Part 1)

In the big city, it’s common to hear “I don’t do high-rises” by fire & security dealers when Emergency Communication Systems (ECS) are mentioned. Typically voice evacuation, a component of ECS, is required based on the specified occupancy of a building and size (as determined by the number of stories). However, the common misconception is: we can’t offer ECS if it is not required by code. Although we work in a highly regulated and code driven industry, there are emerging life safety aspects that aren’t necessarily prescribed by code. In this case, we have the opportunity to help building owners and facility managers understand how emergency communication systems can benefit them and the occupants.

What many are unaware of is that building owners and facility managers are already conscious of the need. With all of the tragic events happening around the world, facility managers are responding regardless if the solution is in code or not. They may be taking steps to implement an emergency response plan, add more security (“hardening the building”), and maybe utilizing the intercom system for emergencies. Fire and life safety code experts will even say that the codes are a minimum standard and the facility manager should implement a solution that offers the highest level of life safety for a reasonable cost. The bottom line is facility managers are looking for solutions and fire and security dealers have the answer. Fire and life safety systems have the infrastructure, required supervision, survivability (as expected in life safety systems), and the functionality for an immediate and effective response.

 

 

About the Author:
Richard Conner is the Director of Marketing for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power. Richard joined Honeywell in 2002 and has over 15 years of experience in the fire alarm industry in Marketing, Engineering, and Product Support positions. Richard is responsible for developing brand strategy and marketing programs for all brands.

Industry Forecast: 2014 a Year of Growth

Let’s all get ready to leave the last few years in the dust.

As we prepare for the year ahead, several factors and trends are influencing the fire alarm industry that promise to make 2014 a year of growth and forward momentum. While commercial construction has been gradually stabilizing over the last several years, 2014 is predicted to yield growth in multiple segments. As economic uncertainty wanes and the U.S. GDP is bolstered, non-residential construction projects are expected to increase between 7 and 9 percent this year—primarily in retail, hospitality, education and healthcare—with double-digit growth expected in commercial and multi-family dwelling construction.

This flurry of construction will directly impact the fire alarm industry, thanks in part to the following emerging trends:

New emergency communication demands. Emergency communication is becoming a huge driver of growth for the fire alarm industry. These systems go beyond fire detection to encompass any emergency, such as severe weather, harmful gas, terrorism and active shooters. Emergency communication systems are being added to both new construction and existing buildings where a fire alarm system already exists. The technology is expected to experience the most progress in retail, office, hospitality, education and healthcare facilities—all of which will see construction growth in 2014.

Advanced detection requirements. A growing number of states and municipalities are adopting stricter advanced detection requirements for fire alarm systems. For example, recent code changes are requiring many buildings to have carbon monoxide detection, along with traditional smoke detection, in a much broader range of applications. These new requirements are primarily affecting the hospitality, education, multi-family and healthcare industries, and will help to strengthen the fire alarm industry this year and beyond.

Modern central station communications. Another driver of the fire alarm industry growth this year will be the need for many facilities to modernize their central station communications. As traditional POTS lines are phased out, central stations are required to provide monitoring through IP or cellular lines. These alternative communication methods are helping to grow this industry segment as a whole, which in turn helps to increase fire and life safety sales.

While these new growth opportunities come with their own challenges and learning curves, they represent a substantial opportunity for years into the future. Let’s embrace the possibilities in 2014 and beyond.

To request more information on any of the above technologies,contact us​.

 

About the Author:
Dave Pakech is the Vice President of Sales for Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power. He joined Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power in 2008 and brings over 20 years of Security Industry experience to both brands.​