IBC & OSHPD are Shaking Things Up

The IBC (International Building Code) is a model building code that was developed by the ICC (International Code Council) and has been adopted mostly in the United States. OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development) monitors the construction, renovation, and seismic safety of hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in California. What does the IBC and OSHPD have in common? They are really “shaking things up” with seismic requirements for critical equipment installed in commercial buildings.

The IBC and OSHPD have requirements for critical equipment (such as fire alarm systems) to continue functioning after a seismic event (IBC is the actual building code requirement). IBC requires that critical systems and components must not only maintain structural integrity during an earthquake, but also remain operational and continue to carry out their primary functions (per 2009 IBC 1708.4 and 2006 IBC 1708.5).

Until recently, the requirements were very similar. They required full operation of the equipment after a shake test at Sds=1.9g. This corresponded with the ground acceleration (measure of earthquake acceleration on the ground) for most areas in the world. OSHPD is now requiring the equipment to withstand a shake test at a higher Sds=2.5g for all “essential” facilities specifically in California. This corresponds with the higher ground acceleration for California. Facilities classified as “essential” are hospitals, police stations, fire stations and medical structures, emergency shelters, public utility facilities, & critical government agencies.

Although IBC is adopted mainly in the U.S. and OSHPD governs healthcare facilities in California, earthquakes are not limited to the U.S. or the State of California. Seismic events can take place on a daily basis throughout world! Wherever your application is, Fire-Lite Alarms has made it possible for you and your customers to comply with seismic requirements of IBC & OSHPD and eliminate testing the equipment on a project by project basis. Take a moment to view our Seismic page to learn more about seismic requirements and how our products comply.



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.

Jumping Into a New Market: What Role Do Electrical Contractors Play in Life Safety?

The fire alarm industry is a dynamic one, constantly changing and evolving as new technology is introduced, additional legislation is passed and unique challenges emerge.

As Dave Pakech discussed in a recent blog, one big change has arrived in the form of electrical contractors who are entering the fire alarm market in growing numbers. Many electrical contractors have already seen the benefits of incorporating fire alarms into their business model, while others remain hesitant. For those who haven’t yet jumped into this new market, now is the time to consider it — and to ask yourself an important question: What role do I play in life safety?

In any new construction, an electrical contractor must be involved in the installation of power distribution, lighting, data communications and fire alarm equipment. By fully embracing the fire alarm aspect of the job, you open a wealth of new opportunities for cost savings and recurring revenue. On top of that, you’ll know that you’re doing important work by ensuring each building meets high life safety standards, now and for years to come.

Let’s take a closer look at an electrical contractor’s role in life safety. The way I see it, you can choose from four different levels of involvement in the fire alarm market:

  • Offer no fire alarm bid at all. This is a very small group these days. Most electrical contractors can’t walk away from the responsibility of ensuring, one way or another, that the fire alarm is installed and working properly.
  • Carry a sub-contractor to bid on the project. Here, the electrical contractor partners with a subcontractor to complete the entire fire alarm portion of the install. In this “smarts and parts” set-up, the subcontractor buys any necessary materials.
  • Bid on a portion of the job yourself. In this case, the electrical contractor bids on one or several aspects of the job, for example, installation of the fire alarm control panel, devices and wiring only. Here, the fire alarm distributor provides the materials, and a third-party subcontractor is used for submittals, programming and testing of the system.
  • Bid on the installation of the entire fire alarm system. A growing number of contractors are bidding on entire installations, including submittals, the control panel, peripheral devices, backboxes, terminations, programming, the final test and anything else the project requires. In this case, the fire alarm distributor provides the materials.

Not surprisingly, a growing number of electrical contractors are opting to take care of the entire fire alarm system install. For those willing to invest the time and effort needed to learn this part of the business, adding fire alarms to their service offering helps grow profit margins, now and in the future. I urge you to not overlook the more profitable parts of the business. Consider the savings you could enjoy by not hiring a subcontractor and taking the job from wiring through programming and testing to completion. In addition, electrical contractors who provide fire alarm services also stand to create recurring revenue in existing buildings and through fire alarm monitoring opportunities.

In the electrical contractor world, it’s time to rethink the fire alarm side of the business. This is your chance to create a new revenue stream and diversify your skillset at the same time. There will always be demand for fire alarm systems, because they ensure the well being of the people in a building. So, now is the time to ask yourself: What role do I play in life safety?

For more information, stay tuned for my upcoming blog posts on fire alarm training programs and recurring revenue opportunities.


About the Author:
Steve McCurdy is Director of Business Development at Fire-Lite Alarms by Honeywell.​

Smart Hires Lead to Less Fires: Top 4 Actions to Take Before Hiring New Employees

Whether a newly formed start up or a publicly traded giant, hiring new employees is critical to the growth and success of any business.

Even more important, is making the RIGHT hire.

A single bad hire can cost a company more than several, tens of thousands of dollars!

Here are the Top 4 Things every company should do before making a new hire:

1. Background Check—Companies not performing background checks are leaving themselves open to a wide range of liabilities.  Negligent hiring lawsuits continue to be on the rise and if your new hire injures someone while on the job and due diligence wasn’t completed in the form of a background check, you can be held accountable and sued.  While some may argue that performing a background check can be costly, the cost of a negligent hiring lawsuit can far outweigh that of any background check.  These checks typically cover drug screening, criminal records, credit history, and driving records, and are more than worth it to minimize the risk of any unforeseen lawsuit.

2. Confirm Industry Credentials— Most background checks will confirm prior employment claims, however it is also important to get a few industry references.  Ask the candidate for 3-4 professional references who can confirm the candidate’s ability to perform, character and work ethic.  Be sure to find out the relationship of the reference to the candidate, how long they have known each other and any prior successes that would prove helpful in the role they are currently being interviewed for.

3. Make sure you can afford it— While most established companies understand the true cost of a new hire, many companies in their infancy can greatly underestimate the actual cost of hiring.  On average, a new hire costs roughly 40% more than their base pay. The cost of taxes, health insurance, workers’ compensation and paid vacation add up quickly.  And this is just the fixed expenses.  What about the time it takes to also train the new employee?  Before venturing down the hiring road, make sure you are prepared for the true cost associated with a new hire.

4. Culturally, how will this new employee fit in?—You hear it all the time in sports, ‘We’ve got a great clubhouse’… ‘so much chemistry between the group’ and every other horrible sports cliché. Great teams come together and unite in a way that brings out everyone’s best attributes.  Your staff is no different.  You and your employees have created a culture and it is important to think about how a new hire will affect this.




About the Author:
Ryan Hudson is the Vice President of Business Development for Recruitment Services at JBN Consultingand for the industry leading Job Board and Resume Database at www.FireandSecurityJobs.net.

Cloning Similar Jobs in PS-Tools – A Cookie Cutter Time Saver

Sooooo, last fall in a Fire-Lite Training Academy on Long Island, I had a student ask me to explain how someone would use the template function in PS-tools.  Many of you have cookie cutter installs, you know, the donut shop or that restaurant that you can find in any town…  I really didn’t have a good answer so I promised my students that I would send them the answer when I got back to the office.  I found this great little program that turns screen capture into video so here’s my answer below. Let me know if you like it and I’ll do what trainers do…..I’ll make more.

​​Check out this two-minute video on Fire-Lite’s Training Videos page or on our YouTube Channel here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp8w99lO9BI&list=UULU8t8i2IPO7_wjLJ2okCHA ​


About the Author:
Mike Breault is a Fire-Lite Alarms Program​ming and I​​nstallation Trainer and SME.  He joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2007 and has worked for Honeywell for over 11 years.

Communication is Key to Saving Lives in High-Rise Building Fires

This blog is a follow-up to last week’s post, NYCHigh-Rise Fire Prompts Calls for Stronger Fire Safety Legislation, by Tom Von Essen, a former New York Fire Department commissioner.

In the two months following a deadly Hell’s Kitchen high-rise apartment fire, calls have steadily increased for improved fire safety legislation in New York City’s towering residential buildings. The horrible death of one man, and the hospitalization of his partner, seems to have mobilized an entire city to action; however, what is the best way to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again?

The beauty of modern technology is that there are countless solutions available to building owners that could help first responders better communicate with residents during an emergency. The key will be identifying the systems that are best-suited for this all-important task.

This is a huge problem for New York City. People have died and been seriously injured simply because there is a lack of regulation around residential high-rises. In many emergencies, residents don’t know what to do: shelter in their apartment? Evacuate via a stairwell? Depending on the nature of the fire (or, other emergency, such as a tornado or terrorist threat), the best course of action may vary. That’s why first responders must have a way to effectively communicate with everyone in a building — and I do mean everyone.

Strong notification systems are especially necessary for communicating to the most vulnerable members of our society, including young children, the elderly and those who with limited mobility. Some of these individuals may have very limited resources and, in many situations, aren’t able to save themselves. The more information we can give these populations to help themselves during emergencies, the better.

If new legislation does get passed, requiring building owners to install an emergency communication system, there will be a lot of businesses touting their solution as the best option. So, let’s take a closer look at how some of the technology available might perform in a high-rise, residential setting:

Paging system: One- or two-way paging is a good first step. This will enable, for example, fire fighters to notify residents about the location of a fire and advise them to stay in their apartments. However, your average PA system contains no redundant or survivable design qualities, so when the system’s backbone or devices are damaged, the system simply doesn’t work.

Digital signage: There are many options on the market for wall-mounted communication devices, many of which feature speakers, digital text and flashing strobes. These displays could be useful on the lobby of each floor and/or by stairwell entrances, to quickly tell residents (and other people in the building) what to do in an emergency. Strobes and other visual communication are especially helpful for deaf residents.

Social media integration: A building’s communication technology could be integrated with social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook, to provide emergency updates in real-time. While this is a useful tool in some cases, it shouldn’t be a primary means of communicating with people in the event of an emergency. However, social media integration provides fantastic redundancy in cases where other systems, such as one-way paging systems or phone lines, fail.

Fire alarm system with voice capabilities: In my experience, a fire alarm system with voice capabilities is going to be a building owner’s best bet for emergency communication. This technology is built around a backbone that is designed to survive for a period during a fire and still operate in intense heat. With this type of system, residents can be notified of a fire or other emergency with alarms and strobes; then, first responders can communicate with them using speakers installed in each apartment or floor lobby.

To fully solve the problem facing New York’s high-rise residences, first responders need not one, not two, but three or four effective ways to “talk to” people inside a building. A winning solution would bring all of these technology pieces together.

Of course, there is a cost involved. And, if new legislation requires the installation of communication technology in every high-rise residence, the building owner will be responsible. Consider the average cost of a system, and divide that by the number of residents in a given building; which might be into the hundreds. Then divide that by the number of days the system will be in service before in needs to be updated. The resulting price is less than a penny per person per day. And that’s the cost of a life.

I think this legislation is timely and very important. I urge those advocating for the new legislation, as well as any legislators who get involved, to do their research on the available technology. Together, we can find the right system that will work effectively to make sure tragic incidents like the fire death in Hell’s Kitchen never happen again.


About the Author:
John Stofa has worked in the fire alarm and fire sprinkler industry for more than 20 years and is NICET certified. He joined Honeywell Fire Systems (HFS) in 2006 for which he currently serves as its Municipal Account Manager. John was a volunteer/call firefighter in the States of New York, Connecticut and Vermont and has been a professional EMS provider in New York State for 10 years. John holds a Bachelors degree in Fire Science, an Associate degree in Fire Protection Technology and is currently studying Fire Protection Engineering.