Dialing-in a New Central Monitoring Station

What information is needed to program a fire alarm control panel (FACP) to a new central station?

The first piece of information that is needed is the model of the fire panel.  This is located on the front door of the fire alarm control panel box. This will aide in navigating through the menu structure to enter your new central station information. All of our product manuals are located online if you need a refresher on dialer programming, located at http://www.firelite.com/en-US/Pages/Category.aspx?cat=HLS-FIRELITE&category=Products).

Now that you know how to program, what information do you need to make the change?

The central station needs to provide you with the new account number, two phone numbers to dial and reporting format to correctly dial and send signals to their receivers. It is good practice to know whether the phones lines connected to the FACP need to dial a prefix to dial out (examples include dialing a 1, or a 9 to get an outside line), or if they are some type of VOIP, Cable or DSL lines as they may cause issues with communicating correctly. Contacting their local phone service provider may help aide in troubleshooting communication issues.

For troubleshooting help for our FACPs, see our online videos on YouTube and the dialer programming video is located at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7e-Gudojhc

 

About the Authors
Jason Knowlton is a NICET Level II Technical Support Team Leader for Honeywell Fire Systems. He has over 12 years of experience in technical support of fire alarm systems and is the technical lead for all IP based Honeywell fire products and solutions.

Daniel Gellatly is a NICET Level 1 Technical Support for Honeywell Fire Systems. He has 10 years of experience in technical support of fire alarm control panels includes software support  for upload/download on all Fire-Lite products.

What You Need to Know About Auto-Programming New Devices

Greetings from “Big Sky” country!
During this week’s Fire-Lite Academy in Montana, an attendee asked a question that comes up quite frequently in class.

The question was “when adding detectors and modules to an existing addressable system, and an “Auto-program” is performed, will it affect any of the devices that were already programmed in the system?”

The answer is NO! The Auto-program function is designed to identify and save only those devices that are not currently in memory. All previously programmed devices are left intact.

Be aware that if a previously installed device is not present during the Auto-program (for instance, a detector head that was removed for cleaning), Auto-program will report the missing device and ask the programmer if it should be removed from memory.

About the Author
Tom Rosa oversees all Fire-Lite Alarms training programs as a Training Supervisor for Honeywell Fire Systems. With more than a decade of experience as a Fire-Lite trainer and the support of a strong team of experienced, NICET-certified trainers, Tom guides the content and methods by which the company educates Fire-Lite users throughout the United States and Caribbean.

Sustaining Emergency Preparedness in the Face of Shrinking Budgets

Nationwide, emergency preparedness is continuing to feel the pinch of ever-shrinking resources. Meanwhile, the need to prepare for extreme weather events, terrorist attacks and other threats is greater than ever. With limited funds, fewer employees and less time, how can organizations sustain their emergency preparedness programs?

Dwindling Funds

Federal funding for emergency preparedness has experienced major cuts over the last several years. Consider this: In fiscal year 2010, Congress gave FEMA $3 billion for preparedness grants; in FY 2012, the amount decreased by more than half to $1.35 billion.

Such cutbacks have a ripple effect, forcing organizations and agencies to scale back their emergency preparedness efforts in ways that can have significant consequences during a disaster. For many, the ability to effectively deal with an emergency depends on a continuous cycle of planning, training and exercises.

Making Preparedness a Priority

Plagued by shrinking budgets, there’s a nationwide trend of “doing more with less.” Technology, such as emergency sirens and fire alarm systems, can serve as a force multiplier during certain incidents. Meanwhile, for many professionals tasked with emergency preparedness, the classic “plan-train-exercise” guideline is still the goal, regardless of limited resources.

Bowman Olds, an emergency operations expert in Washington, D.C., advocates the plan-train-exercise formula and now combines it with greater community outreach.

“It’s the old three-legged stool,” he said. “Plan-train-exercise. Fail to do one, and the stool falls over. [And I] add to that annual Personal Preparedness Fairs, which involve reps from both the public and private sector.”

Jim Tritten, who deals with emergency management and workplace safety at the University of Washington Valley Medical Center, is facing such challenges.

“I have to second the idea that exercising is the most important,” he said. “Decreases in [federal] grant money is a big hurdle that limits my ability to get engagement from staff. The interest is there, but when I conduct an exercise that impacts normal operations, there is tremendous push-back. This could be mitigated through extra staffing, but there isn’t any way to pay for that staff time or backfill.”

Banding Together

One interesting solution is to pool resources wherever possible – a trend that has gained popularity in several communities nationwide.

Clayton Spangenberg is vice president and COO at SLS Enterprises, which consults with federal, state and local governments. The former operations specialist for FEMA agrees we have entered an era of dwindling resources. In the past few years, he has encountered “regionalization” while doing exercises for the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport, Pa.

“In Pennsylvania, each village had its own emergency operations center (EOC), generally staffed by enough people to man one shift, even using volunteers, even though there was a county emergency operations center operating,” Spangenberg said. “During recent years, several of the individual entities have banded together to operate in ‘group’ EOCs supporting each of the communities. It has allowed those with a common risk to pool their meager resources, including manpower, and be successful in preparing to protect their citizens collectively.”

Share Your Story

What has been your experience with emergency preparedness? What’s been your biggest hurdle and what piece of advice can you offer other emergency managers?

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.

 

Emergency Messaging – Say the Right Thing!

Last time, we discussed the importance of defining the mission in emergency communications, as well as the role of NFPA 1600 in the Accidental Deployment Offers Huge Emergency Planning Lessons blog. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at how carefully-planned emergency communication system (ECS) messaging can help mitigate threats – and, in many cases, save lives.

Once an organization has completed its risk analysis in compliance with NFPA 1600, all stakeholders should be well aware of the various threats that the facility faces, whether they’re man-made, such as active shooters and vandalism, or natural, such as severe weather and earthquakes. Now that all the probable threats are laid out, how does the organization deal with them?

For schools, corporate campuses, healthcare facilities and more, it’s not enough to simply purchase and install an ECS; they must also be fully prepared to use it. Here are some of the main considerations integrators must keep in mind when working with ECS customers:

Specific messaging. Most leading emergency communications solutions offer eight or more distinct pre-defined messages, as well as the ability to provide live messaging. Most often, officials choose to have the first message be a pre-recorded alert that simply tells people what is happening (e.g. fire, tornado, etc.). This is quickly followed up by a live message that includes additional information, such as what to do, where to go and where exactly the emergency is taking place.

Communication method. A spoken announcement isn’t always the only (or best) way to get the word out about an emergency. It’s all a matter of getting relevant, pinpointed messaging to the right people, at the right time. Also consider whether other media would do the trick, including email, text messaging, TV feeds, social media, etc. Some facilities are even incorporating their computer screens and magic boards into their ECS, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

Tone of messages. The tone of an ECS message can be just as important as its content – especially in loud, crowded environments like college campuses. Keep in mind that male and female voices can convey very different tones; for example, female voices can seem more soothing, which is why they are predominantly used in informative messaging. Male voices, on the other hand, can be interpreted as more stern, so they are more often used for providing direction in an emergency situation.

Message length. Remember to keep most messages short and to the point. In an emergency, people need to know what’s happening and what to do as quickly as possible – especially if panic is setting in. Brevity is especially important if the message needs to repeat in several languages. However, do not forget that all pre-recorded messages should be followed up with a live message offering information and instructions that are specific to the emergency.

Stakeholders. Who is in charge of operating the ECS? Who will be making any live announcements through the system? Are they fully trained on how to use each feature? At each facility, someone needs to be responsible for the system and be prepared to quickly and confidently use it in an emergency situation. Depending on your customer, this might be a fire marshal, police or security official, or even school principal. To become familiar with the system, ensure that each stakeholder trains, tests – and repeats, frequently.

A plan of action. In many facilities, such as a high-rise apartment building, panic during an emergency can be deadly. Consider what information should be provided to residents, students or other occupants before an emergency ever occurs. For example, security officials could let occupants know that, in the event of an emergency, they’ll hear a pre-recorded alert, followed by a live announcement with further instructions. In certain settings, it’s better to only give a pre-recorded message, which allows various officials or stakeholders to take the appropriate subsequent action. This might work well in a school, where teachers follow a predetermined plan following the first ECS message.

As you walk each customer through these considerations, look to NFPA 1600 as a guideline. It will help end users hone in on the messaging that will result in exactly the response they’re looking for. By carefully considering all facets of an ECS, you’ll help your customers better protect their facilities, and minimize panic, injuries and loss of life.

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.

Toolbox for Your Business

Free tools for creating a better experience!

If you didn’t already know, Fire-Lite Alarms offers a bunch of resources to help you have a better experience with the panels, make installations easier, and also get your job up and running faster. When there’s something that will help me get my job done faster and easier, then I’m all in!

Here’s a rough outline of Fire-Lite’s assorted, free tools – all available for download here. We invite you to ask questions & comment on them!

Lite-Specs – Created to help you spec a job and win!
Usually you’re bidding on jobs with a specific panel in mind. You have the details from the site owner/site contractor. Now you need to build a spec that will give you a heads up over your competition. Lite-Spec allows you to create custom specifications for Fire-Lite conventional and addressable control panels. Great tool for Fire Alarm Specifiers, Architects and Design Engineers!

Lite-Configurator – A shopping list for your fire project!
Lite-Configurator takes all the parts and pieces you need for the project, compiles everything, and creates your BOM (bill of materials). The BOM could be used in your submittal or taken to your preferred security dealer so you get everything needed to complete the project. Great tool for Sales, Estimators, Design Engineers and Purchasers!

Battery-Calcs – Calculations Galore!
This is an easy-to-use excel format table that calculates current draws needed for your system. Perfect for job submittals, Fire-Lite’s Battery Calcs tool allows you to select the number of devices and determine the recommended battery to use for that job. Great tool for Design Engineers and Installers!

Lite-Calcs – Don’t overload your panels!
Congrats! You won the job, but now you have to work on the minute details so you don’t blow a panel during the install! Lite-Calcs software helps keep installers and designers exact in their calculations of voltage drops for fire alarm panels. Great tool for Design Engineers and Installers!

Lite-Label – Time to make the labels!
Maybe it’s a little OCD of me but I love labeling things! It makes me feel organized even if it’s just labeled “stuff”. Lite-Label lets you create slide-in labels for annunciators, expanders, CPUs, dress panels, and modules. Don’t forget about older panels too! If a first-responder comes to the building and the existing labels are yellowed or illegible (or even missing!), it’s time to whip up new labels using Lite-Label. Great tool for Design Engineers and Installers!

Our Technical Service Department is available 8 am to 7 pm Eastern to take your calls and assist with the tools too!

Visit the Tools Page on firelite.com for more information and download instructions.

About the Author
Elizabeth Richards is the Manager of Communications for Fire-Lite Alarms, Honeywell Power and Silent Knight. Liz joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2003 and is responsible for the communications, collateral, messaging, and events for all three brands.

Special thanks to Bill Brosig who took the time to explain these tools in language a “non-Fire” person can understand!

About the Contributor:
Bill Brosig is a Product Manager with more than 25 years in the Life Safety business and a NICET IV certification. Bill focuses on the customer experience surrounding current offerings and new product applications.

 

Accidental Deployment Offers Huge Emergency Planning Lessons

Today’s college universities, K-12 campuses, and healthcare and corporate facilities face a complex series of threats, ranging from active shooters to terrorism, severe weather and costly accidents. For any location that includes such large populations as these facilities, an emergency communications plan is an absolute must-have. However, as many universities and other facilities scramble to implement emergency communications protocol, they ignore the big picture. To achieve success, they must first define the mission and perform a full risk analysis.

Too often, because of the fast moving and dynamic situation, stakeholders and officials make uninformed – yet well-intentioned – decisions during tragic events like we’ve seen in the past. Many universities and other facilities have invested in emergency communications systems (ECS) to deal with these types of threats, without first establishing and defining the mission.

A recent event at a U.S. community college illustrates what can happen when a full risk analysis isn’t performed. The school’s Emergency Communication System accidentally sent out an active shooter message to one building on campus. Of course, students and faculty in the building panicked, fled the building and spread the word via text messages and social media. Soon enough, over 3,000 campus occupants were scrambling to flee, causing traffic jams, confusion and fear.

In this case, the problems were three-fold:
1. the initial pre-recorded message sent out was too brief and didn’t offer enough information;
2. the initial message was never followed-up with additional “live” information or directions;
3. teachers, students and staff didn’t know what to do in that type of emergency situation

Risk Analysis
The community college incident is an unfortunate example of why universities and other large campuses require carefully thought-out emergency communications plans. Rather than just jumping into the purchase of an ECS, stakeholders should first perform a risk analysis that includes the following considerations:

• What potential threats exist on your campus? (e.g., active shooters, hurricanes, tornadoes, chemical spills, etc.) Are there some risks that you can mitigate and do away with altogether?
• What is your mission or ultimate goal?
• What actions will achieve that goal in each situation? (e.g., evacuating the entire campus, telling people to shelter in place)
• If you decide to invest in an ECS, what is the intent of the technology? What exactly will it cause people to do? Will it provide them enough information to help get them to safety?
• Who will operate the ECS system and be responsible for the initial activation and follow-up messaging? How will you train them to use it effectively?

Risk analyses are a very important part of a facility’s overall security and emergency response solution. Security officials and other stakeholders who are unsure of where to begin can partner with their fire alarm and security distributor or integrator, or even an independent security consultant, to help ensure a thorough and accurate risk analysis.

The Role of NFPA 1600
NFPA 1600 (Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs) is a national preparedness standard that is extremely helpful for facilities looking to implement voice evacuation and other emergency communication technology. This code serves as a very effective guideline for completing a risk analysis, which can then be used when determining how an ECS should be set up and what the emergency messaging should say. That way, when stakeholders are ready to invest in emergency communication technology, they know exactly what the system should look like.

Best of all, NFPA 1600 helps ensure facilities create an Emergency Response Plan and employ ECS that take into account modern technology, such as smart phones and tablets, as well as changing conditions on their campus. As technology, funding and/or even stakeholders change and evolve, the code forces facilities to update and regularly test their plans with those changes in mind. In that way, NFPA 1600 takes the excuses out of emergency planning and makes each response plan a living document.

Making Safety a Priority
Too often, security officials invest in an ECS, put it out of their minds and hope they never have to use it. In reality, though, emergency communication should be top-of-mind each and every day. By starting with a thorough risk analysis and emergency response plan campus facilities can ensure that they are investing time and resources into solutions that will actually work for them—now and for years to come.

In a future post, we’ll talk more about emergency communication messaging, and how the right information, disseminated in the right way, can save lives.

 

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.

 

 

Signing Up For Training Is Easy

With the new website comes a new way to register for an upcoming Training. Well, it’s still the same way – online form, etc… – but you may not be familiar with the new layout.

Let’s walk through signing up for training together!
Along the top of the home page, we’ve kept a shortcut to the Training information. From there you’ll be taken to a breakdown of options in that section: Course Overview, Online Courses, Training Videos, Schedule & Registration, Contact the Training Department.

Training Page 1

For arguments sake, let’s say we don’t know which course we want to attend.
Select Schedule and Registration for the latest updated courses available. From there you can scan through the open courses and select the location nearest you. Or maybe pick somewhere nice and warm and turn it into a mini-vacation after class is over?!
I’ll pick the Las Vegas, NV location for the course.

Training Page 2

From that you’ll get the flyer explaining each course offered at that location – Systems or Software Applications. Each one needs its own registration filled out. The Fire-Lite Systems course is free of charge and covers a lot of the basics with Addressable panels. The Software Applications course costs $200 and really gives you a full hands-on practice with real panels and wiring processes.

Since I’m technically-challenged with these type things and would probably blow up a panel or 2 if given the chance I’ll stick to the basic Systems course.  Select which one you are interested in by clicking “Register Online”. Select your location in the drop down (Vegas here I come!) and continue to the form.
You’ll get a confirmation page and in a few minutes you’ll receive a confirmation email from the Training Department.

Training Page 3

And that’s it! No really! It’s not painful and if you have any questions at any time before, during or after the registration you can contact training directly.

 

 

About the Author
Elizabeth Richards is the Manager of Communications for Fire-Lite Alarms, Honeywell Power and Silent Knight. Liz joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2003 and is responsible for the communications, collateral, messaging, and events for all three brands.

Do Your Homework When Getting Into the Fire Business

We have seen a number of installing contractors showing interest in getting into the fire & life safety industry. It’s a noble cause to protect people and property from fire and non-fire emergencies and is a great industry to expand your business. Since its serious business, it’s important to learn about the regulations and what it would take to get started.

The first place to start is with the fire alarm code books. There are several publications relating to fire alarm codes and standards, some of which include: NFPA 101 Life Safety Code, NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code, NFPA 70 National Electrical Code, Fire Protection Handbook and Fire Alarm Signaling Systems Handbook (Excellence book).

Next, NICET (National Institute for Certification of Engineering Technologies) provides national certification that is required in jurisdictions to work on fire alarm systems. There are also several web sites, including: nfpa.org, nicet.org, and firemarshals.org, where you can find information on a national and local level. NFPA(National Fire Protection Association) offers the following educational programs: Self-Guided Online Courses, On-Site Seminars, Webinars, Training videos and Certification Programs.

Also, if you are just getting into the fire alarm business, a good place to start is getting to know the local fire marshal or AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). They should be able to tell you what is required to work on fire alarm systems in your area.

Finally, Fire-Lite Alarms is here to help you in your endeavor. With over 60 years in the business, Fire-Lite is the leader in non-proprietary, unrestricted fire alarm and emergency communication systems for commercial applications. Our nationwide training is lead by NICET Certified Trainers and we have developed some great FREE tools to help you learn about our products including online training courses and how-to videos.

 

About the Author
Bill Brosig is a Product Manager with more than 25 years in the Life Safety business and a NICET IV certification. Bill focuses on the customer experience surrounding current offerings and new product applications.