Spotlight on Software: Lite-Configurator

Fire-Lite’s Lite-Configurator software is a multi-faceted tool created to help you work smarter and faster!

  • Lite-Configurator can recommend a panel and help with configurations based on your requirements (Addressable, Conventional, Suppression, or Voice) using the Panel Selection Wizard.
  • As you select your devices, detectors, modules, etc…, the software will build a running Bill of Materials (BOM).
  • As you add the A\V devices, you will need to specify the Candela rating for Strobes and Wattage for Speakers. Lite-Configurator will keep a running total of panel\circuit usage, along with the current draw for each device. The tool will also prevent you from overloading a circuit by displaying the warning below.

LiteConfig Screen Shot

When the configuration is complete you can generate a Bill of Materials (BOM) complete with links to individual data sheets and battery calculations. The BOM could be used in your submittal or taken to your preferred security dealer so you get everything needed to complete the project.

If you have any questions on this software or any other tool offered by Fire-Lite Alarms, our Technical Service Department is available 8 am to 7 pm Eastern to help.

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

 

About the Author
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.

The Year in Review: 2014 Exceeds Early Expectations

Much of the growth Fire-Lite Alarms experienced this year closely paralleled overall industry trends in major segments.

So before we kick off another fantastic year in the fire alarm market, let’s consider some of the biggest milestones of 2014:

Growth in most segments
2014 might have started off slow due to a severe winter across the U.S., but the construction market really took off in April. Given the late start, we’ve been enjoying an extended construction season, and that has helped lead the industry to a strong close to 2014. We saw above-market growth in most segments, and I expect the year to wind up exceeding our original forecasts.

Several new growth drivers
Fire-Lite is seeing an upsurge in two main areas – emergency communication and modern central station communications. These trends are helping to grow the industry as a whole, and likely will continue through next year as well:
Emergency communication has become a huge boon for the fire alarm industry. These systems offer notification for any emergency, such as severe weather, harmful gas, terrorism and active shooters, and are growing in popularity for both new construction and existing buildings where a fire alarm system already exists.
• Modern central station communications through IP and cellular are replacing the use of traditional POTS lines at an increasing rate. These alternative communication methods are helping grow this industry segment, which in-turn helps increase fire and life safety sales.

New Technology
In 2014, we introduced several revolutionary new products that are certainly milestones for our industry:
Fire-Lite Alarms Smart Wireless Integrated Fire Technology (SWIFT) – a line of wireless fire detectors and modules. This Class A, commercial wireless system uses a robust mesh network to integrate with existing fire systems so installers can use any combination of traditional and wireless fire alarm technology that works for a given facility. The result is an unprecedented level of flexibility in devices that are also highly scalable, reliable and easy to install.
Lite-Connect – a multi-building fiber solution that provides an easy and more flexible way to connect fire alarms. The product enables fire alarm installers to join as many as 16 remote control panels together over fiber-optic cable—ideal for multiple building locations, such as schools, apartment buildings, nursing homes and retail complexes.
• Honeywell Power HP1205UL and HP1210UL Power Supplies – deliver more DC power to CCTV cameras and their peripheral devices, while also speeding up installation and service calls and maximizing the survivability of system operations when a facility’s AC power is lost.

All of these exciting advancements allowed Fire-Lite Alarms to enjoy substantial growth this year, along with much of the rest of the industry.

Thank you for your part in our success. Together, we look forward to a fantastic 2015 and beyond.

 

About the Author
Dave Pakech is the Vice President of Sales for the SED Channel – Fire-Lite Alarms, Honeywell Power and Silent Knight. He joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2008 and brings over 20 years of Security Industry experience to the brands.

The Importance of Fire Alarm Testing

Fire and Life Safety systems require regular testing and maintenance. Just like an automobile, regular testing and maintenance keeps the system running at peak performance and ready to detect and respond to an emergency. Without proper inspection and testing and you may not know how or if, your system will function properly until an emergency occurs.

In order to meet federal certification requirements and state requirements, fire alarm systems are required to be inspected, tested and maintained in accordance with NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. In the 2013 edition, Chapter 14 (Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance) outlines these requirements for fire and life safety systems. Fire alarm control panels provide features that make it easier to perform these tasks.

Today, most Fire Alarm Control Panels have a built in Walk Test feature is used to test a fire alarm system to ensure everything works properly. By placing the Fire Alarm Control Panel into Walk Test mode, a technician can activate a device, which then gives an indication at the Fire Alarm Control Panel. Depending on the setup, the panel may or may not momentarily sound the signals. After the device activates, it will automatically restore and then the technician can go on to the next device to test. This allows for a technician to test a system without having someone to reset the Fire Alarm Control Panel each time.

An inspection, testing, and maintenance program is essential for the reliable performance of the fire alarm system. In addition to maintaining proper levels of protection, proper Inspection, Testing and Maintenance can help reduce the expense of emergency repairs and costly false alarms.

Having a working fire alarm system installed in your building saves lives!

Finally, Fire-Lite Alarms is here to help you in your endeavor. Fire-Lite Alarms has 60 years in the business, is the leader in non-proprietary, and has great tools to help you learn about the products. Visit our website to learn more about the Walk Test feature in the MS-9050UD, MS-9200UDLS, and MS-9600(UD)LS. Also, view one of our pre-recorded webinars on Understanding Commissioning and System Acceptance Testing by Jack Poole (engineering consultant and industry expert).

 

 About the Author
Bill Brosig is a Channel Product Manager for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power 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.

 

 

All In: Getting Stakeholder Buy-in on Fire Safety is a Challenge and a Necessity

The threat of fire is a terrible reality that facilities of all kind face every day. For many end users, though, fire danger is “out of sight, out of mind.” Unless the threat is imminent, they rarely think of the destruction that fire can cause. That’s why on college campuses – and at other organizations throughout the country – getting stakeholder buy-in is both a challenge and a necessity.

When I joined the University of North Georgia nine years ago as the electronic systems technician, fire danger was not a top priority on campus. Like many universities, we had a fire system made up of local, proprietary alarms. Due to aging and unreliable equipment, we experienced frequent false alarms – sometimes as many as two a week – and our students were getting pretty desensitized to the sound of the fire alarm. Occasionally, the fire alarm would sound, and a few students would remain in their dorm rooms, convinced that it was another false alarm. Obviously, this blasé attitude is a huge threat to the safety of students.

I made it my mission at UNG to eliminate false alarms and, over time, standardize the campus’ disparate fire alarms under one technology. But of course, this type of goal can’t be achieved by one person alone. The entire university needed to be on board – and needed to realize the importance of fire safety.

Legitimate Danger
Fire safety is so easy for both young students and adults to disregard. But the threat of injury and death from fire is very real – even today.

Incredibly, since the year 2000, 86 fatal fires have occurred on college campuses, in Greek housing or in off-campus housing near campus, according to FEMA statistics. As a result of those fires, 123 people – many of them students – have died.

The Importance of Awareness
These tragedies are very often preventable, with the use of fire detection technology, education and awareness of students, faculty, staff and even visitors. At UNG, my team and I have made campus-wide awareness a priority, by training staff members and getting students involved.

Training Staff Members

UNG is a large campus, with 35 buildings totaling more than 2 million square feet. That’s a lot of space to safeguard from fire, which is why it’s so beneficial for our campus to employ the same fire alarm technology in every building. With a standardized solution, our campus officers are able to become familiar with the operation of the fire alarm panels.

Following a fire alarm on our campus, the building is evacuated and our public safety officers are dispatched to the scene. They assess the situation and determine whether to call the fire department. Not only does this help cut down significantly on false alarms, it also improves our level of response by empowering our on-site officers to rapidly arrive on the scene and assess the situation.

At UNG, we personally train our life safety officers on the campus’ fire alarm system. I provide the basics, including troubleshooting on the fire alarm panels, battery checks, proper charging voltage, resetting after an alarm, etc. The important thing is that we train our officers to be familiar with our fire alarm technology so that they are invested and aware.

Getting Students Involved

With a student population of about 6,500 on our main campus, it’s vital that UNG also teaches students to be proactive about fire safety. That’s why I’ve formed a close alliance with our Residents Life department. At the beginning of every new school year, I hold a training class for our resident assistants and directors. I tell them how important fire safety is on a college campus, and how destructive a fire can be. I make it clear that, when a fire alarm goes off at UNG, they are the most important person in regard to life safety.

Our Residents Life partners have a huge responsibility during a fire alarm. As a building is evacuated, the associates and directors must walk the entire facility, ensure that it is empty and account for every student. After that alarm goes off, they are the first line of defense against fire-related injury or death – and they take that responsibility seriously.

All In
Making an entire university aware of fire safety is no easy task. But by enlightening students, staff, faculty and life safety officers about their role in helping to prevent injuries and death from fire, I’ve helped to empower our entire campus in the effort. Today, UNG is better protected from and better prepared for a fire emergency than ever before.

 

About the Author
Kim Harris is the Electronic Systems Technician at the University of North Georgia and has more than 30 years of experience working with fire alarm systems.

Understanding Commissioning and System Acceptance Testing

In the fire and life safety industry, thorough testing can sometimes be the difference between life and death. However, staying up-to-date with testing requirements in this ever-evolving market can be challenging. A good place to start is understanding the differences between commissioning and system acceptance testing, which we recently explored in our September webinar, “Understanding Commissioning and System Acceptance Testing,” available now on-demand.

First, let’s define system acceptance testing. This is basically single-system testing performed on an installation to confirm compliance with the manufacturer’s installation specifications, applicable codes and standards, and the owner’s requirements. Under acceptance testing, each system is individually tested.

Integrated fire protection/life safety system testing takes it a step further. These tests help confirm the operation, interaction and coordination of multiple individual systems. Integrated testing asks whether each individual system performs its intended function when working together. Here, the installer is thinking of the building’s systems holistically.

The Role of Commissioning
Now, let’s look at commissioning, which is distinct from acceptance testing and integrated testing. It is a recommended—not required—practice that is spelled out in NFPA 3. Commissioning takes into account a building’s entire fire and life safety system, rather than looking at individual systems, such as fire alarms, on their own.

Commissioning is achieved in the design phase, and continues through the construction, acceptance and warrantee periods with continual verification of performance, operation and maintenance documentation and the training of personnel. Commissioning is a living process—not a one-time task.

Commissioning ensures that all of the devices and systems that are interconnected truly work as required and meet the owner’s criteria to achieve fire and life safety goals. This systematic process provides documented confirmation that specific and interconnected fire and life safety systems function according to the intended design criteria set forth in the project documents. It also ensures that the systems satisfy the owner’s operational needs, including compliance to applicable laws, regulations, codes and standards affecting fire and life safety systems.

The fire and life safety industry seem to be gradually moving away from system acceptance testing in favor of commissioning. Why? Commissioning is a systematic process that helps to validate the quality, performance and reliability of an installed system—both at the time of installation and as the system advances in age. If issues emerge during commissioning, the engineer or building owner has a chance to address them or update the project requirements. In addition, commissioning reduces liability on the part of the building owner, installer and more. Following these documented tests, each stakeholder knows that the entire system is working as expected.

Learn More
Ready to learn more about the role of the commissioning team, the importance of the commissioning plan, testing frequencies and more? Visit our webinar page to download, “Understanding Commissioning and System Acceptance Testing“.

 

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.

Better Access for Fire Applications

Fire alarm systems are typically designed with the primary objective of detecting and alerting building occupants that a danger from a fire exists. Many fire alarm systems, such as Fire-Lite’s MS-9200UDLS,  also have the ability to be integrated with access control systems to assist building occupants in safely evacuating a building. This is accomplished by unlocking doors that might have been previously locked during normal conditions.

During normal conditions, a typical Access control system might be designed to function solely for the purpose of provide secure access to areas in a building based on predetermined credentials created by the building owner or security personnel. However, when a fire event occurs, an Access control system may be designed to change the accessibility of a building for a faster evacuation. Areas of a building that may have been restricted to certain occupants during normal conditions may now be fully accessible so that a safe evacuation can occur. In addition, there may be some areas in a building that might pose a danger to occupants during a fire so in this case accessibility may need to be restricted.

Access Control power supply manufacturers have responded to these needs by offering Access control modules that can be easily integrated with an existing Fire Alarm system. These controller modules are often designed and listed to meet stringent UL 1481 requirements for Fire Alarm systems which ultimately would allow them to connect directly to an output of a Fire Alarm system. During these types of scenarios, a fire alarm panel would have the capability to take control of the access control system and override any magnetic lock or door strike circuit to allow for a full building evacuation as required by the needs of the building and its occupants.

Similar Access control power supplies such as Honeywell Power’s HPACM8 offers an eight (8) independently controlled fuse protected outputs. For convenience, these outputs can be activated by an input from an Access Control System (such as a Card Reader, Keypad or Push Button) or overridden by a dry contact or a Notification Appliance Circuit output from a Fire alarm panel in the event of a fire emergency.

For more information on Access control power supplies click on Honeywell Power Access Control

 

 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.

 

Extending Fire Alarm Capabilities through Wireless Technology

Every year brings exciting new innovations to the fire alarm industry, each gradually expanding the possibilities and improving the effectiveness of the technology we work with every day. In 2014, Fire-Lite Alarms introduced an easy and more flexible way to connect fire alarms with Lite-Connect, a multi-building fiber solution. Now, we’re bringing even more flexibility to commercial fire alarm installs with a new line of wireless fire sensing devices: the Smart Wireless Integrated Fire Technology (SWIFT) detectors and modules.

Less is More
For fire alarm installers, less wire means more opportunities. SWIFT detectors and modules are designed to significantly extend the capabilities and range of our fire alarm systems, giving you more flexibility in any environment, including challenging or high-cost installations and building expansions. Cost-savings is another benefit of incorporating wireless devices into a new system: Wireless technology reduces the cost of running wire through concrete walls and ceilings or areas where materials such as asbestos are a concern. Wireless also benefits the numerous installations where mounting detectors is extremely challenging, such as in historic buildings, museums, warehouses, parking garages or any facility with concrete walls.

The SWIFT devices seamlessly integrate with new and existing fire alarm systems from Fire-Lite Alarms. In fact, the wireless devices work just like their wired counterparts, except they leverage a Class A, mesh network to communicate. This means that every device acts as a repeater with redundant path communication, ensuring reliable communication and enabling installers to significantly extend the range of the system over point-to-point alternatives.

With SWIFT devices, once a mesh network is formed, a restructuring automatically occurs to find alternate paths within the network. Each SWIFT network uses unique mesh IDs to prevent miscommunication with other devices, and inherent frequency hopping prevents system interference.

The new SWIFT product line includes photoelectric, photo/thermal, standard heat, and rate-of-rise heat detectors, plus a monitor module, wireless gateway and wireless USB dongle for use with SWIFT Tools. SWIFT Tools is our new Windows PC-based utility for site evaluation, system configuration and diagnostics. A system can use any combination of up to 48 SWIFT devices per wireless gateway and up to four gateways can be installed to expand the system even further.

Learn More
Our most recent webinar, “Expand Your Fire Alarm Opportunities with Wireless,” delves deeper into the possibilities of the SWIFT line of wireless devices. To download a copy of the presentation or watch at your own pace, please click here. To view the entire line-up of SWIFT devices, visit the Fire-Lite website.

 

About the Author
Elizabeth Richards is the Manager of Communications for the SED Channel – 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.