Category Archives: Beth Welch

Detector Placement Still Going Wrong

I was surprised to learn my short blog “Detector Placement Gone Seriously Wrong,” which posted in August of last year was the most viewed blog of 2014, garnering more than twice the number of views of any other post on FireLiteBlog.com.

Whether you liked it, disliked it or really didn’t care, I think the title alone caused many people within our industry to at least peek at what this particular blog had to say – and here’s why…

How many facilities, particularly residential buildings like apartments, assisted living and even nursing homes, have you walked into and seen:

  • No detectors?
  • Malfunctioning detectors?
  • Detectors placed in locations that won’t do a thing to give adequate warning to residents to evacuate before being overcome by smoke and fire?

Case-in-point, the horrific house fire that recently took the lives of seven innocent children in Brooklyn, NY, was found to have only one smoke detector, located on the basement level.

Now my rant about detector placement gone wrong was in reference to commercial facilities that have to adhere to some kind of code. However, this tragedy underlines my point – if codes and standards prescribe where detectors should be placed then, WHY ARE SO MANY OF US STILL SEEING THESE INSTANCES OF DETECTOR PLACEMENTS GONE WRONG?

Don’t people know there are lives and liabilities at stake? Are the requirements for placement hard to find or understand? I’m still seeing chatter and crazy photos of bad detector installs on industry forums and social media – probably more now than I’ve ever seen in the past thanks to our smart phone cameras.

So what’s the cause? This is a fundamental part of building code, is it not?

 

About the Author
Beth Welch is the Manager of Public Relations for Honeywell Fire Safety.  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.

 

Because You Asked For It – Wireless Job References

As with any new technology, there’s a small group of early-adopters, followed by a much larger group of members that tend to have a “let’s-wait-and-see” attitude. Given our conservative industry, the latter group tends to be even bigger.SWIFT Applications Display FL

So when Fire-Lite announced a new wireless line of detectors and modules – a new line that STRESSES the RELIABILITY of a Class A mesh network – there was a small group of early adopters – no surprise. However, there was a high amount of interest shown immediately, with a lot of questions pertaining to a big variety of applications. Possibly because SWIFT provided a lot of problem-solving benefits and could be used as part of a new or existing wired system?

Out of the flurry of interest, came the same questions – where has it been used? Can I see a job reference?

A number of SWIFT case studies are being written right now, which Fire-Lite will be posting to www.firelitewireless.com very soon. In the meantime,  the infographic above will give you a good taste of successful SWIFT applications and there’s many more to come!

Are you planning to install SWIFT detectors or modules somewhere soon? Let us know in the comments below, it might be a great project to feature!

About the Author
Beth Welch is the Manager of Public Relations and Social Engagement 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.

Fire-Lite Alarms Kicks-Off New Year with New Training!

New Online Tutorials, Videos and Blogs to Supplement Hands-On Courses

Registration is now open for a new round of trainings planned up to June 2015 in a variety of locations throughout the U.S. The new schedule consists of a basic two-day course for individuals seeking more hands-on fire alarm technical training and an advanced one-day session offering experienced technicians more applications and programming expertise. The Certificate Renewal Program was also brought back by popular demand, allowing technician’s opportunity to renew their Fire-Lite training certification without attending another course. Both instructor-led courses and the Certificate Renewal Program qualify students to receive continuing education credits (CEUs).

Beyond its hands-on courses, Fire-Lite Alarms continues to grow its library of online tutorials; Lite-Tips training videos; and blog on industry trends and technology.

More information on Fire-Lite Alarms’ training offerings is available on www.firelite.com.

 

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.

 

Detector Placement Gone Seriously Wrong

I’ve noticed a lot of talk on LinkedIn groups and other social forums recently about common smoke detector location issues, most related to device placement within condos, apartment complexes, dormitories and other commercial facilities where people live and sleep.

Is the following issue a new trend or a re-occurring issue that has always been around?

Detectors are only required in the sleeping area/space – WHAT???

Yep, I’ve heard more stories lately where system designs have only called for detectors to be placed in the bedroom areas where people sleep. I guess that means you’re out of luck if a fire occurs in the living room? If you know anything about NFPA 72, then you know detectors are to be placed inside every sleeping room, outside of every bedroom and on every floor – at the very minimum. This is detailed in Chapter 29 of NFPA 72 2013 Edition, specifically 29.5.1.1 and further detail for certain configurations and size of space are addressed in 29.5.1.2 – 29.5.1.3.2

Plug-in Detectors are okay for the rest of the unit, as long as you have one system-connected detector in the bedroom – Not Exactly.

Okay, I think this means if a full blown fire is happening in your dorm room or townhouse and that one system-connected detector goes into alarm, the fire trucks will roll your way. However, we all know this is not a reliable or responsible way to protect any living space. Case-in-point, how many times has the resident unplugged the detector because of that annoying low-battery beep or to stop it from going into alarm every time they make sauce?

Although having a single system-connected device is better than none at all, such a configuration sets you up with a single point of failure. If a fire elsewhere in the building compromises the panel or the wiring to that one system-connected detector, it could be some time before enough smoke makes its way into that particular unit to set off one of the single station alarm devices. At that point, all egress pathways may be blocked or compromised by fire and smoke, trapping the occupant in the unit.

There’s been so much emphasis put on protecting people when sleeping, that we’ve started to overlook the obvious. In addition, I think the growing concern over nuisance alarms, particularly for commercial residential facilities, has caused us to focus more on protecting sleeping quarters – there’s no stove or toaster in there to set off the detector falsely.

Seriously, have you seen this in your area?

 

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.

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.

 

19 Great Ways to Use Facebook to Promote Your Business Locally

So you’ve decided Facebook is the way to go and setup an account for your business…now what? What should your business share with its Facebook friends? Remember: on Facebook, friends are those that choose to follow your Facebook account.

Quality ALWAYS overrules quantity. Post it if it has some sort of connection to your customer friends – think a local connection or advice related to their job. Post it if it has some connection to the products and services you offer. If it has nothing to do with your Facebook friends or your business, think twice before sharing it.

We broke it down for you, thinking about the common fire and security dealer’s business out there on Main Street America. Here are 19 Facebook post ideas to get you started:

  1. Did a customer just say something nice to you? Share it on Facebook. Better yet, include a response, such as “Glad to hear Suzie’s Candle Shop on High Street is loving their new fire alarm system. No more false alarms!”
  2. Do your technicians take a smartphone or tablet with them on jobs? Ask them to take photos of successful installs, so you can post them (without revealing the customer name and location, of course). Showcase the photo with an upbeat description, such as, “Retrofitted our third school building this month and all is going extremely smooth!”
  3. Interesting articles and news stories that can help a facility manager/owner (your customers) overcome a ​​common challenge are always good to share.
  4. Help your customers get to know you and your employees. Post the occasional employee profile and announce recent promotions, certifications, work anniversaries and even birthdays. This personalizes your company and can go a long way toward improving the customer experience.
  5. Ask a question relevant to your community, customers or business: “Subway Series starts tonight – who are you rooting for?” or “What’s the biggest security concern you have for your business (offer four answers and an ‘other’ option)”?
  6. Does your company support a little league team? Do your employees participate in an annual fundraiser walk? Did you recently donate some help to a church or Ronald MacDonald House? Share this is great news to let your customers – and those searching for you online – know how much of an upstanding business you run.
  7. DO NOT forget the bi-annual reminder to check smoke detector batteries in resi applications when we turn the clocks back and forward for daylight savings.
  8. This goes without saying, but be sure to share promotions, discounts or new products/services regularly. This is a great medium for keeping customers engaged and in-the-know about any current offers.
  9. Did you read something interesting in the local paper? If it has to do with your community and customers, why not share it?
  10. Is there a new product on the market that could offer your customers new or better features? Share some info about it, being sure to tout its benefits and how they relate directly to your customers.
  11. Ask your Facebook friends for their opinions on a local or national news story.
  12. Ask your Facebook friends for feedback on the work you’ve done for them recently. If it’s not favorable, use that to your advantage! Do whatever you can to make them a satisfied customer and they WILL quickly become your biggest fan via Facebook and word-of-mouth.
  13. Was there a storm or blackout in your area? Talk about the back-up power your fire alarm systems provide to safeguard your customers.
  14. Posting a simple “Good Morning” or “How’s everyone liking this weather?” from time-to-time is more than okay too.
  15. You know resi and commercial fires are common (unfortunately) and always in the news. Share a good story from time to time about how lives were saved due to a fire alarm, smoke detector, CO detector, etc.
  16. Is your company exhibiting or presenting at a local/national event, such as a tradeshow, alarm association meeting, business expo, etc.? Spread the word and share event registration info (especially if it’s free to attend) to get more folks to you.
  17. Did you make a company commercial or video? Share it – you can upload your videos to YouTube free-of-charge – and then link your Facebook posts to it. Check out how to Create a Channel on YouTube.
  18. Share your history.If your company has old/historic pictures of old systems you installed years ago, historic buildings nearby that you’ve worked in, past employee events, and more – share them. Visitors to your page will get of kick out of the old stuff!
  19. Hold a contest to build more friends. Get current friends to ‘share’ your page and reward them.

 

Thinking-up content to post is NOT EASY, so involve your co-workers. From your receptionist to your people in the field – especially those that interface regularly with customers. Task them with emailing in a couple ideas per week or have a quick 10 minute brainstorming session at the end of your monthly employee meeting. The more people you involve, the more awareness they will raise of your Facebook presence. Also, do a quick web search to check out what other businesses, in the industry and in your region, are doing on Facebook.

Have other Facebook post suggestions to add? Share them in the comments section below!

 

 

 

About the Authors:
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.

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

Building Business Social (Part 2) – Is Facebook Right for You and Where Do You Start?

Following up on last week’s blog, Building Business Socially, I’m going to continue wading into this topic and focus on Facebook this time. The whole premise here is to demonstrate how a small business can leverage Facebook to connect with your current customers and identify new prospects.

Which-demographics-use-what-social-mediaBut first, is Facebook for everyone? Probably not for a company that sells BtoB, but for dealers and integrators that want to raise local awareness of their company and what they offer, it could be a good fit.

Facebook is the most widely used social media site today. Mashable.com reports an incredible 67 percent of Internet users are on Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center – see infographic. And Facebook is not just for kids. Blogger and social media expert, Jeff Bullas reports, “the increase in usage by the 55 to 64 year olds is greater than 100% for Facebook, Twitter and Google+” according to a recent 2013 GlobalWebIndex study.

In addition to these impressive numbers, Facebook is growing at a rapid rate in terms of the number of users and the percentage of engagement. Businesses are developing pages each day. Even the smallest businesses can find success on Facebook, so let’s get started:

  • Go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.phpto create a Facebook business account, which is called a “Page.”
  • Once there, select “Local business or place,” which will help your business page to be found more easily.
  • Then, you’ll add your business name (which can’t be changed once it’s set!), as well as basic company information, such as address, products and services, and a company photo.
  • Congrats! Your company now has its own place on Facebook!

Have I lost you yet? Stay with me! Our next step is to start building a Facebook following for your business. You need to reach out to employees, customers, vendors, other business partners, and even friends and family, and ask them to “like” your business page. When people like your page that means they can see anything you post on your Facebook page.

Any user with “admin” status for your Page can invite other Facebook users to “like” your business Page (your site admins can be setup and changed under settings). Individual Facebook users can also post a shout out to their friends, which can be people and businesses, and ask them to like your business page too.

Now that you’ve got a following, what are you going to post?

Dreaming up posts can be time consuming, exhausting and sometimes just down-right painful, but once you get going, the ideas start flowing and it gets easier – way easier. I have a number of great, yet simple post ideas for your business that I’ll share on this blog. In the meantime, commit to at the very least, setting-up your Facebook company page.

 

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.

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.

IP Communication Saves Schools $, Boosts Reliability Manager’s Choice

GEORGIA SCHOOLS GRADUATE TO MORE SECURE, COST-SAVING FIRE PROTECTION
Assorted Fire Alarm Systems throughout 144 Georgia School Buildings Transmit Alarms Over IP at No Cost, Continuous IP Line Tests Increase Reliability

Fire-Lite Alarms by Honeywell (NYSE: HON) offers an IP (Internet Protocol) Communicator that has enabled Georgia’s DeKalb Country School District to avoid thousands of dollars in fire alarm transmission fees for its 144 buildings. As for the upgrade to utilizing its existing IP lines for fire alarm reporting, the school district surmised the cost to be half that of replacing its current radio system. An improvement in overall reliability was obtained too, with testing of communication lines to the central stations increasing from once a day to every 30 to 90 seconds.

Until recently, these 144 buildings in DeKalb County School District relied on a conventional, two-way, proprietary radio system for fire alarm communications. Changes in radio frequency requirements implemented by the Federal Communications Commission led the district to seek out an alternative to replacing all radio transmitters.

 

 

 

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.