Think Outside the ‘Box’

Offer fire alarm system inspections and testing

A properly installed fire alarm system is critical to satisfying the life safety requirements of your customer’s protected premises. The main control and communications must meet or exceed your local code requirements.

But once you are done specifying and installing the solution, are you looking at other possible ways to increase your recurring monthly revenue (RMR) from these systems? Of course you know regular testing and inspection is required of fire alarm systems. And if you aren’t offering testing and inspection services, you’re doing a disservice to your customer — and your cash flow.

Regular testing and inspection is mandated by NFPA 72 standards, which covers fire detection, signaling and emergency communication. Life safety systems have to operate and notify at a moment’s notice when a fire event occurs.

Testing and inspection intervals vary, depending on the applicable standard and the type of system, i.e., fire alarm versus sprinkler. Fire detection systems must be inspected at least annually, and of course the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) can require more frequent testing depending on the type of occupancy that the system is installed in. The state fire alarm code sets the parameters for minimum requirements for testing and inspection, with the AHJ having the final say.

Not only does regular testing and inspection keep your customer’s solution in top running condition and able to immediately send out an alarm, warning or trouble signal, but it increases your revenue stream and keeps you in contact with the customer. There’s a good chance they will ask for peripherals or other devices when you visit them for this regular testing – or perhaps inquire about upgrades to enhance their system solution.

Carefully weigh your costs
Establishing the proper charges for testing and inspection depends on many variables and requires serious thought by the fire alarm systems company. Plan out your testing and inspection fully or you will quickly lose sight of the true costs. Assemble your costs in a spreadsheet, considering:

  • mileage, wear and tear on vehicles
  • cost to take a technician from a new job versus the inspection – if you don’t have a dedicated field representative for testing tasks
  • loaded labor rate (includes not only labor but everything you offer your technicians, including benefits, etc.)
  • time expected for the inspection
  • Additional equipment needed to effectively conduct test and inspect services, such as ladders or even lifts to properly test smoke detectors and sensors

All the little items can add up quickly, so make sure your pricing is accurate and on target.

Good planning will more than pay for itself. RMR for fire alarm testing and inspection can range from as low as $8 per month to the thousands, depending on the customer, the facility and the nature of the installed system. Make sure you have a solid plan to work with your customers regularly to keep their systems up and running.

What do you use to track your RMR? Any suggestions to those not currently planning? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

About the Author
Deborah L. O’Mara is a journalist specializing in the burglar and fire alarm and systems integration industries and the managing director of DLO Communications in Chicago.

 

Resources from Fire-Lite:
The Other Side of RMR Webinar Recording
Fire-Lite Product and Software Training

Did You Know? SWIFT Wireless How-To Videos are Available

Getting started with SWIFT Wireless is just a couple of clicks away. We have made it easy to learn about the technical details of SWIFT Wireless with our online, popular How To Training Videos. Wireless technology can help you overcome installation challenges, which makes SWIFT Wireless ideal solution for your applications.

The online training videos offer valuable information for the following topics:

  • Introduction to SWIFT Tools
  • Site Survey
  • Creating a mesh network
  • Removing Profiles
  • And more…

These videos are available 24/7 and provides an excellent technical overview of the SWIFT Wireless solution. Anyone who needs a more comprehensive view on how to install a SWIFT Wireless system is also encouraged to attend a Fire-Lite Academy.

For more information, feel free to view our video library or visit www.firelite.com.

 

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.

Spotlight on SWIFT Wireless: Retrieving Site Survey Data using the SWIFT Tools Software

In my previous blog, we learned that the SWIFT Wireless Site Survey results can be determined visually by the LED color and blink pattern. What if more detailed results are required? SWIFT Tools can provide these results!

After completion of the Link Test and or RF Scan the devices used for the test must be brought within 20’ of the PC with the USB adaptor running SWIFT Tools and removed from the bases.

From the main screen choose Site Survey:Site Survey Image 1 From the Communicator window select the devices that you want to retrieve data from, and click “Retrieve Data”:Site Survey Image 2

When the “Progress Status” shows Data Retrieved, click the “Next” button:Site Survey Image 3

The basic informative is displayed for the 3 categories, with a “Detailed View”for each and the option to “Export to Excel”:Site Survey Image 4

Detail View – Link Quality
Shows one excellent link  between detectors 101 and 102.Site Survey Image 5

Detail View – Channel Availability
Shows no problems, during test period (1 hr.) Site Survey Image 6

Detail View – Background Noise
Shows no problems, during test period (1 hr.) Site Survey Image 7

If you would like more information on SWIFT Wireless products, please visit www.firelitewireless.com.

Have questions?  Give Tech Support a call: 800-627-3473

 

About the Author
George Goral is a NICET Level II Fire Products Application Specialist for Honeywell Fire Safety. He has 8 years of experience in technical support of fire alarm control panels including software support and the new SWIFT Wireless product line.

PDF of Blog: Spotlight on SWIFT Wireless – Retrieving Site Survey Data using the SWIFT Tools Software

Wired vs. Wireless Fire Detection

For as long as there have been fire alarm systems, a wired connection has traditionally been the go-to solution. While these wired solutions still dominate the installations, wireless systems are making significant headway in the fire alarm market.

Technology is really going to be the driver here. Right now radio and battery technologies have some limitations, but as technology evolves, solutions will improve. You’re going to see capabilities, performance and battery life increase. Eventually there will be little-to-no wiring needed.

Here are a few things to think about when considering wired or wireless systems:

Wired
Readily accessible applications: Wired is beneficial for new installations where the fire alarm system can be installed as the building is going up. The installer will usually have easy access to pull the wire and can simply run it through the new facility.                                  

High-rises, airports, stadiums: Wired is still the best bet for applications that require emergency communication systems and mass notification, including applications that need speakers for voice alarms. If there are weather alerts or dangerous events, wired systems have been the traditional solution. However, wireless has a bright future for these applications.

Wireless
Retrofit applications: Wireless is valuable when the end user has to replace a system or add on to an existing system. Wireless can make it easy to get a new system up and running without the wiring headaches.

Historic buildings: Wireless does not get in the way of beautiful, visually sensitive architecture. Instead of marring an historic building with fire alarm cables, wireless systems can protect locations where appearance is paramount.

Faster jobs/temporary structures: Wireless gives contractors the opportunity to quickly complete installations. Pulling wires can consume a large portion of time on a job. What’s more, the system can quickly be installed and removed from temporary structures. Materials are not wasted, and the end user does not have to deal with segments of wire that are tough to reuse.

Outdoor applications: Wireless is much more reliable when the system needs to go outside from building to building and the location is prone to lightning strikes or other destructive weather events. Wired systems are more readily damaged in these situations.

Have you seen a rise in the use of wireless fire alarm systems in your area? Are you planning to use a wireless system on an upcoming project? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

 

About the Author
Jesse Otis is a Design Engineer in the Honeywell Fire Safety Americas Wireless Group.  Jesse joined Honeywell in 2003 and has been the lead engineer for the Fire Systems Group for the SWIFT products which launched last October. Jesse holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering and is working to finish his Masters degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Systems Engineering.

Online Courses Update!

We’re pleased to announce that there have been a few changes made to our lineup of available online training courses. Don’t worry! They’re still free, self-paced, and interactive that will enhance your Fire-Lite Training experience.

New Courses Added:

ECC-50/100 Emergency Command Center:  This course mirrors the information presented in our instructor-led class and provides an in-depth overview of the components of the Emergency Command Center system along with basic programming and message recording information.

Conventional Fire Alarm Control Panels This course provides information on Fire-Lite’s MS-2, MS-4, MS-5UD and MS-10UD Conventional Fire Alarm Control Panels and their associated annunciators and peripheral devices.

No More Waiting on Your CEU Certificate:

All of the courses, new and old, include a personalized, downloadable certificate of completion at the end of each course. The week long wait for a certificate is history!

So, what do you think? Comments, questions, or suggestions for future online courses can be added in the comments section below or send me an email! I look forward to hearing from you!

 

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.

 

Elevator Recall Programming

Programming the Elevator Recall application is pretty simple using any of Fire-Lite`s addressable fire alarm systems. For example, to perform primary recall, the programmer simply I/O maps or assigns the SD355 addressable detectors that have been installed in the first floor lobby, equipment room and hoist way the same software zone as a CRF-300 addressable relay module that has been connected to control circuits on the elevator. These circuits are set up by the elevator contractor to move the car to its designated point of egress.

Secondary recall is accomplished in a similar manner when SD355’s are installed in the lobbies of all the other floors within the building are I/O mapped to the relay module or modules that sends the elevator car to the first floor point of egress.

In addition, the CRF-300 relay module can be I/O mapped to an addressable H355 fixed rate heat detector installed in a sprinkled elevator shaft. This is done to actuate the shunt trip which cuts the AC power off the elevator before the sprinkler in the hoist has a chance to activate. Heat detectors however are never used to initiate elevator recall unless the environment is deemed unsuitable for smoke detectors and the AHJ approves.

In addition, some AHJ`s may require that a smoke detector be installed in the hoist that has a sprinkler system head so that the smoke detector starts elevator recall before the heat detector or sprinkler system activates due to heat present in the shaft.

CRF-300s can perform other functions involved with elevator recall like illuminating and/or flashing the “Firefighter’s Hat” indicator and the audible sounders inside the elevator car. This is intended to alert firefighters that may be inside the elevator car manually controlling it that an alarm condition exists in the equipment room, elevator hoist or any other area that could dangerously jeopardize or affect the operation of the elevator car.

It should be noted that in practically all situations when using CRF-300 relays for elevator recall, the Fire-Lite programmer should remember to program them as “non-silenceable”. This assures that these relays can’t be stopped in the middle of their operation when the panel is silenced.

There are many aspects to elevator recall and how to implement it in the real world. Needless to say, it’s very important to have the right fire alarm system capable of performing all the necessary functions needed for a good Elevator Recall application. Installing a good elevator recall application also involves working closely in coordination with other contractors and trades people involved in the project/installation.

How is elevator recall performed in your jurisdiction?  Let us know in the comment section below.

 

About the Author
Lynn Dudley is a NICET-Certified Technical Trainer for Honeywell Fire Systems. He joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2003.  Lynn conducts Fire-Lite Alarms training academies and programs at various locations around the country.​​

Why Elevator Recall? Because it saves lives.

Elevator Recall is an important Fire Alarm systems application for multi-story buildings. This application is designed to keep building occupants from entering the elevator car(s) when an evacuation is taking place due to a fire within the facility. Elevator recall also involves giving the firefighter or first responder manual control over the operation of the elevator during a fire emergency.

Unless the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and/or fire department states otherwise, elevator recall is initiated by smoke detectors (like the SD355) installed in the lobbies of the building; the machine or equipment room; and the elevator shaft or hoist way. An exception might be if sprinklers are used in the entire building instead of smoke detectors.

Elevator recall begins by establishing two basic designated points of egress or evacuation. One predetermined point of egress is designated “Primary Recall” which is typically the first floor or main entrance to the building. The secondary or alternate point of egress is any other floor within the facility that is usually designated or determined by the AHJ.

The application works such that if any smoke detector in the first floor lobby, elevator equipment room or hoist way responds with an alarm, then “Primary Recall” is initiated. This means the elevator car is sent from the first floor to a designated secondary floor within the building.

On the other hand, if smoke detectors in the lobby of any other floor go into alarm then the elevator car will move from whatever floor it is currently on to the first floor point of egress. This is referred to as secondary or alternate recall.

Under both operations (once the elevator reaches its point of egress) the elevator car door is automatically opened to let any passengers that may be inside exit. Once this happens, the elevator is shutdown or taken out of service to prevent any further public access.

In my next blog I’ll go over some simple programming for elevator recall functions.

 

About the Author
Lynn Dudley is a NICET-Certified Technical Trainer for Honeywell Fire Systems. He joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2003.  Lynn conducts Fire-Lite Alarms training academies and programs at various locations around the country.​​

The Right Tools to Win the Job – Emergency Communications

Emergency Communications is about delivering critical messages when and where they matter most – for fire, extreme weather, ECC-50-100_webaccidents, toxic leaks, aggressive or dangerous intruders or any threat to occupants in a building. Codes have changed and more jurisdictions are now requiring Emergency communications for life safety protection. Fire-Lite Alarm’s ECC-50/100 was designed specifically to meet these codes by offering the most scalable, flexible, multi-zoned, highly configurable fire evacuation and mass notification system on the market.

Fire-Lite provides all of the tools and support needed to easily install and program the ECC-50/100. To demonstrate how flexible and ECC App Iconconfigurable the ECC-50/100 system is we offer an ECC Sales App for Apple iPads. This tool is free to download and allows users to learn more about the product and demonstrate its functionality by pressing buttons on a virtual display. It also allows users to build and configure a system by adding amplifiers and modules while calculating total watts and speaker outputs.

Recently Fire-Lite made some additional updates to the ECC App which includes the following enhancements:

1.) Updated to iOS8 to showcase a clearer design/layout
2.) New MNS Events/Videos (Weather, RTZM and Live Voice Paging) added to the existing Fire Event.
3.) Interactive User Panel Aspect Ratio Updates to allow portrait mode to transition to landscape mode. (No more rotating the iPad in the middle of a sales presentation)
4.) New Building Layouts for the Remote Display Console demo (Office buildings, Schools, Sports center).
5.) New Product Overview Screens with the inclusion of low frequency
6.) Back Up Amps Added to Amplifiers and Speaker Zone Configurator
Another great feature of the ECC-50/100 is the ability to connect and activate it from any location using a cellular phone or landline. The ECC-RTZM can be installed in the ECC-50/100 and allows designated remote users to initiate a prerecorded message or make live announcements as needed. This product was awarded MVP (Most Valuable Product) from Security Sales & Integration magazine.

For more information on the ECC-50/100, the sales app or the ECC-RTZM, go to www.firelite.com.

What additions or updates would you like to see on the ECC App?  Tell us in the comments below!

 

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.

Spotlight on SWIFT™ Wireless Tools: SWIFT™ Tools 1.5 USB Update

Fire-Lite has recently updated SWIFT Tools to version 1.5.

If you currently have the SWIFT™ USB, we recommend visiting www.firelite.com to update your tool version.

 

When upgrading to version 1.5 you may get the following message:SWIFT Tool Image 1

Go to Extras\Firmware Update\USB Adapter:SWIFT Tool Image 2

Browse to the location of the firmware file (USBAdaptorV1.1B4.bin ) click Open and then Update.SWIFT Tool Image 3

When complete you will receive the following message.SWIFT Tool Image 4

 

For more information on the SWIFT™ Wireless product line, visit: www.firelitewireless.com or our video library.

 

About the Author
George Goral is a NICET Level II Fire Products Application Specialist for Honeywell Fire Safety. He has 8 years of experience in technical support of fire alarm control panels including software support and the new SWIFT Wireless product line.

Busting the Myths That Undermine Fiber-Optic Cable Usage

Fiber-optic cabling is used in many low-voltage applications today thanks to its many operational benefits. Yet misconceptions are still rampant about fiber installation and testing, according to Brian Prusinski, director of sales at West Penn Wire, one of the leading manufacturing companies of low-voltage cabling and interconnecting in the electronics industry.

“There are still myths out there that fiber is too expensive, delicate, difficult to pull, it’s susceptible to breakage like other glass objects, and it’s near impossible to terminate in the field. Let’s bust these myths,” Prusinski said during a March 31 Fire-Lite Alarms webinar titled “Myth Busting Fiber-Optic Cabling and Termination.”

Almost 70 percent of the webinar’s participants reported that their businesses barely work with fiber, and many before the presentation thought fiber should be left to fiber specialists. Following the webinar and Prusinki’s record-straightening discussion of common fiber misconceptions, many left with an enhanced understanding of fiber-optic cabling.

“With unlimited bandwidth, maximum security, a low profile and ease of termination, fiber optics is among the most viable interconnecting solutions available,” said Prusinski. “Fiber-optic interconnecting technology will continue to grow, and end-user awareness will drive the need to provide it. Manufacturing companies such as Fire-Lite and West Penn are committed to fiber optics, and will continue to develop fiber products, service and support.”

Let’s check out the benefits of fiber-optic cabled systems. They are:

  • Extremely durable: Their tensile strength is greater than steel.
  • Low-profile: Each strand of fiber is smaller than a human hair.
  • Nonconductive: These systems are immune to lightning, ground faults and power surges.
  • “Unlimited” in bandwidth: The longest transmission line to date is 9,000 miles, and a single optical fiber can carry 3 million voice calls.
  • Secure: Unlike copper, fiber systems are “hack proof.” Fiber offers the highest level of security.

What’s more, Prusinski addressed the myth that fiber termination should be left for specialists. In the past, users needed to strip, measure, cut and polish the end of the cable. However, now there are specialized tools and kits that eliminate a lot of this hands-on work.

This is only a sample of what Prusinski explored during the Fire-Lite Alarms webinar. Click here to check out the webinar in full.

Want more information on fiber? Join us for our next webinar (Tuesday, July 28 @ 11am) – Register Here!

 

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.