Tag Archives: Emergency Communication

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.

 

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.

Just Updated! ECC App Version 2.0

We’ve released a major update to the Fire-Lite Emergency ECC App IconCommand Center (ECC) application for iPad®. In a nutshell, the goal of version 2.0 is to make it a more realistic user experience – for dealers and end users.

When laying out a system in one of the app’s three new floor plans, technical documentation for the applicable products and information on compatible accessories is automatically compiled for quick download.

The updated application will include interactive options for more emergency events and alerts. Video footage has even been incorporated to demonstrate how the ECC’s remote access works, as well as how it functions during a fire alarm or severe weather event.

The latest app enhancements will also highlight two essential additions to the ECC line:
• Low frequency notification – the ECC app 2.0 will include the 520 Hz square wave tone, along with the more common 3 KHz tone, for dealers to have at their fingertips when demonstrating the differences.
• Back-up Audio Power – When laying out an ECC system, the new Fire-Lite Alarms ECC-50BDA distributed audio amplifier will be a new component included in version 2.0.

Search the Apple® iTunes® app store for “Fire-Lite ECC” to download the most recent version of the ECC App.

We’re planning future blogs and videos on tips for dealers to make the most of the ECC app. What do you want to know and what would you like to see in version 3.0? Comment below…

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.

Another Successful NFPA!

We had a great week in Chicago at the NFPA Conference and Expo!

The booth stayed busy and we enjoyed the opportunity to chat with life safety professionals, like you, and introduce our newest products and solutions. The conference portion held over 120 sessions ranging from code updates, product introductions, technical trainings, and more.  Attendees really seemed engaged in the conversations and interested in what’s new in the industry.

If you missed the expo this year or want a little more information on what we were showing, here are a few products we highlighted in the display:

SWIFT™ Wireless    Less Wire. More Opportunities.FL-Wireless-collage-plain
Fire-Lite Alarms’ SWIFT™ wireless fire detection system detects fire, just like their wired counterparts, while providing installation flexibility in a wireless format. Our wireless system can use any combination of Fire-Lite monitor modules, smoke and/or heat detectors. In addition, both wired and wireless devices can be present on the same fire alarm control panel providing an integrated wired/wireless solution for increased installation potential.

Lite-Connect™   Connecting Fire Alarms the Easy Way
Lite-Connect™ is a solution that allows building owners reduce the number of phone lines by consolidating the central station ANN-LC - 175communications to a single MS-9050UD fire alarm control panel. Using fiber-optic technology, the panels are connected together and the MS-9050UD sends point or zone information to the Central Station for the entire system. In addition, building to building connections with fiber-optic cable avoids potential ground fault issues and damage caused by lightning strikes.

Remote Telephone Zone Module for the Emergency Command Center
Emergency Communications is about getting the right message to ECC-50-100_webthe right people at the right time. The RTZM (Remote Telephone Zone Module) gives an authorized end user access to the ECC during an emergency using any telephone. By adding the RTZM module to any ECC system, users have the ability to initiate pre-recorded messages or even make a live page.

Don’t forget about our library of free tools that were created to support the products and your business.

If you’ve never attended an NFPA Conference or Expo, it’s a wealth of information for both product and industry! If your business is involved with fire, don’t miss next year’s conference at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV, June 13 – 16.

What was your favorite moment of NFPA 2015? Tweet us at @FireLiteAlarms or leave a comment below!

 

 

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.

Can you hear me now?! – Tips & Tricks to Voice Evacuation Design

Hi everyone, Mike B here! As a Regional Sales Manager I get called out to perform building walk-throughs on a fairly regular basis.  Unfortunately, the driving factor for these visits is a problem.  I’ve been to multiple Fire Voice installations with the same theme: “not enough”.  I want to share just a few observations of what “not enough” could mean.

Not Enough Light
There is no inexpensive and reliable way to measure strobe light in the field.  You might take a common sense approach to this problem.  If you can’t see the light then there’s not enough.  In factories, warehouses, and even offices, there can be dead spaces. Your local Fire Marshalls are exceptional at finding them!  When the fire and voice systems are active, there should be no area within your space where you cannot see a strobe or have your attention captured by a strobe. In larger spaces with high ceilings, light gets absorbed quickly and even high candela strobes can seem dim.  Some of the most common inspection failures related to strobes is the dead space between racks or pieces of machinery.  100% coverage is key! If it’s a space where people work or through which people travel, a strobe should be visible.

Not Enough Sound
This is a biggie!  The “voice” in “voice evacuation” needs to be heard above the ambient noise in any occupancy.  Dead spots can occur when not enough sound/audible devices are deployed.  Note:  I have used a simple iPhone app to measure sound with limited success.  Think of this as an indicator rather than a measurement.

Keep in Mind
More is better
.  We know that when sound reaches us from several different places that it becomes clearer and more intelligible, (intelligibility is the understanding of the message).  High ceilings, cavernous lobbies, marble floors and/or walls can be the enemy, (background or ambient noise levels can play a big part as well).  Just like big spaces absorb light, these big spaces can absorb sound and can even add an echo effect, significantly decreasing intelligibility.

Walls and ceilings.  In tight spaces like hallways, a ceiling mounted speaker will tend to project sound where if you deployed wall speakers in the same space the sound would likely bounce off the opposing wall or worse, get absorbed. In big open spaces, especially those with high ceilings, wall speakers will work better than ceiling mounted as they will be closer to the ear. Remembering that more is better in terms of intelligibility of the message, more is better in terms of volume as well and don’t forget the dead spots between racks or behind partitions.

Speaker placement is important. Speakers placed facing each other, for example on opposing walls, will tend to cancel each other out.  Just like you would stagger strobes to gain greater coverage within a space, stagger the sound to avoid cancelling. It’s a lot easier to lower the tap setting on a speaker that might be considered extra than it is to cut a hole in marble or otherwise finished walls, and then there’s the wiring…

Looking for more?
Fire-Lite Alarms and AFMG teamed up on a webinar to discuss in-building and outdoor ECS design with a review of code and guidelines. The webinar included an in-depth look at how EASE Evac software can help you with your design. For more information on the EASE Evac Software please visit: http://evac.afmg.eu/ If you’d like to watch the on-demand recording of the webinar, please visit our website.

 

About the Author
Mike Breault is the Northeast Regional Sales Manager for Fire-Lite Alarms and has previously worked as a Fire-Lite Alarms Programm​ing and I​​nstallation Trainer and SME.  He joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2007 and has worked for Honeywell for over 11 years.​​​​

How Do I Meet Low Frequency Requirements Using Voice Systems? (Part 4 of 4)

In my previous blog, we talked about the products offered by System Sensor for low frequency applications, but how can you incorporate the low frequency devices using a voice system?

Most high-rise lodging applications and R-2 occupancies, such as hotels and college dormitories, require the use of voice systems to manage the evacuation of occupants. For the majority of the low frequency discussion, the product solutions in mind have been stand alone notification appliances.

What do you do when you are required to put a voice system in the sleeping space?  Can you play an audio file that can comply with the low frequency requirement?   

The answer is yes, but you have to ensure it is UL listed as compatible system to the low frequency requirements defined in UL 464.

Why is this required for fire alarm or ECS control panels since they come with a wide variety of pre-programmed sound files that do not require compatibility?

The answer can be found in the details of the low frequency requirements as defined per UL 464. Speakers are just passive devices; they just turn on or off depending on the activation of the system and operate listed frequency ranges. A sound file goes through processing as it goes through the amplifier and out of the speaker. UL requires verification that the signal coming out of the speaker complies with the low frequency performance requirements just as a standalone low frequency device.

Fire-Lite’s ECC-50/100 is now UL listed with select System Sensor Speakers and Speaker Strobes to produce the low frequency tones for Voice Evacuation or Emergency Communications. These messages can easily be downloaded to the Control panel with our Audio programming utility.

Be sure to visit the Fire-Lite Blog for the entire 4 part series and MORE!

 

About the Author
Rebecca Peterson is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager for the AV business unit of System Sensor. Rebecca has been with System Sensor for 13 years and her primary focus on new product development and voice of the customer on products that customers need and want.

 

What Should You Know About Low Frequency?

There has been quite the buzz in the fire and life safety industry regarding low frequency and what it really means. Fire alarm and building codes and standards have changed in response to studies showing that low frequency audible devices are more effective in waking individuals in sleeping areas. The new sleeping space requirements require the alarm tone of audible appliances to be of a square wave tone centered around 520Hz. Let’s take a brief look at the codes, adoption, and solutions.

Standards
The significant changes in the sleeping space requirements occurred within NFPA 72 2010 edition and 2013 edition. Here are the NFPA 72 chapters impacted and placement requirements:

• Chapter 18 (Protected Premise Fire Alarm Systems) – Requires low frequency notification in every sleeping space
• Chapter 24 (Emergency Communication Systems) – Required for voice systems in sleeping spaces
• Chapter 29 (Household Fire Alarm Systems) – Required only in sleeping spaces for those classified as having mild-to-severe hearing loss, where governed by law or code, or volunteered to provide a means for such individuals.

Adoption
The 2012 editions of the International Building Code (IBC) and International Fire Code (IFC) indirectly reference the 2010 or 2013 editions of NFPA 72, which requires a low frequency tone in certain newly constructed Group-R occupancies. Many jurisdictions in the U.S have adopted IBC and IFC 2012. These are the applications that may be impacted:

• Transient Lodging Spaces – Hotels/Motels
• College and University Dormitories
• Assisted Living Facilities
• Apartments and Condominiums

Solutions
Fire-Lite Alarms offers a comprehensive product line-up that helps you meet the low frequency requirements in the aforementioned applications:
SpectrAlert Advance Low Frequency Sounders and Sounder Strobes
Intelligent Sounder Base with Low Frequency Capability
Emergency Command Center (ECC) Compatibility with System Sensor SpectrAlert Speakers for 520Hz

Keep Fire-Lite Alarms in mind as you design your next project with Low Frequency requirements. Visit our website for more information!

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.

The K-12 Fire and Emergency Communication Opportunity You May Have Missed

As of this fall, there are more than 98,300 public elementary and secondary schools operating in the United States, with nearly 50 million students and 3.1 million full-time teachers, according to the Institute of Education Sciences. At every one of these schools, fire safety and emergency response is a top priority; but with so many different facilities and buildings, how can school districts ensure that each and every student and teacher is protected?

The large majority of K-12 schools have fairly basic fire alarm and emergency communication system (ECS) technology, such as fire/smoke detectors and alarms, which may include bells or strobes. However, with the growing diversity of threats against elementary and secondary schools—including active shooters, fire and weather emergencies, and even terrorism—these antiquated systems simply aren’t enough.

As a fire alarm installer, you may be missing out on an opportunity to retrofit your K-12 customers’ facilities with a voice ECS—a more affordable option than upgrading their fire and ECS and adding an intercom system. For your customers, this missed opportunity could be keeping them from improved safety and emergency response. Now is the time to work with school districts to retrofit their facilities.

Why? Voice evacuation systems go a lot further toward protecting students and teachers during an emergency. Rather than simply alerting building occupants that an emergency exists, voice capabilities enable administrators to give specific instructions during such an event. In a school environment with hundreds or even thousands of students and teachers, this could give the occupants more time to exit safety.

For example, the Emergency Communication System / Voice Evacuation from Fire-Lite provides flexible communications features. Administrators can broadcast up to 14 different pre-recorded announcements, or use the microphone to give custom instructions, such as “lock your doors and shelter in place” or “evacuate the building and meet on the front lawn.” With certain devices, officials can even call in to the voice system remotely to provide instructions from a cell phone or landline. It is “fire-rated”, which provides peace of mind knowing that the system is fully-supervised and tested on a regular basis per NFPA 72.

Many fire alarm dealers have avoided pushing the benefits of voice evacuation to the K-12 market. In most cases, the cost of running wire puts these projects out of budget for many school districts. However, by opting for a voice system that can be easily retrofitted into an existing fire alarm/ECS, dealers can help their K-12 customers significantly cut down on the cost of upgrading to voice.

School officials are always thrilled to hear that their facilities can easily be retrofitted to include advanced voice capabilities. Not only do they save money and time over adding a separate paging system—which many consider—they also wind up with a significantly improved emergency communication system that is also fire-rated.

For the vast majority of K-12 school districts, budgets will always be a huge concern. Know that these customers often require long cycles to get funding approval. Plant the seed now by discussing the possibilities of voice capabilities with your K-12 customers, and make it a priority to establish voice retrofits as a growing part of your business.

 

About the Author
Dan Lajoie is Regional Sales Manager for Fire-Lite, Honeywell Power and Silent Knight.  During his 39-year career, Dan has been involved in many aspects of the electronic life safety industry, first as a technician and later as system designer for a nationwide equipment distributor. Dan is NICET Level IV certified and an accredited instructor for the New Jersey Electrical Board of Examiners, as well as the New Jersey Fire and Burglar Alarm Advisory Committee.

 

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.