Tag Archives: Life Safety Code

Wireless Technology Recognized in NFPA 72

A common question that arises regarding new technology in the fire industry is “Is it covered by NFPA 72”? In an industry that is highly regulated, there is always a concern about new technology. The quick answer for wireless fire alarm technology is YES! Wireless technology can solve installation challenges due to building construction, aesthetics, and hazardous materials. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) covers wireless in fire alarm technology in the 2007, 2010, and 2013 editions.

NFPA 72 2010 and 2013 cover wireless solutions for fire alarm in 9435s13Chapter 23.  Chapter 23.18 in the 2010 edition and Chapter 23.16 in the 2013 edition are titled “Special Requirements for Low-Power Radio (Wireless) Systems”. This chapter contains listing requirements, power supplies, alarm signals, and more; all specific for wireless systems. The Fire-Lite Alarms’ wireless solution, SWIFT Wireless, uses Class A mesh technology along with many other features for high reliability and to meet these standards.

For more information on regulatory approvals and how SWIFT Wireless complies, check out my previous blog post – “Is Wireless Held to a Higher Standard?”.

 

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 Software: Lite-Configurator Now Supports SWIFT™ Wireless

Lite-Configurator is an easy to use FREE program that allows you to configure a bill of materials for Fire-Lite’s addressable and conventional control panels. The Lite-Configurator tool Version 2.6.2 has been updated to include the new SWIFT™ Wireless addressable devices. In addition to SWIFT™ Wireless support, we have improved the support for low frequency by updating the B200SR-LF Low Frequency Sounder Base and the new ISO-6 Six Fault Isolator Module.

With the Lite-Configurator tool, you can:

  • Create a bill of material for addressable and conventional control panels
  • Select and edit parts from the parts catalog
  • Generate a formatted report with a customized header from your bill of materials
  • Export your bill of materials to MS Excel or MS Access
  • Create a full set of battery calculations based on your configuration
  • Print data sheets from the Bill of Materials screen.

To get started with the latest version of Lite-Configurator, click here to download the software.

Visit our website to learn more about Windows®-based software tools designed to assist Fire-Lite customers in the day-to-day business of selling and supporting fire alarm systems.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.​​

New Jersey: On the Leading Edge of Fire Safety

New Jersey is known for a wealth of assets—its regional diversity from forests to beautiful beaches, arts and music, its rich history, and you can add “a commitment to fire safety codes” to the list. We’ve been incredibly proactive with code adoption for a long, long time, and that continues this year, as we’re in the process of adopting the 2015 editions of the International Building Code and International Residential Code. Considering we’re implementing these 2015 codes as well as the 2013 edition of the NFPA standards (which are the most current), I can confidently say we’re on the leading edge of code compliance.

New Jersey has a mandate to uphold our fire protection standards, so we always look to past codes when employing new codes to ensure we’re not reducing requirements.  If we’ve set up an alarm and sprinkler system under the old codes, we ensure the new codes maintain that same level of protection. To this end, sometimes we intervene and don’t adopt a less-rigorous section of the code or we modify a specific section; that’s why it’s critical for end users to always make sure they’re applying our adopted New Jersey codes.

So what are the new 2015 standards we’re adopting?   Let’s take a look:

Low frequency: In occupancies where sleeping accommodations are provided, the pre-alert tone must include a low-frequency component of 520 Hz square wave range to accommodate the needs of the hearing impaired for fire voice messages and emergency communication messages. This will have a critical impact on life safety because the low-frequency signal is 6 to 10 times more effective at waking hearing-impaired children and young adults than the standard 3 KHz audible fire alarm signal.

Limits on SLCs: A new standard will limit how far a signaling line circuit (SLC) can be extended in a building. The policy says that a single fault on a pathway connected to addressable devices cannot cause the loss of more than 50 addressable devices. Instead of running a SLC through an entire building, end users now won’t lose a significant part of a building. There’s been a lot of discussion about whether 50 devices is the right number, are there alternative methods, so an amendment could be coming down the pike.

Point identification: For multistory buildings that exceed 22,500 square feet, point identification will be required.  It will now be easier for fire service personnel to locate a fire when they arrive at a building.  Instead of the fire system simply indicating that the incident is on the second floor, this code requires identification of the specific room.  Also, this will benefit the fire alarm industry; when users troubleshoot a problem, it’s a lot more convenient to know that it came from a specific detector or device.  It’s a win-win however you look at it.

Sensitivity testing for addressable systems: Currently, if you have a conventional system that requires sensitivity testing, you have to literally go to every device in the first year of installation, then again in the third and fifth years. Well, that’s a big back-end cost for property owners who have to manually administer sensitivity testing.  However, addressable systems automate that process, so it will be a massive savings for property owners as well as benefiting fire service with fewer nuisance alarms.

Voice Evacuation: The 2012 I Codes started the trend and the proposed 2015 codes carry forward the proliferation of Voice Evacuation Fire Alarm Systems in a multitude of uses, not just high rises. Voice provides building owners flexibility far beyond that found in conventional notification.  First and foremost is Mass Notification especially in sensitive locations such as schools and health care.  Coupled with Alternate Uses, the code section that allows non-emergency paging, Voice Systems eliminate the need for separate paging systems.

Despite being a leader in code adoption, we are still learning every day about fire safety in New Jersey.  Just consider the recent devastating fire at the Edgewater apartment complex and the aftermath from that tragedy.  We always continue to take a strong look at things; even though a standard is permitted, we question whether that should be allowed moving forward.

It’s a matter of public consensus—what risk tolerance does the public have?  We want every building sprinkled, alarmed and made out of concrete, but we all know that’s not going to happen.  We have to look at the will of the people, consensus, and that’s why code comment periods have been so helpful to us over the years.

So what standards has your state adopted this year?  Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

About the Author
John Drucker, CET, serves as the Assistant Construction Official and Fire Protection Subcode Official for the Borough of Red Bank, New Jersey. Prior to joining government service, Drucker spent 15 years with Siemens Fire Safety as a field technician and operations manager, culminating as project manager at the World Trade Center from 1993 to 2001—a role which involved the design, installation, maintenance and repair of one of the largest fire detection and voice evacuation systems covering approximately 10 million square feet of floor space.

Less Wire and Fewer Battery Changes

SWIFT™ Wireless is now UL listed for a two year battery life! This is twice as long as the previous one year battery life listing. This is an exciting improvement for SWIFT™ Wireless as less batteries equals less service time and costs for you; therefore, making wireless a more competitive solution. In addition, replacing batteries during the annual service allows you to plan for the service versus unscheduled visits. If the service is missed, the Fire-Lite fire alarm control panel will provide an indication before the batteries need to be replaced.

When the time comes to replace the batteries, rest assured it’s easy to do. The CR123A or DL123A batteries are widely available and the process is quick:

  1.   Have 4 CR123A (or DL123A) batteries available.
  2.   The system allows 200 seconds to replace the batteries before the device is noted as missing and will activate the Rescue Mode within the wireless system.
  3.   Remove the detector from the base. Remove the faceplate from the module.
  4.   Open the battery compartment.
  5.   Remove the used batteries and replace with new batteries. The battery compartment is designed such that the batteries can only align in the appropriate direction.
  6.   Replace the battery compartment cover.
  7.   Return the device to its original location (if detector). Replace the faceplate (if module).

 

SWIFT™ Wireless has been used in a number of installations to protect people and property. To learn more about how SWIFT™ works, check out our product videos.

 

 

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.

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.

 

Evaluating Wireless Communication Options

In my last blog post, we looked at how Honeywell’s new Smart Wireless Integrated Fire Technology (SWIFT) devices are bringing the reliability and flexibility of wireless technology to the fire alarm market using a wireless mesh network. Today, I want to discuss how such mesh networks stack up against other wireless communication alternatives, namely, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint technologies:

Mesh Technology: Wireless mesh networks allow installers to connect many devices via a network that “blankets” the area—rather than requiring that each device has a direct wireless or wired connection to the termination point.

In a Class A mesh network such as the one used by SWIFT, each smoke detector and monitor module creates its own communication structure. That means communication goes from point A to point B through any number of these devices, creating redundant communication paths. With multiple paths to employ, the system’s reliability is maximized; if one device is lost, the devices will immediately find another path for communication.

Point-to-Point Technology: P2P wireless networks provide a dedicated link between two devices; for example, between two smoke detectors or between a monitor module and the main controlling element of a fire alarm network. P2P technology is highly reliable, but it is also more expensive and more time-intensive to install. Plus, in the event that one device fails, it could affect the entire network.

Point-to-Multipoint: P2MP technology is a bit of a hybrid between mesh and P2P wireless networking. With this type of network, central units connect to multiple “subscriber” units. In order to function, all P2MP networks require that all subscriber units be in range of the central unit. If they are not, additional central repeater units are required. For many installations, this makes P2MP networks impractical—or downright impossible. In addition, the failure of a central unit or repeater could mean failure for multiple subscriber units.

Unlike P2P or P2MP technology, Honeywell’s SWIFT devices feature bi-directional communication for reliable data transmission. We call it a “parent-child” relationship: Every child device has at least two parents to send information through, and every child device may also be a parent to other child devices. That way, inbound and outbound communication can use various paths through the parent and child devices, ensuring that every message is received.

The SWIFT Class A mesh network gives installers the flexibility to extend a fire alarm system quickly and easily. It also benefits the end user by keeping costs low—while providing self-healing capabilities and the highest level of reliability and protection they need.

To find out more about the SWIFT line of wireless devices, click here.

About the Author
Andrew Berezowski is an ACS Engineering Fellow at Honeywell Fire Systems

Is Wireless Held to a Higher Standard?

Wireless technology is not new to the world or even the fire and security industry. Many products are converting to IP based and you also see a myriad of WiFi devices. However, in an industry that is highly regulated, there is always a concern about new technology. Despite the proposed benefits, adoption of new technology is typically slower. It should be comforting to know that products based on new technology still have to meet very stringent requirements due to the nature of its purpose.

The first regulatory approval / standard to look at is Underwriters Laboratories. The standard that is most common for fire and life safety systems is UL 864 (Control Units and Accessories fUL Logoor Fire Alarm Systems). UL 864 covers fire alarm control panels, like the MS-9200UDLS, and various products and accessories. The same UL standard covers the new Fire-Lite SWIFT Wireless gateway and associated products.

There are a series of UL requirements to ensure that the wireless devices meet the same performance criteria as standard wired devices (e.g., the 10 second activation to notification requirement). Although the standard is based on the performance of the devices, the actual tests are conducted with wireless technology in mind. In addition to UL 864, the standard that covers detection is UL 268 (Smoke Detectors for Fire Alarm Systems). UL 268 covers smoke detection, like the SD355, and also covers the performance of the detectors.

Next is National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). NFPA 72 2010 and 2013 cover wireless solutions for fire alarm systems in Chapter 23. Chapter 23.18 in the 2010 edition and Chapter 23.16 in theNFPA Logo 2013 edition are titled “Special Requirements for Low-Power Radio (Wireless) Systems”. Chapter 23 covers the listing requirements, power supplies, alarm signals, and more specifically for wireless systems. Is your jurisdiction currently on an earlier version? The 2007 edition of NFPA 72 also includes requirements for wireless fire alarm systems.

The final regulatory approval of interest is the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The products need to comply with part 15 of the FCC rules, meaning that operation is subjecFCC Logot to the following two conditions:

  • The device may not cause harmful interference
  • The device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation

Since the intended purpose of this type of system is to transmit information wirelessly, special care is taken not to interfere with other systems. In addition, features and functionality are built-in to mitigate the effect of external interference on the system.

So the answer is – Yes, wireless is held to a higher standard and Fire-Lite Alarms is pleased to offer a SWIFT Wireless solution that meets it. Check out our SWIFT Wireless solution on 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.