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Posted on March 26th, 2012 1 comment
Many property managers get caught with their pants down during fire alarm system inspections.
It’s all because they do not have their on-site documentation in order. This could lead to costly penalties.
If you want to be prepared, you need a document cabinet. It’s an easy way to keep your fire alarm system documentation in order. A document cabinet is a box where the fire inspector can find all past inspection and test records.
Based on fire codes, you’ll want to keep the following papers in your fire alarm document cabinet. According to FireAlrm.org you should have:
- Owner’s Manual – This should include instructions on all system equipment.
- Record Drawings – This includes installation drawings and maintenance manuals.
- Record Copy of Site Specific Software – This is for software-based systems.
- Records of Testing – Have all previous testing records in the box.
Using a document cabinet will help you keep track of these documents.
At Hue & Cry Security Systems, businesses and contractors in Northern California and Oregon trust us for experience with fire alarms.
For nearly 30 years, businesses and contractors have turned to us for our fire alarm expertise. To find out how we can help you, call us at 800-762-3196.
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Posted on January 27th, 2012 1 comment
Homeowners love fireplaces. According to the U.S. Fire Administration more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as primary heating sources for their homes.
While the crackling of a warm fire can be great, there are certain risks involved with heating wood and other solid fuels in your home.
Every year …
- There are more than 25,000 chimney fires, responsible for 30 deaths and $126.1 million in property damage (Consumer Product & Safety Commission).
- Heating fires account for 36 percent of residential home fires in rural areas (U.S. Fire Administration).
- There are more than 150 carbon monoxide poisoning deaths related to heating systems and fireplaces (Chimney Safety Institute of America).
If your home has a fireplace, you need to take proper precautions to protect your home as well as your family.
Follow these important fireplace safety tips:
- Use Seasoned Hardwood – Never burn cardboard, paper or flammable liquids in your fireplace.
- Get a Chimney Inspection – Every year have a certified chimney specialist inspect your fireplace and chimney.
- Keep Front Area of Fireplace Clean – Make sure all flammable items are removed from the hearth of the fireplace.
- Keep Glass Doors Open – You’ll want to keep the glass doors open when a fire is burning. Use your mesh screen to keep embers from jumping out of the fireplace.
- Close Glass Doors When Not in Use – This helps to keep air from the chimney opening from getting into the room.
- Keep Roof Clean – Keep your roof clear of twigs, leafs and bird nests.
- Store Firewood Away from Home – Try to keep stored firewood at least 30 feet away from your home.
- Check Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Change the batteries and test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at least twice a year.
Most importantly, never leave a fire unattended! If a fire gets out of control, immediately contact the fire department. Don’t try to extinguish an out-of-control fire. Get your family out of the house and call 911.
At Hue & Cry Security Systems, we have worked side by side with fire departments and other emergency responders for more than 25 years.
To learn how to protect your home and family, give us a call today at 1-800-762-3196.
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Posted on January 16th, 2012 No comments
According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there were more than 98,000 fires in non-residential buildings last year. Many of these were offices and small businesses.
The fires caused more than $2.6 billion in properly damage.
As an example, more than 80 firefighters battled a fire at a Citrus Heights, California Strip Mall in November 2011. The fire wiped out several stores in the strip malls, causing thousands of dollars in damage. You can see a video of the blaze below.
If you want to prevent a fire at your business, you should follow these 10 tips.
- Avoid Overloading Outlets – Make sure you don’t overload your electrical outlets with multi-socket plugs and lots of office equipment. Also avoid using extensions cords.
- Keep Space Heaters at Home – Make it a policy to keep space heaters at home. Space heaters are a potential fire hazard, especially when left unattended.
- No Candles – This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people bring candles into private, one-person offices and businesses. Make sure no one has any candles.
- Watch Paper Products – Keep your paper products and shredded paper stored away from heat sources. If possible, store paper products near a sprinkler head in your office.
- Avoid Running Cables Under Carpets – Don’t run any cables under carpets in main walkways of your office. The cables could fray and spark a fire.
- Unplug Electrical Items in Kitchen – At the end of the day unplug electrical items such as coffee makers and toasters in your office kitchen.
- Have a Strict No Smoking Policy – There are still people who will sneak a cigarette in the office bathroom or storage closet. Have a strict policy that punishes people who get caught smoking.
- Service Computers and Other Equipment – Have professionals service your computers and other equipment to ensure it’s properly working and safe to use.
- Have Fire Extinguishers – Make sure your fire extinguishers are all properly working. You may even want to have a few extra just in case.
- Smoke Detectors – Every office should have several functioning smoke detectors in it. Be sure to replace the batteries once every sixth months.
Finally, be sure to have your fire alarm system regularly checked by a professional.
At Hue & Cry Security Systems, we can help you with your fire and security needs. We have long standing relationships with fire and law enforcement officials in Northern California and Oregon.
To learn more how we can help you, call us today at 1-800-762-3196 or visit the Hue & Cry Contact Page.
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Posted on November 15th, 2010 No comments
Fire can be devastating to any business, so it is best to make sure that you are protected the right way.
Having a fire alarm system installed can help stop destruction and prevent the loss of life. Here are four excellent tips to help ensure fire safety in your business.
1). Fire Suppression System
In most businesses, and especially restaurants, you should have a fire suppression system installed. They are strategically placed around the office building or kitchen and are triggered when the temperature changes to certain degrees.
Fire suppression systems can also be manually turned on to release chemicals that extinguish fires. Restaurants and offices should have the fire suppression systems installed professionally and tested regularly.
2). Fire Evacuation Plan
Every business needs to have a fire evacuation plan. Make sure that all the employees are aware of the evacuation route to take because the perfect plan is useless if only one person knows it. Some other key points to be covered in the fire evacuation plan are:
- Include the correct exits to use and the number of steps to get to them in case of reduced visibility.
- Every business needs at least two exits in case one is blocked.
Post the fire escape plan where everyone can see it and perform fire drills until your staff can do it with their eyes closed.
3). Company Policies
Along with the right fire evacuation plan and fire alarm system, fire prevention depends on the proper mindset. Follow these tips for proper business fire safety:
- Give breathing room to computers to reduce the build-up of heat.
- Never bend or crush cords under furniture.
- Unplug appliances when not in use.
- Smokers should always smoke in designated areas.
- Report any fire hazards to maintenance immediately
4). Comply with all Fire Safety Codes
Learn what the fire safety codes are for your city and state. The Life Safety Code 101 has specific provisions on exits, fire extinguishers, and more. For example the Life Safety Code says:
- At least two exits must be provided in all buildings.
- Exits must be clearly marked and labeled.
- Exits cannot be obstructed.
Using these Tips
Business security systems can deter thieves from breaking in and taking your valuables. Having the correct fire alarm solution is great for preventing a fire in your business. Following these four tips can help to ensure your business doesn’t have to experience any unneeded losses due to fire.
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Posted on January 14th, 2010 No comments
On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, the State of California, Building Standards Commission (BSC), voted 10-0 to adopt the new 2010 California Residential Code (Title 24, Part 2.5), which will include a historical chapter requiring the installation of fire sprinklers in all new residential construction including 1 and 2 family dwellings and townhouses.
Please let us know how you feel about this new requirement.
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Posted on September 25th, 2009 2 comments
In these difficult economic times, every business dollar spent must be justified and bring in some kind of return. Many times the services and equipment that don’t show immediate revenue returns get pushed aside or the lowest cost option is chosen. In regards to your fire alarm system, this action can be even more costly in the future.
I can’t tell you how many times that property managers and building owners have made the decision to delay repairs to their fire alarm system, or opted to take a less expensive option, only to have the original issue reoccur with an even more expensive fix. Fire alarm wiring repairs that are done by a non-C10 licensed contractor often times end up creating more issues with that renders the fire alarm system disabled. Delaying or not replacing initiating devices (smoke & heat detectors) that are past their life expectancy can result in reduced detection capacity or numerous false alarms, which can incur costly fines from the responding fire department. Not replacing the backup batteries can cause a failure of the system to operate during a power outage, which is when many buildings are at their most vulnerable to fire.
The best practice the building owner can take is to make the investment to have their fire alarm system tested and inspected on a regular basis, as per the national fire code. This will insure that the system functions as designed, when needed. It also keeps repair and maintenance costs to a minimum, and prolongs the life of the fire alarm system. It is better to spend a few hundred dollars a year, protect your property and reduce your liability, than to have to spend thousands upgrading a system because of out-of-date devices, or in repairing a fire damaged building.
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Posted on July 28th, 2009 No comments
The Sacramento Area Alarm Association
Invites you to our
2009 Fire ForumGreetings to you all! The time and place for the Sacramento Area Alarm Association’s Fire Education Forum has been set for October 13th. We would like to invite you, the Authorities Having Jurisdiction to attend and speak at this event. After a huge success for this event last year, with your participation, we are hoping for an even better turn out.The Fire Forum on October 13th will allow a special opportunity for questions and answers from our areas FireMarshals, Inspectors, Alarm Company Owners, Installers and Vendors. Representatives covering the entire North State have already committed to attending. As a special treat, we have Ken Green, the President of the California Automatic Fire Alarm Association (CAFAA) hosting a ‘Readers Digest Version” of their Fire / Life Safety Program. The Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA) has been kind enough to supply us with literature and workbooks for the day.
Where: TMS Event Center
2440 Glendale Lane
Sacramento, CA 95825
When: Tuesday October 13th, 2009 @ 10:00am
(Meeting will be approximately 3 – 3.5 hours long)
Cost: $ 5.00 for SAAA Members
$40.00 for Non-Members
No cost for the AHJ’s who attend
Catered lunch will be served.
Remember to stay SAAAFE…
with Sacramento Area Alarm Association Fire Education
P.O. Box 989 Anderson, CA 96007
Seating is limited, so please R.S.V.P. in advance to Dave Lomas at email@example.com OR Rich Whitlock at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance! We look forward to seeing you there.
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Posted on July 15th, 2009 1 comment
By Richard J. Roux and the NFPA Engineering Team
The responses to these questions are prepared by NFPA technical staff to help users understand NFPA codes and standards. However, the responses aren’t formal interpretations issued pursuant to NFPA regulations. Any opinions expressed are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of the NFPA or its Technical Committees. The responses are neither intended, nor should be relied upon, to provide professional consultation services.
Q. The Code refers to 3 types of Supervising Stations. Why does it refer to Central Station as a “service” rather than a “system”? Can you explain the difference between certificated and placarded?
A. NFPA 72®-2002, National Fire Alarm Code®, Chapter 8, covers the requirements for the performance, installation, and operation of fire alarm systems at a continuously attended supervising station and between the protected premises and the continuously attended supervising station and the various transmission technologies available.
In many cases, the Life Safety Code®, NFPA 101, requires emergency forces notification to be provided to alert the municipal fire department and fire brigade (if provided), of fire or other emergency per Section 9.6.4. This requires automatically conveying the protected premises building alarm condition to a continuously attended remote location. (Note that NFPA 72, Chapter 8 also provides requirements for guard’s tour, supervisory, trouble and test signals). In Chapter 8, NFPA 72 provides for three types of Supervising Stations:
- Fire Alarm Systems for Central Station Service, Section 8.2
- Proprietary Supervising Station Systems, Section 8.3
- Remote Supervising Station Fire Alarm Systems, Section 8.4
Although the central station is considered by many to be a physical location occupying a building or a portion of a building, it provides actions and functions not required of proprietary or remote station systems. Although the proprietary or remote station systems could provide these same actions and functions, they are not required by the Code. The central station is required by the Code to provide six (6) specific services; these services are referred to as elements. The six elements that are required to be provided by the central station are listed in Section 8.2.2. These are as follows:
1) Installation of fire alarm transmitters
2) Alarm, guard, supervisory, and trouble signal monitoring
4) Associated record keeping and reporting
5) Testing and maintenance
6) Runner service
As the Code requires all six elements to be provided, if any one of the elements is lacking, the protected premises does not have central station monitoring. The monitoring is effectively reduced to remote station monitoring.
In addition to the six elements, the Code requires the central station service elements to be provided under contract to a subscriber by one of the following:
1) A listed central station that provides all of the elements of central station service with its own facilities and personnel.
- A listed central station that provides, as a minimum, the signal monitoring (element 2), retransmission (element 3), and associated record keeping and reporting (element 4) with its own facilities and personnel and is permitted to subcontract all or any part of the installation (element 1), testing and maintenance (element 5) and runner service (element 6).
- A listed fire alarm service – local company that provides the installation (element 1), testing and maintenance (element 5) with its own facilities and personnel and subcontracts the monitoring (element 2), retransmission (element 3), and associated record keeping and reporting (element 4) to a listed central station. The required runner service (element 6) is to be provided by the listed fire alarm service–local company with its own personnel or the listed central station with its own personnel.
- A listed central station that provides the installation (element 1), testing and maintenance (element 5) with its own facilities and personnel and subcontracts the monitoring (element 2), retransmission (element 3), and associated record keeping and reporting (element 4) to another listed central station. The required runner service (element 6) can be provided by either central station.
It becomes obvious how the Code specifically ensures that in every case, all 6 elements are required to be provided by a listed central station or listed fire alarm service – local company and under written contract. There are related types of contract service that often are provided from, or controlled by, a central station but that are neither anticipated by, nor consistent with, the provisions of Section 8.2.2. Although Section 8.2.2 does not preclude such arrangements, a central station company is expected to recognize, provide for, and preserve the reliability, adequacy, and integrity of those supervisory and alarm services intended to be in accordance with the provisions of Section 8.2.2.
Typically, the listed central station provides the three elements at the supervising station and subcontracts one or more of the elements at the protected premises. Most commonly, the central station subcontracts part of the installation. A typical situation where this might occur includes those facilities where a sprinkler system installer, acting as a subcontractor of the listed central station operating company, installs the fire alarm and supervisory initiating devices on the sprinkler system at a protected premises.
Many fire alarm system installers connect protected premises fire alarm systems to a location remote from the protected premises, which monitors signals. Relatively few such arrangements meet the requirements of Section 8.2.3 and should not be called a ‘‘central station service.’’ Only service that incorporates all six elements of central station service provided by listed alarm service providers who design, specify, install, test, maintain, and use the system in accordance with the requirements of Section 8.2.3 should be called ‘‘central station service.’’
To assure the baseline level of quality for a central station fire alarm system, the Code requires a testing laboratory, acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction, to list both the equipment and the operating company providing the service.
The Code requires that fire alarm system service providers only use listed equipment. The listing process involves not only testing the equipment to make certain it performs properly, but also inspecting the production of listed equipment to make certain the manufacturer has not changed the product after the laboratory has tested it.
Most authorities having jurisdiction accept the services of one or both of these testing laboratories: Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) and FM Approvals (FM). Both laboratories rely on the requirements of the Code to guide their testing requirements.
Representatives of the laboratory visit each central station operating company to review records of signals and to audit the personnel performing operations and service. The representatives verify the construction of the physical central station and check the equipment and the power supplies.
Both Underwriters Laboratories Inc. and FM Approvals also provide for the listing of fire alarm service – local companies.
The Code requires that the protected premises be certificated or placarded, thus attesting that the protected premises fire alarm system is, in fact, provided with all 6 elements required by Section 8.2.2 and meets the contractual requirements of Section 8.2.3. For this reason, Section 8.2.4 requires the prime contractor to conspicuously indicate that the fire alarm system providing service at a protected premises complies with all the requirements of this Code by providing a means of third-party verification, as specified in Section 22.214.171.124 or Section 126.96.36.199. The Code requires the protected premises fire alarm system to be certificated or placarded, but not both.
To help ensure the inherent higher level of protection that a central station fire alarm system provides, Section 8.2.4 requires the prime contractor to conspicuously indicate that the entire fire alarm system meets the requirements of the Code by providing a means of third-party verification.
This requirement does not intend that the organization providing third-party verification will actually inspect every central station fire alarm system. Nor does it mean that when the organization providing third-party verification does inspect a central station fire alarm system that such an organization will inspect every aspect of that system. However, by providing a means of third-party verification, a prime contractor makes provision for a potential additional level of oversight.
The requirement in Section 8.2.4 tends to promote and encourage installation, testing, and maintenance procedures that will help ensure the overall quality of the central station fire alarm system. Further, the conspicuous indication that the installation complies with all the requirements of the Code helps promote a much more determined effort to implement the requirements of the Code than might otherwise occur.
The prime contractor may conspicuously post a certificate issued by the organization that has listed the central station. Or, the prime contractor may post a placard that indicates compliance. By intent, the Code does not provide details of the process by which the listing organization issues the required certificate to the listed prime contractor. Rather, the Code leaves these details up to the procedures and practices of the listing organization.
Unless an authority having jurisdiction specifies one of these two methods, the prime contractor—either the central station or the listed fire alarm service (local company)—may choose the method of conspicuous indication.
Section 188.8.131.52 requires fire alarm systems providing service that complies with all the requirements of this Code to be certificated by the organization that has listed the central station. A document (a certificate) attesting to certification is to be located on or within 36 in. of the fire alarm system control unit or, if no control unit exists, on or within 36 in. of a fire alarm system component.
The organization that has listed the central station determines the detailed procedures that result in the issuing of a certificate. This organization produces a document, or certificate, for a specific protected premises. The prime contractor then conspicuously posts this certificate to indicate that the supervising station fire alarm system complies with all the requirements of the Code, and that the prime contractor has provided a means of third-party verification.
In UL’s program, a UL-listed prime contractor submits an application form to UL asking UL to issue a certificate for the specific installation. UL reviews the details supplied on the application form, and if it judges that the installation described on the application form meets the requirements of the Code, and UL’s own requirements, it issues the certificate. To help maintain the integrity of the certification process, UL annually inspects a statistically significant sampling of certified installations for each listed prime contractor.
Section 184.108.40.206 offers an alternative method to certificating; this is referred to as placarding. This particular method is the one chosen for use by FM Approvals. As with the certificate, the organization that has listed the central station determines the detailed procedures that result in the posting of a placard. The prime contractor then conspicuously posts a placard to indicate that the supervising station fire alarm system complies with all the requirements of the Code, and that the prime contractor has provided a means of third-party verification.
To help maintain the integrity of the placarding process, FM inspects a sampling of placarded installations. It should be noted that this process of inspecting a statistical sampling of the placarded installations bears close resemblance to listing procedures for fire alarm system components. The listing organization does not inspect every smoke detector for compliance, but rather conducts field inspections and randomly audits the production of listed equipment and components to verify compliance.
The marking is required to be by one or more placards that meet the requirements of the organization that listed the central station and requires the placard. The placard(s) is to be 20 in. sq. or larger, be located on or within 36 in. of the fire alarm system control unit or, if no control unit exists, on or within 36 in. of a fire alarm system component, and identify the central station by name and telephone number.
For central station service, all three criteria must be in place; these are: the 6 service elements, written contract per Section 8.2.3 and the required posting for certificating or placarding.
It is the prime contractor’s responsibility to remove all compliance markings (certification markings or placards) when a service contract goes into effect that conflicts in any way with the requirements of Section 8.2.4. If someone makes a change that invalidates the designation, central station service, the prime contractor must remove the certificate, or placard, as well as any other means that designates the installation ‘‘central station service.’’ This enforcement will ensure that only those systems meeting all six elements of central station service and the requirements of Section 8.2.3 and Section 8.2.4 will have this designation.
Fire alarm system service that does not comply with all the requirements of Section 8.2 cannot be designated as central station service.
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Posted on July 2nd, 2009 1 comment
Q. Should my Hotel have a fire alarm system?
A. The answer is Yes. If your property does not have a fire sprinkler system installed then you must have a full automatic/manual fire alarm system installed.
Q. My Motel is over 100 years old. Isn’t it grand fathered in to the current code requirements?
A. The answer is No. There is no longer any Grand Fathering in for existing buildings since the Code cycle change of 2007. The new California Building Code & Fire Code was written with the intent to address existing buildings. And so it is the only code in the state of California that is retro-active.
Q. I only have 10 units in my Motel and I do not have a sprinkler system. Am I still required to have a new fire alarm system installed?
A. The answer is No. The magic number of units must exceed 20 for you to be required to retrofit a new fire alarm system in.
Q. My apartment complex is single story building with 24 units and no fire sprinkler system. I have been told that since it has a one hour fire wall between each unit and since each unit has a door outside to the courtyard that I did not need to have a fire alarm system installed. Is this true?
A. The answer is Yes. The CFC 907.3.1.5 specifies that all buildings that are less than two stories in height where all sleeping units, attics and crawl spaces are separated by a 1 hour fire-resistance-rated construction and each sleeping unit has direct access to a public way, exit court or yard, then these are EXEMPT.
Q. The Fire Marshall in my town does not care about this law so I do not have to do it right?
A. The answer is, “Wrong”. Just because the Fire Marshall is not policing it, does not mean it isn’t a law and not required. It does take a little political action and if you as a property owner are on the forefront of this then you can not be liable.
HUE & CRY IS EXPERIENCED AND REASONABLY PRICED FOR ALL FIRE ALARM SERVICES NEEDED. WE HAVE FIRE ALARM ENGINEERS AND DRAFTSMEN, AND ARE EXPERTS IN THE APPLICATION OF STATE FIRE ALARM CODES. OUR INSTALLATION CREWS HAVE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN FIRE ALARM INSTALLATION, AND OUR SERVICE DEPARTMENT CAN HELP YOU KEEP YOUR SYSTEM COMPLIANT LONG AFTER THE INSTALLATION.
CALL US AT (800) 762-3196 AND ASK FOR MIKE, MICHELE OR LORI AND WE WILL BE HAPPY TO GET YOUR PROJECT STARTED FOR YOU WITH LOW DOWN PAYMENT ON OUR EASY TO LEASE PROGRAM.
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Posted on June 23rd, 2009 No comments
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