NEREJ ARTICLE: Emerging Fire Alarm Technology - better testing and reporting for building owners and managers
This article first appeared in NEREJ's January 26, 2018 edition – New England Real Estate Journal - Retail
George Aguiar, NOREL Service CO., Inc.
When is the best time to conduct a test of your fire alarm system? The most typical response for most building owners, facility engineers and property managers is, “There’s never a good time.”
For retail, shopping centers, or mixed-use buildings, fire alarm system testing requires scheduling and entry coordination with store owners/occupants, facilities managers, or property managers. And, depending on the building type and the number of notification devices, the optimal time to test alarm-signaling devices may be before or after store or business hours, which could result in technician overtime costs.
Fire alarm technicians need to adhere to associated building and NFPA codes while performing the appropriate tests on each horn, speaker, strobe and other emergency signaling device. For larger campuses and facilities, testing will yield a short period of time in which the alarms will be sounded off and on. Sometimes, the testing time is extended due to separate signaling devices for local smoke detectors, CO detectors, and building general alarms.
It’s always a good idea to review and assess your fire alarm system before a major or minor event occurs and to reduce the chances of false alarms. Too often, a system is evaluated after a false alarm takes place, or after a triggered event highlights a deeper issue or malfunction.
The exciting news is that emerging fire alarm technology includes components which make life easier for building owners and managers. New technology not only streamlines and automates fire alarm testing, but provides for more immediate and accurate reporting on your desktop, mobile phone or tablet. This sophisticated technology allows for signaling devices to be programmed to perform different functions in different situations, for example, smoke detector activation can be indicated by one sound while carbon monoxide can be indicated by a different sound. As well, newer systems can be set to auto-test and report at predetermined times and improve the length of any disruption(s) or sounding of alarms.
Your fire alarm systems should have these features or components:
- Individual or selected groups of signaling devices to be tested at a predefined date and time
- Shortest amount of time to test all signals in a building
- Testing protocol in compliance with fire code.
For the best in retail and mixed-use properties, it’s even more important to be able to test fire alarm systems without disrupting customers, store owners, and occupants. The most current features to look for include:
- Automatic testing of fire alarm signaling devices in 5 seconds or less
- Auto testing or scheduling to be done any time, day or night
- Panel-generated reporting of test results listing every notification device by location
- Reports broken down for retrieval and delineated by “trouble” or “alarm”
- Longer battery life and power supply for reduced energy costs
- Comprehensive plan for fire alarm testing over the life of the system
- Command centers with the ability to view statuses for all devices immediately
- Integration with other Building Management Systems (BMS)
- Self-testing notification.
“Nice to have” components allow for your future needs, whether you are thinking about upgrading your existing system, adding additional fire alarms for other buildings, or integrating your fire alarm systems with new projects or structures. These include:
- Reporting capabilities which include automatically-generated reports from the control panel listing signaling devices tested, by time, date, location, and pass/fail test status
- Paging and background music over the same notification/alarm system
- Emergency text message alerts
- Transfer of panel information and programming via USB device
- Testing without disruption to customers and business owners
- Pre-programmed smoke sensitivity and wider ranges for these settings
- Easy to upgrade and to scale with flexibility and modular design.
Each winter, we’ve seen the impact of fires in New England. Is it time for you to review your fire alarm systems?
George Aguiar is VP integrated systems, sales & marketing for NOREL Service Co., Inc. Waltham, Mass.
New England Real Estate Journal - 17 Accord Park Drive #207, Norwell MA 02061 - (781) 878-4540
NOREL Service Company to Distribute Autocall™ Fire Detection Systems
We're excited to announce our new partnership with AutocallTM- the latest in fire detection products. Our original press release can be viewed here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2018/01/prweb15093292.htm#.Wl9ayjMRXP4.email
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOREL Service Company to Distribute AutocallTM Fire Detection Systems
NOREL Service Company awarded select national distributorship by Johnson Controls for newly released Autocall fire detection systems.
Waltham, January 16, 2018. Based on its reputation and years of experience in the industry, NOREL Service Co., Inc. has been awarded a selective national distributorship by Johnson Controls for the recently released suite of AutocallTM fire detection systems. NOREL Service is excited to have the ability to provide customers with the most trusted and advanced technology in fire and life safety for today's environment.
AutocallTM provides next-generation fire detection technology while building on decades of trusted legacy systems. Autocall systems are highly modular and allow for integration with other Building Management Systems (BMS) using industry standard protocols such as BACNet and Modbus. Advanced features include fire alarm self-testing without disruption, addressable notification, and powerful networking capabilities.
Autocall's TrueSite allows a building manager or owner to view up-to-date, valuable command center information quickly and in real time, using a PC-based workstation, Apple, or Android mobile device.
As a highly-qualified distributor, NOREL Service maintains experience in designing (CAD) and installing systems for large and small buildings and extended campuses. NOREL's technicians and sales experts have been formally trained on the technical details and specifications of AutocallTM products and as always, adhere to applicable building and life safety codes.
About NOREL Service Company
NOREL Service Company, Inc. provides sales, service, and installation of top-of-the-line fire and security systems. The company has earned a reputation for providing superior service and has grown year over year since 1971.
The company's sustained success can be attributed to its leadership, highly-trained technicians, and its long-standing customers. NOREL Service has partnered with numerous building owners and property managers, and currently provides service and solutions for more than 2,500 various types of facilities in and around Boston and New England.
NOREL is a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) and a Boston Business Journal top 25 Largest Veteran-Owned Business in Massachusetts (2016, 2017).
For more information, visit www.norelservice.com
For information on AutocallTM products, visit www.autocall.com
NOREL FORMALLY DESIGNATED AS VETERAN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS (VOSB)
We are proud to announce our formal designation as a Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C.
Thank you to NOREL's Founder and President Thomas F. Norton for serving in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps and as Lieutenant Commander in the Reserves.
Other employees at NOREL who have served our country include: Dan Chauvin, Walter Van Wart, Gary Decker, and Mark Garland. Thank you!
NEREJ ARTICLE: Monitoring for Fire Alarms: Are You Ready for Change?
This article first appeared in NEREJ's August 25, 2017 edition – New England Real Estate Journal - Shopping Centers
Tom Norton, NOREL Service Co., Inc.
Building occupancies such as retail, residential, commercial, healthcare, and education, need effective and reliable fire protection. Over the past year, this point has been emphasized again and again with reported fires causing severe loss of property and loss of life from fires in London, California and here in New England.
Property managers, building owners and facilities directors need to ensure the fire alarm systems in their properties are maintained to operate in a reliable fashion. Staying abreast of the latest technology for fire protection systems, along with any impending changes to fire and building codes which could impact the way you procure fire-related services, is mandatory in order to maintain the dependability of fire alarm systems.
What you need to know
One of the most drastic changes in technology is the way a fire alarm system reports to the monitoring or supervising station. In recent years, this modification has gone unnoticed until a fire occurs and the fire department is not notified of the alarm condition. Additionally, land lines and outdated reporting technologies have become much less reliable, for example:
- As of January 1 of this year, the FCC has authorized the sunset of copper phone lines (or POTS plain old telephone service).
- Customer demand for POTS has drastically declined along with the advent of new technologies, i.e. fiber, Internet, cellular.
- As a result, current connections using POTS and Leased Line Circuits (called BANA) will remain in service until they fail, at which point there will be no service or maintenance provided by the communications carriers.
- Within the next two to four years, it is estimated that 3G cellular connections will also use the same sunset rules as 2G. Specifically, the industry has deemed 2021 as a guideline for ending 3G support.
These changes will require building owners/managers to seek alternative and more reliable methods for communication between their building(s) and their alarm monitoring company.
Changes to building and fire codes: Why plan now?
Coinciding with the timing of these industry developments, The Massachusetts Building Code, 9th Edition, will be taking effect this summer. The building code references NFPA 72-2013 Edition, which provides for alternate methods of communication in addition to allowing the existing radio and cellular methods between a building and its alarm receiving station.
The code allows various options described below with my comments on their reliability.
Option 1: Wireless radio
- Wireless Mesh Radio Monitoring: this is a network of radio communicators which provides multiple paths of communication between buildings and an alarm receiving station.
- These mesh radio networks provide more reliable response time due to the redundancy of the system; there are multiple paths for signals from the building to the monitoring facility.
- Reliability is improved through a privately-owned and operated system using the network of paths connecting with the alarm receiving station without relying on current communications providers.
Option 2: Cellular networks
- Use cellular with Internet backup.
- User is at the mercy of the cellular carriers quality and reliability of service and sunsetting of technologies.
Option 3: Combination
- Use of one telephone line along with either a one-way private radio alarm system, or a two-way RF multiplex system for transmission.
Why radio monitoring is the optimal choice
Using a Radio Mesh Network provides the most reliable communication method for alarm communications to the remote receiving station. And, the dependability of radio monitoring can be obtained generally at lower monthly cost. Mesh radio has the following benefits:
- Free from constraints of the major communication providers;
- No phone lines required;
- Significantly quicker response speeds and faster notification;
- Provides for a more robust communication system at a reduced cost; no phone bills and no phone maintenance;
- Remote diagnostics ability; and
- Provides a more streamlined emergency communication system.
Furthermore, the mesh radio network has the capability to incorporate life safety and environmental signals by monitoring alarm signals over the same network used for security, temperature monitoring, and carbon monoxide detection.
Mesh radio monitoring provides customers with an advantage against the changing communications environment while still providing reliable communications of a potential emergency situation to summon fire department assistance.
Tom Norton is the president of NOREL Service Co., Inc., Waltham, Mass.
New England Real Estate Journal • 17 Accord Park Drive #207, Norwell MA 02061 • (781) 878-4540 • Contact
AGAIN, NOREL NAMED ONE OF LARGEST VETERAN-OWNED COMPANIES IN MASSACHUSETTS
Boston Business Journal has once again listed NOREL Service Co., Inc. as one of the top 20 Largest veteran-owned companies in Massachusetts.
We are proud to be listed again in 2017 and honored to be amongst the other great companies named.
FALL RIVER'S FAULTY FIRE ALARM SYSTEM GETTING AN UPGRADE
NOREL Service to help the city of Fall River update its alarm and communication systems.
NOREL NAMED ONE OF LARGEST VETERAN-OWNED COMPANIES IN MASSACHUSETTS
Boston Business Journal identified NOREL Service Co., Inc. as one of the top 25 Largest veteran-owned companies in Massachusetts for 2016.
We are honored to be on this list and proud to be amongst the other great companies named.