Getting the Word OutIndustry Insights 2011


November 11, 2011
Author: Timothy Means
Source: Security Technology Executive

Remember when we were kids and heard the fire alarm bell in school? On cue, we lined up in an orderly manner and dutifully marched out of the classroom single file, no talking, and keep your hands to yourself. How times have changed!
Yesterday’s fire alarm bell will not meet today’s requirements for in-building Emergency Communications Systems (ECS). One big difference between the in-building notification systems of today and yesterday is the need to notify people about more than just fire. A mass notification system must articulate emergency information with voice instructions quickly enough to help people make life-saving decisions. Today’s more stringent codes call for hardened, dedicated alerting devices installed in buildings that inform with the kind of actionable information that makes a difference.

Various industry and government groups such as The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) and the Department of Defense have written codes to raise the bar in the field of emergency communications.

Facilities and emergency managers who aspire to comply with new standards are presented a clear choice: either upgrade the fire alarm system or implement an independent ECS. The new code from NFPA allows for both approaches, and unless otherwise mandated by law, the choice is voluntary. The core issue is spelled out in the 2010 edition of the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code Handbook (NFPA-72 2010):

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See Desktop Alert’s Metis Secure emergency notification system in action