Fire alarm systems are designed to notify occupants of a building when there is a fire emergency in the building, and alert them that they need to leave. In these instances, building managers and supervisors become responsible for ensuring the safety of the people within the building and ensuring that protocol and directions are carried out in order to efficiently get people out of the building. Even in the case of the most trained and skilled managers and occupants, leaving a building during a fire can be hectic, chaotic situation, and many things can run through the mind of those responsible for those in the building.
- “Who is taking care of people with disabilities?”
- “Where are the children?”
- “Is anyone asleep?”
These are just three of the myriad of questions and concerns that can run through the mind of a building manager in the event of a fire situation in a coded facility. The last thing that should be on the mind of those responsible is, “Has anyone called the fire department?” and more importantly, “Is the fire department getting the right information, as quickly as they can get it?”.
Buildings that are required to be monitored by a third party under the Building and Fire Code are required to be monitored to the CAN/ULC-S561 standard. Under this standard, monitoring companies are required to notify the fire department of a fire alarm signal within 30 seconds of receipt, without verification. This too, can often be a hectic and troublesome situation. Alarms received at a monitoring station may fall into a prioritized queue, where they are manually handled when operators become free. This can take time. Fire alarm signals must be verbally reported through a telephone call to the appropriate fire department dispatch centre or Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), where the reported information is manually entered into the fire department’s Computer Automated Dispatch (CAD) system. This is a time consuming process, which is also susceptible to human error.
You would think that there has to be a faster, more efficient way to accomplish this process. You’re right, there is.
OPEN ACCESS™ is a service which allows fire alarm signals to be re-transmitted from any monitored facility directly to the appropriate fire department’s CAD system, thereby eliminating the need for a telephone call to the fire department to advise them of the alarm. The information sent to the fire department is pre-tested and pre-verified so that you know the right people are getting the right information. Most importantly, this process saves time. A study completed in 2003 on monitoring systems using OPEN ACCESS™, and those using “traditional” monitoring (through a phone call) showed time savings of nearly 2 full minutes on fire department response times. Considering that fires double in size every minute after the first four minutes, this is a significant time savings, which can potentially save lives and property.
The question then becomes: Why add any sort of delay or potential for error into an already stressful and time-sensitive process? Why not ensure that the correct information is getting where it needs to go, as efficiently as possible? OPEN ACCESS™ is available to any Underwriters Laboratories listed monitoring company, and doesn’t even require any costly changes to equipment in your building. Call your provider and ask them about OPEN ACCESS™, or call your local fire department.