Business Fire Safety Tips

Fire safety in the workplace should not be taken lightly. To ensure your office and employees are protected, focus on prevention, response protocols, and training. Even a small fire can cause enough damage to shut down your business for good. These tips can help you prevent such an occurrence, starting with prevention.

Preventing an Office Fire

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, cooking equipment causes more than a quarter of all office property fires. Other leading causes include electrical distribution and lighting equipment, heating equipment, smoking materials, and electronic, office, or entertainment equipment. The following preventative measures can improve fire safety in your office:

  • Install fire extinguishers in kitchenettes, cafeterias, and other at-risk locations and train all workers in using them.

 

  • Avoid overloading your electrical outlets and make sure the number of prongs between the plug and outlets match.

 

  • Make sure all electrical equipment has been rated by Underwriters Laboratories or another nationally recognized laboratory.

 

  • Avoid cluttering your workspace, which can add fire to fuel and block access to emergency exits and electrical control panels.

 

  • Maintain machinery to prevent it from overheating and generating friction sparks, which can ignite fires.

 

  • Store flammable chemicals only in well-ventilated areas and use extreme precautions in potentially explosive environments (and pay attention to labels and Material Safety Data Sheets).

 

  • If space heaters are permitted, use only devices with thermostat controls and store them away from flammable materials.

Establish Workplace Protocols

Your company should have a fire plan in place. It should outline the steps employees should take in case of a fire, including calling 911, appointing a fire prevention officer familiar with all escape routes and meeting points, and conducting regular fire drills. A fire evacuation plan should be posted in multiple locations (and include elevators). Evacuation protocols for disabled employees should be available.

In addition, your business should:

  • Install a sprinkler system: The National Fire Protection Association has said when properly installed and maintained, sprinklers can be 95% effective. Sprinklers are the best way to stop a fire from spreading.

 

  • Replace old wiring: Frayed wires, broken connectors, or cables with damaged insulation should be replaced right away. Also, avoid cluttering wires and plugs around a single outlet and don’t install more than one extension cord per outlet.

 

  • Leave room for appliances: For devices like computers, coffee machines, and others that heat up, leave enough room for them, and let them cool down. Make sure they’re kept away from paper, cloth, and other combustibles and unplug them at the end of the day.

First aid kits should be available where hazards are most likely to occur. Also, all employees should be made aware of where each first aid kit is.

Employee training should involve all workers knowing how many doors, machines, or desks are between their work area and the closest exit. The locations of alternative exits and fire alarms (and how to use them) should be known as well.

Smoke and Fire Alarms

Smoke detectors are required by law, which also identifies how they should be installed, placed, and monitored. The most effective alarms also detect carbon monoxide. For even more protection, use a 24/7 monitoring service that dispatches emergency personnel when necessary. Boyd & Associates can provide complete security that includes hardwired or wireless fire protection systems and 24/7 alarm monitoring. Our UL Listed Monitoring Station can send help whenever an alarm is triggered.

For more information, contact our sales team at 888-343-2852, or reach out to our business support department online.

Top 6 Security Trends to Watch in 2020

Cybersecurity issues now threaten personal and corporate data. And, there is no sign of hacking attacks slowing down. With more devices being connected and more information available through digital channels and devices, digital security is of utmost importance. New trends to fight security risks are emerging and here are the top ones to watch in 2020.

1. Expansion of Video Security

Traditionally one of the most useful security assets, video provides real-time coverage of incidents and emerging threats. There are really no limits here. For example, food processing plants and other manufacturing facilities will continue to use video for training, regulatory compliance, and to prevent food recalls and other issues. Video coverage of harsh environments, such as oil and gas facilities, helps reduce the need for personnel in hazardous areas.

With video data, information can be used for everything from real-time situational awareness to providing forensic coverage. Nonetheless, the increasing use of video in smart homes has given rise to privacy concerns. Security companies must have internal controls over who can access feeds. Organizations must adhere to privacy laws such as those that have been introduced by the EU, which govern the use of applications that involve the collection of video and other data on people and assets.

2. Cloud-Based Security

Developing cybersecurity protocols is critical, especially for servers, digital video recorders, IP cameras, smart sensors, and other network-connected devices connected to the cloud. This applies to organizations reliant on CRM systems such as Salesforce and home users who leverage Dropbox and other storage services.

The cloud-security platform industry is already predicted to top $460 million, as it can scale to various requirements, provide greater intelligence and protection, and reduce costs.

3. Artificial Intelligence

Taking video and data analytics to the next level, software manufacturers are beginning to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to improve analytical capabilities. Facial recognition is one example of a technology being used to more efficiently detect potential threats. Given the vast amounts of data and growth in devices such as intelligent sensors, using AI to analyze video and other data makes sense.

4. Passwordless Authentication

Consumers have been familiar with password protection since the first Internet services became available. But new authentication methods have emerged. These include hardware tokens, biometric authentication such as fingerprint readers, and knowledge-based authentication such as security questions based on personal details.

5. Mobile Access to Security Devices

Physical security has become more dependent on mobility and this trend is expected to continue. It includes access to security devices from browsers and smartphones. There are now many mobile apps for managing video cameras and receiving automatic alerts. Permitted users can even grant or restrict access to facilities and individual access points.

6. Convergence of Physical and Digital Security

This has been discussed for decades. But tracking users throughout a building had been difficult without the technologies that exist today. The Internet of Things, modern data analytics, and cloud technologies are bringing physical and digital security closer together. Edge computing is also helping make this convergence a reality.

Let Boyd & Associates Bolster Your Security

Our business specializes in improving home and business security using the latest technologies on the market. From burglar alarm systems to alarm monitoring services, to intrusion detection, access control, and video surveillance for commercial clients, we help manage all your security needs. Boyd & Associates serves clients throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, and Riverside Counties. Request service online or call us at 888-248-6617 for assistance choosing security systems and services today.

5 Holiday Security Tips for Businesses

Retail and commercial theft remains a significant problem in the U.S. The 31st Annual Retail Theft Survey from Jack L. Hayes International, Inc. found more than 279,000 instances of theft involving shoplifters and employees at 20 large retail companies, in 2018. The loss prevention/inventory shrinkage control consulting firm also revealed one out of every 40 employees was apprehended for theft.

Theft (including shoplifting), fraud, and other crimes increase during the seasonal spike in holiday shopping. Stealing can lead to significant losses at any store or office. Here are five security tips to help your business improve its loss prevention strategy:

Combat Employee Theft

Employee theft accounts for more inventory shrinkage than shoplifting, administrative error, and vendor fraud. A cashier may pocket change that shoppers don’t wait around for, while a sales associate may refund an unpurchased item and add its value to a gift card. There are many possible scenarios involving staff, but these precautions can help:

  • Balance the cash register after each employee’s shift
  • Rotate employee assignments
  • Compare daily receipts to items sold
  • Schedule frequent physical inventories
  • Conduct random sales audits

Reduce the Threat of Shoplifting

It’s harder to track customers who shoplift than employees who steal. They’re less easily recognized, but you can put at-risk items closer to the checkout counter to monitor them. Also, place desirable items where there’s a good line of sight. Store managers should greet customers and make their presence known, paying careful attention to people with bags, strollers, and carriages. Other precautions include posting shoplifter prosecution policies and using electronic tags detected by sensing devices at the front door.

Take Extra Security Precautions

Additional security precautions include:

  • Installing security CCTV cameras that can provide proof of theft and enable you to report a thief to law enforcement.
  • Hiring a background-checked, trained security officer who can deter and catch shoplifters in the act.
  • Ensuring your store is well lit and that inventory is well-organized.
  • Locking dressing rooms so customers must interact with retail staff.
  • Creating a clear anti-shoplifting policy to post in dressing rooms and other highly visible areas.

Review Surveillance Information 

Having a surveillance system is not enough. You must proactively monitor it; to do this, double check security cameras to ensure they’re working and capturing potential criminal activity. If not, reposition video surveillance cameras. If there are decorations and other obstructions on your commercial property, check for, remove, or reposition them so cameras, alarm systems, or motion detectors aren’t blocked.

Monitoring your live feed is also important. These days, feeds can be conveniently accessed via mobile phone apps and remote video monitoring services provided by security companies. Consider revising your alarm notification list and submitting it to the company as well. Your intrusion alarm service provider will then know who to contact during an emergency.

Encourage Employee Vigilance

Train employees to spot and report suspicious activity. You can improve office security by training workers to react to any strangers in the office building. For example, if a suspicious individual is on the property, code words can be used to relay someone is watching them or it’s believed theft is occurring. Using tenant security activity scheduling unlocks offices only when enough employees are present to supervise an area and offer adequate protection. Access control is reactivated later in the day to lock vulnerable areas.

Work with a Private Security Company

Boyd & Associates, the largest family owned security company in Southern California, provides advanced security and burglar alarm systems as well as commercial patrol, intrusion detection, access control, and video surveillance services. To learn more, request a free quote online or call 888-907-1659.

How Fire Detection Systems and Alarms Work

Combination smoke detectors and fire alarm systems are lifesaving in buildings of all types. Fire is an extremely dangerous event and can easily get out of control. In addition to heat, smoke, and flames, fires can create a dangerous environment in which exposure to carbon monoxide, combustion particles, and other toxic substances can put lives in danger.

The Facts

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published the report, “U.S. Structure Fires in Office Properties”, in 2013, which revealed an estimated 3,340 office property fires occurred per year, on average, between 2007 and 2011. On average, there were four civilian deaths and 44 fire-related injuries per year. Fires were most common when facilities were occupied, with peak times being between noon and 2:00 p.m., while more than one in four office fires were caused by cooking equipment. Electrical distribution, lighting, and heating equipment were other factors.

The report also found that fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, were effective in 88% of fires where they were installed. In such properties, deaths per 1,000 fires were 62% lower than in offices and stores with no fire suppression equipment with automatic functions.1

Alarm systems are extremely important for fire safety. Here is a look at how the automatic functions of modern fire alarm systems work, and how integrating wireless technology and combining them with access control systems can help people safely evacuate in the event of an emergency.

How an Automatic Fire Alarm System Works

Today’s wireless systems use radio frequency signals. Whether it has a sensor with thermistors to sense heat, opto-chemical or biomimetic cells to trace carbon monoxide gas, or uses photoelectricity or ionization to sense smoke or combustion particles, a detector sends incoming signals to a fire alarm control panel (FACP). The FACP itself can be connected to a building’s electrical system. It can also be powered by batteries or a backup power control when the electrical current is interrupted.

Once a signal is received from a sensor, the main control panel:

  • Activates audio alerts such as sounders (may include horns, gongs, or automated loudspeaker messages)
  • Turns on visual indicators like lights and flashers
  • Activates building sprinklers in affected areas

Different methods can be used to notify occupants on separate floors or connected structures, and even help them find the best escape route. This is useful when specific departments in an organization need to take appropriate actions specific to their role and location.

Some fire detection systems are designed to also:

  • Work with sensitive equipment in computer and clean rooms by discharging clean agents
  • Activate dry pipe sprinklers to protect people/property before the main suppression system kicks in
  • Provide notification of severe weather, bomb threats, hazardous chemical releases, and other events

Advanced fire alarm systems and smart devices can provide people with notifications on safe evacuation routes. Some notification appliances can relay alerts to a local fire department, other authorities, and the alarm company so help is dispatched right away.

Wireless Technology Integration

Wireless technology has made fire alarms more reliable in a world where telecommunications companies have shifted from traditional telephone lines to wireless and IP-based alternatives. Improvements in transmission speed and access to data make it more practical to connect fire alarm systems to wireless networks. Smart systems are more reliable as well, which helps prevent false alarms, as they’re based on the latest NFPA 72-2013 communication standards and can work on 4G cellular networks.

In a wireless mesh network, many devices can be installed without requiring a direct connection. Numerous communication paths can be created to improve reliability. Even if one or more devices are damaged, different communication paths can be found and the network will still function. Point-to-point or point-to-multipoint technology may also be used, but failure of a single device can disrupt the entire network.

A computerized fire protection system linked to a mesh network with bi-directional communication is the most reliable. Aside from a flexible design that remains functional in a variety of situations, it avoids the challenges of running wires in difficult locations, such as historic buildings, parking garages, and warehouses.

Wireless smart systems simplify central station reporting, so the status of the system can be monitored constantly. They also allow for mobile app control. This enables panels and alarms to be remotely managed, alerts of danger to be received from any location, and individual detectors to be monitored. As with an app for surveillance and access control systems, a mobile phone application for your fire detection system can let you:

  • Activate/deactivate the system
  • Check the status of zones
  • Add/manage/assign users
  • View email alerts
  • Access fire safety reports

How Fire Alarms Work with Access Control

Fire alarm systems can now be fully integrated with access control infrastructure. With this integration, a signal can automatically unlock doors that are connected electronically. The trigger of electric locks enables people to safely exit when detectors sense a fire or smoke condition. Otherwise, it would be difficult for occupants to egress a building where there is immediate danger.

Fail-safe locks are required per NFPA 101. It requires doors to automatically unlock if there is a loss of power to the access control system. This functionality is not present in a fail-secure electric lock. The NFPA guidelines also require electric locks to be interconnected with an automatic fire alarm and sprinkler system. During an emergency, such a system can promptly disconnect power from a lock mechanism so people can respond to warnings and protect themselves.

The standard also requires motion detectors that automatically release electric locks. In addition, it calls for egress systems that disengage power to electric locks via mechanical disruption. This type of setup usually involves a double-pole, double-throw momentary push-button switch (can be installed as an easily recognizable pull switch).

Contact Boyd & Associates

Boyd & Associates is a full-service commercial security and monitoring company offering the latest in integrated fire alarm systems. Focused on protecting homes and businesses in Southern California, we’ve also developed advanced security, access control, smart lock, and smartphone app solutions. We employ trained security teams to provide a swift response to emergencies.

Our fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide detection systems include hardwired and wireless devices. These use light, sound, and text alerts to notify users of a problem, and use a backup battery and cellular connection in case of a power failure. Our monitoring station is UL Listed and operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

To request service or more information, call Boyd & Associates at 888-343-2852 or contact us online today.

Source:
  1. https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/Building-and-Life-Safety/US-Structure-in-Office-Properties

Perks of Having a Security System for Your Business

Perks of Having a Security System for Your Business

Because of your rigorous planning and plenty of hard work, your business is doing great. But like any proud owner, you want it to get better. Adding a security system can bring all kinds of perks to your enterprise for you, your employees and your customers. Read more

Why You Need To Register Your CCTV with the Police

No, this isn’t so police can view the images from the cameras whenever they want. It’s so they can have a record of where cameras are and what they are viewing so that if there is ever a need, they can request footage to aid in the investigation.

Boyd & Associates, police departments all around California and our customers are partnering to catch and even deter criminals in a way that never existed in the old days.

A few months ago, there was a stabbing outside a commercial building where we had installed HD cameras and a NVR (network video recorder). The business had registered the system with the local police department. When detectives came calling, they knew that there were cameras covering the area. A perfect view of the license plate on the getaway car allowed the police to find the assailant.

Ask your local police department if they have a program. Here is what some departments are saying.

“Video surveillance is one of the best methods to apprehend criminals and convict suspects in the act of committing a crime. Installing video surveillance is a great example of community-police partnerships and is highly valued as a police agency serving our community.”

About Boyd & Associates

Boyd & Associates is committed to partnerships with local police departments. That commitment, coupled with our expertise, community involvement and the service we provide means total security.