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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.

A Guide to Different Types of Home Security Systems

There are various types of security systems on the market. From smoke and fire alarms to sophisticated systems to deter burglars, these solutions use a variety of methods and technologies. According to 2015 statistics from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a property crime occurred every 3.9 seconds and a home break-in/burglary occurred once every 20 seconds.1

A study on the decision-making processes and behavior of burglars was conducted by the Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation. Factoring in information from 422 incarcerated male and female burglars, it found 83% of the subjects studied would look for an alarm before going forward, and 60% said they’d seek a different target if one was present. This was especially true for those who spent time planning their approach.2

These statistics can be very useful when safeguarding your property. The type of alarm system and detectors installed depends on the most imminent hazard. Here is a guide to the latest technology for protecting your home and family this holiday season:

Monitored Home Security Systems

A monitored security system is tracked by a team or remote professionals 24/7 at a state-of-the-art monitoring center. It is operated by a central control panel. Numerous components transmit important data to a centralized station, including sensors for doors and windows. Motion sensors are used to monitor the exterior and interior of homes for potential intrusions, while wired/wireless security cameras, audible sirens/alarms, and security signage are also used.

Unmonitored Home Security Systems

Unmonitored systems consist of a control panel, sensors, and sirens/alarms as well as motion detectors and motion-activated cameras. Visual indicators such as lights may be included as well. Although triggered the same way as monitored systems, these are not tracked by a dedicated service. However, you can monitor your home from a smartphone or computer, so you can receive alerts from, arm/disarm, and configure the system via your mobile device rather than on-site keypads.

Wired Home Security Systems

If you’re more traditional and prefer a security system connected with wires to a home electrical circuit, landlines can be used. These security systems are directly connected to your phone while sending alerts using radio frequency signals. A back-up battery keeps the system running in case the power is disrupted. A wired system can be just as effective in an emergency, but the prevalence of digital technologies is making this configuration less popular.

Wireless Home Security Systems

Easier to install, update, and control, a wireless home security system uses the same cellular signals as your mobile phone. You’ll receive instant alerts when sensors are triggered. Benefits include simple installation you don’t need a professional for, and factory pre-programming that means the equipment is ready to use as soon as it arrives. The only downside is system reliability depends on the cellular signal quality in your area.

Other Types of Alarm Systems

Burglars aren’t the only home security threats. Smoke, fire, and inclement weather can put you in harm’s way. Fortunately, there are different options to consider that can monitor your property and alert you as soon as there’s a problem. These include:

  • Smoke Detectors: According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, about 1,100 residential fire deaths could be prevented annually if every home had a smoke alarm.3 Smoke contains carbon monoxide, harmful chemicals, and particulates that can be deadly even if a fire isn’t anywhere near you. Today’s smoke alarms placed near bedrooms can alert everyone to an emergency so you can get out and contact the authorities right away.
  • Fire Alarms: Advanced fire detection systems from Boyd & Associates feature a cellular connection and backup battery, so they provide constant protection even if the power goes out. They are automatically activated when a fire is detected. This means whether you are home or not, awake or sleeping, the alarm notifies you of a problem so you can take the appropriate action.
  • Glass-break Detectors: These can detect glass shattering or cracking using a type of microphone. The high-decibel alarm can alert you of a break-in or glass damage due to weather conditions. The microphone is designed to pick up the unique sound of glass breaking, whether from your front door or any window in your house.
  • Critical Alarm System: Trips when there is any type of indoor flooding, due to natural events or an issue with your plumbing. Immediate notification of a problem can help you avoid serious consequences such as extensive water damage or mold, while avoiding the potentially high cost of professional repairs, which can easily run into the thousands of dollars.

Boyd Can Help You Figure Out Which Type of Security System to Get

Boyd & Associates installs, manages, and monitors home security systems, including burglar, fire, and other alarms. Our services include professional guidance in determining the best security systems for your property. Homes, businesses, and communities have been relying on us since 1967. We provide the same advanced systems and service for all our residential and business clients, and our highly trained security teams can not only properly install alarm systems, but monitor them constantly to relay an emergency to the authorities. To learn more about the types of security systems we can install or request service, support, or a free consultation, contact us today.

Sources:
  1. https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/resource-pages/crime-clock?kbid=62750
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130516160916.htm
  3. https://www.nist.gov/el/smoke-alarm-research

The Best Tips for Holiday Home Safety

The holiday season is a time to be festive, but it’s also a time to consider home safety, especially regarding fires.

About 30% of home fires occur during December, January, and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), resulting in 38% of home fire deaths. The NFPA also found fires involving Christmas trees and seasonal décor cause twice as many injuries and five times more fatalities than the average home fire during the winter holidays. 1

Cooking, heating, and open flames, including those from fireplaces, contribute to the danger. Christmas trees, garlands, and other holiday decorations are also sources of fires. While fire isn’t the only hazard this time of year (falls, electrocutions, and poisonings are high on the list), there are fire safety tips that can protect your home, family, and guests.

Below are tips to avoid dangerous situations and ensure children and adults remain safe this holiday season.

Christmas Tree Safety

An average of 260 home fires per year start with Christmas trees. As a result of these fires, there are about 12 deaths and $16.4 million in property damage.2 To avoid your household becoming one more statistic:

  • Choose your tree wisely: If you purchase a live tree, make sure it is green, which means it’s fresh. The needles should not break when you bend them and shouldn’t easily come off the branches. An artificial tree doesn’t guarantee fire safety despite the absence of live trimmings. If you choose to purchase one, look for a label that states it is fire-resistant. Non-combustible materials will prevent it from easily burning.
  • Place your tree carefully: Set up your tree away from heat sources such as fireplaces, portable heaters, and radiators. It should be out of the way and not block doorways, so there’s no danger of someone accidentally knocking the tree over. If the tree is live, fill the stand with water, as a dry one will be less flame-resistant. Also, cut a few inches off the trunk to expose fresh wood that will more effectively absorb water.
  • Be careful lighting and decorating your tree: Many Christmas tree fires have electrical To avoid a problem, inspect the lighting and check for cord damage. Any damaged lights and strands should be thrown away.

Turn off lights and decorations before bedtime, or install an automatic timer, and use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to lower the shock risk. To avoid an overload, don’t connect more than 70 strings of 50-bulb mini lights or 300-600 strings of LED lights (50 bulbs each) to one circuit; don’t overload extension cords either.

  • Properly dispose of the tree: Christmas trees dry out the longer they’re in your home and become more flammable over time. A lot of tree-related home fires occur in January for this reason. When a dried-out Christmas tree burns, a complete flashover can occur in less than a minute, as found during a burn test conducted by the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission.3

Holiday Outdoor Lighting

Whenever you install holiday lights outside your home:

  • Place them near only non-combustible, flame-resistant, and flame-retardant
  • Check the label to ensure the product is certified for outdoor use.
  • Avoid damaging a cord’s wire insulation (use hooks or insulated staples rather than nails or tacks).
  • Plug outdoor electrical cords and decorations into a GFCI circuit to avoid shocks from improperly grounded
  • Even if a light string has been used before, look for damage before plugging it in.

Candle Safety

Candles cause one-third of all home decoration fires each year, whether used for decoration or during outages. Most home candle fires happen on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. 4 Fortunately, they can be easily prevented.

  • Use flameless candles: They can be as decorative as traditional candles; except they operate on batteries. Just remember to turn them off when you leave the house.
  • Don’t let a candle burn unattended: Never leave the room with a candle burning, even for a few minutes. Blowing it out easily avoids a potentially hazardous

Also, exercise caution when using candles to decorate your home. They should be at least 12 inches from any flammable item. And, use a sturdy candle holder to prevent them from tipping over.

Holiday Entertaining

To ensure the safety of your family and guests, keep in mind the following tips for entertaining:

  • Test your smoke detectors and alarms before the holiday (make sure they can be heard in the bedroom, halls, and everywhere else in your home).
  • Make sure your carbon monoxide detector is working.
  • Have a fire escape plan and inform visitors of what this plan is when they arrive.
  • Keep an eye on the kitchen to make sure cooking appliances don’t catch fire.
  • Store matches and lighters up high, locked in a cabinet, and out of reach of children.
  • Use large, deep ashtrays and check them often for burning materials.

Chimney & Fireplace Safety

Failure to clean chimneys is a major contributor to home heating fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A professional chimney sweep can take care of the problem. It’s best to hire one that is certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America, who can thoroughly inspect and clean both your chimneys and fireplaces. They can check any wood-burning stoves as well.

You can also address a few safety factors on your own, such as:

  • Clearing debris from the fireplace: Logs and firewood quickly burn into ashes, which should be cleaned up to reduce flammable material that can collect in the chimney. Also, open the damper before any fire is lit.
  • Use safe materials: Avoid using painted or pressure-treated wood. All the fuel available in the fireplace should be consumed; otherwise, the fire will burn too slowly, and hazardous materials can build up in the chimney flue.
  • Set up your fire properly: By placing larger logs on the bottom, topped by a cross-layer of smaller ones and crushed newspaper and kindling, you can have a hotter, cleaner fire. This “top-down burn” method works by lighting the newspaper and letting the flame do the rest.

Don’t Forget About Home Security

Fire and electrical safety should be your top priorities this holiday season. Fire/smoke/carbon monoxide alarm systems are available for a complete home environment monitoring solution. But you also don’t want to skimp on security, as home break-ins and theft are on the rise this time of year too. Whether you’re entertaining at home or traveling, you can depend on Boyd & Associates for state-of-the-art security systems and 24/7 alarm monitoring services.

We’re trusted throughout Southern California and provide everything from simple touchscreen controls to video surveillance systems, door and window sensors, pet-friendly motion detectors, and window break detectors.

For advice on the best systems for your home this holiday season, and for professional installation, call Boyd & Associates at 888-919-3326 or contact us online today.

Sources:
  1. https://www.esfi.org/resource/holiday-data-and-statistics-359
  2. https://www.esfi.org/resource/holiday-data-and-statistics-359
  3. https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Seasonal-fire-causes/Winter-holidays/Holiday-fires-by-the-numbers
  4. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/holiday_infographic.pdf

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