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Sinkhole Safety

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Record-breaking cold temperatures across the country have wreaked havoc on streets from coast to coast. The severe weather has led to an alarming number of weather-related car accidents, flash flooding, mudslides, and downed trees and power lines across the United States. Another unfortunate yet common side effect of the storms is water-logged land that has given way to hundreds of large sinkholes.

A few examples of the serious sinkholes reported in the U. S. within the past 12 months:

What exactly is a sink hole?

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “A sinkhole can be defined as: an area of ground that has no natural external surface drainage. When it rains, water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface. Sinkholes can vary from a few feet to hundreds of acres and from less than one foot to more than 100 feet deep. Some are shaped like shallow bowls or saucers, whereas others have vertical walls. Some hold water, forming natural ponds.”

The three types of sinkholes include dissolution, cover-subsidence, and cover-collapse. Whatever the type, most occur so slowly that changes to the landscape are not immediately evident. This is also true of ground structure that has been compromised by buried bones. So, while it looks like they appear out of thin air, most require time to deteriorate into a full-blown collapse. Collapses most significantly impact structures and people when they happen in urban settings. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, we wanted to devote this blog post to providing subscribers and friends with tips for spotting and safely reacting to sinkholes.

Conditions that foster sinkholes:

  • Active wells
  • Abandoned drywells, cesspools and septic tanks
  • Buried swimming pools
  • Old dumps that were later built-over
  • Buried, abandoned building foundations
  • Cracks, gaps, ravines opened by earthquakes
  • Steep-sloped or otherwise unstable areas
  • Moisture-soaked earth
  • Streets and structures not retrofitted for safety

It is highly unlikely that a sinkhole would swallow a modern high-rise building. Whew. However, you could potentially encounter such an event while you are driving to or from work or school or while traveling to an area with relaxed building inspection protocols. If this happens, remain calm. Try to quickly drive or walk around the hazardous area. Finally, call 911 for help.

Remember that safety on the road is a priority for everyone across the country, all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Personal Safety at College

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Part 2 of a 3-Part Series

Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. It also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety.

Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus. To help college students stay safe while attending college, we are doing a three-part blog series about campus safety.

Blog Series

In part one, we offered helpful tips for keeping students safe relative to fire. This week’s post will focus on personal safety while in college. Check back next week to read about college safety relative to cyber security.

Be Aware

One of the most important ways to #BeSafe while in college is to make sure that students are aware of potential threats to their personal safety. A recent report by CBS News says that the top nine threats to today’s university students include:

  1. Mononucleosis
  2. Meningitis
  3. Colds and flu
  4. Hazardous mold
  5. Bedbugs
  6. Athlete’s foot
  7. Sleep deprivation
  8. Binge drinking
  9. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

Safety Concerns

While we agree that the above are concerns, we suggest there are even more menacing threats to the typical college student’s safety. Whether students are walking on campus to go to a class, headed to the library, or on their way to a dorm, they should take steps to be safe:

  • Lock the residence when leaving or sleeping.
  • At night, walk in groups of at least two.
  • Familiarize themselves with services provided by the office of campus safety. Potential services could include Blue Light emergency phone stations, campus escort services, safety maps with suggested secure routes and support for a safety app like Campus Safety.
  • After dark, walk only on lit sidewalks.
  • Know where you are going.
  • When parking, remove valuables from plain view and lock vehicles.
  • Record serial numbers for valuables and store them in a safe place.
  • Report criminal incidents, losses and suspicious people to campus safety officers.
  • Learn how to defend yourself.
  • Maintain ready access to safety and security supplies.
  • Dial 911 for life-threatening emergencies.

It is also imperative that students, as well as their friends, family members, and neighbors know how to properly respond and support someone who reports a crime to them in confidence. Victims and loved ones should know where to turn for resources and resolution.

Resources are available for males and females as well as non-victims:

Next week, check back to read our final post in this series about college safety. Remember that safety is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Allied Universal Campus Safety

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Part one of a three-part series

Attending college is a grand adventure, whether students choose to live on campus or commute. However, it also can prove risky for anyone who fails to sufficiently prepare for potential emergencies. In our ongoing effort to save lives through training, the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System is expanding our online safety education to include residence hall fire life safety. Using building-specific information, students living in campus housing who attend subscribing universities will be able to log in to modules designed to train them to be safe, whether they live in a residence hall, traditional or suite-style residence, on or off campus.

To help college students be safe while attending college, we are writing a three-part blog series about campus safety. In it, we will offer helpful tips to keep students safe relative to fire, personally, and in cyberspace. This week’s post will focus on fire life safety.

Fire Life Safety – Most modern buildings are equipped with a variety of fire protection features such as fire alarms, smoke detectors, automatic sprinklers, illuminated signage, fire extinguishers, automatic self-closing fire doors, and compartmentation construction techniques. However, regardless of age or sophistication of the building, these or other fire safety features alone cannot guarantee safety. These buildings have been designed to provide sufficient time to escape. So, for maximum safety, students should be aware of their building’s specific fire drills and emergency evacuation procedures.

The Center for Campus Fire Safety reports that almost 80 percent of fire-related fatalities in student housing occur off campus. They result from lack of automatic fire sprinklers, missing or disabled smoke alarms, and careless disposal of smoking materials. What’s more, officials with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report that fires in dormitories can double in size every 30 to 60 seconds, and point to the use of cooking equipment as the cause for 86 percent of property damage in dormitory-type properties. In just a couple of minutes – whatever the cause of the fire – flames and smoke can engulf an entire room.

To help prevent fire-related emergencies on or off campus, students can follow these fire life safety tips:

  • Make sure off-campus housing features smoke alarms and fire sprinklers in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on each level. For optimal protection, the smoke alarms should be connected so they all sound at once.
  • Test smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • Know where your fire extinguishers are, that they are inspected to function, and that residents know how to use the equipment.
  • TALK with your roommates, call a meeting to discuss personal and fire safety to reinforce each person’s commitment to shared safety values and practices. Don’t remove batteries or otherwise disable alarms.
  • Don’t remove batteries or otherwise disable alarms.
  • Learn the building’s evacuation plan and routinely practice drills as if they were actual fire events.
  • Never rent at a building that is converted into multi-tenant residences or additional rooms which do not meet local codes and/or occupancy requirements – do not hesitate to ask for proof of compliance/certification.
  • Create a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room, whenever possible. Remember that windows could potentially provide a means of exit. but always assess risk (oxygen to the fire, likelihood of serious or grave injuries, etc.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, evacuate the building and stay out until cleared to reenter the building. If firefighters or other first responders arrive on scene, students should wait to hear the “all clear” from someone in authority.
  • During power outages, use a flashlight.
  • Learn the institution’s rules before using electrical appliances.
  • Cook only where permitted, and only when alert.
  • Check with the local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or outdoor fireplace.
  • Many institutions offer checklist and audit programs for off-campus safety, including fire. Some campus public safety departments even offer an on-site assessment – be sure to ask your campus public safety office about what programs exist for your campus community.
  • Use surge protectors for computers and plug protectors directly into outlets instead of extension cords.

In the coming weeks, check back to read more about college safety. Remember that safety is a priority for everyone, all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

2017 Safety Resolutions

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Take steps to “BeSafe” in 2017.

The year 2016 was a banner one for declared disasters in the United States – with emergencies of virtually every conceivable type devastating landscapes, manmade structures and victims across the country.

Declared Disasters

  • Fires in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas. Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North & South Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
  • Hurricanes/Tropical Storms in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin
  • Mudslides & Landslides in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
  • Severe Storms & Flooding in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia (DC), Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin
  • Tornadoes in Hawaii, Kentucky, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia

Equally significant “undeclared” disasters broke records in 2016. These included biological and chemical threats, cyber terrorism, droughts, earthquakes, radiation and nuclear events, and volcanoes…to name a few. The good news is that lessons learned in 2016, through endurance, recovery, and rebuilding can help us make a fresh start to #BeSafe in 2017.

Plan 

  • Take responsibility for your own personal safety. Make a mental note of emergency exits and locations of security personnel. Carry emergency contact details and special needs’ information.
  • Put together a Go-Bag/Emergency Supply Kit.
  • If you own your own business, take a cue from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to plan, prepare and protect.

Practice

  • Prepare an evacuation plan.
  • Post instructions.
  • Run drills.

Pay Attention

  • Access government websites for information about emerging threats as information is identified.
  • Listen to instructions given before, during and after disasters from local law enforcement and public safety officials.
  • Note travel alerts and warnings issued by the Department of State.
  • Wherever you are, If you see something, say something.

For more safety resolutions from Allied Universal, click here.

Remember that safety is a priority for everyone all year long. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Drones and Disaster Management

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Drone delivers the goods against the background of New York at sWhile news outlets often report about people shooting at drones as they hover over homes, and despite the fact certain irresponsible remote controllers have been known to interrupt emergency fire operations, these tiny fliers are well on their way to becoming invaluable disaster management tools.

Potential Drone Use

Identifying Threats and Survivors

  • Local officials could use drones when a dam is under strain from a flood or earthquake, to safely survey damage so they could alert the public about risks such as imminent collapse, or to allay fears if they are able to determine whether the dam is structurally sound.
  • Telecommunication firms are experimenting with drones which can provide a 4G local signal, which could connect responders and survivors.
  • Other companies are offering drones to deliver medical and/or food supplies. One such vendor made Pouncer, an inexpensive drone which features a compact, vacuum-packed cargo area.
  • Drones are ideally suited for search and rescue teams, as they can cover a wide area and link to operators’ cellphones, to help pinpoint exact locations.

Building Inspection

Drones can be used in building inspections.

Drones can be used in building inspections.

  • Drones are ideally suited for high-rise building inspections because they can travel to great heights. Verizon is currently using drones to check cell phone towers affected by Hurricane Matthew. Drones enable them to view tower damage without putting their employees at electrical risk by venturing into flooded areas.
  • A drone operator can launch a UAV that provides a birds-eye view of all sides of nearly any bridge.
  • Certain drones cling to the side of walls, allowing operators to safely assess structural integrity.
  • Bridge inspections conducted with drones don’t impede traffic flow, as the drone operator can stand safely on the shore as cars drive over the bridge, blissfully unaware of the inspection taking place.

Surveying Damaged Areas

To quickly process claims, insurance agencies are using drones to check damaged buildings and property. This technology enables insurance carriers to inspect roofs without employing ladder teams.drone

Government agencies are also using drones to assess flood damages to coastal areas. Instead of renting a plane or helicopter, local agencies can fly drones to take high-definition pictures and videos of an area. They can also safely operate drones without nuisance noise or winds associated with helicopters or small planes.

Fire departments are using fire-resistant drones built to provide invaluable real-time information about high-rise fires, including the severity of the blaze and exact location of any occupants who might be trapped.

Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone, and is becoming a priority for many companies that use drones for disaster management efforts. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Earthquake Preparedness

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
quakeshack

Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services’ client, Brookfield, recently used the Quake Cottage in their earthquake tenant training.

Worldwide, millions of people practiced how to Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:20 a.m. on October 20, 2016 during The Great California ShakeOut. Participating in the annual event is a great way to make sure you are prepared to survive and recover quickly from substantial earthquakes – whether you are at home, at work or traveling.

To call attention to earthquake preparedness, we want to take this opportunity to educate our subscribers and friends about earthquake preparedness in high-rise buildings. We would like to extend our thanks to Safe-T-Proof, which provided their “Quake Cottage” for a Pre-Great California Shakeout event. They offer superior earthquake fasteners and straps for offices as well as survival kits and additional earthquake-safety supplies.

The latest and greatest in earthquake-resilient design is currently being implemented to build the Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles, which, at 1,100 feet, will make it the tallest building on the Pacific coast. The building’s massive foundation is so robust that its construction is noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “longest continuous concrete pour.” Exploding city

Despite how odd it feels to stand in a tall building that sways during an earthquake, modern California high-rises provide safer refuge during earthquakes than most shorter facilities. This is because architectural plans and construction for high-rise California structures built after the Sylmar quake in 1971 are required to follow stringent seismic codes. You can further improve your high-rise earthquake survival odds by taking preparedness steps.

Safety Tips for High-Rise Earthquakes

  • Stay put. Sitting down under a desk or doorway is the safest way to “ride out” a quake while it’s happening. Most earthquakes are relatively short. So it is safer to patiently wait a quake out instead of trying to exit the building as it moves.
  • Stay alert. After exiting a building, tenants should move under cover in order to avoid falling debris such as panes of glass. Also, pay attention to warnings of fires or tsunamis which can follow any quake.
  • Stay informed. Tenants in high rises should be familiar with evacuation protocols for their building. A speedy yet orderly evacuation is crucial for ensuring building occupant safety. The National Fire Protection Association offers an evacuation plan video that encourages individuals to take ownership of their safety while following safety procedures.

Allied Universal offers these earthquake safety tips for anyone who may not be in a high-rise to follow:

Duck, cover and hold on.

Duck, cover and hold on.

Indoors

  • Drop to the ground. Take cover by getting under a sturdy table and hold on. Stay inside until the shaking stops.
  • Stay away from glass or anything that can fall, like light fixtures and furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes.

In a Fire…R-A-C-E to Safety!

  • Rescue—Remove any employees or visitors from immediate danger.
  • Alarm—Pull the nearest Fire Alarm and call the proper emergency phone number.
  • Contain—Contain all smoke and toxic fumes by closing all doors and windows.
  • Extinguish and Evacuate—Follow all posted and verbal procedures.

Outdoors

  • Stay where you are if you are not near any buildings, streetlights or utility wires.
  • Do not move from the area you are in until the shaking stops. Remember that aftershocks can be just as bad as the earthquake itself.

In a Moving VehicleEarthquake scene at the town

  • Stop as quickly as possible, but stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the shaking has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that have been damaged.

Built to Withstand Quakes

Modern high rises, such as the Wilshire Grand Center, undergo considerable earthquake modeling and testing before they are complete. Taller buildings must withstand massive amounts of force from earthquakes and wind, so engineers make sure construction will withstand the “worst case scenario.”

High-Rise Earthquake Safety Features

  • Tuned mass dampers. These are massive weights that are mounted within a building and designed to move opposite to the oscillations of the structure. For example, the massive Taipei 101 skyscraper damper weighs 660 tons.
  • Simple roller bearing. This is a type of “base isolation” where the movement of the building is mitigated by bearings, which absorb some of the energy, thereby minimizing the building’s lateral movement. This is a common technique that essentially removes the structure from the ground, so it “floats” freely.
  • Sway. Engineers build the structure to withstand a certain amount of sway, knowing that there is a direct relationship between the height of the building and seconds of associated, safe side-to-side movement.

Building AbstractBuilding design is always dynamic, with new materials and procedures explored that can make buildings safer and more aesthetically pleasing. For instance, the growing use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) is pushing architects to consider high-rise wood buildings in Seattle and other areas.

Remember that safety is a daily priority for everyone, not only those working or living in high-rise buildings. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Allied Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Emergency Response & Disaster Management: Drones

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

UAV drone flying outdoor.Originally novelty items, drones are poised to become a multi-million dollar industry. These small remote-controlled devices are perfectly suited for industrial, emergency response, and building management purposes. This is due to their comparatively low cost compared to traditionally manned aircraft and because they can easily access remote target areas without putting operators at risk.

Improving Emergency ResponseMale figure in a forest setting waving to a UAV drone. Fictitious UAV is a unique design. Depicting the use of drones in search and rescue operations; lens flare, depth-of-field, motion blur.

Locating hurt or missing persons after a disaster is crucial for reducing loss of life. Drones work well for search and rescue because they are uniquely capable of enabling disaster response teams to quickly traverse dangerous locations resulting from floodwaters, wildfires, collapsed buildings, and the like.

Consider, for example, a large earthquake that causes buildings to crumble. Dangerous rubble could pose a serious risk to would-be rescuers, whereas drone operators could quickly scan the area to survey the integrity of remaining walls and structures while simultaneously searching for survivors. Using drones in this fashion reduces some of the risks to first responders by reducing their time spent in dangerous situations.

Building Inspections

Building operators use drones to investigate the exterior of structures for cracks or maintenance issues. Equipped with a camera, a drone can provide engineers and maintenance teams with detailed views of a facility’s exterior. Using drones in this manner can reduce the need for human inspectors, which is a cost-efficient way to detect small but potentially catastrophic problems. It also enables inspection of dangerous building components without associated risks. For example, drone operators can check radiation levels near reactors and closely view chemical factory processes from a safe distance.

Utility giant Con EdisonDrone deliveries box through the city is testing the use of drones to inspect steam boilers that power some of New York City’s iconic buildings. Whereas traditional inspection methods involve building scaffolding and teams of workers traversing tight space, drones armed with traditional and thermal imaging cameras can review deforested areas and correlate the links between primates, mosquitoes and humans.

Disaster Management and Support

Retrieving samples, such as blood or saliva cultures, is crucial when managing a biological threat. Organizations in New Jersey recently conducted drone test flights carrying simulated blood packets and other items on a ship-to-shore mission. Drones are ideal for this type of transport because they vibrate less than traditional automobile journeys, which can damage samples. Drones can also be outfitted to deliver vital supplies, such as telecommunications equipment, to provide instant communication links between disaster victims and first responders.

High-rise Disasters

Drones give operators a bird's eye view.

Drones give operators a bird’s eye view.

Drones are ideal for high-rise fire rescue assistance, as they can monitor the intensity of a fire through sensors, and provide associated real-time updates to firefighters relative to the exact location and number of people involved, as well as additional relevant intel. Large commercial drones of three to four feet widths (and multi-thousands dollar price points) can even carry and disperse fire retardant agents, which could provide firefighting teams with precious time needed to save lives.

Other Uses:

  • Organizations around the world utilize drones for planning purposes before disasters strike.
  • Communities in flood plains can use drones to assess risks and spot particularly vulnerable areas.
  • Drones used in Malaysia are providing data about the links between rates of deforestation and malaria outbreaks, allowing response teams to better prepare for and prevent outbreaks.

    #BeSafe

    #BeSafe

Remember that safety is a daily priority. And with the advances in drone technology, safety is receiving a boost from an affordable tool that could prevent or provide relief from disasters. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

May is Building Safety Month

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

the reflectionsBuilding Safety Month is a public awareness campaign held each May to help individuals, families and business owners learn how to create and manage safe and sustainable structures. Founded in 1980 by the International Code Council (ICC), which currently has 57,000 members worldwide, the campaign reinforces the need to adopt modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce to develop and maintain safe and sustainable structures where we live, work and play.

Each week of the campaign features a unique focus:

Week 1: Building Solutions for All Ages/ More Baby Boomers are ready to Retire—Is the Built Environment Prepared?Senior Couple In Room With Moving Boxes Looking At Drawing of Entertainment Unit.

Many baby boomers are nearing or entering their retirement years and making decisions about where they will live when they retire. According to a survey conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 89 percent of the 50-and-older population like their current homes and intend to remain in them for as long as possible. But aging in place is not just about the home. The aging of the population will affect many interior improvements.

  • Hospitality – restaurants, hotels and motels will need to be accessible
  • Workplace – offices, retail stores and other work spaces will need to provide adequate lighting, seating, technology, task areas and quiet places for older workers
  • Healthcare – increased need for outpatient and in-home care, accommodation for caretakers and caregivers
  • Retail – stores will need to be accessible and accommodate individuals using assistive devices.
  • Multihousing/multiuse – growing demand for livable communities and urban complexes with easy access to health care, entertainment, shopping, etc.

Week 2: The Science Behind the Codes/Updated Codes and Standards Reset the Bar for Structures to Withstand Disasters

emergency plan team work management preparation cooperationBuilding codes are made up of requirements for how to design and construct homes and buildings. These code requirements are based on science that involves research in many different areas, including flood proofing, fire-resistance, structural strength, wind design, sustainability, safe drinking water, airflow, energy efficiency, and more. When science reveals ways to improve an area of building safety, these findings can be included in the code requirements and standards.

Week 3: Learn from the Past, Build for Tomorrow/ Disaster Preparedness Ensures Safe and Resilient Homes, Businesses and Communities

“The Boy Scouts of America have the motto, ‘Be Prepared,’ (which) applies to disaster preparedness, as well,” said ICC Board of Directors President Alex Olszowy, III. “It is so easy to forget about keeping up with items we may hardly ever use, such as first-aid kits, bottled water, dry goods, flashlights and spare batteries. You just don’t know when you might be without the amenities we have become accustomed to.” We share Olszowy’s passion for training people to be safe. For more about this topic, see the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services’ blog posts about disaster preparedness.

Week 4: Building Codes: A Smart Investment/ It’s a smart investment to build and remodel your home to the latest codes. A property owner who can show that code requirements were strictly and consistently met––as demonstrated by a code official’s carefully maintained records––has a strong ally if something happens to trigger a potentially destructive lawsuit. Your permit also allows the code official to protect the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety, and welfare.Businessman holding a card saying - Be Prepared

By following code guidelines, the completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends, or future owners, plus you’ll benefit from the best energy efficiency construction techniques that will continue to pay you back for the life of your home.

As our nation faces longer wildfire seasons, more severe droughts, heavier rainfall, and more frequent flooding, safeguarding the resilience of our infrastructure is more critical than ever. To learn more about how to prepare for all types of disasters and improve the safety and resilience of the places in which you spend time, visit www.Ready.gov.

Be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time, not just during National Building Safety Month. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Fire Sprinklers Save Lives

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Huge cheering crowd at concertLast weekend, a band at a Phoenix, Ariz., nightclub used a flammable liquid at the front of the stage, causing a fire. Because the fire sprinkler closest to the fire activated and extinguished the flames, no one was injured in the event. Thirteen years ago, a similar fire (caused by band pyrotechnics) in West Warwick, R.I., took the lives of 100 people and injured 230 others. The sole difference between the two events? The Rebel Lounge in Arizona has a fire sprinkler system; the Station nightclub in Rhode Island did not.

NFSA LogoThe National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA) commends not only those involved in extinguishing the Arizona fire, but also the local officials who had the foresight to adopt fire sprinkler requirements. Fire safety professionals and victims agree that sprinkler systems save lives.

John Barylick, author of “Killer Show, The Station Nightclub Fire, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert,” said, “Unfortunately, humans can be very slow learners when it comes to playing with fire in places of public assembly – witness this week’s near-tragedy at the Rebel Lounge. Fortunately, local officials there had enacted common-sense sprinkler requirements, and disaster was averted.”

Some Rebel Lounge customers complained that sprinklers stopped the show. In response, one Rhode Island survivor, Rob Feeney, who lost his fiancée and received second and third-degree burns, offered his own insights:

“As a survivor of the Station Nightclub fire, I want to tell everyone who is upset because the fire sprinkler activation stopped the show, (to) be thankful for that. Fire is fast, and while you think you can escape, I’m here to tell you it’s too fast. We must unite in support of fire sprinklers.”

Sprinklers were invented by an American named Henry S. Parmalee in 1874, to protect his piano factory. Until the 1940s and 1950s, sprinkler systems were installed almost exclusively for the protection of buildings, especially warehouses and factories. Insurance savings, which could offset the cost of the system in a few years’ time, were major incentives.

SprinklerAutomatic fire sprinklers are individually heat-activated, and tied into a network of piping with water under pressure. When the heat of a fire raises the sprinkler temperature to its operating point (usually 165ºF), a solder link will melt or a liquid-filled glass bulb will shatter to open that single sprinkler, releasing water directly over the source of the heat.

NFPAAccording to a recent study by the NFPA, when sprinklers operated, they were effective 96 percent of the time, resulting in a combined performance of operating effectively in 87 percent of all reported fires. Sprinklers are effective because they do not rely upon human factors such as familiarity with escape routes or emergency assistance to operate automatically in the area of fire origin. They go to work immediately, preventing a fire from growing undetected to a dangerous size, while simultaneously sounding an alarm. In most cases, this prevents the danger of intense heat associated with fast-growing infernos, which are capable of trapping and killing dozens of building occupants.

If you are still on the fence about incorporating a fire sprinkler system into your facility, consider these five fire sprinkler facts, adapted from the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA):

  1. Smoke does not set off fire sprinklers. Sprinklers are activated by heat. In fact, the heat necessary to set off the average sprinkler is anywhere from 150 to 165° F, achievable only by fire.
  2. The only sprinkler heads that will activate in the event of a fire are the ones located closest to a fire. In 81 percent of structure fires, only one or two sprinkler heads are activated.
  3. CHIANG MAI, THAILAND MAY 17: Fire in Warehouses - catch fire inFire sprinklers produce far less water damage than fire hoses. The average sprinkler discharges just 10-26 gallons of water per minute, while a fire hose produces150-250 gallons. In most cases, structures without fire sprinklers are heavily or completely destroyed by the mix of fire and water damage caused by fire hoses.
  4. Nationally, fire sprinklers cost $1.61 per square foot of coverage. Overall, the cost of installing fire sprinklers is comparable to installing carpeting or cabinets. Most insurance companies provide discounts to businesses and homeowners that have fire sprinklers, which, compounded over time, can pay back the costs.
  5. Fire sprinklers are not unsightly. Modern advances in fire sprinkler technology have enabled architects, contractors and designers to install fire sprinklers into residential properties and businesses in ways that are aesthetically pleasing and concealing. In fact, most people do not even notice fire sprinklers.

Over the past two decades, building codes have increasingly called for sprinklers throughout buildings for life safety, especially buildings in which rapid evacuation of occupants is difficult or the hazard posed by contents is high. And, according to the NFSA, “Aside from firefighting and explosion fatalities, there has never been a multiple loss of life in a ‘fully-sprinklered’ building due to fire or smoke.”

Save livesFire sprinklers buy time. Time buys life. Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just where fire safety is concerned. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Click here for information from the National Fire Protection Association
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All About Tornado Preparation –Part 2

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Hurricane or Tornado BackgroundPart Two of a Two-Part Series                      

Tornadoes present a significant weather-related risk across much of the country. Last week, we began a two-part series about how to prepare for and recover from tornadoes, which is particularly important in 2016, thanks to El Niño. As noted in last week’s post, the Allied Universal Training System has recently added a tornado module to further enhance our comprehensive training program. Last week, our post covered what to do to prepare for a tornado. The following post will wrap up our two-week series, focusing on what to do during and after a tornado.

During a TornadoListening Radio

Many cities use an undulating, wailing warning system that sounds for three to four minutes to alert the public about tornadoes. If you hear this signal or are otherwise notified that a tornado is imminent:

  • Remain calm.
  • At home or work, go to the pre-determined safe zone or basement as quickly as possible.
  • If you are in a high-rise building, don’t stay in a large, open area that has windows. Instead, seek out a closet or interior hallway to take cover.
  • Do not leave the building.
  • If you cannot get to a safe zone or basement, seek shelter under a large, sturdy piece of furniture.
  • Steer clear of windows and avoid being hit by flying objects.
  • Listen to NOAA weather conditions.
  • If you are away from home, find a small, interior room or hallway and protect your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket.
  • If you are in a vehicle, do not attempt to outdrive the tornado. But do not stay in the car, as tornadoes can significantly damage automobiles. Park the car as quickly as possible, well away from traffic. If possible, find shelter in a sturdy building or underground. If you are not near a building, seek shelter in a spot that is at lowest level possible. It is a myth that an overpass would provide shelter from a tornado. It is far safer to literally lie low and cover your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. But make sure you are far from trees and vehicles.

After a Tornado

Survival emergency kit for evacuation, vector objects set on white backgroundStudies have shown that a great deal of tornado-related injuries occur after a tornado when people are walking among the debris and enter damaged buildings. Injuries can also occur during rescue attempts, cleanup and other post-tornado activities. So be careful and follow these tips:

  • Unless you are facing a life-threatening situation, do not leave the safe zone until the warning has officially been lifted.
  • Listen for emergency information and instructions as well as weather updates and the “all clear” signal.
  • Do a quick survey of the damage to determine major hazards, looking for fires, leaks and electrical shorts.
  • Anticipate power outages and use the flashlight in your emergency kit to light the way as you check interior spaces and during evacuation.
  • Do not use an open flame or turn on electrical switches, especially if you smell gas.
  • Establish a safe location to use for triage. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
  • When it is safe to do so, use telephones for emergency calls, only.
  • Avoid unnecessary movement, which could stir up debris and affect breathing.
  • If you are trapped, tap on metal or another loud surface or, better yet, use a whistle to alert emergency responders. Shout only as a last resort.
  • When evacuation routes are determined to be safe and you are instructed to do so:
    • Evacuate
    • Remain calm
    • Do not use elevators
    • Proceed to the safest exit, using the most continuous handrail
    • Before opening any doors, feel the door with the back of your hand, to check for heat.
    • Proceed to your designated safe refuge area and check in.
    • Do not reenter the building until you are told it is safe to do so by building management and emergency responders.

Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.