American Alarms Blog

Cold weather creates challenges for fire fighters.

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020

In recent Des Moines area fires, first responders have some extra challenges because of the sub-zero temperatures.  Here are links to some new stories recently:

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2017/12/18/two-transported-hospital-following-river-bend-neighborhood-fire/960355001/

 

https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2018/01/02/cause-urbandale-condo-fire-may-always-unknown-says-fire-chief/996721001/

 

http://whotv.com/2018/01/05/mother-three-kids-safe-after-fire-at-west-des-moines-hotel/

 

Be sure your fire alarm and other life safety systems are working properly, so fire departments and paramedics have as much time as possible to help occupants in the building.

 

 

 

 

| To the top |

What's the elevator got to do with it?

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020

Again today we got to the end of a project and sure enough, the installing electricians had zero notice from the general contractor that there would need to be an elevator inspection for fire alarm function.  In the state of Iowa, there is a totally separate elevator inspection done by the state.  These inspectors focus only on the elevator function, elevator safety, and related safety issues.  This may not be the case in all states.  The fire alarm is supposed to control the following functions:

 

Primary Floor Recall

Secondary/Alternate Floor Recall

Shunt Trip

"Hat" light in car

Smoke Damper (many AHJs also want this to have manual override)

 

These may not all be required in all jurisdictions, but most want all 5.  These functions are only triggered by the elevator lobby smoke detectors, which are required to be within 21' of the elevator door (center) in the same smoke cavity/space.  So if there are fire doors that separate a corridor from the elevator lobby, you can't use the hallway smoke as your elevator lobby smoke because the header is likely more than 12".

 

Just remember, think about the elevator when you plan the project.  You'll need extra parts and extra time to make sure this important people transport is as safe as can be.

 

 

 

| To the top |

Des Moines adopting new fire codes soon

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020
I went to the Des Moines Fire Dept this morning to see what will be coming down the road for new codes.  Here's summary of what they expect.
 
IFC and IBC 2018 - Central Iowa Code Consortium expects to receive all comments and requests for amendments by mid-August.  New codes, with local amendments will be sent to local governments for approval by December.  Early adopters (including Des Moines) will approve by March 2019
All CICC jurisdictions must approve by December 2019.
Pella is newest member of the CICC, which is now 18 communities.
 
Other sections with notable updates:
 
sec 510 - Emergency Responder Radio Coverage - Des Moines is still accepting fire fighter phones where their radios don't work, but may soon require RF boosters (DAS systems) in areas where they can't get 95% reliable coverage.
 
Sec 901 - Integrated systems must be tested TOGETHER at least once every 10 years.  Fire alarm plus suppression, wet sprinkler, HVAC, etc.
 
Spaces under grandstands/bleachers that are at least 1000 square feet and enclosed, must have full sprinkler coverage.
 
Sec 903.3.1.2.3 - Attics intended for living space or storage - sprinkler required. also where eave of roof is 55ft or more above egress level and made of combustible materials
 
Residential cooking appliances (see UL 300)
 
Sec 907.2.1 - Group A fire alarm requirements - 300 total occupancy OR if any level ABOVE the egress level has occupancy of 100 or more.
 
Sec 1010 - Locking arrangements in Group E and Group B occupancy, delayed egress
 
Chapter 11 - Existing buildings
Sec 1103 - Bars (drinking establishments) that hold more than 300 people
Sec 1103.9 - CO detection requirements
 
Call American Alarms if you have any questions about what is required in your building.

| To the top |

Remodeling may bring fire trucks

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020
I had a customer call today about this, so I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone.  If you are doing remodeling of any kind you should cover the smoke detectors and put your system on test while sawing, soldering, etc.  Here are some of the worst construction by-products that create false alarms:
 
- Soldering smoke
- Drywall dust (very fine)
- Hardwood dust (like oak, maple, cherry, etc.) used for trim/cabinets
- Final cleanup dust (which in commercial spaces usually includes drywall and concrete dust.)
 
Capping with the original dust covers will help some, but may not prevent all false alarms.  Bagging and taping is probably best, if the detector is very near the source of the dust/smoke.  Customer just needs to make sure these items are removed before a city official inspects for occupancy.

| To the top |

Fire protection in restaurants

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020

Here's some good information from our insurance friends at Markel for restaurant owners and managers:

 

https://www.markelinsurance.com/resources/fire-protection-systems-in-restaurants

 

Restaurants have some special requirements for fire protection.  Be sure you know what they are for your area, and have your systems inspected regularly so they work when you need them!

Most insurance companies offer discounts for properly maintained fire protection systems - range hoods with fire suppression, portable fire extinguishers, fire alarm, wet fire sprinklers, etc.

 

 

 

| To the top |

In Memory - 17 years ago

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020

I still remember watching the news coverage on September 11, 2001 after the first plane hit the World Trade Center.  My first thought was complete disbelief.  Then it changed to horror, as I watched people fleeing the scene covered in dust and blood.  I had a new respect for the first-responders that acted so bravely under pressure that day (and for days after).  I also had a new appreciation for the delicate balance of freedom and safety that we have in our country today.  How I felt that day is part of the reason I am SO proud to do my part in the life safety field.  I'm not comparing what I do (designing and servicing fire alarm systems) to what fire rescue and police personnel do every day.  But I do feel that our part is important, too.  I am also proud to assist these brave rescue personnel with a quicker response and better information once they get on scene.  I pray that nothing like that ever happens again.  If it does, my hope is that we can save even more lives with better technology, better procedures, and better communication.  

| To the top |

Severe Weather and Your Fire Alarm

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020
Severe weatheiinevitableand so ithneetensure that automatifire alarm systems are restoretfulworkinconditioaquicklapossiblaftethemergency iover. Here are a fetips thelfacility managers anauthoritiehavinjurisdictiodealinwitthiissue.
Prolonged Power Outage
Fire alarm systems havbackupowedesignetkeethe systeworkindurinthloss oprimary powefor a periootimeHowever, a prolongepoweoutagcadraibatterieand other backupower sources. Batteriewhich are drained completely manobabltbe reused. Be sure that albackupower supplieartestetensure theiabilittfunction properlohavthem replaced. 
Exposture to Flood Water
Fire alarm systems and manotheir componentare especially susceptiblto moisture damageAnytime wirinor componentare completely submersed, a thorouginspection, at a minimumis criticalOften componentnodesignefor a weenvironmenwilhavtbe replacedManufacturers of componentanequipment caprovidvaluablinformatioithis caseKeein minddamagfrom corrosioanotheeffectof moisture intrusion manot be seefor some time.
Lightning Strike/Significant Power Surge
properlinstalled, modern fire alarm system mahavbuilt-iprotectioagainst some othe damagthat cabe causeblightninor power surgesBuwhen a fire alarm system iexposetthis sort oenergyiiimportanthaequipment anwirinbinspectefoevidence odamageCircuiboardanwiring cabaffecteawelaother components.
Monitoring Service
Once thfire alarm systeitselhabeeinspectedtesteanibacifull serviceattention shoulturn to monitoringTypicallyphonlineand cellular communications systemare some othfirst systems to come bacafter a majoweather emergencybuthose lineof communicatiobetweethprotectepremiseand monitorinfacilitneetbverifiedThiiespecialltruwitwireless mesh aninternet-based communication systems.
Antime inspectioantestinofire alarm systems ibeindonethe requirementoNFP72®, NationaFire Alarm anSignalinCodappland shoulbfollowed. Jusaimportant awhaibeindone, iwhiperforminthinspectioantesting. A qualifiealartechnician shoulalwaybe consulted. 

| To the top |

Explosion Proof Fire Alarm Devices

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020

Grain elevators, food processing facilities, chemical manufacturing facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturing - these are just some of the applications for explosion-proof detection and notification devices.  There are different classifications and ratings for devices, based on the exact use of the facility or space.  American Alarms has a full range of smoke and heat detection, as well as notification for hazardous and explosion-proof environments.  Call for details today. 

| To the top |

Addressable fire alarm systems

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020

I have people ask me often, what does "addressable" mean?  Well, in fire alarms, there are two basic types - conventional (zoned) systems, and addressable (point ID) systems.  I like to compare the two like taking a vacation in a new city.  Let's say you head out to visit a friend in a city you don't know very well.  They gave you their address, but no other directions.  15-20 years ago, you would have to stop every few blocks to ask someone (local) if you are getting close.  Now we have GPS/navigation software on our phones, in our cars, and even on smart watches.  All we have to do is punch in the address and the software uses all the data available on the internet, including satellite images, to find that address.  Well, the fire department LOVES addressable fire alarm systems, for the same reason we love GPS.  It gets us where we're going much faster.  The fire department can get a fire alarm call, with a specific smoke detector address, and know right where to go when they send the fire trucks.  They don't want to make 3 stops to ask directions (or search 3 floors of an apartment building) before finding the source of an alarm.  Not when someone's life could be at stake.  Because they provide much more information to the fire department, addressable fire alarm systems save lives.  

| To the top |

Urbandale Requires Fire Alarm in Apartments

by Adam Jacobs 7/16/2020

If you own or manage an apartment building with 16 or more units, you've probably received the letter.  It was actually sent back on June 9, 2015.  It gives owners/managers 5 years to bring their buildings up to compliance with this letter.  These are only a portion of the requirements in a similar building constructed today, but it still could be a significant cost.  Installing anything AFTER construction is complete is more expensive.  But there are options to get a building into compliance, with minimal impact on residents and your budget.  This letter is really a "step in the right direction" rather than a full-blown all-in fire alarm system.  A pull station here, a horn/strobe there, not much really.  But better than having NO building notification in the event of fire.  These systems are also required to be remotely monitored at a UL-listed central station that will relay a dispatch call to Urbandale Fire Department when a general alarm is activated.  We are getting a lot more calls now, because it's nearing the first deadline - June 9, 2019 - when all letter recipients need to have a formal system plan in to Urbandale for review.  The system, if approved, will need to be installed and inspected by Urbandale FD by June 9, 2020.  There are a few other requirements not related to fire alarm in the letter, so if your didn't get one and you think you may fall under these new requirements, contact Urbandale Fire Department and talk to them.  Call American Alarms for a site survey and estimate on fire alarm to meet the new requirements.  Don't wait until June 8th to call.

| To the top |

Copyright © 2016 · American Alarms, division of American Electrical Sales Corp. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Genesis Core 2.3.4.5 | Des Moines Iowa Web Design by Wolf Creek Technology

Click for the BBB Business Review of this Fire & Smoke Alarm Systems in Des Moines IA