Publisher’s Viewpoint: FACTS ON FIRE

I would like to start the new year by discussing a hot topic in our industry: FIRE! I chatted with 14-year industry veteran Dave Kosciuk (11 years with Silent Knight) to get his take on the subject.

PH: What are the top priorities that security dealer integrators and installers need to know when installing commercial fire panels?

DK: 1. Know your local fire codes and standards and how to apply them to your fire alarm installation. This always seems to be a gray area due to how the Authority Having Jurisdiction interprets the codes. The best way to understand is to ask and develop a good working relationship with your local AHJ and become knowledgeable about how they apply the codes to the different types of fire alarm installations.

2. Know what your customer is trying to accomplish for their application. Understand what the needs and goals are for installing the system; obviously, to meet the code but do they need to go beyond that to protect computer rooms? Evacuation plans, is it people, property or both you are protecting? Questions you need to have answered before you can propose the correct system needed to accomplish your customer’s goals.

3. Know the fire alarm product you are using and its capabilities and capacities. This is where I see installers getting into situations where the product they are using does not meet the specification or the application for the intended use. Get the manufacturers representative involved if you have questions you need training or knowledge. There are many training classes provided not only by manufacturers but also by AFAA and their local chapters.

4. There are no short cuts. This is the life safety business and is one we are all proud to be a part of. It is a great feeling to know that your installation of a quality product could save a life. Know that when you are done designing, installing, completing final connections and inspections that you have followed the correct measures that will allow you to walk away from the fire alarm installation knowing you can sleep well at night because the system you installed may be the one that saves the lives of one or many people and one of those could even be your own.

5. When in doubt, ask the question(s) that will get the right answers and the job done correctly.

PH: Will VoIP play a role or concern in these installations?
DK: You will see this as the new technology and being used heavily in the security side of our business. The fire alarm side is a little slower to adapt. There is definitely a future for this in our business, we just need to make sure we apply it correctly.

PH: What new technologies or other things are on the horizon to watch out for in 2007?
DK: Gas detection, primarily system type CO detectors that report back to the control panel just as an analog smoke detector does now. There is a huge push to have a CO detector in every hotel room, dorm room, assisted living, the residential markets. It is a great avenue for new and retrofit markets for dealers to generate new revenues for 2007.

There will also be the continuation of bringing smarter systems to the market that are easy to install and program which benefits dealer integrators, installers and end users.