Staying Ahead of Nuisance Alarms
To eliminate the possibility of nuisance alarms yet increase the chances for early detection, nearly all rooms were fitted with self-regulating detectors. These units examine a combination of environmental factors, scanning for the visual signatures of smoke and fire as well as unusual spikes in temperatures.
With the ability to automatically adjust their own sensitivity settings based on slow, minor changes within the surrounding environment, the detectors can adapt to the ever-changing needs within rooms.
"This keeps fire protection around our patients at all times, we don't alert the fire department with nuisance calls, and business operations continue without needless interruptions," says Rinehart.
Other areas require a more tailored approach. Those using aerosolizing devices for respiratory treatment, for example, would often trigger older detectors. These were replaced by newer models that identify four fire signatures: smoke, heat, infrared, and carbon monoxide. Programmable detection enables hard-to-alarm spaces such as these to have fire protection without an influx of nuisance alarms.
For real alarms, an addressable fire alarm system enables quick responses to the location in question. These systems electronically track each individual device in a building, so if one is triggered, staff can quickly pinpoint the source.
The hospital has a standard operating procedure for fire alarms – the public isn't alerted and the system sends out automatic preset emails, texts, and pages with critical information, says Rinehart. Predetermined teams of security, engineering, and a nursing administrator respond to the alarm. Security and engineering handle the event until firefighters arrive, and the nursing administrator commandeers anyone needed to handle patient safety.
The system also boasts a voice evacuation feature that can be targeted to certain areas with recorded emergency messages, explains Bob Kaczmarek, FireTron's vice president of sales and marketing. Operators have the added flexibility to give manual voice instructions.