03/06/2006

Voice Evacuation Becoming Big Priority for Small Installations

This technology is one of the most significant trends in the fire alarm industry, and one that promises to continue for the foreseeable future

 

The Future of Fire Evacuation Technology
On the horizon is the impending development of directional sounder technology. Voice evacuation is ideal for offering instructions on what to do in the case of a dangerous event (e.g. “go upstairs, wait for the elevator,” etc.). Directional sounder technology augments this capability, helping occupants locate doors or perimeter exits using Doppler techniques. Currently under development, these devices will be a perfect adjunct to voice evacuation systems, providing the kind of direction that can mean the difference between life and death.

Politicians are fond of telling the public that they are “looking out for the little guy.” Over the past few years, the fire alarm industry has actually been doing it. That’s because voice evacuation technology has been driven down to smaller and smaller installations; it is, in fact, one of the most significant trends in the fire alarm industry, and one that promises to continue for the foreseeable future.

However, voice evacuation technology is not relegated to fire incidents only. It can be used in the event of other hazardous conditions, including tornadoes, hurricanes, and even chemical spills. Consequently, its importance not only as a fire protection tool but as a general-hazard protection tool cannot be overstated.

What are the catalysts behind the trend in smaller installations? For one, there is a higher level of awareness about the overall value of voice evacuation technology, brought on, in large part, by specific incidents: fires in dormitories, restaurants, and other low-occupancy structures. What’s more, there have been several high-profile events that have captured the public’s attention and driven this process even faster. Ultimately, such episodes have served to highlight the simple fact that voice evacuation technology should be a valuable and integral element of any evacuation plan.

These incidents, while dramatic, don’t always influence people to utilize more effective fire protection tools. The real instrument for change is the codes that govern the fire alarm industry. At its core, the fire alarm industry is code-driven; people will sometimes only install the level of fire protection that local codes require. More to the point, it comes down to what the project team specifies for a particular installation. Its task is to specify the requirements to meet the codes that need to be met and, within a given budget, to get the best system to meet those requirements.

However, past incidents serve to convince those in charge that codes need to be revised. Accordingly, many local codes are being adjusted to require voice evacuation in lower-occupancy buildings and structures. There is increased awareness that horns beeping and sirens flashing can be supplemented by a more effective fire protection solution. The voice evacuation system leads people in an organized and orderly fashion through an exit plan that’s designed for the specific event that is taking place in the building, and local codes are starting to address it.

Of course, it’s not enough for a building to be equipped with a voice evacuation system; it’s critical that people understand what and how the system is communicating. As a result, intelligibility is going to become very important over the next few years, and local building codes are beginning to address this requirement.

Besides the move toward smaller installations, there is a growing need to fully integrate systems in multi-facility areas, particularly in college campuses. Traditionally, every major campus building has had its own system, but an event in one building was rarely connected to another. The new direction is to network all of these systems together so that an automated evacuation sequence can be activated while also providing live-voice instruction to other buildings from a centralized location.

John Weaver is director of marketing at Northford, CT-headquarterd Gamewell-FCI (www.gamewell-fci.com), a manufacturer of fire alarm systems for commercial and industrial facilities worldwide.

 

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Add highly responsive multi-zone comfort to any building project, in any climate. Our CITY MULTI H2i R2- and Y-Series VRF systems give you flexibility to fit the needs of any building. Enjoy 100% heating capacity at 0°F outdoor ambient, and 85% heating capacity at -13°F outdoor ambient.  For more information, log on to www.mitsubishipro.com

 
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