2020 introduced a variety of unique challenges for many industries around the world. Not surprisingly, the fire detection industry was not immune to all of those challenges. However, as much of the global community defined our manufacturing and installing peers as “essential” or “critical” it required us, as an industry, to adapt so we could continue to service our customers with our products and services.

Many regions around the world are experiencing significant demand for temporary detection systems. This demand is almost universally driven by an increase in education, awareness, and enforcement. While this is a global shift, our company has experienced a large demand in our own backyard.

Within the United States, this is being driven by the adoption and enforcement of NFPA 241. NFPA is the Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations. NFPA 241 has been a “concept” since 1930 and the official text was finally adopted by the NFPA in 1933. As with all standards, it has progressed over the years to accommodate changes in technology as well as safety awareness.

Fire safety awareness

While general safety awareness on construction sites has always been consistently high, fire safety awareness has significantly increased within the last 5 years.

Nuisance alarms negatively consume first responder bandwidth

Typically, new, or increased regulation within our industry occurs after a single devastating event or several significant events. In this particular case, it was a combination of both.

On a national level, fires on construction sites were reaching dangerous and unacceptable levels and becoming so widespread that enforcement of this standard became a priority in several states.

Need for accurate and timely fire detection

According to a report released by Richard Campbell of the NFPA in February of 2020 titled Fire In Structures under Construction or Renovation, “the estimated number of fires in structures under construction has increased since 2014 after declining between 2008 and 2010” further creating awareness.

For the last few years, the focus of many local AHJ’s (authority having jurisdiction) was on new and active worksites or renovation projects. With the changes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic today, many non-essential industries have either shut down or had their operations significantly reduced. This means the need for a functioning detection system is more critical now than ever as many facilities remain idle or continue to operate with reduced personnel.

Detecting fires quickly and accurately gives our first responders the best chance of saving a person or facility. Conversely, having any “detection system” is often not good enough. Nuisance alarms negatively consume first responder bandwidth, possibly removing an engine or fire company from a genuine event.

Temporary fire detection

In an article by The Boston Globe, Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts said “Ninety percent of these buildings go up every day and nothing happens. It’s during construction before the sprinkler system is activated when they are most dangerous.”

Globally, we have seen four approaches to temporary detection for both construction and renovation sites. We will quickly discuss the advantages and disadvantages below:

Using 24/7 fire watch

Utilizing local first responders or other authorized/trained personnel to offer 24/7 fire watch requires a person or team of people to be onsite 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to be physically looking for fires.

Advantage: Someone is always on site, actively viewing and patrolling the facility.

Disadvantage: Maintaining a 24/7 fire watch can be expensive, further the person or team can only see/find fires in proximity to them as they continue to move about a facility.

Using digital linear heat detection

Digital linear heat detection is a fixed temperature detector that is constructed using a twisted pair of metal conductors that are separated by a heat sensitive polymer. When the ambient temperature meets or exceeds the detector’s fixed temperature the polymers melt, and the detector shorts out resulting in an alarm.

Advantages: Detector can be easily installed at a new construction site or a facility being renovated. The technology is a low profile, non-intrusive and cost-effective form of detection. This automatic initiating device is immune to environmental conditions. Protectowire FireSystems offers Confirmed Temperature Initiation technology (mechanical damage does not cause a false alarm).

Disadvantages: Detector can be mechanically damaged during normal worksite operation.

If you are unsure, be sure to check with the local AHJ or call your insurance provider

Using wireless spot detectors

There are a few companies on the market that offer wireless spot detectors that can be networked together.

Advantage: Typically, this technology uses a mesh network of detectors. The detectors and their bases are battery operated and can be moved or placed per worksite requirements.

Disadvantage: This technology can be expensive. Physical barriers on the construction site may hinder mesh network operation requiring the purchase of additional wireless units. Many wireless technology providers focus on smoke detection. Smoke detectors are often not ideal for the harsh environments associated with construction (dust, temperature changes, etc.).

Using a hybrid approach

This involves using wireless nodes to supervise linear heat detection. Most manufacturers of the wireless systems offer a wireless node that can accept a third-party initiating device.

Advantage: Wireless nodes can be placed anywhere, and linear heat detection technology can withstand the harsh construction environment.

Disadvantage: Wireless node battery life can be reduced when using a third-party device. Less cost-effective approach.

Solution for Facilities

While each of the approaches listed above has its own advantages and disadvantages, you must always consider what is best for your facility. If you are unsure, be sure to check with the local AHJ or call your insurance provider.

Established in 1938, Protectowire FireSystems is the global manufacturer of Linear Heat Detection Systems. The Company has been manufacturing in the United States for the past 80 years and counting. Protectowire is dedicated to delivering products designed, engineered, manufactured, and tested with a high degree of performance, reliability, and quality.

As one of the manufacturers in the fire protection industry, Protectowire has the experience and knowledge needed to meet the ever-increasing detection challenges of the special hazard and commercial industries.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version

Author profile

Brenton Harris Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Protectowire Company, Inc.

In case you missed it

COVID-19 Pandemic Disrupts Trade Show Schedule In Fire Industry
COVID-19 Pandemic Disrupts Trade Show Schedule In Fire Industry

Among other impacts on the fire industry, the COVID-19 global pandemic has played havoc with the industry’s trade show schedule, with some major events canceled and other delayed. There are still several events planned for later in 2020 – fingers crossed! After canceling the FDIC International show in Indianapolis in April, Clarion Events is planning a new event, the United Fire Conference, September 22-24, at the Indiana Convention Center. The ‘fully immersive’ event will bring the international fire community together to discuss key themes around timely and mission-critical topics, including pandemics, infection control, hazards in blended missions, and preparing for the future. Extensive outreach and conversations “During the FDIC team’s extensive outreach and conversations with the fire service, there was an overwhelming desire expressed by firefighters to come together in the fall to celebrate the unity of the fire service, learn and support ongoing efforts in serving their communities and continue training,” according to a statement from Clarion Events. “At this point it is nearly impossible to predict the status of the pandemic in September; however, we are currently proceeding with plans for the conference,” says Clarion Events. In any case, FDIC International 2021 is still being planned April 19-24, 2021, at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.  Utmost concern for wellbeing We have been listening to our stakeholders, some of whom asked us to not hold the event" Also cancelled was the NFPA Conference & Expo in June 2020 in Orlando. “We have been listening to our stakeholders, some of whom asked us to not hold the event and other who encouraged us to move forward.” However, after “Great thought and with the utmost concern for everyone’s wellbeing,” the event was cancelled. Some NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) activities that occur during the event, such as the Association’s Annual Meeting, Election of directors to the board, and the Codes and Standards Technical Meeting, are being facilitated remotely. The 2021 NFPA Conference and Expo will be June 22-25, 2021, at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, marking the 125th anniversary of the Association. Well attended event Firehouse Expo, managed by Endeavor Business Media, will be October 30-November 1 at Music City Center, Nashville, Tenn. (delayed from July dates). “We are confident that the October dates will result in a stronger, safer and more well attended event where the fire community can come together to train, learn and rebuilt,” says Peter Matthews, Firehouse Expo Conference Director. The INTERSCHUTZ international fire show in Hanover, Germany (which takes place every five years), has been delayed one year and will be June 14-19, 2021 (delayed from June 2020 dates). More than 150,000 visitors from all over the world attend the show. The show organizers state: “The coronavirus directly affects both exhibitors and visitors to INTERSHUTZ and requires them to be available for duty at other locations.” Providing education resources Fire Rescue International (FRI), planned for August 19-21 in Phoenix, Arizona, is going virtual. The virtual experience will provide education resources on timely issues and the insights needed to keep communities safe. Another industry show planned for later in the year: INTERSCHUTZ USA, launched for the first time, is still planned for October 13-17 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Philadelphia.

Why Fire Safety Must Be A Priority When Reopening Businesses
Why Fire Safety Must Be A Priority When Reopening Businesses

With many businesses and facilities re-opening sites following the Coronavirus lockdown, fire safety may not seem high on the list to other worries and responsibilities. But here, Mandy Bowden, Fire Business Development Manager at Comelit Group UK, led by fire industry bodies, demonstrates why it must be a priority, ensuring installation of systems is guided by best practice in accordance with the development, and fire safety measures are maintained and regularly tested to ensure compliance. Fire safety is too often neglected. And in the midst of returning to work and implementing necessary fever screening solutions and social distancing policies, it may even fall further down the necessary requirements, for businesses who are naturally eager to open and ‘get going.’ Providing Fire Safety But the Government and leading authoritative fire industry bodies have made it absolutely clear that, “Coronavirus is not an excuse for disregarding your responsibilities and businesses must ensure that they have an adequate amount of competent people to help in the implementation of both preventative and protective fire safety measures.” Above all else, fire detection is there to save lives; but the way in which systems are presented, will depend on their surroundings. For many facilities it involves more than the best choice of products and services. It also requires compliance to standards, currently changing in light of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and a need to consider the environment that it serves to keep safe. fire detection technology It is crucial that buildings are fitted with the highest quality life safety systems to ensure ultra-reliable protection Style of a fire detection system would be considered a priority for a hospitality environment, including hotel and restaurant facilities, to blend with the aesthetics and not impact on the ambience created. In any leisure facilities such as a Gym, it is essential fire detection measures and systems are in place that will provide customers, employees and the premises itself, with sufficient prevention against fire at all times. To keep up with demand, a system needs to be simple to install and operational as quickly as possible for the benefit of members and staff. However, a manufacturing vicinity will require latest fire detection technology to ensure the safety of its building, its specialist products and all personnel who operate on site. Similarly, an art studio is a specialist consideration when it comes to fire safety, especially with the use of different materials and substances in every day works by the artists on site.  ensure ultra-Reliable protection Both temporary and permanent healthcare facilities in this period have undoubtedly been key to fighting the Coronavirus pandemic, and experienced an expediential increased demand for patient care. With more people to treat and protect, those working or residing within these spaces have to be considered at greater risk in the event of a fire emergency. It is crucial that these buildings have been and continue to be fitted with the highest quality life safety systems to ensure ultra-reliable protection. And the same is true for care homes, a vulnerable group in the fight against coronavirus. They require critical and reliable, functioning fire detection equipment that presents high performance protection, avoiding false alarms to prevent moving elderly residents unnecessarily. In each of these scenarios, the need to act quickly is paramount.  Fire Detection Operations Fire safety must be kept a priority to ensure a return to work can occur seamlessly and successfully In healthcare, immediacy is a common theme through the industry, be it providing treatment or responding to a patient’s symptoms. This is no different in fire safety, with detection systems requiring an ease of use, by anyone operating on site. In businesses returning to work ‘post-lockdown’ the appointed Fire Marshalls and responsible persons may not be the ones returning to office locations, so others need to be trained with simple to operate solutions. In summary, fire safety must be kept a priority, arguably now more than ever to ensure a return to work can occur seamlessly and successfully, and with an obligation of care to workers coming back to operating establishments. By understanding these environments and choosing systems accordingly, duty holders can ensure they reduce risks across their premises and maintain a safe ‘new normal’. multi-Sensor detectors Comelit presents its FIA accredited family of ATENA and ERACLE fire detection and fire alarm systems, which offers a diverse portfolio of intelligent, addressable products that are feature-rich, easy to install, simple to operate and offer incomparable reliability. Tested to rigorous standards, the range encompasses smoke, heat and multi-sensor detectors as well as IP rated devices including sounders and callpoints, alongside accessories to complete installations. To support the installer, we have product specific basic and advanced commissioning training courses, together with a full suite of calculation tools for our ATENA addressable systems for both loop loading and battery standby calculations, helping to identify possible issues prior to installation. All signs that we want to work in partnership with our customers to ensure manufacture, design and install of stylish (often bespoke) fire detection systems are a smooth operation for the benefit and peace of mind of businesses and facilities across the UK.

International Association Of Fire Chiefs Asks For Exception To Enable Volunteer Fire Departments To Receive EIDL Funds
International Association Of Fire Chiefs Asks For Exception To Enable Volunteer Fire Departments To Receive EIDL Funds

Volunteer fire departments are ineligible to obtain funds from the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program because of their dependence on bingo games and raffles for fundraising. With the COVID-19 crisis destroying the ability of volunteer departments to raise funds, access to the EIDL program could provide needed assistance during a time of economic crisis. Under current rules, the assistance is unavailable. Economic Injury Disaster Loans program As the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) implements the EIDL program to support private entities reeling from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government agency has deemed that entities (such as volunteer fire departments) are ineligible for assistance if they receive more than one-third of their revenue from legal gaming, which the Internal Revenue Service interprets to include bingo games and raffles. “While this determination may not have been intended to preclude volunteer fire departments from receiving this critical assistance, many of the most acutely impacted private non-profit fire departments are unable to request the assistance that they desperately need,” according to the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). Financial funding for private non-profit fire departments In a letter, the IAFC has urged the SBA to adjust the EIDL assistance program in order to provide greater financial assistance to private non-profit fire departments. In effect, the association of fire chiefs is asking the agency to exempt volunteer fire departments, recognized under Section 501(C) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), from the limit on legal gaming revenue. “The unprecedented economic downturn and stay-at-home orders have decimated the ability of these agencies to meet their fundraising needs,” said the letter, adding “The IAFC urges the [SBA] to waive this requirement and support private nonprofit fire departments in their work to answer calls for emergency service.” Over-reliance on volunteer personnel According to the USFA, 70% of U.S. fire departments rely solely on volunteer personnel to respond to emergencies According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), 70% of U.S. fire departments rely solely on volunteer personnel to respond to emergencies. Located in rural communities with limited tax bases, these agencies rely upon community support to sustain their operations. The EIDL program is a mechanism to support private entities staggering from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In late April 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) published an interim rule to waive the cap on legal gaming revenues for public entities seeking assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. However, this change does not impact fire departments that utilize volunteers and own their property outright. Economic Injury Disaster Loan facility “The IAFC fears that these private non-profit fire departments may be unable to maintain their emergency response operations if a similar exemption is not also made for the EIDL program,” the letter further adds. In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners and organizations in all U.S. States, Washington D.C., and overseas US territories are able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to US$ 10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to organizations that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.