Rest Easy Knowing your Emergency Lights are Fully Operational & Code Compliant

Businessman relaxing with hands behind his headEvery maintenance and electrical department faces a long list of responsibilities every day. But, too often, they do not have the staff, the training, the experience and the time to fulfill all of their obligations.

That’s why we’re here! Life Safety Service & Supply works with maintenance, facilities and electrical departments like yours to provide regular and proper maintenance of emergency lighting equipment including central DC and AC inverter systems, unit equipment and exit signs. We offer economical maintenance contracts to our clients, who can now be assured that their emergency lighting equipment is up-to-date and ready to provide a means of safe egress in the event of a power outage or other emergency.

Please read these statements from our clients.

Life Safety Service inspects and maintains the emergency lighting in all 13 of our buildings. Attempts to maintain the emergency lighting using in-house personnel proved to be inefficient and not cost effective. Using Life Safety frees our staff for other essential services and maintains the integrity of our emergency lighting as well as providing code compliance and documentation.

Maintaining the emergency lighting unit equipment and the central systems in-house proved to be a daunting task. Life Safety now maintains all the equipment in all of our facilities. Their expertise has provided us with the assurance that our emergency lighting is operable in the event of an outage, as well as code compliance. Life Safety has worked in conjunction with the local Fire Marshal to meet all local requirements and documentation.

Making Fire Safety Your New Year’s Resolution

new-years-resolutionThe New Year is a good time to focus on improving fire safety in your home.

The New Year is upon us, which means people will be making New Year’s resolutions. Why not make improved fire safety one of your resolutions? After all, this is the sort of resolution that will benefit you and your family.

Being better at fire safety sounds great but what does it really mean? You need to be organized in how you approach your resolution to improve fire safety.

  • Have a game plan. Your plan of action needs to include a fire escape plan. Make sure everyone in your household knows where the proper exits are in case of fire. There should also be a designated place to meet outside the home, in a safe area.
  • Make sure all fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Smoke detectors should be throughout the house. There should be at least one working smoke detector and carbon detector on every floor of the home.
  • At minimum, mount a fire extinguisher in your kitchen and garage. If you have a workshop in an area like the basement, mount a fire extinguisher there as well. The National Fire Protection Association actually recommends mounting a fire extinguisher on every floor of your home. Any rechargeable fire extinguisher should be serviced every six years. Fire extinguishers with dry chemicals should be shaken periodically to keep chemicals from compacting.
  • Keep battery-powered flashlights in designated areas. Everyone in the home should know where those flashlights are located.
  • Cooking remains the leading cause of fires in homes. Make sure to clean your stove top, oven and the inside of your microwave. Never leave the kitchen will cooking.
  • If you smoke, quitting smoking is always a great new year’s resolution. Smoking is the leading cause of home fire deaths in the U.S. Check ashtrays for burning cigarette butts and never smoke in bed.

Holiday Safety

Fire safety is very important during the holiday season.

Tree christmas and FireplaceFire safety becomes very important around the holiday season. We tend to use many more lights and candles for decorations and to set the holiday mood. It’s also important to remember that the Christmas tree must be handled with care.

Here are some facts from the U.S. Fire Administration:

  • One out of every three Christmas tree fires is cause by electrical problems.
  • December is the peak time of year for home candle fires. This is the month where eleven percent of home candle fires begin with decorations, compared to four percent the rest of the year.
  • More than half of those home candle fires occur when something that can catch fire is too close to the candle.

So how you make your home a little safer this holiday season? Here are some tips.

  • Make sure you have a working fire extinguisher in your home.
  • Be certain to have working smoke detectors in your home. Check the batteries on all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • When choosing an artificial Christmas tree, be sure it is labeled, certified or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
  • When choosing a natural tree, choose a fresh tree. This will reduce the chances of those green needles falling off every time the tree is touched.
  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut one to two inches from the base of the trunk.
  • Add water to the tree stand and make sure to water the tree on a daily basis.
  • Keep the tree at least three feet away from any heat sources, like radiators, heating vents, fireplaces, wood stoves or candles.
  • Use the right lights. Some holiday lights are made specifically for indoor or outdoor use, but not both. Make sure the lights have the label of an independent testing laboratory.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving the house or going to bed.

Emergency Lighting for Schools

school-emergency-lightingLife Safety Service provides emergency lighting inspections and maintenance.  Our programs offer a cost effective way to insure that your facilities remain code compliant and have the required documentation to prove it.
We provide our services to many of the school districts within Connecticut as well as private institutions, colleges and universities (References provided upon request).  We interact with fire marshals throughout the state and recently a great deal of attention is focused on emergency lighting.  A majority of jurisdictions are requiring the code mandated 90 minute test.  Meeting this requirement may be taxing for facility staff due to the numerous other responsibilities of the department.

We will provide the inspection and issue a report with all deficiencies.  Life Safety may also complete the repairs.  Districts have attempted to do repairs in-house with less than satisfactory results.  Due to limited staffing, coupled with the ever changing parts structure for emergency fixtures (i.e.; several types of batteries, lamps, etc.) it often makes practical and fiscal sense to leave it to the experts.

Please provide the following information and a preliminary quote will be provided.  If the quote fits within your budget we will make an appointment to refine the quote based on the particular needs of your facilities.

• Number of Buildings?

• Are There A/C or D/C Central Systems?

• How are you currently handling your emergency lighting inspections and repairs?  In house or utilizing a contractor?

Thank you, and  I look forward to your response.

Using a Fire Extinguisher

using-a-fire-extinguisherFirst, let’s hope you never have to use a fire extinguisher. Fires are very dangerous and can grow out of control quickly. However, if a fire has started in the building you occupy, using a fire extinguisher may be necessary and the more you know about the proper use the better chance you have of fighting back the flames long enough to get everyone out of the building safely.

The first step is to read the instructions on your fire extinguisher. You don’t want to wait for a blaze to start and be caught reading the label. Most fire extinguishers operate in a similar manner so once you learn how to operate one you can easily figure out how to use other models. It is also a good idea to become familiar with the parts of the fire extinguisher. Have a check-down list of employees who will be trained on using the fire extinguisher and have more than two since some people may be out sick on the day the fire occurs.

A simple way to remember how to use a fire extinguisher is to learn the acronym P.A.S.S. This stands for Pull the pin, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the level slowly and Sweep from side to side.

The top of the fire extinguisher will have a pin release locking mechanism. Pulling this pin unlocks the device and will allow you to discharge the extinguisher.

Some people panic and start spraying at the height of the fire. This is a bad since that is not where the fire is originating. Locate the where the fire is being fueled from and aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire. If you extinguish the source the flames will die out fast.

Always squeeze the level slowly. Again, panic can set in and if you press the level too hard and fast you could easily use up the extinguisher in seconds. Be careful to check that the fire hasn’t caught on curtains or walls and if it has make a sweeping motion to extinguish these flames before it rises to the ceiling.

The recommended method for putting out a fire with an extinguisher is to use a sweeping motion from side to side. Be sure you are at a safe distance and slowly move forward as the fire begins to fade. Once the fire is out do not leave the scene. Many times embers will be slowly burning and if you turn your back the fire can easily reignite. Stand by for a few minutes and spray again to ensure the fire is out completely.

After the fire is out make plans to have the fire extinguisher recharged and inspected.

Trust Your Emergency Lighting Maintenance to Professionals

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHaving emergency lighting in your school, hospital, or other building is not enough. It is essential to routinely and inspect and test it and make any necessary repairs quickly to ensure that it is functioning properly so that you will be prepared in the event of an emergency.

According to law, emergency lighting equipment must be inspected and tested on a monthly basis, and the results must be recorded. If you operate a large facility, testing and maintaining the amount of emergency lighting equipment in your building could be overwhelming to your maintenance staff, who also have many other responsibilities.

Even if you have a large staff with enough time to do the job, they probably do not have the expertise to maintain your emergency lighting system. Most buildings are equipped with emergency lighting equipment from several manufacturers that has different types of batteries, lamps, chargers, and other parts. This can be confusing to staff who are not properly trained and can lead to mistakes that could result in lost lives in the event of an emergency.

Trust the experts at Life Safety Service & Supply to properly maintain all of your emergency lighting equipment. We will conduct routine monthly visual inspections of all of your equipment. We will check for any exposed or loose wiring that could pose a fire hazard or could become snagged and result in further damage. We will inspect your equipment to ensure that it is securely mounted to the wall or ceiling, and we will check for any cracks or blemishes in the equipment’s housing that are in need of repair.

Our professionals will conduct 30-second illumination tests under battery-backup power of all the emergency lighting equipment in your building every month, and we will conduct 90-minute illumination tests under battery-backup power annually. We will replace any non-functional batteries, make any necessary repairs, and upgrade outdated equipment that could fail in the event of an emergency. We will keep detailed records of our inspections, tests, and repairs as required by law.

Don’t trust something as vital as your emergency lighting system to your regular maintenance staff who do not have the time or training to do the job right. The professionals at Life Safety Service & Supply have the experience and expertise to maintain all of your emergency lighting equipment so that your building’s occupants will be able to exit safely in the event of an emergency.

Best Way To Test Your Battery Powered Emergency And Exit Signs

exit-sign-life-safetyLocal and national codes require a monthly 30 second and an annual 90 minute test of all your battery powered emergency and exit signs. Plus, you’ve got to keep a written record of these tests to be produced for the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction).

What’s the best way to perform these tests? Holding a test switch for 30 seconds multiplied by the number of units can be a very time consuming process and will certainly “test” the inspectors patience. A better way is to locate and label the lighting circuit breaker that feeds these fixtures and test them all at once. This is the only way to perform the required annual 90 minute test. Testing this way allows the battery to show you how it performs over a longer period of time, much longer than most will spend standing there holding a test switch. If the units are high off the floor, this is the answer as well.

However, there are some instances when circuit breakers cannot be used. Per code, these same lighting breakers also feed the normal lighting fixtures in the same areas you’re testing. This can be unsettling in an occupied area, especially in a school or office environment. Many circuit breakers are poorly or not labeled at all. Which ones do I turn off to initiate my test? Randomly turning off breakers will also be disruptive, especially if a computer or some other piece of essential equipment gets switched off. Locating the proper breakers can be very labor intensive or impossible depending on the specific circumstance.

Once located and labeled, testing your emergency lighting and exits with their feed circuit breakers is the most effective and quickest way to do the job right.

The Cost of In-House Life Safety Equipment Maintenance and Why It’s Not Worth It

gallery-6-fullIf your building’s life safety equipment was tested tomorrow, would you pass? If you’re unsure of your answer, it’s time to think about the actual cost of maintaining life safety equipment. We estimate that it costs $450 for one employee to accurately complete inspections and repairs of 50 units. This is estimating a cost of about $35 per hour including salary, benefits, and vehicle. That is approximately 13 hours to properly care for 50 units. With monthly and yearly requirements from the National Electrical Code, and OSHA, that 13 hours and $450 cost will need to be done every month. Actual times vary depending on the skill of the employee, and the size of the building, but in general there is money being used, and time being spent on an employee that is untrained, and inexperienced with life safety equipment.

The cost of maintenance rises with every dollar your staff spends on updating and repairing equipment. There are ways in which facilities can save on cost of repair, but they must be done with the correct retailers to provide optimal savings, and quality. Most facilities purchase necessary equipment on an as needed basis. Meanwhile life safety equipment professionals are able to purchase supplies in bulk and use on an as needed basis, passing that savings onto the client.

At the end of the day the true cost of having an in-house maintenance team member responsible for life safety equipment is what happens when there is an emergency and life safety equipment fails. Life safety equipment is set to strict standards because they save lives. Without proper management they’re unable to perform in dire situations, and can lead to property damage, and in the worst cases, loss of life. The margin of error when it comes to in-house employees is too high of a risk, and not worth it. As a business specializing in life safety equipment we urge our potential and current clients to take a proactive approach to life safety equipment management. Not only are there knowledgeable professionals who can properly maintain, log, and track your life safety equipment, but in most cases it will cost you less than the 13 hours and $450 you’re spending in house.

3 Reasons Why Your Maintenance Staff Isn’t Properly Maintaining Your Life Safety Equipment

lifesafety-team-0006-smallThe importance of properly maintained life safety equipment is immeasurable. Studies show that life safety equipment is often found not in compliance with strict fire and safety codes. The consequences to improper maintenance can range from property damage and costly insurances claims, to live lost due to inability to safely exit a building in times of trouble. Trusting in-house maintenance staff to responsibly maintain your life safety equipment can truly be a matter of life or death. Here are three reasons why life safety equipment shouldn’t be left in a custodian’s hands.

1. Different equipment means different voltages, batteries, lamps, chargers, etc.
The amount of life safety equipment in buildings such as schools, city halls, corrections facilities, or corporate offices is extensive. Many emergency lighting systems feature many different types of bulbs all with different wattages, and batteries can range in size and voltage. Your building could have several different brands throughout that all have different requirements for peak usage. In most cases a member of the custodial staff is not trained to manage the variety of life safety equipment needs that one building has.

2. Time vs. Ability
Even if your in-house maintenance team member is able to figure out everything that is needed to keep your building to OSHA standards, how much time are they spending to do that? Is their time (and salary) being spent wisely? Correctly inspecting and repairing life safety equipment takes time, and precision. Lack of training mixed with the inconsistency of a maintenance worker’s day means that the likelihood of their inspections and repairs being accurate is slim. We’ve visited buildings using in-house staff and found that emergency lighting units suffer from a minimum 20% failure rate. Sometimes it’s even higher.

3. Codes & Compliance
The National Electrical Code, the NFPA Life Safety Code, and OSHA require that every emergency lighting unit be checked for 30 seconds monthly, and 90 minutes annually. They also require record keeping logs that are subject to review by inspectors. If you were asked to provide a detailed log of your life safety maintenance would you be able to? No matter how well your in-house maintenance team is, there are always other responsibilities that need to be tended to, and ones that are much more noticeable by every day building occupants. This leads to skipped inspections, inaccurate logs, and avoidable consequences.

There is no denying the benefit of having an employee be responsible for maintaining the property. They’re on the payroll, and they know the building. However, when it comes to life safety equipment there is a very fine line between who is capable and who is professional. The lives that pass through your building deserve to be surrounded by up to date life safety equipment that will make sure they have a way to safety in case of an emergency. Don’t leave such important equipment to in-house staff that will waste time and money that could be used to guarantee your buildings safety.

What Are AED’s

aedAED’s (automated external defibrillators) are life-saving devices that can be used in a home or business.

An automated external defibrillator (AED) can be the difference between life and death. An AED is a portable device that checks the rhythm of the heart and can send an electronic shock to the heart in an attempt to restore a normal heart rhythm.

This is why AED’s are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest. This is a condition where the heart suddenly stops beating. When this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. Time is of the essence to save the person’s life. Sudden cardiac arrest is often fatal if it is not treated within minutes. Using an AED on a person in sudden cardiac arrest can save that person’s life.

Automated external defibrillators are lightweight, battery-powered portable devices that are easy to use. Each AED unit comes with instructions and the unit will deliver voice prompts to let the operator know how and when to send a shock to the heart.

It’s always a good idea to take a CPR course and learn how to use an AED. However, it’s still possible for an untrained person to use an AED to save a person’s life. It’s also critical that someone call 911, even when an AED is used.

Police and ambulance crews now carry AED’s. These devices are also commonly available in many public places such as schools, health clubs, office buildings, sports arenas, casinos, golf courses, cruise ships, airports and airplanes.

AED’s can also be placed in private homes.

If you are in Connecticut and want to learn more about AED’s, contact Life Safety Service & Supply. We are an authorized dealer of Defibtech AED’s. We offer training in CPR and AED use. Our technician has American Heart Association certification and is a trained instructor in CPR.

Life Safety Service & Supply also handles all warranty and repair services.