The Cost of Doing Nothing

Often times, the cost of doing nothing is much higher than the cost of routine preventative maintenance – this is also the case in most distribution centers. Let’s do the math.

Starting out with a very conservative estimate of 6,000 packages per hour (at $5 apiece) on one conveyor belt equates to an operational maintenance value of $30,000 per hour. What happens when something breaks?

Time is Money.

circuitSomething as simple as a circuit breaker trip, a problem resolved with a quick 15 minute reset, can cost you up to $7,500 based on the example above. If this quick-fix doesn’t get you back online, replacing the breaker is your next option. Depending on the configuration of your panel, this can take up to 45 minutes (not including shipping/delivery time) costing you $22,500, and must be concluded with a Lock Out Tag Out program to avoid injury. Neither of these options are viable without having the proper replacement breaker in stock at your facility. Delivery and installation of a new breaker after ordering with expedited shipping can take up to 4 hours, a cost of $120,000 for your building.

Sometimes, the problem lies within the panel, often a short circuit or grounding malfunction, causing the entire panel to need replacing. This process takes up to 3 days, or a cost of $720,000. Alas, there is a silver lining to this situation. These incidents are easily avoided with a Preventative Maintenance program from ecs. Panel, Transformer, Low Voltage, and Medium Voltage maintenance programs clean out all dust and debris from equipment that can cause overheating and shorts as well as exercising all the moving parts like breakers and disconnects so they work properly when you need them most. Routine Infrared studies can show loose connections and possible arcing inside live equipment without putting anyone in danger or shutting down the equipment. Often included in our Infrared (IR) studies is a code compliance check.  The electrical code gets an update every 3 years.  Sometimes items that were code compliant when they were installed would no longer be if inspected today.

The Status Quo is Changing

The world is changing at an alarming pace for distribution centers.  More online shopping daily, more types of cost of doing nothingproducts, and expedited delivery time means more automation, conveyance, robots, powered lifts, and electric forklifts.  All of this equates to more power needs.  So, how much capacity does your building have?  How much can you add?  How much have you changed already in recent years? How much will it cost?

We  at ecs know you are going to be making improvements to your systems.  All of them.  Some of those systems also require code compliance testing annually, semi-annually, or even more often. We offer subcontractor management for construction, maintenance and break fix including fire alarm and sprinkler system testing and a 24/7 emergency line handled directly by our in- house staff. We also offer a merged approach to all fire alarm and sprinkler system testing to reduce the impact on your building by putting all code compliance contractors on site at one time.  This sounds like it could be a headache for staff, but we provide on site supervision and management to minimize cost, building risk and staff involvement.

Can You Afford to Wait?

Our primary focus is distribution centers so we know your buildings and operations. Your job, is our business – our goal is maximizing your uptime, and cutting your operational costs with routine preventative maintenance. Contact us today for more information on how ecs can save you time and money.

Fire Sprinkler Systems – Your Last Line of Defense

An automatic fire sprinkler system is the only guaranteed way to provide total fire protection in your facility. The fire sprinkler is the last line of defense in preventing fires from spreading, and hopefully stopping them entirely. When choosing your fire protection system, it is important to choose the right fire sprinkler system, that addresses the needs of your specific facility. Below are the 6 most common types of sprinklers on the market:

wet pipe sprinkler system1. Wet Pipe Sprinklers – The most common type of fire sprinkler system. A wet pipe system is easy to maintain and install. Wet pipe systems are filled with water with specific sprinkler head spacing. Each sprinkler head acts as its own heat detector. During a fire, the heat causes the core of the sprinkler head to burst discharging water. Not all the sprinkler heads are activated at once since each head is its own detector. The head will only burst when exposed to heat or broken off by physical contact. The advantage of this independence is that it can help to significantly reduce damage in the event of a false alarm since water will only be released from one head. It is not a surprise this type of system is still the most common application in the industry to this day.

dry pipe sprinkler system2. Dry Pipe Systems – A dry pipe sprinkler system is much like a wet pipe system except that the water is not contained within the pipes. Instead of water, the pipes in a dry system are pressurized by air or nitrogen. Water is still used to suppress a fire in these systems but is held back by a valve until the system is activated. A dry pipe system is a perfect application in environments that experience extreme cold where a wet pipe system would be subject to pipe freezing and impairments to the fire protection.


pre-action sprinkler system3. Pre-action Sprinkler Systems – A pre-action system is a dry pipe system where the water is held back by an electronically controlled valve that is connected to a fire detection system. Only after the fire detection system is activated will water enter the systems pipes and each sprinkler head is activated individually. A pre-action system is great for applications where accidental discharge of sprinklers would cause extensive damage like data centers and libraries.

deluge 4. Deluge Systems – A deluge sprinkler system is specifically designed for high-hazard areas in a building. In this system design, the pipes are dry and unpressurized, sprinkler heads are open, connection to a water source directly, and water is held back by a valve. When the system detects a fire, water is pumped through the systems pipes and is discharged through all the open heads flooding the affected area.


in-rack5. In-Rack Sprinklers – In-rack fire sprinklers are used in warehouse racking systems to contain fires to small areas and prevent the entire racking area from being ruined by a fire. These sprinklers are designed and located in close proximity to racking areas often installed in the middle of each aisle with heads on every level of the rack.


esfr sprinkler system6. ESFR – Early Suppression Fast Response systems are another fantastic application for warehouses. An ESFR systems heads are designed to emit a higher concentration of larger droplets of water. ESFR systems are high volume, high velocity systems and can be located in the ceiling to protect storage areas in place of in-rack sprinklers.

Fire Protection with ecs
ecs provides emergency fire protection service to help resolve unexpected issues with your fire protection systems. Whether an alarm is set off accidentally, a pipe freezes, or someone takes out a sprinkler head ecs is ready to assist your facility. Give us a call and we will send one of our partners to your location as quickly as possible. We have an emergency response team that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help protect lives, property and assets.

If you have any questions about fire alarm or fire protection installations, or want to know more on how to maintain these systems, contact us to see how we can help.

5 Reasons Emergency Fire Service is a Necessity

Choosing a long-term fire protection company can be a difficult and often confusing process. Knowing what types of systems your facility has and what the functions of those systems is can be tricky – not to mention people get nervous when the terms compliance, liability, and life-safety are thrown around. It is not a surprise that most facility managers want to delegate any responsibility in relation to their fire protection systems out of their role. To know what the right choice is for your facility. Partnering with a fire protection provider that offers 24-hour emergency has many benefits and is essential to having not only a safe facility, but a facility that avoids downtime.

1. Total Asset Protection
If something goes wrong or fails within your system there is an immediate risk to your building, personnel and other assets. The hope is that your fire protection system is in a constant normal condition. Emergencies can happen at any time, even in the middle of the night. Emergencies not only affect the performance of your fire protection system they can also cause damage to your assets. If you have a pipe burst, you are not going to want to go through the headache of trying to find the right people to fix the pipe, only to wait on repairs while water is damaging your property. Having a skilled and responsive 24/7 fire protection service provider will keep your facility protected and operational at the most critical of events.

2. Overcome the Unexpectedfire safety

Most facility managers will tell you that operations don’t always go smoothly. Life happens. Even with strict preventative maintenance plans and regular testing and inspections of the buildings fire systems, emergencies still occur. Expect the unexpected. If you have a pipe burst, alarm set off, leaking sprinklers, or a sprinkler freeze-up, you’ll want a fire protection service provider that can help address all of these issues.

3. One Source System & Facility Familiarity
In an emergency, you will want the situation addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Your fire protection system is most likely made up of more than one type of system. Not every fire protection contractor may be skilled in or able to make the repairs across different systems. Having a one source fire protection service provider provides the expertise it takes to make sure the right technician is sent for repairs. When your fire protection service provider is also the company you call for emergency service, they will already be familiar with your system and facility.

4. Holiday Service
Your fire protection system is not going to wait for a convenient time to start causing issues. If an emergency problem happens on a holiday, an emergency fire protection provider can address the issue in a timely manner. In many parts of the country, the holiday season often brings about inclement weather. It is during the winter when your fire sprinkler systems can freeze up. If your system freezes up, you’ll want it to address it right away, even if it’s during the holidays!

5. Peace of Mind with 24 Hour Support
As stated previously, facility fire protection is an important but challenging responsibility for any facility manager/owner. Choosing to work with a fire protection contractor that offers 24-hour emergency service gives you the peace of mind knowing who you should call if something goes wrong with your fire protection system, at any time of day.

fire inspection24-Hour Emergency Service with ecs
ecs provides emergency fire protection service to help resolve unexpected issues with your fire protection systems. Whether an alarm is set off accidentally, a pipe freezes, or someone takes out a sprinkler head ecs is ready to assist your facility. Give us a call and we will send one of our partners to your location as quickly as possible. We have an emergency response team that is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help protect lives, property and assets – reach out to us for more information.

What Basic Electrical PPE Do Electricians Need?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a criteria for general Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for electricians working within areas where there is live electrical sources and general electrical environments.  While there are manyppedifferent types of these electrical environments such as overheard power lines, energized equipment, and large facility power systems which require higher levels of protection, this blog will cover your basic electrician PPE.


  1. Hardhats:

Non-conductive hardhats shall be worn when whenever there is a danger of head injury from electric shock or burns due to contact with live parts or from flying objects resulting from an electrical explosion.

  1. Safety Glasses:

Employees shall wear PPE for the eyes whenever there is a danger of injury from electric work where an object could end up coming in contact with their eyes. Non-conductive safety glasses or goggles are to be worn.

  1. Clothing:

There are a number of different electrical environments that require different levels of clothing protection, but for the majority of electricians the following will cover your basic electrician needs.

  • Electrician Pants and Shirts – Fire Rated, lightweight, breathable, and durable.
  • Safety Vests – High Visibility / Reflective
  • Foot Protection and work boots
    1. Soles with electrical isolation.
    2. Water-resistant upper.
    3. Protected Toe Caps.
    4. Slip-resistance soles.
  • Belts – Belts must be made of non-conductive materials such as leather or FR rated nylon with a buckle made of heavy duty plastic.

What additional Protection might be required when working on larger systems or projects?electrical ppe

There are some electrical environments where additional protection may be required by the specific project.  They include the following.

  • Hearing Protection – is required when working in the arc flash boundary which a determined radius of energized pieces of electrical equipment. Hearing protective inserts are used to protect the employee in the event of an arc blast.  The sound pressure level of an arc flash incident could exceed 140 decibels.
  • Hand Protection
    1. Employees shall wear rubber-insulation gloves and properly sized leather protectors where there is a danger of hand or arm injuries due to contact with live parts or possible exposure to arc flash burn.
    2. Rubber gloves are used for shock protection. Rubber gloves must be tested after each use if not worn with leather protectors.

Depending on the job task to be performed, Personal Protection Equipment for the electric power industry generally includes safety glasses, face shields, hard hats, safety shoes, insulating (rubber) gloves with leather protectors, insulating sleeves, and flame-resistant (FR) clothing as mentioned above.  Be sure to fully understand the requirements of each electrical job and what PPE is required for any larger jobs or any job requirements for safety such as fall protection and higher levels of energy in each environment for additional electrical PPE.

Fire Alarm Signals – What Are They?

How many times has your Fire panel annoyed you with a beeping “alarm” going off? Many people don’t realize that panel “alarms” are not actually alarms at all, they are often supervisory and trouble signals – how can you tell the difference?

The Difference Between Alarm, Supervisory, and Trouble Signals

Alarms are simple – they are saying “Hey! There is an actual fire event happening in your facility! GET OUT!” These signals can be created by a smoke detector, manual pull station, or a sprinkler system being activated. Regardless of what caused the alarm, this is what will set off the notification devices that get people to evacuate the building and prompts the system to call for emergency fire response.

Supervisory signals indicate that investigation into your fire systems is needed immediately – don’t worry, the threat is not serious enough to cause an alarm yet. These signals can come from a duct detector that activates, fire alarmor a fire sprinkler device has been tampered. Address the issue before it causes potential damage.

Trouble signals on the fire panel show that there is something wrong with the fire system, but not quite an emergency situation. It could be a problem with the wiring, a broken device, or something wrong with the fire panel itself. Trouble signals are many times minor issues that do not rise to the level of needing immediate emergency repairs.

How Do I Know Which One Has Been Set Off?

An “Alarm” signal will have a red light or LED lit on the fire panel and there will be a steady tone sounding fromFire safety the panel. Also, any notification devices (horns, bells, strobes, speakers) will be activated. In every case when the system is monitored, the fire department will be dispatched.

A “Supervisory” signal will have a yellow light or LED lit on the fire panel and there will be a fast beeping tone sounding from the panel. There should not be any notification devices going off.

A “Trouble” signal will also have a yellow light or LED lit on the fire panel and there will be a slower beeping tone sounding from the panel.

With any of these signals, most fire panels will also have a digital display that will tell you what type of signal is active. With analog (programmable) systems, the display may also show you the exact location of the issue.

How to Respond to Each Signal

If there is an Alarm on your fire panel, you should always make sure that all personnel is evacuated from the building and is safe and accounted for. Following that, immediately contact your fire service provider to dispatch a service technician.

For a Supervisory signal, you should call your fire system service provider immediately. Depending on what the specific issue is being displayed, your provider should be able to determine whether it requires immediate service or inspection

With Trouble signals, you will want to call your service provider, but it can wait until normal business hours. There is no need to spend extra money for an emergency after hours service call.

Knowing what signal your fire panel is displaying and how to respond is very important. It will help you to understand what steps to take and can potentially save your company time and money.

What is a Construction Change Order?

Congratulations, your company has been awarded a major construction project.  All your hard work in the preconstruction phase has paid off, and it should be smooth sailing from the initial notice-to-proceed through substantial completion.  In a perfect world, this would be the case. In reality, few planning stones are left unturned after theconstruction change construction contract is signed, and a change order must be added.  On average, 65% of all projects valued over $250,000 experience a minor change order and 35% of these projects experience a major change order. On the new fast-track project delivery method, where design is still on-going after contracting signing, expect change orders as a common occurrence. Implementing a tracking system to keep up with the ongoing design may be beneficial.

Change Orders in Construction

A change order is work that is added or deleted from the original scope of work of a contract, which in turn, alters the original contract amount and/or completion date.

Types of Change Order

Common Reasons

Change in Scope of Project Tenant agency has requested a design change
Unforeseen Conditions Site conditions differ from the expected.
Professional Errors and Omissions Requested by contractor or professionals
Errors Errors in construction design plans and specifications
Omissions Omission of an item or element from the plan

Staying ahead is important, primarily for your project budget and to meet the Owner’s completion date.  Letting these slip can plunge your project financially by not covering additional cost as they come as well as paying for owner liquidated damages by not completing a project before deadline.

How to Process a Change Order

Prepare Upfront:

Make sure that the change order process is clearly outlined in the construction contract.  This will give your client clear expectations how change of scope situations will be handled and no surprises arise. Not having verbiage in the original contact and specifying what happens as changes come up can lead to disagreements and tension.

Notification of Change:

The first step is to notify the owner or general contractor when a likely change in scope is identified.  Typically, this is written on letterhead as an RFI (request for information) and addressed to the responsible party.  From there the responsible party will pass the RFI onto engineering parties or the client to answer the question.  Clear direction is given after an RFI is answered and any change in scope can be determined after that.

What to Include

  • Date and party the change order is being addressed too
  • Itemized list of all that is included in the change order and change of scope
  • Breakout cost of labor, material, equipment, overhead
  • Change in contract value
  • Change in contract time
  • Signatures from both parties

No Changes are to Proceed Until Approved

Time and time again, there is pressure to complete a project on time and to keep your schedule.  A majority of clients know a change is in process, but will still pushconstruction changeto keep work on track.  This practice puts project managers between a rock and a hard place at times. It is important that you understand not proceed with the change order work without your client’s approval and signature.

Tracking & Staying on Task

Depending on the size and complexity of your project, an excel log or software program will greatly help in tracking the status of change orders.  Tracking will also help determine overall project material needs, manpower needs, electrical equipment, rental equipment, milestone dates, and final completion dates.  All of these components play a part of the project schedule and being proactive with them keeps the project duration from slipping.

Having a dedicated Estimator assigned to a fast track the construction project will help keep up withplanning the change orders as the drawing re-visions come off the press (or electronic transfers, keeping the environment in mind).  Some new facility fast track projects are known to have one 100+ drawing revisions, which in turn equal 100+ change orders.  Then there is the other 100+ change orders from all the rework created by previous work already in place.

Change Orders Are a Necessity

The key to all successful projects is great communication between the contractor and their client.  By communicating the change order expectations to your client before a construction contract is signed, your project has a greater percentage of being out of the negative zone during project execution.

Change orders are generally looked upon by clients negatively as it impacts their budget. To make them more positive, clearly communicate to the owner what caused the change order and work with them on different options that will fit the project budget. When a total project duration is increased by a change, become creative and look for ways to shorten project duration without increasing cost.

Anticipate for changes to happen.  Instead of taking a defensive approach, be proactive and get out in front of them before they become an issue.  With a systematic approach frustration is reduced of the dreaded change order and the construction crew is able to work more effectively when the unknown happens.

The Case for LED Lighting: Does It Make a Difference?

LEDs, the acronym for “Light Emitting Diode,” are semiconductor devices that produce light when a current passes through it. Because it is a solid-state lighting device, it utilizes semiconductor materials instead of filaments or neon gas. LED light exists as a tiny chip encapsulated in an epoxy resin enclosure, making them far more durable than traditional incandescent light bulbs or fluorescent tubes. Light is created once particles that carry the current mix together within the semiconductor material. These were first used as indicator lights, but are now used extensively for indoor, outdoor, and ornamental lighting.

How are LEDs Used in Lighting?

LEDs are incorporated into bulbs and fixtures for general lighting applications. Because of their smaller size, they provide unique design opportunities. Many LED solutions look physically similar to the appearance of the traditional light bulb and some light fixtures have LEDs built in as a permanent light source. There are also hybrid approaches where a non-traditional “bulb” or replaceable light source format is used and specially designed for a unique fixture. They offer a tremendous opportunity for innovation in lighting form factors and fit a wider breadth of applications than traditional lighting technologies.

Why Should I Use LEDs?

LEDThe most significant advantage of LED’s when compared to traditional lighting would be lifespan. The average LED lasts between 50,000 to 100,000 hours, 2-4 times longer than the average fluorescent and 40 times longer than an incandescent bulb. This in return reduces maintenance costs.

Unlike fluorescent or incandescent bulbs that burn out, LED’s do not. An LED does not have filaments, metal fatigue, or evaporation of electrical components like the traditional light bulb. Instead of burning out, the brightness of the lamp slowly fades.

LEDs are designed with one purpose: to produce light. Due to their focused designed, engineers have figured out how to squeeze the maximum lumens out of the tiniest amount of power. Every watt you save will save you money on electric bills.

Since LEDs are circuit boards designed to produce light, the result is a light source with almost no heat. In fact, 90% the energy used in a traditional fluorescent light is converted to heat and only 10% is converted to light. With LEDs, the percentages are the exact opposite. Imagine how many little heaters can be eliminated in your building if you get rid of those ballasts and retrofit to LEDs. Your HVAC system will increase its efficiency by as much as 20% as a result of the reduced heat load.

Versatility vs. Durability

We all know that LED’s come in a wide range of colors: red, blue, green, white, etc.  However, it is the color temperature of light – especially white light – that has the most effect on our lives in our businesses and homes. LED light sources are based on the Kelvin (K) system of measurement which ranges from 1,000K (red light waves) to 10,000K (blue light waves).  The standard color temperature for household lighting uses LEDs in the 2,700-3,000K range, offices use 3,500-4,100K and many exterior and warehouse applications can be as high as 5,000K.  The higher the color temperature, the more efficiently LEDs operate but higher color temperatures can sometimes appear too bright or harsh for regular eye comfort.

You have probably heard that sunlight gives you energy, but did you know that light bulbs can work in the same way? Bulbs that emit blue light waves produce serotonin, which makes us focused, awake, and alert. Bulbs that don’t emit blue light waves allow for our brain to produce melatonin, which makes us relaxed, drowsy, and ready for a good night’s sleep.

LEDs are far more durable than traditional incandescent light bulbs or fluorescent tubes, able to withstand shocks, vibrations, and extreme temperatures because they don’t use the same fragile components that other lights use, such as glass and filaments, while generating practically zero heat. This means they are cool to the touch. They can be left on for hours on end without incident or consequences if touched.
Simply put, LEDs greatly reduce safety risks such as burns and fires.

Are LEDs Worth It?

In conclusion, you can save a lot of time and money (a specialty of ecs) in recurring maintenance expenses by investing in LED lighting that will last 2-10 times as long as any other light. Although LED costs tend to be a bit higher on the front end, the long lifespan makes up for this several times over. Purchasing LED lighting is very much an investment, along with the longer lifespan typically comes a longer product guarantee (warranty) and significantly reduced maintenance expenses and hassle.

Managing Your Distribution Center’s Electrical Asset Lifecycle

Electrical Asset Management is the process of managing the performance and longevity of your electrical distribution system in order to maximize safety, uptime, and equipment life in your distribution center.  The goal is to keep your people safe and production lines operational.  By monitoring your electrical system’s health, you can replace components before they fail so you can stay powered, productive, and profitable.

Distribution Centers face tremendous challenges with tracking and maintaining the various assets associated with your complex facility infrastructure.  These massive buildings include numerous types of systems with unique maintenance schedules and protocols.  Modern facilities have robust conveyance and automation systems that need constant attention while older facilities have aging systems that are always breaking down.  Some have both!  It is almost impossible for facility managers and maintenance engineers to keep the complicated production systems working and provide regular maintenance for the building’s electrical system.  However, there is NO production if your electrical system fails.

electrical asset lifecycle

Electrical Asset Lifecycle: Equipment is replaced or repaired prior to End of Life

Electrical Asset Management programs will help you stay operational by keeping your systems operating effectively and safely.  Proven electrical asset management programs will include:

  • Experienced Distribution Center and Warehouse Service Providers who know how to navigate your large facility, production schedules, and limited maintenance windows.
  • Consistent, ongoing, network wide electrical maintenance services including:
  • Arc Flash Analysis for safety
  • Selective Coordination/Breaker Settings for uptime
  • Infrared Scans for proper connections and thermal anomalies
  • Cleaning and Inspecting gear and electrical equipment
  • Exercising and Testing Breakers and Switches
  • Generator and UPS maintenance and testing
  • Medium Voltage maintenance and testing
  • Detailed report for each maintenance program including scope, findings and photos
  • All issues found during the scheduled maintenance programs shall be documented and promptly corrected
  • Guaranteed 24x7x365 Emergency response from qualified electricians
  • Electrical Safety Training including PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and LOTO (Lock-out Tag-out)
  • Leverage technology to monitor electrical system health using predictive analytics to detect and correct issues before failures occur
  • Recommendations for system improvements and replacements to maximize safety and uptime based on system performance and service records
  • Instant, accessible reports and data on your systems with easy to understand at-a-glance metrics keeping you in compliance with ongoing requirements

electrical maintenance

Electrical Power Systems in your warehouse are designed to provide safe, reliable power when properly maintained.  However, years of around the clock use, environmental factors, and lack of maintenance will have an impact on the electrical equipment’s performance.  Improper electrical maintenance can lead to costly, unexpected outages and risk of safety incidents.

Protect What Matters Most – People, Production, and Profit.  Implementing an Electrical Asset Management program will increase your electrical system’s reliability and enhance personnel safety which both contribute to your company’s bottom line.  Let ecs help you develop your customized program that will add value to your organization.  We take the time to understand every inch of your facility to proactively recommend an approach that mitigates equipment failure and unplanned downtime.

For over 90 years ecs, a division of Parsons Electric, has been designing, building, and servicing distribution centers and warehouses, providing electrical, fire, and arc flash services to protect what matters most to you. We service over 150 million square feet of distribution center space across the nation each year providing preventative maintenance, compliance and peace of mind that your people, property, processes, production and profit are in good hands. Our job is your business.


Five Goals To Consider When Upgrading Your Fire Alarm

Imagine this fairly common scenario: Your facility’s fire alarm system has reached the end of its operational life. Constant troubles and service calls for the system are becoming a regular part of your life. Frustration and stress is heightened and the building’s maintenance budget is lowering. If this is the case, it’s probably time to upgrade the system. The first question you need to ask is whether you actually know what those organizational fire protections goals are. If you do not know, now is the time to investigate. If you find that maybe your organization doesn’t have any, then now is definitely the time to create some. The analysis of your organizational fire protection goals will center on the following 5 categories: life safety, property protection, mission continuity, heritage preservation and environmental protection.

  • Life Safety: The main focus surrounding your fire alarm system is providing life safety to the occupants of your building. Early detection is the absolute key to being successful in meeting this goal. Sometimes electronically supervising your fire sprinkler system is enough, while some situations may call for smoke detection, and others may need heat detection.  It is important to discuss your buildings needs with a firefire safety protection engineer to help determine the best methods for detection. Remember, the intent of this life safety goal is to provide early detection and early notification for the occupants of the facility and the responding public fire department. The more capable your system is in accomplishing this, the better. The protection of lives has to be the number one priority for any system upgrade.
  • Property Protection: With a property protection goal, building owners and representatives are seeking to limit the damage to the facility and meet all the insurance company’s requirements. Meeting this goal, property protectionrepresentatives of the building may choose to detect fires of a certain size or rely on the capabilities of an automatic sprinkler system. If the idea is to detect the fire before sprinkler system actuation, then the design of the fire alarm system will require more detection than building code’s minimum requirements for detection. Again, depending on the type of detection and the limits of the size of fire detected, limiting the extent of damage may provide equal benefits for the environment as the life safety design.
  • Mission Continuity: The goal of mission continuity is to retain your organization’s ability to keep business activities intact after a fire. The average building code fire alarm system design will not always meet this goal. The detail of the detection type needed to meet this goal, in a lot of cases, greatly mission continuityexceeds the design used for detection to meet a life safety goal. Fires cause intense and often irreparable amounts of damage. Having the proper types of fire detection gives your building the chance to have a fire stopped in the time necessary to prevent such damage. Not committing to strong mission continuity goal can lead to major costs and significant down time.
  • Heritage Preservation: In some instances an owner/representative could be dealing with a historic building. In these cases, the fire protection required for heritage preservation involves a detailed analysis of what elements inside a facility that need to remain intact following a fire. This will also impact how the installation is completed making sure the new fire alarm system is installed in a way that does not damage the building. Even if your facility does not have any historical significance, your building may have records or documents you will want to protect, often buildings with data centers may use fire suppression systems in order to protect the buildings important data saved on its servers.
  • Environmental Protection: When the goal of environmental protection is primary, the impact a fire could environmental protectionhave on the environment in certain types of facilities trumps other goals. A fire in a paint warehouse could cause an environmental disaster if the water runoff used during firefighting efforts contaminates the water supply. Some buildings were built in an era where the building materials used were found to be poisonous when exposed to fire. Smoke control is a major item to look into and will require meeting with an air handling contractor/engineer to better understand what types of damper, shut downs, and fans are needed to control smoke. A lot of research is required with older buildings when trying to discover what sort of environmental impact could be in play. With such cases, every part of the fire protection design needs to be considered to ensure the fire is contained to the smallest possible area within the facility, and promptly automatically extinguishes the fire.

As it goes with any system in your building, it is always best to avoid the “crisis” type of installs. Without a good plan or the right goals in mind, a last minute install could prove to be quite costly. If someone tells you or you feel it is time to upgrade your system, it is imperative to counsel with a fire protection professional you trust. Navigating through the required codes and meeting the five fire protection goals for your organization (life safety, property protection, mission continuity, heritage preservation and environmental protection) will come easier, and at a better price point with professional help.

If you have more questions about fire alarm or fire protection installations, or want to know more on how to maintain these systems, contact us. We would be happy to discuss your project with you to see how we can help.

Preventative Safety Measures for Arc Flash Hazards

arc flash, electrical services, arc flash dangers An arc flash is a dangerous safety hazard associated with the release of energy caused by an electric arc. An arc flash is an explosion that can cause severe burns, injuries or death depending on the severity. These incidents typically occur in applications above 120 volts and can take place at any time especially when electrical equipment is being inspected or serviced.

Arc flash safety concerns exist when a person is working on or near exposed electric conductors or circuit parts that have not been de-energized and placed in a safe work condition such as lockout tagout.

Safety & Risk Mitigation For Arc Flash Hazards:

  1. An arc flash hazard study should be performed to evaluate accurate labeling of electrical equipment.
  2. To be in compliance with OSHA & NFPA 70E Standard, arc flash labels should be created and placed on all pieces of equipment analyzed as part of an Electrical Safety Program.
  3. Contact ecs to request an Arc Flash quote. We will determine the arc flash boundary detailing the safe distance from equipment and provide arc flash labels as well as a short circuit equipment evaluation to help you evaluate your electrical system. We will also perform an arc flash risk assessment which includes the following elements:
    • Provide an up-front explanation of the requirements of NFPA 70E 2018
    • Survey existing or new electrical systems to collect data necessary to perform a short-circuit analysis, protective device coordination study, and arc flash analysis
    • Develop a plan to correct any repairs, system updates or deficiencies necessary to meet NEC and NFPA guidelines
    • Update building electrical one-line diagrams to depict current system
    • Deliver the completed arc flash risk assessment and install NFPA compliant labels identifying protection levels
    • Optional – Comprehensive three (3) hour training covering OSHA Regulations and NFPA 70E – perfect for anyone working on or near energized electrical equipment

Benefits of an ecs Arc Flash Assessment include:

  • Improved safety for people maintaining your electrical system so they will know the level of risk involved with each piece of equipment
  • Electricians will know what PPE (personal protective equipment) is required to safely work on your system
  • You will have current documentation of your facilities electrical system for future moves, adds and changes


Additional Resources

Download our Arc Flash White Paper

Request an Arc Flash Quote

NFPA 70E Training

Download NFPA 70E Training White Paper

Request an NFPA 70E Training Quote