Need a New Fire Alarm System for Your Commercial Building? Your Integrated ECS Options That Can Save Lives


If your commercial building has a fire alarm system that was installed before 2010, then it is likely lacking built-in ECS, or Electronic Communications System, features. In 2010, the NFPA 72, or National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, was updated to allow those with commercial fire alarm systems to choose those with these additional safety features. This is speculated to be a decision based on the recent events in the country where a room-to-room or mass communication system that could be accessed by anyone in a building could have saved lives.

Now that these important safety features are offered in many fire alarm systems, it is important to understand the features offered and which you feel are vital to the security of workers and/or patrons in your building. 

Read on to learn about the various ECS features offered in new fire alarm systems today. 

One-Way ECS Features

There are two sub-types of ECS features, and most fall into the group of one-way features. One way features allow the broadcasting of important safety information needed during emergencies from one main unit in a building, whether they are fire-related or not, yet do not allow room-to-room communication throughout the building. 

While these messages can consist of audio, such as a person speaking live or a pre-recorded message, they can also consist of text and/or other forms of visual communication projected onto screens. Many building owners with ECS systems choose to have a pre-recorded fire evacuation safety plan play throughout the building when the fire alarm is triggered by a fire.

While it may seem like audio is the best option when conveying important safety information throughout a building, The National Fire Protection Association warns that some audio can be difficult to understand when projected through a system that is not designed and/or installed well. However, if you want a fire alarm system that produces great ECS audio, you can find quality systems that project clear audio. 

An in-building mass notification system is one popular one-way ECS feature, and this feature can be used to send an important message to all people inside a building.

An additional option is a wide area mass notification system, and this feature allows the message to also be broadcast onto the exterior building grounds. If the outside grounds of your building is frequently occupied by patrons and/or employees, then this is a good addition to your system to make sure everyone is given important safety information during an emergency event and not just those currently inside the building. 

A distributed recipient mass notification feature allows messages to not only be communicated to people in the building through the fire alarm system's features, but also allows vital information to be sent to pre-set emergency responders, such a the local fire department and/or local police, and even send text messages or emails to the appropriate recipients. For example, if an emergency were to occur in your building, this feature would allow you to send a mass email to anyone scheduled to enter the building, such as workers or students, in the near future and warn them to stay away until the emergency situation has been resolved. 

Two-Way ECS

As mentioned, two-way ECS systems allow information to be communicated throughout the building, and this feature not only allows important information to not only be sent to people currently occupying the building, but it also allows often-important responses. For example, if a fire were to break out and occupants of a specific room could not exit through the door due to it being extremely hot (which typically means the fire is lurking outside of it), the occupants could convey this important information to everyone in the building and first responders. 

In addition, this feature would also allow first responders to communicate with each other as they are helping ensure the safety of people located all over the building. 

If your building needs a new fire alarm system, then realize that they are now available with integrated emergency communications systems, and this system could not only save the lives of the occupants of your building during a fire by allowing the communication of important safety information, but it can also be used to transfer safety information during any other type of emergency. An EMS is important in today's world and could save many lives in a potential emergency. 


24 February 2017

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