Emergency Communication Systems – Crucial for Life Safety

by | Jul 21, 2017 | News

Emergency communication systems (ECS), which are also known as mass notification systems (MNS), may sometimes be looked at as an unnecessary addition to a life safety system. Smoke detectors or fire alarms may be in place in a building, and those fire safety systems may seem like adequate warning devices.

However, an emergency communication system may also be needed to ensure occupants clearly receive the warning they need to act in time.  Some residents in a Hawaii high-rise fire reportedly had trouble hearing the sirens located in hallways when the deadly fire broke out. One resident reported that she could only hear the alarms if her door was open and had even missed an earlier fire alarm test completely because she had slept through it.

“There were also no flashing alarm lights or public announcements about the deadly fire,” the Associated Press reported. And reports are saying there were also no fire sprinklers in the building. This sad event demonstrates how important it is for business owners and building managers to ensure their occupants have every warning possible in an emergency.

An ECS system can broadcast live, up-to-the-minute emergency information across a building, facility, campus, city, or even around the world. Whether using pre-recorded digital messages or live announcements, emergency communication systems can broadcast clear emergency directions indoors and outdoors throughout the desired coverage area. Occupants can receive alerts via texts, email, on their computer screens, and on LED signs. In what ways can these ECS provide superior warnings?

Different Instructions for Different Areas.

Shouldn’t a fire alarm signal alert occupants to the fire? Yes, however, an ECS can provide specific evacuation instructions to different targeted areas that may require different instructions. For instance, depending on the progression of the fire, some residents may be instructed to stay in place while residents on other floors evacuate to ensure an orderly and safe evacuation. If the situation is a toxic gas or chemical leak, occupants may need to evaluate certain risk areas while remaining inside in other areas to avoid contamination.

Clear Direction.

An ECS can clearly warn occupants of an emergency and provide the specific directions needed for that particular event. When a fire alarm sounds, occupants may wonder if could be a false alarm and may be reluctant to act. But then, if they hear clear voice evacuation directions from an ECS, they may understand how immediate the danger is and will be more likely to act quickly.

Even when occupants recognize a fire danger is happening, they may not know what the best evacuation route or course to take is, especially in a high-rise building. Panic can take over and cause confusion. Clear voice instructions from an ECS can help occupants to have direction on where to go and help them remain calm and orderly.

Better Understanding of the Emergency

A multi-faceted ECS is helpful, not just in a fire, but in a variety of emergency situations. These MNS can let occupants know what the emergency is whether a fire, severe weather, gas leak, intruder alert, or other emergency. With a better understanding of the emergency, instead of just a blanket evacuation siren, occupants can take the most appropriate action for the situation.

For instance, a severe weather warning can give specific instructions on the exact storm warning and depending on where occupants are and where the safest place to go is in that building.

In an intruder situation, more subtle emergency notifications may be needed like text or email alerts, and occupants in different areas may be instructed to hide or evacuate depending on where the intruder is heading.

Needed for Large or Small Buildings

ECS or mass notification systems are not just for large campuses. Smaller scale ECS equipment can be installed to protect even single building emergencies. ECS are still vital for these areas.

“A school lockdown, chemical spill or similar emergency, though often limited to a single building and its immediate surrounding area, are situations best addressed using mass notification. Informing everyone in and around the building of the emergency, and instructing them to evacuate, relocate, or remain where they are, is critical to keeping them safe and out of harm’s way,” NOTIFIER, one of our ECS component vendors, noted.

As a complete life safety system installer, Mac Systems in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City can design and install the best emergency communication system for your facility. We can install and maintain all your fire alarm and fire suppression systems and take care of all your inspection and maintenance needs.