• Detectors: Increase Safety and Code Compliance with WES3 at Construction Sites

    By Mark Conroy

    Buildings under construction or renovation are required to have a safety plan, which often include smoke and heat detectors as work progresses. The International Building and Fire Codes (IBC and IFC), as well as NFPA 1, Fire Code, require compliance to NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations, which addresses the need for fire detection, on-site alerting, and off-site notification during renovations and construction. I was recently asked which options are available for such applications. Here is a summary of why the temporary wireless fire detection and notification option makes the most sense for the property owner, developer, and general contractor.

    Why Permanent Systems Are Not the First Choice.

    For many renovations, a permanent detection system exists, and for new construction, a permanent system will eventually be installed. So why not just use the permanent system? Mainly, it is because those indoor systems are for occupied and environmentally controlled applications. Over time, during construction and renovation work, permanent equipment will be contaminated with dust, dirt, moisture, or paint. False alarms, service calls, cleaning, and replacement of damaged equipment are cost prohibitive and will result in a troublesome installation for years to come.
    Additionally, temporary protective covers are installed on existing detection devices, during renovations and construction, to keep out dust and prevent damage like paint-over. The covers are not removed until the work is completed. That means existing permanent systems and newly installed permanent systems are not “in-service” with the covers. Although there is a need for a detection system, these permanent systems are obviously not available until covers are removed, and that is after the work is complete.

    Wireless Evacuation Systems Work

    A site safety plan that incorporates an evacuation and fire detection system that makes the most sense is one that is intended for temporary use and can be easily installed, relocated, and quickly removed when the permanent system is finally commissioned. The Wireless Evacuation System (WES3), by Space Age Electronics, is robust and designed specifically for outdoor temporary use during construction and renovations. Also, since these systems utilize a wireless network technology, the cost of installing and removing wiring (as compared to a traditional system) is eliminated. The WES3 System consists or a base station, sensors, and devices that form the network, with features designed for the building worksite.

    • All units communicate to a Base Station, which also performs site tests and creates alarm logs
    • Heat Sensors are rate-of-rise and provide a site-wide alarm in the event of activation.
    • Smoke Sensors provide a site-wide alarm and signal the base station when cleaning is needed.
    • Call Point units are combination siren/strobe and manual push button for system-wide alarm.
    • Call Point Medical activation enhances reporting capabilities.
    • Interface units enable local/remote monitoring of existing permanent systems.

    All WES3 wireless devices are equipped with tamper switches to signal when the device is removed from its installed location or when the device cover is opened. WES3 poles all devices twice daily to check for low batteries and to ensure that devices are operational and still connected. WES3 has a 3-year battery, and construction is commercial grade, all of which makes WES3 a match for construction and renovations.

    WES3 temporary systems are an investment, because they can be used over and over. Many large construction firms will buy WES3 systems for their projects. Alternatively, a lease agreement makes sense for one-time uses. Installing these temporary wireless systems will comply with local building and fire codes to keep life and property safer. Insurance premium reductions can also be expected.

    Sprinkler and fire alarm companies have a special relationship with the general contractor (GC) at construction sites, because they install the fixed fire detection and suppression systems. Make sure to inform the GC that this added service, from your organization, can eliminate many of the safety challenges the GC faces on almost every project. Having technicians’ qualified and certified to install the WES3 temporary site safety system, as construction progresses, is what many GC’s are looking for. Compliance to NFPA 241 is important to remain code compliant but also ensures safety for everyone on the job site.

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    Mark Conroy is an engineer and code consultant for BHC Inc. in our Boston, MA office.

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    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above Tech Series article are the author’s only and provide limited information. Although the information is believed to be reliable, Brooks Equipment Company, LLC expressly disclaims any warranty with respect to the information and any liability for errors or omissions. The user of this article or the product(s) is responsible for verifying the information’s accuracy from all available sources, including the product manufacturer. The authority having jurisdiction should be contacted for code interpretations.