If there is a serious security breach or threat, whether it be an intruder or a fire, is your alarm system as helpful as you think?  If the onsite CCTV security personnel can’t understand what you are saying over the internal/external intercom system, they can’t help you as quickly as might be needed.  It’s not enough to have an intercom system but one that is clearly audible to both the speaker and on the receiving end.

Notifier by Honeywell is working diligently to bring this issue to light because it’s not just about having security systems in place but having RELIABLE ones. With new technology emerging in the security industry there is a greater demand to test intercom & communication systems for audibility and intelligibility. In the 2010 edition of the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code,  Honeywell indicated that it has made some changes to clearly define “acoustically distinguishable space” standards and how that contributes to the effectiveness of the speaker and listener via intercoms in the case of emergency. Jack Poole of Olathe, Kansas based Poole Fire Protection, a member of the NFPA 72 Technical Committee said “The intent is to try to go through your facility and identify spaces that have different geometrical shapes, uses, occupancies, environmental issues and acoustical features.” Poole conveyed that there is a distinct differentiation between audibility and intelligibility. Audibility is loudness and intelligibility is whether someone can understand what’s being said.

What does this have to do with your business?  If you have an internal or external intercom system for your building there are various factors to consider when ensuring its proper functionality.  To address this, you’ll need to look at numerous factors such as geographic location.  Is your company in a busy NYC high-rise in lower Manhattan with lots of traffic and noise, or out in a more open space like an industrial park in Oklahoma? This is one of the determining factors to be considered in deciding WHERE you may need an audible emergency message system vs. needing one that’s more intelligible. For example, if an internal space has more “human traffic” such as the lunch room or conference rooms, an audible one is more likely to be needed.  But if you have several emergency exits or external entranceways, then both are needed.  It’s all about the risk analysis of the potential threats to a building to determine spaces where audibility vs. intelligibility is needed.

Here at FES, we plan to stay abreast of this important safety issue to ensure our clients systems are up to par and the buildings that we service are safe. We use a host of industry leading products from top manufacturers in safety systems including intercoms, fire alarms, automatic sprinkler systems, ISI certification fire extinguishers as well as internal and external security systems including CCTV and external cameras.  Because at the end of every hour of every day it’s about reliability of those systems to warn and ensure safety which is why Falcon Engineered makes your safety our priority.

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