Saturday, January 28, 2012

Your disabled theres a Fire . Will you get assistance when you enter the Area of Rescue Room and push the Help Button?

Your a Disabled Individual in a Wheel Chair your working late at your desk in an empty to almost empty office building when a severe storm suddenly envelopes your building and the high winds have knocked out power and the IP phones. The emergency lights come on but you can not get out the elevators have no power. Now what?
You guide yourself into the Area of Rescue Assistance room a special built fire proof room
designed to keep you safe during an emergency and alert authorities you need assistance.
You push the big red button you see the communicate light come on but no one is coming to help you. Or you push the button there is no light because there is no back up battery on the system or its not been tested and maintained. Now what are you not suppose to be able to get help 24/ 7 in this room ?
Well until the latest code update the answer is NO.
The button you have pushed has turned the alerting light's and buzzers in the lobby panel on but theirs no one attending the entry desk down stairs. You could end up spending the night in the building unless some one knows to come looking for you.
Why ? Good question when these rooms where first designed they where intended to protect during a fire which they do with 2 hr rated fire walls . But the communication systems where not required to be in continuously attended locations or wiring supervised for breaks or even tested at regular intervals to make sure there working.
While you could go over and pull the manual Fire alarm station if there even is one ,which would get Fire dept to building who would see your trapped. Some Fire alarms are local only and do not report and if the phone lines are down and no back up cell phone in place now what.
Well you say to your self should the disabled person have been more prepared. Yes most are even carrying flashlights and cell phones and haven taken special classes to deal with emergency's. But as we all know things can and do fail at the wrong time and that includes cell phones batteries.

With the above scenario having played out in the news The NFPA 72 Fire codes now require that Area of Rescue Assistance Systems report off site to a supervising station if the lobby stations are not continuously attended.
But why did it take 20? years to bring it about ? Because as usual its the normal agenda if it just does not happen and do not listen to the people in the field who encounter these problems or realize they could happen.
NFPA never takes that one extra step of looking forward as a result codes are always catching up after a tragedy has happened and lessons learned. Close your eyes NFPA and UL and never listen to people like me and keep suffering the humiliation every time problems like this keep popping up. Its time UL and NFPA pulls its head out of its ass and start taking a better look at codes and filing in the gaps that are missing.

Also as usual all the existing rooms and communication system will be left as is only new systems
have to meet the 24/ 7 supervision and off site reporting. Most systems being sold still do not have this option and most installing companys and AHJ have no idea this provision was even put in the code.
Just hope your in a new building if you would get trapped. and there not using IP or digital phone
lines to do the reporting.

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