Friday, October 31, 2014

Taxpayer money wasted on Parking Gate put in by Slob Contractor and every one just shrugs.

One of my Institutional customers had a parking lot gate installed back in 2006  and when they went to reuse it after it had sat unused for several years I found it was beyond economical repair as a previous lightning strike on property had fred the controls and the gate unit was not heated and had badly corroded in side. But that was not the only problem I found.

The contractor who put the gate in under a government grant   had undersized the 120 volt wire going to gate  and over fused it. they also ran 22# gauge wire  for the exiting and safety  loops  in ground 3 sizes too small it needed to be at least 14# gauge .

Then we found the wire going to the reader where you presented the card had been smashed and pinched which is why the gate stopped operating several months after it was installed. A totally incompetent install  by a MBE qualified contractor and your tax payer dollars wasted and everyone just shrugs.
I have ordered and am now in process of installing a new parking gate.
card reader not fastened properly and water intrusion

wires popping up out of asphalt

22#  white burg wire not 14# traffic loop wire.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

During Operation Desert Shield The REACT group I belonged to helped get messages home from the troops overseas. But was it a good idea?

Back in early 90s' when Operation Desert shield was in place in an attempt to push Iraq back out of Kuwait and before the ground action that became Desert Storm took place the Allegheny Valley React group I belonged to helped get messages from troops in the field back home to their family's in a much unusual way Via a Fax Machine . Now remember this was before the Internet took off and was in its young days and here was no Skype etc. and most homes did not have computers let alone internet.
One of our members John S. a WWII vet was a Draftsman who had a home office and he knew some Engineers who where doing work for oil company's in Kuwait and they arranged with our member to allow US Soldiers in the field to send a fax messages back home on the engineers office fax to Johns fax with its old fashioned thermal paper .

The engineer would go in field and get written notes from the soldiers then fax them to John every Saturday morning we would cut them apart put them in an envelope  with a note how they came to be and mail them to the soldiers family's.
Many where asking for food items from home or to just say hello they where safe and hoped to be home soon.
We did this for several months and where even written up in the now defunct Penn Hills Progress on our efforts . But when the effort to turn Sadam and his troops back failed and it went to Operation Desert storm the engineer had to cut off further faxes.

Was what we doing  possibly harmful to national security probably not as not only troops but officers sent messages home via fax so  some one knew we where doing it and the names where all of American origin so chances secret messages where being passed where unlikely but yes I am sure Pentagon never knew we where doing it and if they did they never condoned it.
We got a couple thank you letters from family's who got the messages and all in all it was satisfying helping our troops. 

The Compliance Engine a new online cloud based way to file Fire Inspection reports comunites are adopting

I have many apartment building I take care of in Mt Lebanon Pa. and it has always been an ordeal every year to Fax over to them the Annual Fire Alarm Inspection reports seems they get lost misfiled whatever.
Well the good folks at Mt Lebanon Fire Prevention came across a service to help stop all the confusion and make things neat and orderly
Its called"  The Compliance Engine "

Its a neat site to allow you to file all your  annual or quarterly reports  from  fire alarms, sprinklers  emergency lights to  emergency generators etc. depending how the town has arranged it.

Many towns now use it .

My experience using it has not been bad takes a little to get use to it but they offer on line seminars for those not use to using such software and there have been a couple bumps with addresses etc which will be worked out shortly but all in all its a good program and will ultimately save time and aggravation for all.  I expect once everything  in Mt Lebanon is hammered out and fixed  with its new inception to area that other towns will start using it  and a bonus especially for high risk customers all reports are right there and can be pulled and printed for insurance risk agents etc who need them.

  They push the compliance engine as a way to enhance your company's revenue since now they will know who has and who has not been doing there job getting buildings inspected.  and its true in that aspect as I still run a cross system never inspected or tested since day they where put in. and as good as Mt Lebanon is getting inspections done of building there are always the skunks out there who the compliance engine will catch.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

ESL Smoke Detectors False alarm should be included in there name and now there is a Major Recall for 2014 models

Back in the 80's one of the few makers of a lower profile smoke detectors was ESL, Electro Signal laboratory's
Most of the other smoke detectors on the market at the time where what we refereed to as high hats which stood 5-6 " off ceiling while the low profile ESL was 2" 

My customers like many other alarm company customers wanted the lower profile units they just looked better and while some of the ESL smokes I installed have behaved and never falsed this was not the normal seems they worked for a couple years and then nothing but false alarm problems.

One big problem I found was the silver metal heat detector on the unis which triggered from static electric and radio frequencies if they where strong. but even the not heat detector units false alarmed as well.
So like other company's I put the practice in place of  if an ESL smoke falsed it was replaced with a System Sensor smoke which where very stable.
In the 90's ESL was bought and sold several times and they came out with a new design suppose to stop false alarms and while they had a better track record they still had problems the few I tested again some worked fine others just falsed. So I will no longer install them .

The units are still made but now they have had to have a major recall of units made in 2014 after it was found they will not activate in some cases.

ESL, Interlogix Hard-Wired Smoke Alarms Recalled Due to Failure to Alert Consumers of a Fire

Recall date: August 13, 2014
Recall number: 14-255

Recall Summary

Name of product: ESL and Interlogix brand 400/500 series smoke detectors
Radio frequency interference can cause the smoke detectors to fail to alert consumers of a fire.
Consumer Contact: Edwards at (800) 655-4497 select option 5, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at and click on Contact Us. Interlogix toll-free at (855) 286-8889 select option 2, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT Monday through Friday or online at and click on Customer Service for more information.
Report an Incident Involving this Product

Recall Details

About 141,000 in U.S. and 13,000 in Canada
This recall involves thirty-three models of the 400 and 500 series Edwards (ESL)-branded and Interlogix smoke detectors hard-wired into a security system. Edwards and Interlogix smoke detectors are identical. The 2-wire or 4-wire detectors are round, white and measure 6 inches across by 2 inches high. The smoke detectors were made for professional installation and used primarily in commercial buildings, schools, hotels/motels, apartments, dormitories and homes as part of the fire alarm system. Recalled units have date codes 13084 through 14059 with the first two digits representing the year, for example: 13 for 2013 and 14 for 2014; and the last three digits representing the day of the year, for example: 084 is the 84th day of 2013, which is March 25, 2013. The initials ESL, the date code and one of the following model numbers are printed on a label on the back of the detector’s cover and on the product’s packaging.

400 series: 429AT, 429C, 429CAD, 429CRT, 429CST, 429CT, 429CTAD, 449AT, 449C, 449CRT, 449CSRH, 449CSRT, 449CST, 449CSTE, 449CT and 449CTE.

500 Series: 511C, 518C, 521B, 521BXT, 521B-10PKDMP, 521B-10PKG, 521BXT-10PKG, 521BXT-DMP-10PKG, 528B, 528CRXT, 541C, 541C-10PKG, 541CXT, 541CXT-10PK and 548C.
Customers should immediately contact their security or fire system provider to determine if any of their units are included in the recall. If so, they will receive free replacement and free installation of new smoke detectors. Consumers should not take the alarms out of service until the replacement alarm has been installed. Only professional installers should remove and replace these units.
Sold at
Alarm system, security equipment and electrical equipment contractors, dealers and installers for use in fire alarm systems for commercial buildings, hotels/motels, apartments, dormitories and homes from March 2013 to February 2014. The cost of the individual detectors varies between $30 and $50. The cost of the integrated alarm or security systems varies greatly.
UTC Fire & Security Americas Corporation Inc, of Arden Hills, Minn. owns the Interlogix assets. Edwards assets were acquired by Walter Kidde Portable Equipment Inc., of Mebane, N.C. in January 2014. Both importers are units of United Technologies Corp., of Hartford, Conn.
Fyrnetics Limited of Hong Kong, China.

With all the Historic Properties in Oakmont Pa. You think the Fire Dept would have a CAFS system to protect them.

Oakmont Pa located along the beautiful Allegheny river valley in Allegheny County in S.W. Pa is home to many historic property's and homes which date from early 1800's .
While the decline of the steel industry saw the destruction-of many communities in the valley it did not touch Oakmont which has always been an influential community.

So one has to wonder when a 150 year old all wooden historic church was accidentally caught on fire 
 apparently by pavement workers that the Fire Dept did not deploy a CAFS System.
Compressed Air Foam .

It is foam added to water stream which helps to seal out oxygen and snuff out a fire  it works fast 
and is used widely in the protection and fast suppression of wildfires  .
But Urban Fire Depts. have been very slow to deploy it .
Why?  Cost is one reason like many chiefs have told me Water is Free 
Besides they would rather put fancy chrome wheels on the fire truck than buy something of use which is the attitude of too many  fire company's .
But would it not be better to bill a resident a couple hundred dollars than loose there home?  and in the case in Oakmont a historic church while they might not have completely saved it they more than likely would have been able to repair the church instead of having to knock it to the ground and build new.
I have seen CAFS systems in use in the City of Jeanette a city which has seen very hard times yet they have one . I saw it being used in a case of homes very close to each other they quickly deployed their portable unit and stopped the fire from spreading to other houses. instead of losing a whole bock of homes only one home was damaged and is rebuild able.
 There is no excuse why foam is not being used. But the real reason many depts do not want to invest the money in this and other available technology's is because the fire fighters want to slay the fire breathing dragon and be the hero.  Besides foam and other chemicals require too much time to clean and keep maintained is  the reason given by lazy firefighters in some cases yes.
Then again sometimes just plain water properly deployed can be useful also like using a fog nozzle but depts will not do it because it causes steam and people can get steam burns if not careful . In the case of the church turn the nozzle to fog position and shove it in the door to help stop fire spread as the fogging action helps cut oxygen .
But again depts will not do this they want to slay the dragon they want to use straight stream nozzles and nothing else  and the result as you see above another historic structure lost.
You can even use dawn Dish detergent to make cheap foam as well we did it a couple times when I was with Penn hills dept. when we had a hard time getting a fire out on a house boat at a marina in Verona  and a shack in the woods .  The soap again acts as a suffocating agent  sealing out oxygen .
But until you have fire depts willing to deploy new methods and tactics and spending their budgets to try this new technology its going to be slay the dragon and continuing firefighter deaths.

Knock Off Pull Stations which have a history of producing ground faults in systems

AIP Alarm Industry Products  came on the market around 30 or so years ago a knock off of  famous Edwards Brand products I am not sure if this was a Edwards division or they allowed there patents to be copied but  they where well built  and lasted for many years and where less cost then Edwards brand products.  AIP produced mostly Pull stations and Heat Detectors  but one persistent problem which has been cropping up is the pull stations tend to break down over the years and create ground faults especially if bumped. Plus the fact the screws are on the back one had to make sure a deep wiremold or other metal box was used to prevent ground faults in the first place.

While I do get an occasional ground fault  from original Edwards  pull stations its about 6-1 AIP units breaking down and causing them.  But when you can get 20 + years out of a product before there is an issue thats an except-able loss and its just a mater of being aware these units do break down occasionally and need replaced when you have an older system which is showing a ground fault.