FIRE/LIFESAFETY BY WAYNE D. MOORE
You may not have had the opportunity to bid many mass notification
system (MNS) projects. Most of these
systems involve installations mandated
at Department of Defense or General
Services Administration properties.
However, as you might know, MNS use
cases are diversifying.
In addition, proposed changes to the
International Fire and Building Codes
are opening the door to the correct procedures to follow before beginning MNS
installations. The issue with most MNS-type sales arises because contractors must
first look at issues other than the technological or equipment solution.
MNSs require a litany of upfront
reviews and procedures before the
contractor can consider equipment
installation. The required risk analysis seems to cause the most frustration
because it interrupts the typical contractor’s design process, equipment list
procurement and installation. If you have
encountered this situation, you may have
had no idea where to turn. So, in that
case, the final sale of the MNS went to a
Don’t get outsold because this change
irritated you. NFPA 72 2016, National
Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, offers
clear steps that MNS installers must take.
This latest edition of NFPA 72 has
added a risk-analysis checklist in Annex
A, Section A. 7. 3. 6. It states, “The Risk
Analysis Checklist in Figure A. 7. 3. 6 is not
mandatory, but it can be used to initiate
the thought process for identifying haz-
ards in a facility.”
A risk analysis is not an easy task, but
it isn’t too burdensome either. As the
checklist shows, it is all about thinking
through and identifying risks.
Part one of the checklist begins with
the identification of assets or operations
at risk. It then breaks down the analysis to
risks that involve people, property, operations, the environment and organization.
For example, in the people category, you
would look at risks to employees, visitors
and guests, contractors working on-site
and emergency responders.
Property risks can include physical
property, corporate offices, distribution
centers, intellectual property, and data
or controlled information. An operations
risk assessment would include an evaluation of the manufacturing processes,
research and development activities,
delivery of services and the strength of
the business supply chain. The environmental risk analysis relates to risks
associated with the air and ground
conditions and water issues—including
events such as floods.
Finally, in part one, the checklist deals
with organization-related risks, including
economic and financial conditions, community relationships, licenses, patents
or trademarks, corporate image or reputation, regulatory compliance, vendor
relationships, and corporate contractual
obligations, e.g., union ontracts.
Part two of the risk-analysis checklist
helps determine the potential facility haz-
ards broken down into natural hazards,
human-caused hazards and technological
events. The checklist breaks down these
events further into geological (such as
earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, gla-
ciers and volcanoes) and meteorological
(such as floods, droughts, windstorms,
blizzards and extreme temperatures).
The natural hazard category also includes
biological hazards, such as pandemics,
animals or insect infestation.
Human-caused risks include acci-
dental and intentional events. Accidental
risks include natural gas leaks, nuclear
power plant incidents, explosions or fires,
wildfires, transportation accidents, or a
building or structural failure or collapse.
Intentional events include terrorism,
bomb threats, child abductions, extortion,
hostage incidents, vandalism, civil distur-
bances, insurrections or wars, strikes or
labor disputes, and criminal activity.
The checklist also addresses events
caused by technology, such as telecom-
munications or energy interruptions,
mechanical systems breakdowns and
communication systems interruptions.
How does all of this relate to your
MNS designs and installations? The
NFPA states that “each application of a
mass notification system shall be spe-
cific to the nature and anticipated risks
of each facility for which it is designed.”
So, each MNS must be unique. Therefore, a risk analysis’ biggest challenge is
the time it takes to gather and consider
all pertinent details. It may seem tedious,
but it’s worth it.
Change Is Good! Now, You First
Implementing a risk-analysis checklist
THE 2016 PROFILE OF THE ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR (PAGE 28)
reveals how electrical contractors see the industry changing and how they intend
to adapt. Change occurs in the fire alarm and communications world as well. As
you know, keeping up with these changes can prove difficult.
MOORE, a licensed fire protection engineer, frequent speaker and an expert in the life
safety field, is a principal member and past chair of NFPA 72, Chapter 24. Moore is a vice
president with Jensen Hughes at the Warwick, R.I., office. He can be reached at wmoore@
jensenhughes.com. D 3