Architects of new office buildings, hospitals, hotels and schools have thousands of decisions to make. Managing regulatory issues and material decisions like insulation, plumbing, access and egress features, energy management, plus exterior and interior design are core elements of the process. However, occupant safety is the most important mission of design and no other decision should compromise this.
While in the planning stage, licensed experts should collaborate to identify the number, placement of integrated alarm systems throughout the building.
Integrating Safety and Access
Whether a new construction or total retrofit, physical security, fire safety and even efficient energy management may be combined into one single network. Components of integrated alarms systems designed to protect occupants from fire and smoke can also monitor the physical security of the premises. Unlawful or unauthorized entry, fire detection and emergency evacuation coordination can be identified and controlled with the same equipment.
A key component of the overall security of a large building is central monitoring located somewhere on the premises. With all building security and fire safety elements working together, central monitoring provides a window through which every activity may be observed. With closed-circuit TV cameras throughout the building, alerts set off by smoke detectors or unauthorized entrants can be witnessed from a single location to determine what actions to take or the appropriate personnel to be dispatched. Quick response can minimize danger.
Fire safety monitoring equipment includes smoke and gas detection, fire alarms, voice alerts and, in many cases, fire suppressant capability. Since rapid response is essential to protect occupants and assets, modern alarm systems can alert external resources such as the fire department and police. Visual monitoring and voice broadcast capability can direct evacuation away from the problem.
Secure Building Access
Secure access to buildings is intended to limit unauthorized entries into the facility or parts of buildings where unlimited access is restricted. Systems should be incorporated to protect the occupants and assets within.
Offices, secondary entrances to hotels, apartment buildings, healthcare facilities and closed retail establishments employ various types of secure entry devices such as ID card readers, number-coded entry or even more sophisticated identification methods such as fingerprint or voice activation. Each individual’s entry and exit may is recorded. Each entryway should have photographic recording capability confirming identities.
If any significant event occurs that requires subsequent investigation, the system can identify who was present in building at the time.
Integrating Fire and Smoke Protection and Personal Safety
Integrated alarm systems and monitoring can observe unauthorized entry while monitoring fire and smoke detection systems. Closed-circuit TV and motion detectors throughout the building provide locational information during a security breach or a fire emergency. This information can locate individuals in distress or in need during any emergency.
The same visual monitoring and voice command system that can coordinate evacuation away from a fire can also direct occupants away from a potentially dangerous unauthorized intruder or threatening situation.
A centrally controlled locking system can also save lives. In case of fire, all entrances can be unlocked to allow easy access by emergency personnel. Similarly, the building may be locked down completely from entry in case of external threats. Locking specific areas may also isolate threatening intruders until the police arrives.
In case of fire or security emergencies, evacuation is an essential element. Integrated alarm systems will be activated to alert all occupants of the building. Evacuation routes should be carefully planned to minimize congestion and allow for safe passage by the building occupants.
Live paging capability can properly direct occupants away from, rather than into, areas of danger.