Thursday, June 30, 2011

Siemens Releases MXL To XLS Migration Solution

Siemens Canada has released migration hardware. This will allow you to exchange your existing MXL fire alarm panel with the current XLS system without requiring a wholesale replacement of the devices in the system. It is estimated that over 70,000 MXL systems have been sold since MXL was introduced in 1992. This new migration provides a cost effective migration solution to modernize your fire alarm system in phases while staying within your budget and has less downtime for the fire alarm system during migration. We now have the ability to use existing back boxes which eliminates an additional cut-out in the wall, reduces programming time, and reduces labour costs offering an advanced system with improved response time that is easier to maintain.


This is just another part of the Siemens commitment to both their new equipment, and the solid products they have offered in the past. They truly believe in upgrading, and maintaining existing products while bringing new technology to the market.

MXL PanelXLS Panel


Posted by Rob Read at 11:45 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Residential Sprinklers In Winnipeg?

Residential fire sprinkler systems have been a hot topic through every jurisdiction in North America. Some areas some to whole heartedly embrace them while others vehemently oppose them. I had heard on a Winnipeg talk show today a discussion on the merits of having them. Obviously we support them as we see the devastation caused by fire every day. Having a system in your home that monitors for fire 24/7 can be programmed to work with an alarm system to wake you if your home, or call the fire department if you’re away is beneficial.


The City of Vancouver has required them for some time now, and has recently released a study showing 0 fatalities in homes protected by sprinkler systems. They have also created an informational web page to answer many questions about residential sprinkler systems. The City of Fort Saskatchewan is considering creating a similar bylaw.


Opponents of this type of protection usually use the cost of them as their main argument, but when installed during the construction of a home the cost is minimal meaning less than the cost of a hot tub, or granite counter tops. They try to get some traction when a building needs upgrading as costs are higher in existing buildings, but I feel the benefits far outweigh the expense.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:11 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

NFPA July Newsletter

The NFPA has issued their July newsletter. As usual it is chocked full of great information from codes issues, to training seminars, and safety information. They are already working towards fire prevention week, and have some great information for smoke alarms for deaf people or people with hearing difficulties.

With Canada Day coming on Friday the discussion on fireworks and to leaving them for the professionals is very timely. I took my level one fireworks course a few years ago and it was an eye opener. Once lit a firework will burn until the fuel is completely burned out even when submerged in water. You don’t want one of these to hit you.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Posted by Rob Read at 3:37 PM 0 Comments

Monday, June 27, 2011

Winnipeg Loses An Icon

This past weekend The Paladin Restaurant was destroyed by fire. This unfortunate incident is coupled with other issues the family is dealing with makes a move forward seem almost impossible.

The Paladin was a nice little restaurant that I had frequented more than once and always came away pleased. I’m wondering where I’ll get my corned beef hash browns from now on? The really concerning part of this story isn’t that a deep fryer caught fire they do that, what I find really concerning is that the suppression system reportedly didn’t work. I have blogged in the past asking “Can you trust your fire protection company?” While many things can go wrong with a fire suppression system between inspections there are also opportunities for technician’s error. We recently upgraded a suppression system that had been inspected only a month earlier by a company that was not certified by the manufacturer, the technician had failed to change the fusible links since 2008. NFPA-17A, and all system manufacturers require fusible links be changed every 6 months. This was another fire waiting to happen.

Without knowing all of the details regarding why the fire suppression system didn’t activate when needed the reasons become speculation at this time. Ensuring the company you are hiring to protect your business, and possibly your life is certified by the manufacturer of the fire suppression system in your kitchen is time well spent.

Posted by Rob Read at 4:05 PM 0 Comments

Thursday, June 23, 2011

PPMA’s Annual Golf Tournament Was A Huge Success!

The PPMA’s (Professional Property Managers Assn.) annual golf tournament was held at Pine Ridge Golf Course this year. The rain held off and gave us a nice cool day to enjoy a round of golf.

With every hole being sponsored there was no shortage of on link entertainment that included a charity putting competition that raised money to support Feed My Lambs Street Mission. The money collected at the hole along with a donation from the PPMA was over $5700.00! The dinner afterwards was fantastic as were the prizes won by the golf teams. Ace Burpee was the dinner emcee and kept the laughs coming.

We felt honoured to be involved with such a great group of business people.

Larry Stadnyk Is Ready For Any FireBe Vewy Vewy Quiet!Everyone Enjoyed The Great Food!

Posted by Rob Read at 2:46 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Engineers Take Advantage Of The Engineering Advantage

Siemens developed an education program for engineers call the Engineering Advantage program. It is designed to teach, or update them on current trends, products, and codes in the fire alarm industry.

The topics are broken down into modules that include fire detection technologies, Networking, Intelligibility, Mass Notification, Clean Gas Systems, and Smoke Control to name a few. Bill Lane of Siemens comes to Winnipeg regularly to put on these training courses. We are currently working with seven of Winnipeg's Engineering firms with more contacting us wanting to be involved.  On this visit we spent time with SMS Engineering, KGS Group, and Jorey Electric.

All of the Electrical Engineers involved found this to be very informative, and asked to be included in the next module presentation. In the world of Engineering additional education is definitely an advantage!

Posted by Rob Read at 8:46 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Students Excel At Bison

We were approached a couple of years ago by Red River College to see if we would be interested in having a student come work with us for a few weeks. The students are new to Canada and are learning English, and would like an introduction to the workplace, as well as to continue their English skills in a working environment.

This year we had Serwan Al- Kiki join us. He’s a smart man who was a construction electrician in his former home country. He was a pleasure to have working with us and not afraid to get his hands right into a job. Any of our staff members that worked with him had positive responses about his work ethics.

Giving people like Serwan an opportunity to grow in our country is what immigration should be all about. If we want a strong future as a country we need to create a future for the new people coming to live, and raise families here.

Serwan Assists A Suppression System Installation

Red River College Thanks Bison Fire


Posted by Rob Read at 9:46 AM 0 Comments

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bison Company Picnic Weekend

We had our company picnic this past weekend. It’s one of the times throughout the year we like to say thank-you to the people that work so hard and show such dedication, and conviction to the company. As always we made sure there is fun for the whole family, with bouncers for the kids, bocce ball, whatever they call that game with the golf balls on strings, and other things. (No water fight this year) The campers enjoyed a nice rain free evening, bonfire, and a chance to compare camping notes. I might have to upgrade after the new toys were on display.

We tried something new this year by hiring Danny’s Whole Hog to cater the event. Danny’s staff “Brought the Flavour!” we were very happy with his people, the quality, and amount of food. People were still talking about supper Monday morning.

Bison Fire wouldn’t be the company it is today without our fantastic staff.


A View of the CampersBikers Ran Wild

Ribs on CharcoalBocce Ball & Golf Balls on Strings


Joey & Friends 


Posted by Rob Read at 11:55 AM 0 Comments

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pranking With Fire Extinguishers

A friend recently sent me a YouTube video showing some one pranking with a fire extinguisher. It was funny to watch, but there are some real dangers involved when doing this sort of thing. Think of the poor kid that got the dry chemical in his eyes. It stung a lot, but didn’t do any serious damage. If they had used a CO2 extinguisher that kid would have been permanently blinded.

After a very fast search I found a few more of these all funny to watch but after jumping out of the fridge and spraying the fire extinguisher inside the house think of the mess to clean in the kitchen and the rest of the house as it floats around. Dry chemical is very fine powder that will pass right through a vacuum bag and back into the room. It takes days to settle so clean up goes on forever.

The last video makes a good point as well after the guy cools off he mentions they need a new extinguisher. I can’t remember how many times I’ve had people mention they used their extinguisher a little, there was lots of powder left so they put it back. The extinguisher will lose its expellant and not work the next time you really need it.

Pranking can be a lot of fun I know I’ve pulled some great ones myself. However you should think about your props when setting them up. Some of the videos have language warnings. I guess being the prankee isn’t as much fun as being the prankster.

Posted by Rob Read at 11:18 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are You Safe In Your Mobile Office?

I’ve talked in the past about the devastation brought to people when their business has a fire. How long will they be closed, can they ever reopen, will they be able to retain the employees, and will their insurance cover the losses are just a few of the many questions racing through their minds.

Many businesses aren’t your typical 9-5 bricks and mortar location. Many are mobile such as the case with the highway tractor that recently completely burned to the ground. These mobile offices cost anywhere from $75,000 and up depending on what you need, and how comfortable your “office” needs to be. Should this office be out of service for any length of time again the effects are just as crippling to the owner.

Highway tractors require a 5 lb dry chemical extinguisher to meet code, but is that enough? Depending on the load it may be enough but when you consider the size of the fuel tanks I doubt it. They are several propane tanker trucks we service that have complete suppression systems, as do de-icing trucks at the airport, and the trucks used to make explosives.

I can go on and on about the heavy mobile equipment used for mining that all have suppression systems, but sometimes we simply forget about the equipment that is working right beside us in traffic.

Posted by Rob Read at 10:00 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quintex Celebrates 100 years in Business With The Goldeyes

As part of their 100 years in business celebrations Quintex Services held a customer appreciation night at Canwest Global Park. The night was very enjoyable, but even the rain couldn’t help The Goldeyes win.

Quintex has become another of our Preferred Partners. Their dedication to First Aid supply and service has made them the company we like to send our customers to. Quintex has also helped us improve our professional image by supplying our technicians with top quality uniforms!

Thanks again for a Great Evening!


Top Tech's in Top Gear!

Posted by Rob Read at 1:42 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Green Fire Sprinkler Pipe Protects Your Home

There has been a lot of focus on residential sprinkler systems in the last year or so. The value of these types of systems generally runs around the same as a nice hot tub, in the backyard. To me this is a small price to pay for something that could save your life, and monitors your house 24/7 without an annual contract. 

Greenspirations has developed, and just released the Aquatherm Greenpipe. This new to the market pipe eliminates toxins from CPVC, and heavy metals from copper piping, for potable water making it environmentally safe for household use.

This is another great innovation the fire protection industry has developed to ensure your safety and peace of mind.

Posted by Rob Read at 3:06 PM 0 Comments

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is The Building You Are In Safe?

I’ve written a number of blogs lately about fire protection companies that cut corners and have had to face the music. They aren’t the only offenders out there. Building and business owners can also be negligent in ensuring their building meets all fire code regulations. In a day and age where every dollar counts sometimes fire protection falls lower on the priority list. As was the case with the owner of the banquet hall that had to cancel all of his bookings including a wedding two weeks ahead of the big day. There is also the Winnipeg family that lost everything to fire because the fire extinguisher in their rented apartment didn't work.

There are several issues at hand. The owner thinks they are saving money by not getting the fire protection equipment serviced, but what is really happening is this;

  • As equipment gets older more services are required so the costs increase.
  • Fire codes change so updates aren’t being performed so to become code compliant again is a large expense.
  • If the owner is cutting in one place there are likely cutting in others. What is being sacrificed?
  • Regular safety budgeting is replaced by capital expenditures. And worst of all:
  • The building is closed until the necessary repairs are made. So no revenue is being generated digging an even deeper financial hole.

What can you do as an individual to protect yourself when entering a building? There are a few things you look for to see if the building is currently being serviced.

  • Are the fire extinguishers up to date? They have tags that tell when the last inspection was done. They must be inspected annually so if they are overdue this is a “red flag” that other services might be out of date.
  • Has the Fire Alarm system been serviced in the past year? In Winnipeg the fire alarm panel requires a sticker on the door stating when the next inspection is due. If you see the panel have a look.
  • If the fire alarm panel isn’t near the front door there should be a smaller annunciator panel. While no sticker is required on this panel are there any trouble or alarm lights on?
  • Emergency light units require the sticker as well, but if you can’t see any are all the exit lights burned out? Again another sign the maintenance levels are low.
  • Sprinklers systems require the stickers also, but since the sprinkler mains are usually in mechanical rooms they might be very difficult to see.

Should you notice any of the above listed service issues. The first thing you should do is ask the manager. They could have everything in control with technicians booked to do the work. If you get an unfavourable response a call to the local fire prevention office can work wonders. They have the power to get things done. Remember your safety is your responsibility.

Posted by Rob Read at 1:57 PM 0 Comments

Friday, June 10, 2011

There Is Always A Solution

As the only certified Ansul dealer in Nunavut, and the North West Territories we get unusual requests from time to time. Since we travel in those regions regularly we have a good feel of what is needed to get the job done.

A mining contractor in North-western Ontario was commissioning a raising project for De Beers Canada, They required an Ansul Suppression System installed on a new Air Compressor they are sending to the North West Territories from Sudbury Ontario before June 15.  We were contacted and asked if they could assist with the installation despite the difficult time line.  Possible solutions were to install the suppression in Sudbury but the truck and Compressor were already being loaded.  A second solution was to fly North to install on site but services were limited.  After a couple of phone calls and a few emails a mutual agreement to have the truck stop in Winnipeg unload the 8500lb compressor at Bison Fire Protection’s head office and install the Ansul Suppression System at Bison’s yard site. Reload the compressor the next day and continue its journey to NWT.

The installation went off without a hitch making the contractor look great for his customer.

Ansul Fire System Protects Air CompressorFred Allard Senior Technician InstallingFred Allard Putting On The Finishing Touches



Posted by Rob Read at 12:10 PM 0 Comments

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Another Fire Protection Company Faces Charges

I had posted a blog back in May titled “Can You Trust Your Fire Protection Company?” where the owner of a California fire protection company had been sentenced to jail time for his failure to perform his job as required.  I see another company in Norfolk Virginia has been charged with similar crimes related to kitchen suppression system inspections.

I can’t say enough about the morality and integrity required to do the job right. Technicians work in the field independent from supervisors. This is where the time spent by a company owner to send tech’s to the different schools available, as well as time spent with them in house teaching what is required by fire code, and the company is good for the customer. These are big investments that have great payoffs in the quality of the technician, and their work. However many companies don’t see this time as an investment in their people, but more so as an un-necessary expense and fail to provide it. Unfortunately poor workmanship usually doesn't show-up until the fire is burning. 

In this electronic age it only takes a minute to fax, or scan and email copies of certifications, insurance, and workers compensation accreditations. If a company can’t, or won’t provide this information quickly it might be time to look around for a company that invests in both of our futures.

Posted by Rob Read at 1:58 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Are All Of Your Fire Protection Needs Being Met?

I was given a tour through a prospective customer’s facility last week. He had called to see if we would quote an upgrade to their dry chemical suppression system in their paint booth. After looking at the booth I asked the customer about some of the other types of protection he had in his building. I think we’re OK was the response. I asked a couple more questions then we walked over to look at his sprinkler system. It had been serviced in January 2011 and was good for the rest of the year. We passed an extinguisher during the walk, and noticed it had been serviced in October 2010 by a different company. The customer was now wondering what was going on so we continued on to his fire alarm system that also monitors his sprinklers, and paint booth to find it hadn’t been serviced since 2009. He almost fainted when we found his emergency lights had never been serviced.

In our world of safety, and liability he was running a major risk. In the event of an actual incident he might have also had problems with insurance company as he was in breach of fire code. Not to mention what Workplace Health and Safety would have to do.

Using one service provider as much as possible has many benefits.

  • They know the building and its systems.
  • They keep records of all services provided, and build a history.
  • There is less disruption to the business because all services are performed at the same time.
  • A service company that does the work in-house isn’t subject to the issues of the subcontractor, such as quality control, scheduling changes, price fluctuations etc.
  • One invoice helps with budgeting and is less work for the office staff.

We discussed these solutions to his problems and he is now a very happy customer. Welcome to the Herd!

Posted by Rob Read at 3:32 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Is School A Safe Place For Our Children

With the number of accidents occurring in schools lately I am beginning to wonder if gangs and drug peddlers aren’t the only threats to our children while they are at school.

It seems the high schools are worse as they introduce kids to science experiments, and shop classes. Tragically a student in Ottawa was recently killed while working on a shop project and in Windsor a teacher and three students were hospitalized when a science experiment exploded. I’m not disputing the value that these type of higher hazard classrooms offer.  However are there enough precautions being taken, and enough emphasis placed on fire extinguisher, and safety training?

As parents it is our responsibility to talk to our Teachers, Principles, and most importantly our School Trustee’s to ensure they are taking the steps to keep our children safe in all aspects of the school day.

Posted by Rob Read at 10:59 AM 0 Comments

Monday, June 06, 2011

NFPA Has Issued Their June Newsletter

There’s a lot going on a NFPA this month. They have their annual Conference and Expo in Boston Mass June 12-15th. There is no better opportunity to speak with experts, evaluate products, find solutions to your technical challenges and stay current with technological advances in your field. They also have Residential Safety with Sparky the Fire Dog, and their online Training, and Webinars that we have found to be very informative.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Posted by Rob Read at 11:13 AM 0 Comments

Friday, June 03, 2011

What are the boat safety regulations?

So it appears that, just maybe, summer is upon us! A few of us “office” folk were sitting outside enjoying the sun today talking about weekend plans. Someone brought up boating, which got me thinking. How many people actually take the time to check over & replace safety equipment before going out on the lake for the first time? Everyone knows you need a lifejacket but what else is mandatory? How about sound signals, navigation lights. What about Fire Extinguishers?

Did you know that it is required by law to carry Fire Fighting equipment on a watercraft?

To keep you and your family safe this summer please visit The Department of Justice website for more information on Small Vessel Regulations.

Posted by Bison Fire at 3:11 PM 2 Comments

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Do You Know How To Use A Fire Extinguisher?

I was recently talking with the General Manager of one of Winnipeg’s larger service companies. I had to laugh when he asked “Now that were dealing with you can I discharge a fire extinguisher?” I told him we would make that happen for him. One more thing off his bucket list!

The larger issue here though was the fact that he, as someone who had risen up through his business to become the General Manager had never taken the time to learn to save it. Fire Extinguisher Training is an essential part of any business, and should be a priority for all managers as a minimum within your staff. The great thing about learning this easy skill, is that you can take the knowledge home with you, bring it to the cottage, in your boat, camper, or anywhere you might happen to be.

Businesses Learn To Use A Fire Extinguisher Before A Fire” is a great article that really sums up the need to educate yourself.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:31 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Right Tool For The Job

A large part of servicing fire extinguishers is the actual maintenance we perform on them. Different fire extinguishers need different types of maintenance depending upon the type of extinguisher. Dry chemical extinguishers require a 6 year maintenance and a 12 year Hydro Static test while most others such as K-Class and CO2 extinguishers require a 5 year Hydro Static test, and Outside Cartridge Operated extinguishers only require a 12 year Hydro Static test.  

As well each type of extinguisher has its own testing criteria. While most extinguishers need a low pressure Hydro Static test. CO2 extinguishers need a high pressure test because they hang on your wall with a stored pressure that can exceed 800psi to keep the CO2 in a liquid state. These heavier cylinders need to be pressure tested to 4500psi to ensure shell integrity. However before we even go as far as this test we use the Optical Plus thread inspection microscope with the highest magnification (4X), clarity. This allows our technicians to see if there are any cracks in the neck of the extinguisher.

We recently had four 10 lb CO2 extinguishers come in for their first 5 year Hydro Static test. Since they were only 5 year old extinguishers we thought they should pass all testing without any problems. The Optical Plus revealed major cracks inside the neck that could actually be felt with a finger. They were all immediately condemned. These extinguishers were a major safety concern as they could have exploded with the same force as a stick of dynamite. They may have passed the high pressure test and been put back into service allowing age, or something striking them to cause them to rupture injuring whoever was nearby.

Using the right tools for the job saved someone a very serious injury.

Roger Carriere using the Optical Plus Micrscope

Posted by Rob Read at 3:57 PM 0 Comments