Monday, October 31, 2011

Be Cautious Of Halloween Fires

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Halloween is upon us and a few precautions should be taken to ensure the safety of both your family, and your home.

Having read a couple articles on fire safety during Halloween night things to consider for the children may seem obvious, yet incidents still occur. Don’t let your kids trick or treat with live candles. There are alternatives these days such as flash lights and glow sticks. Also consider the traffic and the visibility your child may offer. Adding a small flashing red light to the back of their costume could be a life saver. HVTV has some great safety tips.

Around the house putting candles in Jack-o-lanterns can also be very dangerous. Simple cheap flashlights just small enough to fit in your pumpkin, or battery operated flickering tea lights offer no wax, no heat and no mess, and you can use them year around. I would also caution the use of extension cords. Make sure they are secure so they don’t offer a tripping hazard that might just tear down your entire display, and hurt some little goblin in the process. Keep in mind the decorations you have near your Jack-O-Lantern might also be very flammable, and would contribute to the damage caused by a fire. Store Bought Costumes are flame resistant, but homemade costumes aren’t, and could lead to severe injuries.

I couldn’t find any Canadian related stats but this is what I did dig-up in the USA. This was taken from the U.S. Fire Administration. The full article can be downloaded.

  • Over a 3-day period around Halloween, a 3-year average of 15,500 fires caused $92 million in property loss, 45 deaths, and 175 injuries.
  • Many Halloween fires, especially those in vacant or abandoned buildings, are the result of arson. Alcohol or drugs were a factor in 20% of these fires.
  • Open flame fires increases by 50% over this period, largely due to the increased use of candles.
  • Some communities have adopted fire-related “watch” programs during the Halloween period, with some success.

“This year take note that while fiery decorations may spark the devil in you, it’s not about the display. On Halloween it’s the spirit that counts.”

Posted by Rob Read at 11:42 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bison Joins The Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association

We have always strived to support industry associations that truly benefit their members. On my last trip to Regina I felt it was time to look into the SHHA (Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Assn.)

For 75 years they were known as the Hotels Association of Saskatchewan, a respected member organization representing the accommodation industry to the Government of Saskatchewan, suppliers and the general public. They have recently expanded their membership to include brew pubs, nightclubs and licensed restaurants with VLT endorsements.

The Saskatchewan Hotel and Hospitality Association will now carry on the tradition as the trusted and respected voice of the accommodation and hospitality industry, reflecting the industry’s ever-changing environment where like businesses are now represented by one common voice.

My meeting with Warren Nerby was very positive. I felt he had a real good handle on what was going on in Saskatchewan province wide, and he has a true desire to have the SHHA continue to be a beneficial leader to it members.

As a long-time member of the Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association I have seen what a hardworking vibrant association can do for its members.  I know over the years we have contributed many things to the improvement of fire protection to the members of the Manitoba association through education, training, and dedicated service.

I’m looking forward to having the same positive relationship with the SHHA and its members.

Posted by Rob Read at 9:47 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Servicing Fire Alarm Systems

Fire Alarm Systems have changed dramatically since they were first developed in the 1850’s and used telegraph wire and a version of Morse Code to transmit signals. This grew into the conventional fire alarm systems that are still in use today as well as addressable fire alarm systems that are replacing the convention system in the market.

The conventional fire alarm system is a very straight forward type of fire alarm. These 24 volt systems use various devices such as smoke detectors, heat detectors, and manual pull stations to send a signal to the fire alarm panel. The panel then rings the bells, and if equipped with a dialler will call the fire department. They are a very simple type of alarm system. The advantage to these systems is that as long as a technician is CFAA (Canadian Fire Alarm Assn.) certified the tech has the ability to inspect and service the system. Parts are also available from OEM’s and aftermarket providers, making them fairly easy to service with a lower cost to maintain.

The addressable fire alarm systems are a far more complicated system however they are able to prove a much higher level of protection. One of the many differences are the devices are given specific addresses within the building. This gives fire fighters very detailed information when entering a building because the alarm panel will tell them which device is in alarm, and it’s location saving them valuable time responding to exactly where the fire is. The downside of these systems is that the technicians need factory training specific to the manufacturer to provide inspections and service. The manufacturers are very proprietary with access and programming codes, and even with these codes the possibility of creating other problems within the programming is very high.

The addressable fire alarm system has developed into an integral part of the buildings operating systems from HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning), elevator recall, Fire Department notification, Fire Fighter inter communication systems, sprinkler system actuation and notification, smoke release doors, magnetic door closures, stairwell pressurization, nurse call annunciation, voice communication, two stage types of systems, and mass notification. While some of these benefits might be very obvious in their applications such shutting down make-up air to stop providing fresh oxygen to the fire others are equally as necessary. Two stage alarm systems usually used in health care facilities begins with a soft alarm to ringing. Staff members are able to determine if there is just a false alarm, a small extinguishable fire, or a complete evacuation is required. Large multilevel buildings equipped with Fire Fighter communications increase response, and evacuation times. Mass notification is a fairly new technology that will be appearing in arenas stadiums, universities, and other large facilities where people gather such as malls. The mass notification system will send signals through all available technology. Information will be presented on all TV screens, emails can be sent to desk tops and laptops even BlackBerries. If there is a fire, and gas leak, or an out of control criminal. People can be mass notified as to what steps to take to protect themselves. 

Fire Alarm Devices have changed quite a bit over the years. The Ion style of smoke detector has been slowly replaced by Photoelectric Smoke detectors. The Ion smokes worked well, but because they have traces of radioactivity Environment Canada now closely monitors there use, and insure proper disposal of old detectors. The Photoelectric smokes are much improved they can detect smoke over dust, or other contaminants. There is a new generation of photoelectric smokes that are now programmable to the environment that they are installed in. The Fire Finder smoke detectors will guarantee to pay any cost associate with a false alarm. Other types of detectors include beam detection that would be used in large areas such as Atriums, Aircraft Hangers, or Ware Houses. These are UV& IR detectors that are used in very specialized applications such as mining. Heat detectors have not really changed much since they came on the market. The addressable component has been added, but Rate of Rise, or Fixed Temperature heat detectors have largely remained the same. Last but not least there is VESDA (Very Early Warning Aspirating Smoke Detection) this type of detection circulates air from the hazard area through an air sampling piping network which provides inlets which are spaced as smoke detectors. So instead of waiting for enough smoke to accumulate these systems are proactive by constantly sampling air particulates.

Bells are slowly being replaced with horns, and Horn/Strobe combinations. The latter being the preferred type of device. Again the advantages of the addressable fire alarm system shine as we are able to coordinate the pulses from the strobes to ensure that seizures are not induced.

With improvements to safety by-laws the inspections of fire alarm systems have changed as well. Fall protection and confined space training have become a requirement for all technicians working on fire alarm systems in some cases lift truck training has also been required. With smoke detection being placed on ceilings, tops of stairwells, and the tops of elevator shafts these can be dangerous places for people to work. Crawl spaces also have heat detection, so confined space training is a must. We want our technician’s home to their families every night. Other issues are ensuring landlords give their tenants 24hr notice that an inspection will be performed. Many apartment blocks have devices inside the individual apartments that need to be tested annually.

While fire alarm systems and the testing they require is not new the changes in technology, and to related industries such as Elevators, HVAC, and Safety Industries is constant. Keeping up with current trends is challenging, but to provide the type is service required to save lives it is also a must. The responsibility of ensuring the annual inspections are performed falls on the building owner. Should a fire alarm fail the results could be fatal.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:51 PM 0 Comments

Monday, October 24, 2011

Air Compressors Need Protection Too!

I am always amazed at the diversity of business we have here in Manitoba. We received a call a few weeks ago from a company that manufactures commercial air compressors for mines. They needed fire suppression for a line of air compressors they are now building and because the compressors go underground they must have fire suppression systems.

The Ansul A-101 dry chemical suppression system was exactly what the doctor ordered. The application for this type of hazard was a total flood application meaning the entire area is filled with dry chemical. By doing this the area that is burning will have agent applied to it, and the fire is extinguished very quickly. When regularly serviced and maintained these systems are exceptionally effective. 

Mike Webster one of our senior technicians was very proud of these installations as they are not your everyday type of hazard and this sort of work keeps the job interesting while also allowing him to demonstrate why the customers call us with the unusual requests. Mike and several other technicians had attended recertification training earlier this year in Edmonton and this sort of project shows why we feel the need to invest in training for all of our technicians.

Ansul A-101-30 Cylinder Protecting a CompressorAnsul Manual Actuator & Checkfire Detection Syst.They Build These Compressors in Manitoba

Posted by Rob Read at 3:52 PM 1 Comments

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Safety Training For Scissor Lifts

Manitoba Safety Regulations have become a lot more stringent over the last few years, and will continue to do so in the future.  The value of these regulations is immeasurable when you consider what’s at stake. I know I want to come home safely to my family every night, and I want the same for the entire herd. Their families deserve no less. I also want them qualified to operate this equipment to prevent any damage to our customer’s buildings. This is just one part of providing industry leading service.

We needed to get our technicians trained on the correct use of scissor lifts. We use these in many parts of our business from installing suppression or sprinkler systems to verifications and inspections on fire alarm systems. Because we use them in so many different places it was an obvious choice to bring in professional trainer to get the job done.

Fortunately one of our Preferred Partners is New Heights Industries. Wayne Donnelly and his staff provided top quality training. Founded in 1994, New Heights Industries Inc. is a professional safety training and consulting company specializing in fall protection, confined space entry, rescue and scaffolding. We are dedicated to protecting workers and companies from accidental injury and incidents relating to fall, confined space and scaffold hazards.

I have said many times the difference between panic and action is training. When my technicians are properly trained they will know what to do when an emergency arises and come home safely.

Terry Getting An Education!Technicians hitting the books.Ron Beshk getting down with going up!

Posted by Rob Read at 4:34 PM 1 Comments

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Server Room Fire Protection

Many companies that enjoy growth over time find the need to add a computer server, or even a complete computer server room to assist in the day to day functioning of the company. The information stored in these servers is priceless to the company and could mean financial hardship or even closure if lost. Have the right type of fire protection for this room is critical.

If the building you occupy has an existing sprinkler system install you will have a sprinkler head(s) in the room. These are required at the time of construction to meet occupancy requirement set in both building, and fire codes. Where they become a problem is when you have a fire in the room you are applying water to sensitive electronics this will result in a complete failure of the server, and possibly the loss of all information stored in it.

Fortunately there are products available on the market that is specifically designed for these sensitive hazard areas. The original firefighting clean agent was Halon 1301 this pound for pound was (and still is) the best firefighting agent ever created. The problem with Halon 1301 was it is a CFC and causes massive ozone depletion. Halon needed to be removed from service by 2009 as outlined in the Montreal Protocol. FM200 was the next agent developed and is a good product as well, however the amount needed to fight fires was far greater than Halon. The current agent being used in the market is Sinorix 1230.

Sinorix 1230 has some very nice benefits that make it an easy choice over FM200 such as;

  • It remains liquid at room temperature.
  • Sinorix discharges as a clear, colorless and low-odour gas, leaving no residue.
  • It has an Ozone-depletion potential (ODP) of zero and a Global-warming potential (GWP) of 1.
  • Suitable for use on Class A, Class B and Class C fires.
  • Safe for occupied areas at design concentration.
  • Atmospheric lifetime of 3-5 days.
  • Blue Sky Warranty; this is a 20 year protection guarantee against regulatory bans, or restrictions on its use.

There are other options available on the market as well such as CO2 systems but these are very dangerous systems because they displace oxygen, and will cause death if you are unable to exit the room.

Portable fire extinguishers should also be on the check list when protecting the server room. Now that you have invested in the proper suppression system to protect your business putting the wrong fire extinguisher can be just as damaging. Dry chemical is slightly corrosive, and will rapidly destroy sensitive components. CO2 extinguishers while clean are also a poor choice. CO2 coming out of an extinguisher is extremely cold when it comes into contact with hot plastic parts they tend to crack, or shatter. Halotron clean gas portable extinguishers are the best choice as you are using the same type of extinguisher as you are with the full fire protection system.

A review of your fire protection needs with an industry professional is always the best place to start when taking creating a complete fire plan for your business. They will have the knowledge of current fire codes, and products that will best insure the longevity of your business.


Posted by Rob Read at 1:58 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MOPIA’S October Newsletter

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MOPIA (Manitoba Ozone Protection Industry Assn.) has released their October newsletter.

They are moving at the end of October so they are extremely busy these days, but they still managed to cover a lot of important issues for the industries they work with.

-           Record Ozone Depletion in the Arctic Region

-           MEIA Emerging Issues Conference, November 16

-           Environment Canada Halocarbons Stewardship Meeting in Ottawa

-           MOPIA to be at the Green Show in Winnipeg, October 22-23

-           RAC Cooling Awards

-           New Minister of Conservation to be appointed 

All of these issues, and articles can be very interesting and informative.

Enjoy their newsletter!

Posted by Rob Read at 11:52 AM 0 Comments

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bison Fire Protection Acquires Protec Fire

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Protec Fire, a leading service provider in the Manitoba sprinkler industry since 1994, has been acquired by Bison Fire Protection. Protec Fire's owners, Mr. Bill Heinz and Mrs. Sharon Heinz have offered exceptional sales and customer service in the areas of sprinkler contract installations, annual inspections and deficiency repairs all over Manitoba.

"Protec Fire's devoted focus on customer service makes this acquisition a perfect fit for Bison Fire Protection and matches our commitment to a high level of customer service" says Rob Read, co-owner of Bison Fire Protection. Mr. Heinz will be joining the staff at Bison Fire Protection, ensuring a smooth and uninterrupted transition going forward and continued service in the years ahead.

This acquisition enables Bison Fire Protection's continued growth of their sprinkler contract sales division and further solidifies a strong service division. Protec Fire's customers will continue to experience the same level of care and service with Bison Fire Protection, along with the additional support, services and capabilities of the Bison team.

About Bison Fire Protection

Bison Fire Protection is Manitoba's largest locally owned full service fire protection company with offices in Winnipeg, MB, Thompson, MB and Regina, SK. Bison Fire Protection offers sales, testing, safety training, installations, inspections, renovations, warranty and maintenance services for emergency light products, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, automatic sprinkler systems and automatic suppression systems.

Protec Sprinklers Joins The Herd!

Posted by Rob Read at 10:51 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bison In Regina

Landon Johnson my Regina Branch Manager had asked me to come out for a visit to see what was new in Regina. Well I don’t mind saying this is a city on the move! There is no shortage of good news stories as I spoke to customers and residents. There are several new housing developments, and plenty of new business and business expansion going on.

The thing that really stood out was the need for high quality fire protection. I think Landon arrived just in time. Speaking with restaurant managers, and building maintenance people today I was surprised to hear repeated stories of shoddy service. I truly felt bad for these people, but at the same time I know that their troubles are over as Landon, and all of our staff are prepared to help out whenever they are asked.

Regina is definitely a growing city, and I look forward to the herd growing with it!

Posted by Rob Read at 5:38 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The First Bison Fire Webinar!

I was asked a few weeks ago by Theo Kowalchuk of 1 Life Workplace Safety & Health to work with her on a webinar for fire prevention week. This FREE WEBINAR is on October 12, 2011 and begins at 1:30.  The idea was to create fire protection awareness for business owners. 1 Life runs these webinars on a regular basis and they are free to either listen live, or download them to use over and over again. I feel that this being fire prevention week the timing is perfect to discuss the issues that people face every day, and hopefully it will help everyone arrive home safety each night.

Fire protection along with safety has become a major way of life for all businesses whether you have a small “Mom & Pop Shop” to the multi-branch large business fire protection is a part of your life.

I hope you enjoy the webinar.

Posted by Rob Read at 3:34 PM 1 Comments

Friday, October 07, 2011

Bison Enjoys A Company Bar-B-Que

With the end of Summer looming we wanted to take an afternoon to say Thank-You to our staff who have worked their butts off all summer. With the number of new projects that have started for us, expanding divisions, and growth into areas of fire protection that Bison hasn’t been into in the past the extra work loads got shared, and the herd stampeded right through it all!

I have said many times we are nothing without our people, and we are very fortunate to have to people we do!

Enjoying A BBQChef Emile & Alain RivardA Hard Working BunchYes....... They Are ProfessionalsThe Lovely Lisa Zadro Our A&R Person

Posted by Rob Read at 1:34 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Bison Fire Is Manitoba’s Newest Defibtech AED Distributor

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We are pleased to announce our newest product offering Defibtech AED’s! With the changes in safety standards in Manitoba and the addition of legislation regarding AED’s we felt this was a product our customers could use.

Manitoba passed legislation Bill 20 “THE DEFIBRILLATOR PUBLIC ACCESS ACT”. Quoting a news release from the provincial government on April 27, 2011 “The new legislation would not only require defibrillators to be installed at designated public places, but also support public access in an emergency by requiring signage to identify the location of the defibrillator and require they be centrally registered. The registry would be shared with 911 dispatchers to allow them to assist those trying to care for a cardiac-arrest victim to find the nearest defibrillator and guide them through the proper use of the machine.”

“While defibrillators are now standard equipment on all provincial fleet ambulances, having the devices in high-traffic public places could support faster access to life-saving defibrillation before paramedics arrive, Oswald said.”

“Based on findings of the review, installation of the defibrillators would be phased in to allow facility owners to incorporate these costs into their financial planning, Oswald noted. Schools and community recreation centres would also be able to access provincial government funding for defibrillators through existing capital and grant funding programs.”

We look forward to working with business owners to not only supply these very valuable tools, but to also work with you through ongoing maintenance, and training.

The difference between action and panic is training!

Defibtech AED MachineAnyone can use the Defibtech AED with training

Posted by Rob Read at 3:32 PM 0 Comments

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Bison Fire Newsletter

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I have wanted to put together a newsletter for some time now.  I think they can be very informative to keep our customers up to date on what is going on both in the fire protection industry as well as with Bison Fire itself. Newsletters are a lot of work. Fortunately I was able to partner with Theo of 1 Life Workplace Safety & Health to get our news together with hers.

We have created a newsletter that really has some good news in it instead of a bunch of fluff that very quickly ends up in the trash. Please take your time and enjoy!

Posted by Rob Read at 2:43 PM 0 Comments