Friday, September 30, 2011

Tyco Splits Into Three

I had heard through the industry that Tyco was making a move towards splitting into three separate companies.  The usual reasons were rolled out “we need to have CEO’s focus on their specific industries” was one. Another that seemed to carry more weight was that Tyco was just too large to sell as a whole company. If another major player wanted to make a move the giant was just too big to sell as it was.

The three divisions are:  ADT North America residential security business; Tyco Fire and Security; and, Flow Control. Each division is unique in the area it supports so cross completion should be minimal if there is any at all.

The big question is how will this affect the fire protection industry? It will take a while to see what exactly will shake down from this. Every CEO likes to put their own personal stamp on the business they oversee. A smart CEO won’t make major changes to divisions that are already chugging along quite nicely.

Again, time will tell.

Posted by Rob Read at 10:38 AM 0 Comments

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dryer Fires Revisited

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I wrote a few weeks ago about dryer fires. I tried to cover every aspect of what steps to take to protect yourself, and your home. A couple of days ago I received an email from Harry Jacobs of Ideal Security Inc. He expressed his interest in the article and he included some literature for Lint Alert and other home security products designed to help prevent these very nasty fires. Harry also included an article written by Jon Eakes of HGTV.

I thought it was great to generate this kind of interest in a blog post, and am glad to share the information that Ideal Security has forwarded to me.

Posted by Rob Read at 4:06 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Coronation Street Heats Up

As it turns out Coronation Street is much hotter than most people would think and apparently one of the “Old Ladies” is the hottest after she accidently lit herself on fire. Fortunately the actress wasn’t hurt in the incident, and a quick crew member used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

The incident did make me think about the fall and coming winter, and hazards around the house. With the sun setting earlier every day, my wife has taken to adding a few candles around the house for ambiance, and she likes the way they smell as opposed to me. She’s not alone there are candle parties all the time, and these candles do eventually get burned up. While they are burning you should consider the hazards around them children and pets being one, but flammable objects nearby that could be blown into, insufficient insulation under them, or the candle just falling over being some of the things that could happen.

Newer homes these days burn even fast than older ones due to construction materials that have glues, and plastics added to them. Do you have a fire extinguisher on each floor of your house that is in operating condition? Take a minute to check your extinguisher if it needs service get it done. It could save your life.

Remember we are Dedicated to Customers for Life!

Posted by Rob Read at 12:26 PM 0 Comments

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Herd Gets Larger

Our sprinkler division has gotten a new addition, Laurie Wilson has joined us! Laurie has over 6 years’ experience in the sprinkler industry working on the construct, and installation side of the business. His solid work ethic and industry knowledge will make him an asset as we continue to take on more construction projects.

I would also like to thanks all the companies that continue to support us as we grow. Without that support we would have been able experience the growth in any of our divisions.

Posted by Rob Read at 10:30 AM 0 Comments

Friday, September 23, 2011

Remember The Alamo

I recently had written an article that appeared in the 1 Life Workplace Safety’s quarterly newsletter. In it I had discussed the value of using the best agents to fight fires in the specific hazard areas.

It seems the fighting is still going on at The Alamo except this time the fight is against fire. The Alamo is a historic complex, and part of it contains the Daughters of the Republic Library. There are many important historical documents, books, and artwork stored there. The curators of the museum made an expensive, but justified choice when choosing to protect the library with clean gas.

The result of the fire could have been even more devastating than it was. If they had chosen to use water as the agent in this situation, yes they would have saved the library, but its contents that are equally if not more valuable would have been destroyed.

I’m glad the fire protection company they worked with had the for sight to suggest a better way to protect the building, had they “Chickened Out” and sold the cheaper method of fire protection a great piece of history would have been lost.

Posted by Rob Read at 11:29 AM 0 Comments

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Manitoba Restaurant & Food Services Assn. Holds Exhibitor Reception

The MFRA held an exhibitor reception today at the Upperdeck Sports Bar. This was a great opportunity to discuss the Pro’s, and Con’s from last year’s Local Fare show with Scott Jocelyn the Executive Director. Overall I felt the show was a success. The quality of the exhibitors as well as attendee’s surpassed my expectations, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming show January 24th 2012. (Hard to believe we are looking into next year already)

These opportunities to work with other members of the food service community are invaluable. The Local Fare show was one of the best we have attended in Winnipeg. As one of the only fire protection companies to attend we are able to discuss current issues with both the restaurateurs and the businesses that support them. Together we are able to work towards real solutions to make a better work place.

The MRFA has really moved forward in the last few years, and events like the one held today are just small examples of what this association have to offer.

Scott Jocelyn MFRA Executive Director With Rob ReadScott Jocelyn at the Local Fare Podium

Posted by Rob Read at 5:51 PM 0 Comments

Monday, September 19, 2011

1 Life’s Upcoming Webinars

1 Life Workplace Safety has truly become Manitoba’s safety leader. Theo and her staff have won various awards in Manitoba, and Nationally for their leadership and professionalism. It makes me proud to work with them as one of our Preferred Partners

Theo has put together a list of upcoming webinars that are relevant to the time of year (October is fire safety month) as well as to what goes on in the day to day operations of every business.

  1. Workplace Violence Update
  2. Bill 20: Manitoba's New AED Access Law
  3. Top 5 Weaknesses in Commercial Fire Protection & How to Correct Them
  4. Balancing Workplace Safety Obligations with Human Rights
  5. The Business Case for MUSCULOSKELETAL INJURY (MSI) Prevention

We have also recently started using 1 Life’s “My Safety Assistant”, and found it to be a fantastic time saver, and resource for our safety co-ordinator, and the safety committee here at Bison.  

If you any questions or concerns regarding the state of your current workplace safety plans you can feel confident giving Theo, and her staff a call.    

Posted by Rob Read at 3:35 PM 0 Comments

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Carbon Dioxide Can Be Deadly

I remember taking my first Carbon Dioxide design and installation course back in the mid 1990’s the one thing that stuck in my mind was the instructor telling us that the air we breathe has 21% oxygen. If it should drop to 14% or lower we are dead. This seemed pretty serious to me and instilled a need to ensure when working on these types of suppression systems that all lock-out are in place to keep the technicians safe.

This the main reason that CO2 systems are used in very specialized situations only, usually local application, not in a total flood area such as a computer room. Local application is best described as aiming nozzles at the specific hazard area like a dip tank instead of “Flooding” the room to lower the overall oxygen percentage.

The fire protection industry has recognised the dangers associated with CO2 systems; however CO2 is present in many areas of everyday use and occupancy such as restaurants. There was a very unfortunate incident where CO2 was leaking in a McDonalds Restaurant. The CO2 leaked from its cylinders killing one person and injuring others.

Another consideration is the pressure CO2 is stored at. To keep it liquid CO2 must be pressurized to 950 PSI. Should this rupture the force would be similar to one stick of dynamite. This is why larger cylinders are secured to the wall to prevent falling over and shearing the head off. You don’t want to be nearby when these cylinders rupture. This is why we test them in a high pressure hydrostatic machine among other testing procedures before they are placed back in service.

We have heard many things about CO2 as a greenhouse gas, but we need better education regarding the handling of both the tanks and agent so when people are working with them they are aware of the dangers and act accordingly with safe work practises.

Ruptured CO2 CylinderHole in Concrete Floor Notice Cylinder in Basement Below

Posted by Rob Read at 3:03 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tragedy Strikes A Small Northern Saskatchewan Community

In the past I have talked about home fire protection everything from fire extinguishers to smoke & heat detectors, and even different situations around the home that can cause fires. My heart goes out to the family that lost their twin two year old girls, and the community as a whole who will all feel this loss.

My concern is the lessons we can learn from this and what we steps we should take to prevent them in the future. I have been in many small towns and have experienced the difficulties in accessing products and services due to a smaller population. When service technicians come to town at least in the fire protection industry they deal with the business’s that require our service and generally not the residences. If there is a hardware store in town they most likely do not stock fire extinguishers, and when people go to the larger centres to shop, or get building materials extinguishers are low on the list.

The cities have media campaigns to educate the citizens about fire safety, and the schools touch on it a little, but the smaller communities don’t command the big budget marketing so the message gets lost, or is not sent in a top of mind manner if it gets out at all. Rural fire departments are volunteer and any budget money they have goes towards equipment and training.

We need to get the message out that while we can’t always stop fires from starting, we can lower the occurrence. We can also take steps to protect ourselves by ensuring we have smoke detectors and that they work, and fire extinguishers, and that they work as well. These two items could have prevented a tragedy.

Posted by Rob Read at 10:17 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Manitoba Chapter Of The Canadian Fire Alarm Assn.

The Manitoba Chapter of the CFAA (Canadian Fire Alarm Assn.) met today to discuss issues relevant to Fire Alarm systems in Manitoba, and across Canada. While there are many important issues to discuss some of the higher points of interest are:

  • Industry specific training such as how the new elevator code applies to fire alarm systems.
  • The possibility of another technical training seminar similar to the one held this past spring.
  • Education & training for new technicians coming into the industry.

There was also an election of officers at this meeting which resulted in Rob Read being named a director within the Manitoba Chapter.

The CFAA also works with AHJ’s (Authority Having Jurisdiction) at all levels of government to help assist in changes to fire, building, and electrical codes, what the expectations are to meet new code regulations, and to provide industry in site where applicable. Manitoba's Chapter is the 3rd largets in Canada.

Posted by Rob Read at 2:56 PM 0 Comments

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bison Works With A+ Restaurant Supply

I got a call from Ralph Finck of A+ Restaurant Supply asking me to attend their monthly meeting to discuss changes in the Restaurant Fire Suppression Industry. I always look forward to these opportunities to work with other industry professionals. The exchange of information allows both of us to serve our customers with the best knowledge and understanding the industry can offer.

A number of issues discussed were;

  • M3 mechanical permits required by the City of Winnipeg.
  • When and where, and why K-Class extinguishers are needed.
  • Upgrading dry chemical suppression systems in restaurants throughout the province.
  • Upgrading wet chemical suppression systems when cooking appliances are relocated or replaced.
  • ULC listings on suppression systems.
  • The Pros and Cons of both Range Guard, and Ansul Suppression systems.

The meeting was very interactive with in depth discussions on the above topics. A+ Restaurant Supply works hard to offer the best service available to their customers, and my presentation was another great opportunity for them to continue doing this.

Posted by Rob Read at 1:24 PM 0 Comments

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Pre-Operational Inspections Before Operating Power Mobile Equipment Could Save A Life

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Over the years I have sold quite a few fire extinguishers with vehicle brackets. These brackets are a small wrap around type that work good in light duty service such as the trunk of your car, or mounted behind the seat of you truck so they stay put. These are as described light duty brackets. We have also sold many heavy duty vehicle brackets. These are a much beefier bracket designed to hold an extinguisher on the outside of a vehicle. You will see them on everything from garbage trucks, Hydro/Centra Gas trucks, and welding trucks to name a few as well as heavy equipment such as bulldozers, forestry, and mining equipment. This equipment usually also uses a much larger fire extinguisher typically a 20 lb. Dry Chemical that actually weighs around 35-45 lbs. depending on type, and manufacturer.

While all of this information on fire extinguisher brackets must be fascinating to most of you there is a point to all of this. Most safety plans require that equipment, and vehicle operators do a Pre-operational inspection on Power Mobile Equipment before they begin the day’s operations. This becomes crucial when these heavy duty brackets are subject to all types of weather, and damage. A five minute inspection can save a life. This was became an unfortunate reality for one person when a loose fire extinguisher came off of a garbage truck, and caused a fatality in Mississauga last week.

Speaking with Theo Kowalchuk of 1Life Workplace Safety she provided the following information.

“While Ontario legislation would need to be consulted, in Manitoba it is possible that this incident could pose liability for this employer under both the WSH Act as well as the Regulations.

As per the WSH Act Part 4(2) (c) every employer shall conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure so far as reasonable practicable that persons who are not in his service are not exposed to risks to their safety or health arising out of or in connection with activities in his workplace.

As per the WSH Regulation Part 22.3 (1) An employer must ensure that powered mobile equipment is inspected by a competent person for defects and unsafe condition.”

She also provided the attached Hazard Alert.

Once again just a few minutes to ensure your fire equipment is functioning as designed, and is secure with no signs of wear or damage could save a life, possibly even your own.

Posted by Rob Read at 11:18 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Exhaust Fan Fires Are More Common Than You Might Think

We service and inspect thousands of kitchen exhaust systems annually in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Western Ontario, and Nunavut. One of the issues we constantly run into is hood cleaning. We work closely with Bob Penny of ABC Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning whenever possible, however many restaurants choose not to have their cleaning done regularly, or prefer a low cost alternative.

Many of the low cost service providers only clean the hood area, and maybe as far as you can see into the duct work. This leaves a lot of room for error and disaster. Bob has said on many occasions that a well cleaned duct and fan not only lower the possibility of fire, but also improve the air quality, and cleanliness in the kitchen as the grease goes through the filters, up the duct and out as designed instead of hanging in the air for staff to breath or sticking to the walls and ceiling slowly turning the kitchen a dull yellow color. Bob has also said that in cleaning the fans his staff are able to inspect the fan, and belts as well as any other items that could be starting to wear such as wiring.

When installing kitchen Fire Suppression systems we are required to include duct and plenum coverage that protects to the exhaust fan because grease is a fuel that fire will follow and if the fire starts in the fan it will work its way down into the kitchen as it did at the Wendy’s in Charlotte, NC. We have had a couple of fires in Winnipeg that have started this way over the last five years.

Suppression systems should extinguish this type of fire but if the grease build up is several inches thick the system will put out the initial fire however if the heat is high enough a re-flash can occur. Now there is nothing left to fight the fire, and if the grease is that thick in the ducts it is also covering the walls and ceilings. 

Remember Money Saved could be Money Burned.

Posted by Rob Read at 3:12 PM 0 Comments