Integrated Technology

By using the power of integrated building systems to assess an emergency situation, real or perceived, building and facility managers can increase their situational awareness, improve their response and better influence the outcome.

Brigadier Al Matrooshi
Brigadier Al Matrooshi

By using the power of integrated building systems to assess an emergency situation, real or perceived, building and facility managers can increase their situational awareness, improve their response and better influence the outcome.

Benefits range from reducing risks to people and property in a real emergency, to avoiding unnecessary - and costly - shutdowns, interruptions and evacuations.

Situational awareness

This is the ability to have total control and visibility into your surroundings in the event of an emergency.

A good example of integration is the use of video to assess fire alarm events. Nuisance alarms dent productivity and contribute to a general feeling of unease. By integrating security video with fire alarm monitoring, common ‘accidental' activations can be assessed before the fire safety plan is executed.

Also consider a high-rise office complex that has an actual fire emergency. The fire detection system may sound an alarm to alert the building manager and local fire department. However, if the lighting system on the affected floors doesn't automatically turn on area lighting, it will be more difficult for firefighters to do their job quickly - when vital seconds count.

Access control systems can provide responders with information about how many people are in the buildings and their last location. They can also stop people from entering a high-rise.

The value of system integration

Automatic response

When the fire alarm sounds in a high-rise office complex, area lights automatically turn on in the threatened area. In addition, a video camera immediately focuses on the zone to allow remote investigation, speeding response times in an emergency. After evacuation, the access system automatically tallies scanned employee badges at a designated meeting zone to ensure all employees are safe.

Automatic logging

Integration offers the benefit of automatic logging of critical activities for historical records. The ability to examine questions after, such as, which systems were affected and which were not and in what order were issues addressed, helps FMs understand the impact of an event on business productivity, facility integrity and occupant safety. Automatically logging actions are key for training and audit by the authorities, as emergency personnel are keen to improve their response through adequate assessment.

Spatial awareness

Being spatially aware enables operators to locate the air handling units that can be switched off or on in relation to the spread of fire, identifying those floors to be isolated and those which should continue to function normally.

This can avoid unnecessary disruption to business without sacrificing speed of response.

An integrated BMS can be used to report temperature changes in the areas identified by the fire alarm - helping to confirm a genuine fire condition.


Laws and regulations

Buildings in the UAE have to adhere to The Fire Protection Federal Law for 1991 with its amendment of 2006 regarding building codes, confirms Brigadier Matrooshi.

International standards are also recognised in the Middle East is. "Such codes and standards include those published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the International Building Code (IBC) or British Standards," says Antell.The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) publishes codes and standards accepted by numerous jurisdictions in the Middle East.

How to handle a fire in a high rise building - Jim Antell

1. Contact the Civil Defence to confirm they have received the fire alarm.

2. Request the Civil Defence's assistance.

3. Activate the Emergency Management Team and begin the verification process.

4. Automatically direct affected occupants via the Fire Alarm System to evacuate to the nearest area.

5. Inform unaffected building occupants to Shelter-In-Place and prepare to evacuate if necessary.

6. Coordinate arrival of first responders.

7. Review evacuation information with Civil Defence upon arrival on-site.

8. Provide supplemental support to Civil Defence, as needed.

9. Activate Mutual Aid Agreements, as needed.

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