Written by Michelle Reynolds, Commercial Director, SS Systems
In an ever-competitive marketplace, organisations are continually looking for ways in which to make things more efficient and cost effective.
From a property management perspective, it is certainly worth considering integrating your fire and security systems. It can not only save you money, but also make your life so much easier – always a plus!
In this brief article we will consider the benefits of integration and the things you need to consider before embarking on major change.
In many organisations, the installations of a fire alarm, intruder alarm, access control, CCTV and fire extinguishers (to name but a few) has happened gradually over years, rather than being a conscious decision to purchase all the systems at the same time.
The purchases are often made by different people, with varying reasons behind each purchase – all very valid when they are made, but over time those needs and circumstances change, warranting an overhaul of existing systems.
The introduction of IP technology (internet protocol), and the willingness of manufacturers to share product coding, has made it easier for many systems to be integrated. Events registered by one type of system (eg CCTV) can be used to trigger an action on other systems. This can be in the form of a simple integration (for example, when the fire alarm is triggered, it sends a signal to the access control in order to control door releases), or it can be advanced.
An example of an advanced integration could be a link between intruder, CCTV and access control – on alarm, the intruder system sends a signal to the CCTV system to pan onto the violated area, and on confirmation of an intruder sends a signal to the access control system to lock all doors and will also alert the keyholders.
Benefits of Integrated Systems
The benefits of integrating your fire and security systems include:
- Fewer false alarms. The systems can be set up so that an alert is made only after confirmation from a number of sources (eg intruder alarm and CCTV camera) thus reducing the chance of a false alarm.
- Lower maintenance costs. It can often be the case that individual systems are maintained by different companies, each of which attend at different times throughout the year. When the maintenance of all systems is covered by just one company, the costs and disruption can be reduced.
- Better control. An integrated system can be controlled, managed and monitored by many different people. Technology is such that many aspects of the system can be controlled via an internet connection, making it very flexible and user friendly.
- Reduced management time. It takes less time for the responsible person to manage one system and contract as opposed to many.
Where do you start?
So, if you are considering an integrated solution for your fire and security requirements, then here’s a guide on how to make a start on the project.
Where to start
Review Existing Systems
A good place to start would be to review what you currently have. We have recently undertaken a comprehensive survey for a local council and it proved extremely useful. The review should enable you to clarify exactly what equipment you have, the functionality of the systems, the scope covered by existing fire and security systems and the shortfalls/gaps in protection.
As part of your investigations, note down how much it costs you to maintain the system, both in terms of cost and personnel time.
The next stage would be to consider the level of protection and the functionality you require from your fire and security systems. If you are part of a larger organisation, it helps to gain a wide view so involve as many people as is feasible in your research.
Things to consider in your research could include:
- Risks or threats already known
- Speed of response required in the event of an incident
- Areas of the building & grounds to be covered by an integrated solution
- Ease of use required
- Level of protection, specific to areas
- Essential versus “nice to have”
- High risk areas – specialist requirements
- Insurance policy stipulations
Summarise your Findings
When you have completed your initial research, prepare an outline detailing the scope of the project. This helps to clarify requirements for your own organisation, and will assist consultants or suppliers when you speak to them to get a project underway.
If you are keen to explore the benefits of integrating your fire and security systems, then it helps to bring in external support.
When asking companies for advice, always ensure that they have experience in designing, installing and maintaining a wide range of solutions. It can help to ask for examples of where they have installed an integrated solution so that you can ensure their experience is suitable for your requirements.
For further information, contact:
Michelle Reynolds, Commercial Director