Not all mass notif. created equal

Friday, February 1, 2008

DAVENPORT, Iowa--"Mass notification means a lot of different things to different people," said Dustin Smyth, president of MidWest Alarm Services, based here, but he predicts that will change in the next few years as NFPA 72 becomes the go-to standard for mass notification systems.
Smyth is not alone in his belief that it's natural for mass notification systems to be built on fire systems (search "Tricked out voice evacuation" at
"What that means to fire alarm companies and to manufacturers is that the people enforcing the codes will be the fire marshals and those kinds of AHJs ... it may take years, but I suspect that eventually mass notification systems will be required to be in certain buildings and certain occupancies," he said.
He noted that some companies are providing audio and text messaging systems and calling them "mass notification systems." Consumers should think twice about these systems he said, because they're not supervised and "they're not a complete mass notification system--they lack voice, signage. They only represent a piece of a mass notification system."
Businesses and facilities that buy these systems don't have to answer to a fire marshal today, but they may have to in the future.
Smyth believes "voice fire alarm systems are the logical choice in mass notification systems. They are designed for an emergency, have supervised wiring and other supervised features, can produce the giant voice, turn on signs, send signals, have remote inputs for emergency messages."
He believes it's important that these systems are "sold, designed and installed by companies [who understand NFPA 72.]"