Along the way, many more pieces to the puzzle came into view. In talking to Leigh Fabbri, Fire Marshal of Itasca Fire Protection District, Brycer identified that false alarms resulting from system malfunctions was a huge, avoidable problem that impacted the Fire Department and the community as a whole.
Anytime firefighters respond to a call, their lives are at risk. According to the US Fire Administration, the single cause of injury seeing more than a four-fold increase in firefighter deaths during 2012 was vehicle collisions (including aircraft), with 18 deaths.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs also recognize the problem as they recently released a white paper on the reduction of false alarms, in which one of their focuses was ensuring that alarm systems are maintained by an approved professional.
Through The Compliance Engine, the AHJ is able to monitor the code required inspection, testing, and maintenance of the fire protection systems. With the hard and soft copy notifications it generates, with the AHJs approval, The Compliance Engine provides an administrative tool to help ensure the appropriate upkeep occurs, without having to make multiple trips to a property to ensure completion.
As time is the most precious resource we have, this time saved can be spent on other responsibilities falling within fire prevention such as plan reviews, public education, and investigations.
With almost a third of false alarms occurring as a result of system malfunction that could be abated from increased testing and maintenance, using The Compliance Engine to reduce untested and unmaintained systems can help a community save on false alarm fines and the tax burden of gas and wear and tear on fire department vehicles as well as decrease the exposure to firefighters responding to alarm calls.
The AHJs being only one leg of the code compliance stool, participation of the contractors and property owners is necessary to ensure the maximum outcome in terms of operating fire protection systems and a safer community.
In the current economic environment, Brycer appreciates the competitive landscape as well as balancing cost and value and has researched the revenue and cost recovery benefits of driving compliance to contractors and property owners, respectively.
Referring to their national research on untested and unmaintained fire protection systems, Brycer calculates that on average, $60 of revenue is untapped for each building in the United States, creating significant market opportunity for contractors.
Many of the companies already submitting reports via The Compliance Engine recognize the value in providing the AHJs a tool to help ensure all buildings are in compliance, both from a revenue and life safety perspective.
To the property owner, the most significant financial benefits accrue in terms of cost savings to the tax base from reduce false alarm runs and multiple trips to the occupancy for testing and maintenance reminders.
Additionally, an unforeseen cost is the potential for unpaid insurance claims if a system is improperly tested and maintained and is unable to prevent a partial or total property loss during a fire incident.
The ultimate cost, in terms of life safety, is incalculable. When any constituencies make a pro-business decision to the determinant of life safety, they are gambling with the lives of the children and adults who could be jeopardized if occupying a building that is out of compliance.
These days, the problem has more layers than just tracking and driving code compliance. In budget negotiations of any type, data is king. According to a fire service industry professional, law enforcement is years ahead of the fire service in leveraging data to justify the need for resources.