Mass Notification and IED Systems
United States and Canada
While the practice of Mass Notification Systems has been in use since the 1980’s, the first real definition was provided by the US Military in 2002 by creating the standardized design criteria for Mass Notification Systems (MNS). The first version issued (UFC 4‐021‐01), defined Mass Notification as the following:
Mass Notification is the capability to provide real‐time information to all building occupants or personnel in the immediate vicinity of a building during emergency situations. To reduce the risk of mass casualties, there must be a timely means to notify building occupants of threats and what should be done in response to those threats. Pre‐recorded and live voice emergency messages are required by the UFC to provide this capability.
IED, by nature of our large sophisticated paging systems, has been involved in the development and delivery of Mass Notification Systems since the 1980’s. Large airports, convention centers, and government facilities since that time have recognized that fire alarm systems are inadequate to communicate emergencies beyond basic fire evacuations. IED initially developed and perfected technologies that today are common in the high performance systems used for modern mass notification. These features include speaker line supervision, ambient analysis and control, prerecorded and assembled messaging, and synchronized visual paging.
Beyond codes and standards written primarily to evacuate based on fire hazards, IED developed systems that met modern day requirements for diverse emergencies and provided high intelligibility. Without exception, when progressive owners requested variances’ to aging building codes, local AHJ’s approved IED systems for mass notification use, including functioning as the audible portion of the fire alarm. These variances were granted based on the reliability of IED systems and demonstrated performance.
With the ratification of NFPA72‐2010 in 2009, Mass Notification has moved into the forefront with new projects requiring compliance with codes that have no associated modern UL Standards. Most new projects specified today desire combination systems that use traditional Fire Alarm equipment (UL864 Standard) for initiating fire alarms, and Mass Notification equipment for alerting occupants for fire as well as all other types of emergencies. The UL Standard currently under development and being recommended as an ANSI standard for Mass Notification Equipment is UL2572 (Standard for Communications and Control Units for Mass Notification Systems, UL2572). For economy, most facilities will expect the same base systems (speakers, amplifiers, signal processing, etc) to meet the requirements for both high performance audio/paging, and mass notification. Until now only IED has consistently been able to achieve acceptance by the AHJ for both.
The interest in providing mass notification ability for facilities has moved quickly even though few jurisdictions have as of yet adopted the code into law. Understanding the acute need and liability to the public, new project specifications are requiring compliance with NFPA72‐2010 ECS (Emergency Communication Standards) even though a draft for the primary standard UL2572 has not yet even been voted on. Currently the only way to install a system without a variance is to use the old EVAC System components produced by the traditional fire alarm companies that are basic voice/fire panels. These types of systems obviously do not meet the primary audio/paging system requirements of modern facilities and thus must be installed in addition to the primary audio/paging system.
IED is committed to maintaining a leading position in the future for combination audio/paging/mass notification systems. Our recently introduced GLOBALCOM Virtual Announcement Control System (vACS) is designed to meet both the high performance audio requirements of a facility and work in conjunction with required UL2572 System Elements as the requirements for those elements become known and approved. Those UL2572 elements, along with new networked power amplifier systems will provide single system solutions that meet all of facilities requirements.
With the first vote on UL2572 scheduled for June of 2011, IED expects to be delivering fully compliant systems in Q2‐2012. In the meantime, IED’s currently delivered systems meet the real world performance requirements for sophisticated audio paging, messaging, and visual paging/way finding in addition to mass notification when approved by the local AHJ.
Europe and International
In the International Market, IED is currently delivering systems meeting equivalent performance for International Standards EN54‐16 (VACIE‐Voice Alarm Control and Indicating Equipment) and ISO7240‐16 (SSCIE‐Sound System Control and Indicating Equipment), again accepted based on demonstrated performance. As system elements for the more stringent UL2572 are developed, approvals will be sought for EN54‐16 and ISO7240‐16 by recognized independent testing labs to provide fully approved and standards‐based combination systems for the entire world.