Fire Codes & Safety

Fire-Thomass PicsWe all know that having working fire/smoke detectors, alarms, and fire extinguishers in our homes can prevent tragic loss and irreparable damage.  The same holds true for business facilities.  However, the codes and standards for a commercial space versus a home are different, and they can vary by jurisdictions as well.  According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) codes are the rules and standards are the method by which the rules are applied.  There have been major events in history that have triggered modifications to national fire codes and standards.  The Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick, RI in 2003, and The Cocoanut Grove Nightclub fire of 1942 in Boston, MA are a couple examples of why and how fire codes have changed throughout the years.

If you are a business owner, you know the importance of protecting your facility, employees, and assets/inventory.  How can you be sure your business meets the proper fire safety codes?  In all likelihood, if you’re currently in operation, you’re building/facility has passed an initial inspection.  However, yearly inspections are required and codes are revised every 3-5 years.  If you are renovating or adding on to a space you will have to schedule a new inspection.  For this reason its best practice to involve an expert from the start of a project to avoid any major hiccups.

You’ll need the proper fire safety equipment which can include smoke detectors, fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and possibly a sprinkler system.  Integrating these features with your alarm system is crucial for a quicker response from emergency services.  Installing a wireless smoke detector that is not connected to your alarm system doesn’t notify local services in the event of an emergency.  The only person that type of detector benefits is someone on site or nearby during an emergency.  What if no one is around?

Failure to comply with the proper safety and code requirements can lead to inspection rejection and fines.  Our licensed professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. can ensure the safety and code compliance of your business by installing the proper fire safety equipment as part of a comprehensive business security system.  If your facility is located in Northern or Central New Jersey, our team can guide you through the process from initial assessment to final installation.  You have enough on your mind already, let us help you avoid mental anguish.

Reasons For Code Non-Compliance:

  • Egress is not met. This includes corridors, latching mechanisms, and access controls
  • Improper storage of combustible materials
  • Inadequate emergency lighting
  • Outdated fire extinguishers and other safety equipment
  • Electrical issues (i.e. improper use of extension cords)
  • Blocked access to fire hydrants
  • Sprinkler system isn’t labeled correctly
  • For more information check out com & NFPA

How Hiring A Professional Can Help:

  • They know what types of security equipment will work and comply with fire codes
  • They may already have a relationship with the local fire official
  • They can communicate technical information to contractors, architects, & engineers
  • They know how to integrate fire alarms and smoke detectors in a comprehensive security system
  • They understand the importance of code compliance and fire safety
  • They know how egress can be affected by different access controls
  • They will help you avoid penalties and failed inspections by implementing proper installation

Call our licensed professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. to perform an assessment of your business facility.  Let us help you discover how to protect your business with a comprehensive security solution that includes fire alarms, smoke detectors, and CO detectors.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Thomas’s Pics-Flickr-Creative Commons

Making Sure Your Fire Alarm Works

Fire Strobe-Alfonso PierantonioFire is an unpredictable force that can wreak havoc on any business. It is imperative as a business owner, facility manager, or building owner that the proper precautions are in place to help prevent catastrophe. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is a leading advocate in fire prevention and safety. They’ve written numerous codes and standards that have been implemented nationwide. These standards are designed to help reduce the risk and effects of fire. In combination with local regulations, NFPA codes and regulations are what system integrators and contractors have to follow in order to pass inspection from local authorities.

While you no doubt have some sort of fire detection and/or suppression system in operation it’s important to maintain it in accordance with national and local requirements. As a security systems integrator, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been installing fire alarm systems in business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for that past 23 years. We specialize in comprehensive security systems that include fire alarms as a major component to a fully functioning system. We do offer maintenance and service contracts helping you preserve a system that will continue to pass annual inspections and work efficiently in the event of a fire.

What goes into fire alarm maintenance? First off, unless you or your staff is trained and licensed, you must hire a licensed technician. This will help avoid accidentally setting off any false alarms which can result in substantial fines. A common starting point, whether the system is fairly new or if you moved into a space with an existing system, is to find out the systems age and maintenance history. The age of a fire alarm system will help determine whether or not components need to be replaced and what type of maintenance might be required.

According to Mike Lohr, director of service marketing for SimplexGrinnell LP, “Systems between five and ten years old may experience component breakdown caused by harsh, but normal, environmental factors. Voltage fluctuations, temperature, and humidity may cause system failure or nuisance alarm problems.” He notes that systems between 5-10 and 10-15 years can provide adequate “life-safety” responses, but those within the 10-15 year marks should be watched carefully. This is even more important if you have a shoddy record of maintenance history as it could have been poorly taken care of in the past.

Aside from knowing the age of your system you have to take any specific regulations the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) might have into consideration. While the NFPA provides codes and standards for the nation, the AHJ will likely have their own set of rules that are specific to the area they preside. This means that even if your system meets NFPA standards it may not pass local inspection because of AHJ specifications. For this reason it is imperative to hire experts that are licensed and educated not only in maintenance specific to your system, but national and local requirements as well.

In most cases fire alarm systems must be inspected at least once a year some may require a more frequent assessment. It really all depends on the type of business. During an inspection all components of the system will be tested so if something is not functioning properly, it will likely be taken care of at that time. Before an inspection you should notify the building occupants as the alarms will be tested and it gets noisy. Your alarm system company is the one who should contact the alarm monitoring station and local authorities in advance to avoid false emergencies.

Maintaining a functional fire alarm system is key to preventing potential catastrophe. It helps protect not only the physicality of your business, but everything that goes into running your business, i.e. you, your employees, company records, and equipment. If you ever consider cutting corners when it comes to fire alarm maintenance carefully consider the extent of what it might cost you if you do.

While as a business owner you may not need to know all the fine details of what goes into fire alarm maintenance, it is important to have a basic understanding of what you can expect when the time comes. For further information on fire alarm maintenance and inspections check out our related blog post HERE. If you run a business in northern or central New Jersey do not hesitate to call on our licensed technicians at Perfect Connections, Inc.. We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions including fire alarm installation and maintenance since 1992.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Alfonso Pierantonio-Flickr-Creative Commons

How Perfect Connections Does Security Systems

Security-American Advisors GroupComprehensive security systems are what help maintain a safe and secure work environment or home.  As a consumer it is in your best interest to hire a systems integrator with experience, knowledge, and know-how, but how do you tell the good from the “just okay” or bad?  Any company can spout off how many years experience they have or jobs they’ve completed, that doesn’t really give you much insight into how they operate and solve problems.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our integrators are licensed and provide a more individualized approach to any security problem you may have.  Many competitors will offer standardized solutions that may not fit your specific needs.  They do this simply to increase profits without considering “what is it potentially costing my client?”  Our team at Perfect Connections puts the customer first and we do so through our client services, problem solving techniques, and determination to get the job done right.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to homes and a range of businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our customer loyalty means the world to us, so without inflating our egos let’s look at what makes us stand out.

Some of the larger security systems companies out there will use a “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to system design.  This is not an effective way to protect your business or home.  Every establishment and home is unique with extraneous factors that pose different risks.  Designing a comprehensive security system takes a customized approach.

You likely wouldn’t implement the same system configuration in an assisted living facility as you would a manufacturing plant, right?  Right!  You may use similar system components like a means of access control and surveillance, but their applications would be different and specific to their respective locations.  At Perfect Connections we believe in performing on site risk assessments and listening to our clients’ concerns to help determine the design, layout, and components necessary to provide adequate coverage.

As with any technology, security systems are susceptible to imperfections.  This could be imperfections in system components or imperfections caused by an external factor, like existing infrastructure disturbances.  Often times when there are obstructions or architectural issues alarm system equipment may not function optimally.

In the event a system isn’t operating properly our team of licensed integrators will run tests on the equipment and find the root of the actual problem.  Other companies act in haste and often times don’t look for the actual cause of the issue.  Instead they’ll assume it’s a total system malfunction and tear the whole thing out and start over.  This is a costly and inefficient problem solving method.  Our team does their due diligence to solve the problem accurately and efficiently, and we won’t give up until the issue is resolved.

At Perfect Connections we believe a comprehensive security system includes access control, video surveillance, fire and burglar alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, home automation, and a monitoring service.  These individual components together create a system that provide unmatched coverage for your home or business.  As an independent alarm company we’re not limited to one manufacturer’s offerings, which allows us to use the components that will work the best in your specific application and that are most cost effective.

As licensed security system integrators our team has been providing solutions to businesses and homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Our experience and continued education has enabled us to evolve to meet the changing needs of our clients.  If you’re looking for an alarm system for your home or business know that you won’t be just another number at Perfect Connections.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Why Does an Assisted Living Facility Need a Security System?

Assisted Living FacilityAssisted living facilities are dynamic environments.  You have occupants with varying levels of medical needs alongside administrative, medical, and visiting personnel.  It’s a somewhat complex security issue because residents and staff need to be able to move throughout the facility freely, but unauthorized entrants must somehow be kept out.  The mental health and acuity of residents can also be a cause for concern.  In an aging population medical conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s can cause residents to wander off or get lost which is a major concern for staff and resident relatives.  Thankfully by implementing security system solutions many of these concerns can be addressed.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed security system integrators have been providing comprehensive security solutions to healthcare facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our team understands the importance of securing assisted living facilities isn’t solely about protecting physical assets, it’s about ensuring the safety and security of the people that live and work there.  It’s about providing a peace of mind to not only the staff and residents, but resident’s families as well.

Comprehensive security systems should include fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, burglar alarms, a surveillance system, access control, and a monitoring service.  One of the most important components that should concern assisted living facilities is access control.  Access control can be implemented in a number of ways and an assisted living facility may require more than one mode.

The on-site staff will likely need access to areas where medication is stored and administrative offices, supply rooms, and medical records etc.  Access not only has to be convenient, but limited to authorized staff.  The reason this can sometimes be challenging is because residents want to be able to roam throughout the facility freely as do visitors.  Fortunately with access control solutions the chances of a resident or visitor wandering into a restricted area are lowered significantly.

By installing readers at entries and distributing credentials (fobs, swipe cards, and proximity cards) to authorized users, access will be limited.  The benefit of using readers in conjunction with credentials vs traditional locks and keys is you don’t have to worry about lost or stolen keys.  Cards and fobs can be remotely disabled whereas a lost key may never be recovered which ultimately leads to changing out the locks and over time that can be costly.

According to Mark Jarman, President of Inovonics, “…the assisted living market has changed from one of simply providing clinical care, much like hospitals, to sprawling campuses which are often a blend of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing services.”  This creates a more complex environment that requires increased safety and vigilance.  Assisted living facilities are full of activity, the constant coming and going of staff, residents, and visitors, it can be challenging to keep an eye on everything, that’s why having a surveillance system is vital.  It’s a helpful tool that allows staff to keep track of patients that might have the tendency to wander and it gives residents a peace of mind.  In the event an intruder is able to gain access to the facility, surveillance will help authorities catch the perpetrator and depending on the type of system, it can even be setup to send real-time alerts to staff members on their mobile devices.

Aside from surveillance and access control solutions it’s imperative and likely required by local and national laws to have a fire alarm system and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Fire alarm systems and detectors are lifesaving components that when tied to a monitored security system become even more effective.  With a monitored system, when an alarm sounds, a signal is sent to the monitoring station which then immediately alerts emergency responders, and in unpredictable situations it is imperative to have the quickest response possible.  This is critical in an assisted living facility as residents are likely slower moving and may have impaired hearing or eyesight.  Some fire alarm systems can even indicate which detectors or alarms within the facility initiated the alert which is helpful to responders as they’ll have a better idea where to start when they arrive on site.

The reasons why an assisted living facility would need a security system are evident.  There is a need to protect residents, staff, visitors, medical records, physical assets, and facility property.  A comprehensive security system that includes access control, surveillance, fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and a monitoring service is essential.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators can help design a custom and comprehensive system that is tailored to the specific needs of your facility.  Every organization is unique and should be treated as such, especially when it comes to matters of security.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by U.S. Department of Agriculture-Flickr-Creative Commons

False Alarms

False alarm may cost a life-Shannon ClarkIf you have a security system you might already understand the consequences of a false alarm.  It is not something to be taken lightly and can have serious implications.  False alarms can happen for any number of reasons and it’s important to understand why and how best to avoid them.  No security system is perfect, and false alarms are bound to happen, but as end users and integrators it is our duty to try to minimize them.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  They are knowledgeable about the products they install and can provide useful information on system function and upkeep to help avoid any mishaps.

As technology progresses and advancements in security manufacturing lead to better products it’s likely the instance of a false alarm or dispatch will be lessened.  According to Ron Walters, director with the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), prior to the 90’s false alarms were typically attributed to faulty security products.  Since then manufacturers have been and continue to produce quality products, however that doesn’t guarantee proper application and use.  Accurate installation and usage lies the hands of the security integrator and the end user.  That is why it is critical to hire a licensed security expert for system installation and user specifications.  It is also important that the end user has an understanding of what is expected of them in order to avoid false dispatches.  Unfortunately, approximately 15% of false alarms are considered to be caused by user error.

In a world where there are an estimated 35-36 million alarms in use, according to Stan Martin who is the executive director of the SIAC, false alarms are an unavoidable evil. False alarms and dispatches are an annoyance for end users, but their ramifications don’t end there.  They take valuable time and resources away from emergency responders that might otherwise be needed at an actual crisis.  If you have too many false alarms it can create a “boy cried wolf” situation where authorities might be more hesitant to respond.  On top of all that you could end up paying substantial fines for repeat offenses.  Recurring false alarms that go unchecked can create tension between local authorities, end users, and security integrators.  But negative impacts aside, the SIAC reports that 90% of law enforcement still consider alarm industry professionals valuable allies.

Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of a false alarm as it could have been a situation where an intruder was attempting a break-in and escaped before authorities arrived making it appear like a false alarm.  This is where video surveillance, alarm monitoring, and remote system access come in handy.  Being able to tap into your facility’s surveillance system and visually verify whether or not an intruder is or was present, is a critical time and resources saver.  With remote access via an app on your smartphone or mobile device you can do just that.  The beauty of remote access is you don’t have to physically be on site to see what is going on at your facility.  Having a monitoring service will also help determine whether or not there is an actual emergency and whether or not authorities should be dispatched.  An added benefit to having video surveillance is even if the perpetrator escapes before authorities arrive, the recorded footage can be used to aid an investigation and hopefully identify the intruder.

Aside from having proper security equipment installed there are some helpful tips for end users to keep in mind that will help avoid pesky false alarms.  One, always know your alarm code and be sure all windows and doors are secured before arming your system.  Two, be sure you get your system tested regularly, it’s typical to have an annual inspection but some situations might require quarterly or more frequent tests.  Be sure critical sensors and smoke detectors are adequately covered during any construction or building modification to avoid disruptions caused by debris.  Lastly, always consult a licensed security system provider with any maintenance or care questions.

While false alarms aren’t completely avoidable, you can lessen the chances of them happening to you.  Hiring a licensed security system integrator who is knowledgeable and has extensive installation experience is key.  Installing a comprehensive security system that includes video surveillance, fire and burglar alarms, access control, and a monitoring service will provide complete coverage and reduce the risk of false dispatches and alarms.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed professionals have been providing comprehensive security systems to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our technicians have the experience and expertise to install security devices and can help educate you on proper usage.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Shannon Clark-Flickr-Creative Commons

Why Alarm Monitoring Is Essential

monitoring centerSo you’ve had home security system installed, everything is connected and ready to be armed.  During the process did you sign up for an alarm monitoring service?  If you didn’t, you’re missing a vital part of a truly comprehensive home security system.  You could be leaving yourself open to risk regardless of your newly installed system.  While having a security system will greatly lessen the risk of a break-in and provide you with a peace of mind, the caveat is what happens if you’re not home when the alarm goes off?  Maybe you have a super vigilant neighbor that would hear the alarm or see a fire blazing, but you shouldn’t rely on that.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our professionals have been providing comprehensive security systems to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We offer a wide range of services including alarm monitoring.  We believe to have a truly comprehensive security system a monitoring service should be included.

So what is alarm monitoring?  According to Safewise alarm monitoring can be defined as, “quick and detailed communication between your home security system and the central station of your security provider.”  This means when your alarm goes off someone besides yourself will be notified almost instantly.  How does this benefit you and your family?  This allows whoever is one the receiving end of that communication to contact and dispatch the appropriate local authorities and emergency services.  Imagine there’s a fire in your home and you can’t get to a phone or have trouble getting everyone out safely.  If your fire alarm is tied into your alarm system, when it goes off, the monitoring service will immediately dispatch fire and emergency crews.  This saves you, your family, and your home from potential catastrophe by saving precious time.

In any emergency time is a critical factor.  That’s why having a monitoring service is advantageous.  It cuts down on wasting time during a potentially life threatening situation.  Also, while an unmonitored alarm system can be effective in deterring a burglar when the alarm is triggered, consider this.  According to the Electronic Security Association 74% of incomplete burglaries are due to a triggered alarm, but another 26% of burglars say the alarm alone isn’t enough to stop them from completing a robbery.  This is where alarm monitoring plays a crucial role.  If someone breaks-in to your home and isn’t fazed by the sounding alarm or the fact that people might be home this puts you and your family at risk.  Luckily, if you have a monitoring service they’ll be able to quickly dispatch authorities that will hopefully catch the perpetrator.

You’re probably running through a bunch of “what if” scenarios in your head, like what if an intruder breaks-in and forces the owner to disarm the alarm?  Fortunately, with many monitoring services there are options to create distress codes.  These codes when entered into the central control panel will alert the monitoring service that you are in a dangerous situation and they will dispatch help immediately.  Meanwhile the intruder is unaware that you’ve secretly called for help.

With today’s technology there is the option to self-monitor your home.  In our world of smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices we have almost anything we could want at a finger’s touch away.  This includes monitoring your home security system.  With the capability of mobile apps like those offered by companies like Alarm.com you can access your security system from virtually anywhere.  These types of apps can be set up to send you notifications or alerts when something changes at your home.  This capability can be extremely helpful if you’re away on vacation, on a business trip, or away from home for an extended period of time.  You no longer have to worry about coming home to a disaster because you’re able to check-in and be informed ahead of time.  A potential drawback of a self-monitored system by itself is not having immediate action or communication if you aren’t paying attention to your mobile device.  If you’re not around your phone to witness an alert you could miss out on an emergency situation whereas a monitoring service would reach out regardless.

Whether you plan on self-monitoring, hiring a monitoring service, or a combination of both, the important thing is that you have a monitored security system.  It’s another level of defense that will further protect you, your family, and your home.  By having a monitored system in combination with a burglar alarm, fire alarm, and surveillance system you will have a truly comprehensive home security system.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been installing comprehensive security systems to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We know the value it brings to our clients and their families.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Infra-structures.com-Google-Creative Commons

Putting Out A Fire

Fire-Ada BeHouse fires.  Nobody wants to think about them, but they are an unfortunate reality in our imperfect world.  While a house fire can be unpredictable there are precautionary measures you can take to avoid them.  Being prepared is half the battle, but knowing what to do in the event of a fire is equally important.

Part of being prepared is having the proper equipment and warning devices.  This means having operating smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, a fire alarm, and sometimes a sprinkler system.  Most single family homes are not required by law to have a sprinkler or fire suppression system, but that may not last as the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is currently pushing for sprinkler legislation across the United States.  As a leading expert in the security system industry our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. realize having a truly comprehensive home security system means including fire detection equipment that is linked to an alarm system.  We have been providing home security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our team understands that security is not solely about preventing break-ins, it’s about protecting lives.

Being Prepared

According to the NFPA firefighters responded to 370,000 home fires in 2011.  These fires caused injuries, deaths, and costly damages.  The main culprits of these fires were cooking followed by heating equipment and smoking.  Of the reported home fire related deaths between 2007 and 2011, 60% of the homes either didn’t have smoke detectors or had non-working detectors.  This is a problem, what good is a detector if it’s not working or been removed?

The best way to manage a household fire is be prepared for one.  Being prepared includes having the proper warning system, up to date fire extinguishers, and most importantly an escape plan.  Having an escape plan that everyone knows and has practiced will help ensure a safer and quicker exit in the event of a fire.  Every house should have working smoke detectors throughout each floor of the home and they should be tested regularly.  Smoke detectors can be even more effective if they are tied into your homes security system.  If you have a home security system you likely have a monitoring service that responds in the event of an emergency.  In the event of a fire, detectors that are tied into an alarm system will trigger the alarm and if the alarm is not deactivated by the owner, the monitoring service will be notified automatically.  The monitoring service will try to contact the house and if no one answers after a given amount of time they will dispatch local emergency crews.  This type of system ensures a quicker response from local authorities and saves you and your family precious time needed to escape.

Fire Types

Understanding the different types of house fires can help you prevent or know how to extinguish them.  One of the most common causes of house fires is from cooking related incidents.  According to the NFPA two out of every five home fires started in the kitchen.  In a way this makes a lot of sense.  Think about it, kitchens are where you cook with high heat, ovens, gas or electric ranges, grease, and flammable materials.  It is of the utmost importance to be vigilant of what is going on in your kitchen.  If you have pots on the stove, do not leave them unattended the same for items in the oven.  Never leave flammable or combustible materials where they can be exposed to flames or high heat.

Electrical fires are another leading cause of house fires.  Homes with electrical heating need to be conscious of what materials are up against or close to heaters, all it takes is one dangling curtain to catch fire.  This is especially true for people who use space heaters.  It’s tempting to bring that space heater right up to your bed on those cold winter nights, but they need to be kept a safe distance, which is about 3 feet, from anything combustible and that includes bed sheets.  Space heaters should always be unplugged when not in use to avoid any electrical malfunctions and they should never be left on overnight.  Other culprits of electrical fires include dryers, washing machines, water heaters, air conditioning machines, and ranges.

Fires related to smoking incidents are another major cause of injury and fire related deaths in the United States.  Although the amount of people who smoke in the United States has decreased in the past decade the fact remains between 2007 and 2011 smoking materials were responsible for approximately 17,900 house fires.  During this time period 580 deaths, 1,280 injuries, and $509 million in property damage per year was attributed to smoking related fires.  Many of these fires included falling asleep as a factor.  It’s devastating that such disaster has taken place when this type of fire is completely preventable by not smoking.

While you can’t always predict or prevent house fires from occurring you can be prepared for them.  And even though the first thing you should always do in the event of a fire is call 911 here’s a helpful link that describes how to extinguish different types of house fires Different Ways To Extinguish Different Fires.  Having a comprehensive security system that includes a monitored fire alarm and connected smoke detectors can significantly decrease the damaging effects of a house fire.  It can save you time, money, and most importantly lives.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security systems to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We want to help you connect and protect what matters most.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Ada Be-Flickr-Creative Commons

Securing Your Home During a Renovation

construction-19696_1280Home renovation is an exciting and fulfilling prospect for many homeowners.  Whether you’re adding on or adjusting an existing space it’s imperative to make sure your home is protected during the process.  While renovating your home is rewarding for you and your family, you don’t want it to be a “rewarding” process for would-be thieves and criminals.  Our experts here at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand protecting your home is a top priority, especially during a renovation when it is more vulnerable.  We’ve been providing security system solutions to northern and central New Jersey homes since 1992.  If you are renovating and considering a home security system or adding on to an existing one don’t hesitate to call on our professionals.  Having a security systems expert involved from the get-go is essential for seamless integration and full protection.  We understand the renovation process can be dubious at times, the following tips can help remove some of the hassle and uncertainty.

Hiring the right contractor

When it comes to your home and family you can never be too careful.  You wouldn’t hire a babysitter without doing your research first, the same holds true for finding the right contractor.  A background check is a great way to tell whether or not the company you want to hire is reputable or not.  Here’s the caveat, companies with bad reputations or failed business sometimes shut down and reopen under a new name (ACE Private Risk Services).  So how can you really be sure of who you’re hiring?  In many cases architects are involved in the renovation process, they should have good insight into which companies are trustworthy.  Ask your friends and family for referrals.  Use websites like Angie’s List to find out what other customers think about the contractor you’re interested in hiring.  Gain as much knowledge about the company/ies of interest before making a final decision.

When signing a contract be sure it delineates who is responsible for what and that the associated cost makes sense.  Sometimes contractors will low-ball the contract price and try to add cost later, blaming it on “unexpected” issues.  Ask the contractor directly for a review of their past or most current jobs, those with nothing to hide should be more than happy to abide.  After all it’s your home, you want it done right.  It is also important from a liability standpoint to be sure the contractor has insurance for his/her self and their workers, you don’t want to incur the cost of someone being injured on the job.

Utilize existing security features

If you have an existing security system in your home, use it to keep an eye on the renovation process.  Having remote monitoring access through your video surveillance system will allow you to check-in on your home while you’re away at work or can’t be there.  While you’re not out to purposefully incarcerate or accuse the people working on your home of being lazy, trying to rip you off, or stealing it is in your best interest to protect your property.  Many, if not most, contractors are reputable and diligent in their work, but nobody is perfect and unfortunately there are companies that do try to take advantage.

Take for example this story of a homeowner who was having the exterior caulking on his windows reinforced.  The hired contractor had quoted him for 8 hours of work.  The homeowner set up a wireless camera to monitor activity outside his home for when the contractor was scheduled to be working.  He was able to see when the contractor arrived, and the hours he spent sitting in his truck NOT performing the agreed upon work.  Ultimately, the contractor performed only 5 of the quoted 8 hours of work.  When the contractor was paid for the 5 hours he couldn’t dispute it as the homeowner had irrefutable evidence (story courtesy of iWatchLife.com).  Negative experiences aside, monitoring your home during construction can also validate the expertise a contractor has, giving you incentive to recommend them in the future.

In all likelihood if you have an existing security system, you’ll be adding on to it in the new space or at least altering it during the renovation process.  Including your security system provider from the beginning is a beneficial tactic.  If you have a hardwired security system, what better time to include the security provider than when the walls are already open?  It will save you from the cost of having to tear them open after the fact.  Plus, your security expert/s can address your concerns before construction starts and openly communicate with the other professionals involved.  Having that dialogue between the different professional services from the start will create a smoother and more productive process.

Securing the job site

Aside from hiring the right people to complete the job, you want to make sure the job site is adequately secured.  One of the most basic, yet often forgotten or disregarded ways to help prevent damage or loss is to lock your doors and windows.  While it may not stop someone from breaking in, it will certainly slow them down.  This will help control who has access to various parts of your home during the construction process as well.

Alert your security system provider of your upcoming changes, they’ll likely have suggestions on how to protect the exposed portions of your home.  Like preventing fire damage by installing temporary smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.  Confirm with your security system provider that your current fire alarm system will still function throughout the duration of the project.  Even having your security systems expert install additional, maybe temporary, surveillance equipment will help you keep an eye on what’s going on.

Keeping the job site clean and free of unnecessary debris should be part of the construction crew’s responsibility; it makes for a safer work environment and lessens the potential of property damage and injury.  It also helps prevent damage to products being used in the renovated space.  You don’t want to get charged for parts your own construction crew broke, right?

It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of a home renovation project, but don’t let that be a reason to let your guard down.  Keep your home and family safe by doing your research and maintaining security.  Our team of experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the value in protecting your home no matter what.  We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to residences in central and northern New Jersey for over 20 years.  Whatever you have going on, whether it’s a small renovation or substantial addition, don’t hesitate to call on our specialists for a security assessment.  You’ll be setting yourself up for success!

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Is Your Business Prepared For An Emergency?

Creative CommonsNo business is immune to risk or unpredictable circumstances.  In an emergency, often times, there’s an influx of panic for those involved.  Our dedicated and hardworking emergency responders-firefighters, EMTs, ambulance, and police-are the ones who keep a strong front and are prepared to help us through these tough situations.  As a business owner wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to lessen the constant fear of unknown threats to your organization?  Fortunately, there is something you can do for your business, your employees, yourself, and the responders.  Be prepared and have a plan.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe instead of being fearful or worrisome about the unknown, you should be as prepared as possible for it.  Part of being prepared is maintaining proper security of your organization.  We’ve been providing peace of mind to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992 by installing comprehensive security systems.  A security system is so much more than just a video camera and alarm code.  To truly be protected a system should include a monitoring service, some form of access control, video surveillance, fire and burglar alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors.  While the physical aspect of a security system offers protection and prevention, it is also important to have some form of emergency protocol within your organization.

What is your plan and why do you need one?

No one enjoys thinking about the potential disasters that could occur in our daily lives, but they are, no matter how unsavory, a part of life.  If you haven’t already, you should work with your company, local authorities, and maybe a risk management firm to come up with an emergency plan.  The world is an unpredictable place, even if your business is located in a safe area, there are no guarantees.  According to Kelly Jenkins, Director of Emergency Management for Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute in Florida, “The worst possible scenario is to be not prepared.”  Having some sort of contingency plan is important because it’ll help you recover quicker and reinforce customer’s confidence in the integrity of your business.  It’s important to maintain that competitive edge that drives the workforce, as they say, “The show must go on!”

It’s not just being prepared for a disaster, it’s how you continue operation after as well, sometimes referred to as a BC (Business Continuity) plan.  What is your BC plan and how do you come up with it?  According to Kim Lindros and Ed Tittel for CIO, there are 6 general steps in developing a BC plan, and they are as follows:

  1. Identify the scope of the plan.
  2. Identify key business areas.
  3. Identify critical functions.
  4. Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
  5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
  6. Create a plan to maintain operations.

Once you have a plan the best way to ensure everyone is on board and prepared is to test it.  What good is a plan if no one knows how to use it?  Have frequent drills so you, your employees, and all personnel understand what they need to do in the event of an emergency.  Testing and running drills will eventually create more of a “muscle memory” response so precious time isn’t wasted trying to figure out which steps to take.  If you’re stuck on where to begin consider hiring a professional and reference online guidelines like the Planning and Responding to Workplace Emergencies provided by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration).

How does having a security system affect emergency situations?

As a business owner you want to do everything in your power to protect your organization.  Having a comprehensive security system installed may be the catalyst in a better defense.  How will the system affect circumstances during an emergency?  Imagine there is a major fire at work.  As part of your comprehensive security system you have a functional fire alarm and monitoring service.  The alarm sounds sending a signal to the monitoring station which then informs local emergency responders.  Luckily, due to the speedy response time, firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames minimizing property damage, costing you less in repairs.  But most importantly you, your staff, and customers were able to exit the facility safely.

Now, without getting too graphic, imagine the shooter scenario.  Unfortunately, it’s become an all too common occurrence in our daily lives.  So how can a security system help in this type of situation?  Your access control system and surveillance come into play.  Because you had a swipe card access control system installed at all entries the shooter cannot get into your facility as they do not possess the required credentials.  With your surveillance equipment you were able to capture footage of the deviant.  The footage helped identify the criminal and authorities were able to detain him/her.  This is a best case scenario, but you can see how certain security features, when combined, can be extremely effective in deterring catastrophe.

There are infinite disastrous possibilities that can affect your business, but you can’t spend every minute of every day worrying about them.  Instead create a plan and be as prepared as possible.  If you are considering a security system for your business for the first time or need an assessment of your current situation do not hesitate to call on our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc..  Our knowledgeable and experienced team has been providing security system solutions to northern and central New Jersey businesses for over 20 years.  We believe in helping you protect what matters most.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Creative Commons

NFPA: Are In-home Sprinklers The New Standard?

Fire SprinklerYou’ve probably seen sprinkler heads poking out of the ceilings at your office, a hospital, or other public venue where they are generally a code requirement.  But have you ever seen one in someone’s home?  Odds are probably not.  They are currently not required in private residences, but a new proposed legislation by the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) aims to change that.

The Fire Sprinkler Initiative wants to make fire sprinklers a requirement in all new construction single and two family homes.  All homes should already have fire extinguishers and up to date smoke and carbon monoxide detectors so why would sprinklers be necessary?  Let’s find out.  As a security systems provider in central and northern New Jersey for the past 22 years our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. understands the importance of proper fire safety equipment.  We provide comprehensive home security systems that include the appropriate fire alarms and smoke detectors.

As a society we’ve gone countless years without in-home fire sprinklers, so why the push for it now?  Throughout those countless years, there have been countless incidents of house fires that have resulted in severe injuries, even deaths.  In fact over 85% of all fire deaths in the US have taken place in the home.  Approximately 3000 Americans die every year from house fires.  According to the NFPA, having an in-home sprinkler system along with working smoke detectors cuts the death risk by 80%.  The 2015 edition of the IRC (International Residential Code) requires fire sprinklers to be included in all new home construction.  The ICC (International Code Council) has specified that this requirement will be incorporated gradually over a period of 20 years.

States that have adopted the IRC requirements for one and two family homes are California, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  Many other states have adopted the requirements for townhouses up to three stories.  Sprinkler installation in new construction homes seems like a no-brainer but not all are so eager to jump on the bandwagon.  In fact the NAHB (The National Association of Home Builders) has vehemently been opposing the proposed legislation and IRC requirements since the beginning.  NAHB’s communications director, Calli Schmidt in opposition to mandatory legislation has said, “The only way for sprinkler manufacturers to make money is to focus on mandates. Otherwise, they’re not financially feasible.”  This has been refuted by organizations for the cause pointing the finger right back at the NAHB saying they’re disregarding the safety of civilians and only concerned with selling homes.

This ongoing battle between the NAHB and supporters of the proposed legislation makes it unclear who has the best intentions for the homeowners.  Both sides claim profit as the top reason for opposition or acceptance.  The NAHB of Virginia purported the sprinkler manufacturers “hijacked” the code writing process in 2008 when they paid for travel expenses of numerous firefighters to attend the ICC meeting.  The ICC Appeals Board disputed this stating, “By unanimous vote that there was no material and significant irregularity of process or procedure.”  Sprinkler advocates believe in-home sprinklers would save not only lives but substantial property damage and loss.  According to the Department of Homeland Security deaths by fire in the United States fell over 40 percent once smoke detectors became mandatory back in the 1970s.  The NAHB believes the percent of saving more lives with sprinklers is minimal in comparison to their cost.  NAHB members are not against sprinklers as a voluntary measure, but to require them in all new homes would increase the cost of the homes themselves potentially threatening the health of the real estate market especially in times of economic hardship.

Whether or not the NAHB’s reasons for opposing the sprinkler initiative hold water, one must look at the facts and evaluate the risks.  According to the NFPA fatality rates in homes with sprinklers vs those without is 80 percent less.  Do financial costs outweigh the cost of losing a life/lives?  No tends to be the immediate response, but no matter how many safety features or preventative measures you take, there is no infallible system or guarantee.  That being said, the benefits seem to outweigh the costs.  The same holds true for home security systems.  Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we know there is no perfect system, but we provide security systems that have been proven helpful in preventing catastrophe.  If you reside in northern or central New Jersey and are still relying on antiquated security techniques, don’t hesitate to call on our professionals.  Our experts can provide an in person assessment of your security risks and customize a system that is specific to your individual needs.

Engage in the conversation!  The links below provide further information on the NFPA’s sprinkler initiative.  What do you think about it?  Leave us comments/questions below.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Home Sprinklers Tip Sheet

Home Sprinklers Fast Fact Sheet

Sprinkler Impact Fact Sheet

About Anti-Sprinkler Legislation