Get Control of Your Fire & Security Systems with the BFS Planning Matrix

Get Control of Your Fire & Security Systems with the BFS Planning Matrix

Everyone knows that the first step for maintaining fire and security systems in your business is working on annual budgets and timelines. But don’t overlook the second step: Planning ahead for inspections, servicing and testing your systems.

Planning guarantees that staying up to code is simple and easy and keeps you on budget. Plus, because compliance violations can affect insurance rates, and even your ability to open and operate your business, inspections, service and maintenance need to be current and up to code. Simply put, being proactive versus reactive saves time, money, and stress.

Whether it’s a single location or coordinating many buildings, planning makes all the difference in the success of your business. Without enough planning, emergency costs can be more expensive, negatively impact your bottom line, and cause a lot of unnecessary stress. Staff changes and vacations can also be challenging when inspections, servicing and testing are not coordinated.

The Solution: Get Organized with the BFS Planning Matrix

Effective planning is a delicate balancing act, so Brothers Fire & Security has developed the Planning Matrix Tool especially for our customers. The goal of the Planning Matrix is to take out the guesswork and coordinate all your fire and security inspections and maintenance and budgets.

DOWNLOAD THE PLANNING MATRIX

We’ll work with you to evaluate systems and plan expenses based on how often work is required. You’ll download the Planning Matrix and simply mark the timeline and systems for your unique situation. Once you schedule regular maintenance for all your different fire and security systems, we’ll make sure they are done on time and on budget. You can even schedule many years out so that you’ll never miss another deadline.

For example, a Planning Matrix schedule for sprinkler systems includes:

  • Annual inspections of fire pumps and standpipes
  • Inspection of dry pipe/full action pre-trip every three years
  • Internal Inspections every five years
  • Standpipe 200 PSI testing and flow every five years
  • Dry sprinkler head testing every 10 years.

Too Many Vendors

Inspections and maintenance can be missed when you have too many fire and security vendors. Scheduling all the vendors can cause disruptions for your tenants or customers. Multiple vendors usually don’t communicate or coordinate with each other, which makes it inconvenient and disruptive for everyone.

A new difficulty in working with multiple vendors is the time-consuming and rigorous COVID-19 workplace protocols. You need to ensure each vendor maintains protocols, such as social distancing, worker hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting, making deliveries, space occupancy limits, and face-to-face interaction. Who wants to spend valuable time and effort duplicating the same protocols every time a different vendor sets foot on the property? Not me!

That’s why Brothers Fire & Security’s integrated services make a huge difference. We bundle systems to meet your needs for fire protection, security, 24-7 monitoring, card access and kitchen hoods. Bundling services under one roof can save an average of 25% on your annual fire and security costs. If you have more than one vendor, I encourage you to ask for our FREE vendor review.

Planning Matrix Enhances Efficiency

When you deploy the Brothers Fire & Security Planning Matrix, you’ll know exactly what your fire and security expenses will be ahead of time, and you won’tmiss deadlines and the service will be incorporated into your yearly budget. As a result, you’ll avoid unexpected and unbudgeted expenses.

Think of Brothers Fire & Security as your strategic business partner. We’ll consult with you to plan for the future, deal with changes and challenges to your business, and help you stay out of crisis mode. Bottom line, we’ll take care of your planning so you remain focused on your business.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money, and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods. And coming soon, our new Online Academy: Life Safety — Made Simple with eLearning courses designed to help you get and keep your staff trained and your business fire and security code compliant.

Sprinkler System Compliance with RPZ Valves

Sprinkler System Compliance with RPZ Valves

I want to share good news about Brothers Fire & Security sprinkler system servicing. But before I do that, I need to give you information about the principles of water flow. Let’s call this blog “Sprinkler System Plumbing 1.0.” Don’t worry, there won’t be a test afterward.

When a sprinkler system is activated, once the water leaves the public water flow system, it can’t go back into the system. Which is a good thing. You don’t want an unwanted flow of water going in the reverse direction as it can be a serious health risk for the contamination of drinking water supplies with foul water. To prevent this, sprinkler systems need backflow valves.

There are different types of backflow values. Some cities in Minnesota and nationally require double check (DC) valves, an assembly suitable for prevention of non-health hazard substances from being pumped or siphoned into the potable water supply. But the DC valve is not suitable for high hazard applications. More and more cities are now requiring the reduced pressure zone device (RPZ) for additional safety to keep contamination or pollution out of your water and the city’s water supply.

The Latest on RPZ Compliance

Recently, RPZ compliance requirements were updated in the Minnesota Plumbing Code by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (MDLI). Prior to the updates, codes called for yearly inspections of valves by certified plumbers. If an RPZ failed an inspection, it needed to be rebuilt. It also needed to be replaced every five years, regardless of test results.

The new regulations remove the five-year replacement requirement. Now valves only need to be replaced if they fail an inspection and if rebuilding doesn’t correct the problem. In addition, RPZ devices that previously didn’t require yearly inspection will need to be tested annually.

Our Techs Have What It Takes

Bottom line, this change in standards means that regular and thorough yearly inspections are much more important to ensure the safety of your building’s water supply. As with anything mechanical, the older an RPZ gets, the more likely it is to have problems. Because many buildings house older systems, it’s important to keep a close eye on older equipment.

Not just anyone can install, maintain, repair, rebuild, and inspect RPZs. Technicians must be certified by the MDLI, have plumbing licenses, and have successfully completed training and exams administered by the American Society of Inspectors of Plumbing and Sanitary Engineers International.

Brothers Fire & Security technicians are certified for this work—and always have been. Since many of our customers are now required to have RPZ valves for their commercial sprinkler systems and are requesting our help, we needed to have more technicians. Good news! We now have three qualified technicians who are certified and licensed to install, repair, and inspect the valves. This is just another example of how Brothers Fire & Security is committed to meet our customers’ needs.

If you have questions about your sprinkler system’s RPZ valves, please contact us. We’ll determine what needs to be done to make sure your sprinkler and water systems are working properly and up to code. You can trust us to help you keep your business, and your people and the water supply safe.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money, and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods. And coming soon, our new Online Academy: Life Safety — Made Simple with eLearning courses designed to help you get and keep your staff trained and your business fire and security code compliant.

The New Normal:  Managing Risk Effectively

The New Normal: Managing Risk Effectively

With much anticipation and preparation, Minnesota businesses have opened following the months’ long COVID Stay Safe initiative. Businesses have developed safety plans and protocols that they’ve put into practice as they adjust to the “new” normal.

So has Brothers Fire & Security. I assure you that we are following protocols that put personal safety first. We keep our staff and customers safe by:

  • Wearing masks, safety goggles, and gloves
  • Daily temperature monitoring for our technicians
  • Six-foot distancing

The next step in the “new” normal is for every business to look at how they are managing risk; adapting to distancing and access control; and adjusting on a moment’s notice in a crisis.

Risk Management and Adaptability in Crisis

A crucial risk management tool we use is to ask our customers if they have additional or unusual safety protocol that they need us to implement at their locations. We’ve encountered many in these unique and chaotic times. We’ve had customers with different needs to be resolved quickly, some under dangerous circumstances. That’s where our adaptability plays a critical role. We create protocol for various contact and service scenarios, and use multiple resources to respond effectively, safely, and timely to emergencies.

For example, one of our senior living community clients had positive COVID cases they were dealing with, yet they needed their fire and security systems inspected, serviced, and certified. We arranged for the property managers to gather all the fire extinguishers in the buildings brought to one location in the garage where we could inspect and service them so we could take care of the customer’s requirements while reducing exposure for all parties.

Another client needed its kitchen hoods cleaned, inspected, and certified. Our technicians accessed the facility through the freight elevator, which opened directly to the kitchen, and completed the job without having any contact with the general staff or residents.

When Chaos Erupts

Brothers Fire & Security was called upon by clients for emergencies during the Minneapolis riots. We found ourselves responding to critical and potentially dangerous scenarios that we had never experienced before.

A large downtown office building had scheduled needed repairs to the sprinkler and suppression systems during COVID. Then the riots erupted. Originally, the repairs were scheduled at night, but since the area was not safe during the riots, we worked with property management to shut down the system for repairs in the early afternoon. We got our work completed before nightfall and well ahead of curfew.

Another client used all their fire extinguishers to put out a fire. They needed 12 replacement extinguishers, which we were able to switch out quickly and safely.

An apartment building in the Lake Street area had a sprinkler line break in the lobby when all the windows were broken at the street level. We were able to safely gain access to fix the sprinkler line.

 

Working Together and Efficiently

2020 hasn’t been an easy year and who knows what lies ahead. There have been numerous variables as everyone works through the unknowns and unexpected. We all must adapt to changes in how we do day-to-day business, meet customer needs, and keep people and property safe.

As we navigate the uncertainty of coming weeks and months, I have an important question: Are you using vendors that can provide effective multiple services that reduce customer exposure and are effective in emergencies, needs and timeliness?

Less vendors and bundled services, such as installations, inspections, and repairs, helps manage risk and increase safety for all concerned. Brothers Fire & Security offers bundled services which not only meet those needs but saves you 25-30%, which can make a big difference in these financially stressed times.

Bottom line, Brothers Fire & Security is safety conscious, adaptable, and excels in risk management. You can be confident that the safety and security of your business, whether it’s a routine inspection or coming to your aid in emergencies, is our top priority.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money, and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods. And coming soon, our new Online Academy: Life Safety — Made Simple with eLearning courses designed to help you get and keep your staff trained and your business fire and security code compliant.

Here to Help Re-Open Restaurants

Here to Help Re-Open Restaurants

There’s good news for those tired of home-cooking and take-out. Restaurants have opened for outdoor service, perfect timing for the Minnesota summer. A date for opening to indoor service will be determined later – and some restaurants have now started indoor seating at 50% capacity.
As expected, restaurants have specific health protocols for this first phase:

  • Adopt and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
  • Ensure a minimum of six feet of distance between tables.
  • Limit on-premises capacity to no more than 50 people.
  • Limit table service to four people; six if part of one family unit.
  • Require reservations in advance.
  • Require workers to wear masks and strongly encourage masks be worn by customers. (In Minneapolis and St. Paul, masks are required indoors.)

Don’t Overlook Fire and Security Safety Protocols

Now that your restaurant’s re-opening plan includes protocols for the health and medical well-being of employees and customers, let’s take a look at fire and security safety protocols. Here are some issues to consider.

  • With reduced capacity, you’ll likely have staff turn-over and varied hours.
  • Make sure fire extinguishers are inspected and operational.
  • Be sure your staff knows where all the fire extinguishers are located and how to operate them.
  • Do you have a fire and security safety plan? Consider making the plan front and center as a team effort. Everyone will feel safer if your entire staff knows about the plan.

Let’s Talk Kitchen Hoods

Because kitchen hoods are effective in keeping fires relatively small and stopping the fire’s spread, re-opening is the perfect time to take a close look at the hoods. You might realize your kitchen hood just needs a good cleaning. It might be time to revamp it, or maybe it needs to be replaced. Here’s a check list to help you determine the status of your kitchen hood.

  • Clean the hood even if it doesn’t look like it needs it or hasn’t been used during the last 10+ weeks. In fact, clean it anyway!
  • Has the kitchen hood recently been inspected?
  • Are chemical tanks properly sized for the hazard it’s covering?
  • Are chemical tanks piped properly?
  • Is the piping size up to current UL300 standards?
  • Are manifolds being used where manifolds would not be allowed?
  • Are you changing the links and taps at every inspection?
  • Are the nozzles property positioned at the correct height and angle?
  • Have there been changes to the cooking equipment?
  • Have there been changes in cooking personnel, hours, or menus?

If you don’t have a safety plan, want your fire and security systems checked or kitchen hood evaluated, call us and we’ll work with you to be sure your restaurant is ready for eager and hungry customers.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money, and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods. And coming soon, our new Online Academy: Life Safety — Made Simple with eLearning courses designed to help you get and keep your staff trained and your business fire and security code compliant.

Moving Towards Normal:  Fire and Security Tips for Churches and Businesses

Moving Towards Normal: Fire and Security Tips for Churches and Businesses

It’s been over 10 weeks since Minnesota went into the COVID-19 “Safe at Home” mode for non-essential services. During the past month restrictions have been loosened for industrial and office-based settings, retail, places of worship, personal care services and outside services at restaurants.

To re-open, all businesses must meet safety protocol, such as:

  • Adopt and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, including social distancing guidelines for workers and customers.
  • Use of masks or face shields.
  • Maintain specified occupant capacity or limit number of clients inside to ensure six feet of distance between people except when providing services.
  • When possible, see clients by appointment only; do not allow walk-ins

Fire and Security Safety Protocols

While your re-opening plan includes carefully developed protocols for health and medical well-being, does it include fire and security safety protocols? Here are considerations that I developed for places of worship and other businesses.

  • A lot of churches and older buildings don’t have sprinkler systems. This adds risk to people and property in case of a fire. Consider installing a sprinkler system.
  • What has changed over the past 10 weeks?
  • What was the original design strategy and blueprint for your buildings and what fire and security protocol are in place or missing?
  • Are all the devices that are part of your critical infrastructure current since you’ve been away for 10+ weeks?
  • Are the exit lights in good working order?
  • Are the heat and smoke detectors and fire extinguishers fully operational?
  • Is your card access or door control system updated for your current or modified hours of operations and current staff and levels of access needed?
  • Has your staff changed and is your current staff cross-trained on fire, safety, and evacuation plans?
  • Are there new employees in new roles or the same people in different roles?
  • Does your current staff know where all the fire extinguishers are in the building and trained how to operate them?
  • Is your evacuation plan and protocol current or does it need to change based on reduced occupants, and eventually, increased occupants as more people attend on site?

Review Your Vendors

Now is a critical time to take a look at your vendors to ultimately lower your risk and increase profits. If you can reduce the number of vendors who access your buildings by consolidating vendors, this can help to keep your employees, patrons, and vendors safer. Brothers Fire & Security offers integrated bundled services for safety services, annual inspections and more that can save 25-30% on your fire and security expenses.

Not sure where you stand with your vendors? Schedule a FREE vendor review and we’ll show you the savings! Not sure where you stand with fire and security safety protocols? No problem! Give us a call and we’ll get your systems organized to serve your current needs. Our team at Brothers Fire & Security wish you success and good health as you go back to worship and work.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money, and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods. And coming soon, our new Online Academy: Life Safety — Made Simple with eLearning courses designed to help you get and keep your staff trained and your business fire and security code compliant.

Fire & Security Checklist for Re-Opening Your Business

Fire & Security Checklist for Re-Opening Your Business

No matter what industry you’re in, re-opening your business and going back to work in the COVID-19 era has a lot of moving parts. With many different variables to consider, all areas of your business may be opening, or you might be using staggered re-entry. Whatever your process, your fire and security systems need to be evaluated to make sure that your buildings and people are safe.

If you want to get an expert evaluation of your needs, we’re available 24/7 to work with you, take an independent look at your systems, and troubleshoot whatever issues you need to deal with as you boot up your business. Like you, despite all the moving parts, we want to make sure your employees, clients and facilities work effectively and are safe-guarded.

Here’s a fire and security checklist to ensure your transition to re-opening your business is safe and successful for you, your staff, and your unique business needs:

Staffing

  • Debrief with your staff about what lessons were learned during this time, where the vulnerabilities are, and what’s missing.
  • Are the person or people responsible for opening and/or closing still the same?
  • Have your staff’s hours changed? Have you hours of operation changed?
  • Have staff taken on different roles or multiple roles based on your current and changing situation?
  • Does your current staff know how to access your fire and security systems and how to operate them
  • Because of staggered work, do you have to train people on your systems?

Access Control

  • If there are staggered hours, are the access hours still relevant to the hours that your business is open?
  • Have you changed your card access for staff working different hours, days or shifts? Staff who work remotely may not need access.
  • Are there different or new people who need access (or don’t)? I recommend deleting those who don’t need access.
  • Is access control updated to reflect access or no access for customers and vendors?

Security Cameras

  • Are inside and outside security cameras still operating? Check them and the recording mechanisms to make sure they are recording.
  • Do the cameras cover the areas that need to be covered based on your current status, hours, people, etc.? You may need to reposition cameras or add a few if there is an altered traffic pattern.
  • Now is a good time to add software that allows you to remotely access your cameras.

Inspections

  • Look at inspection tags. You’ve been away a while so there are inspections that couldn’t be done during stay-at-home restrictions.

Safety Plan

  • Is the plan you have still current?
  • Who is responsible for activating a safety plan in an emergency?
  • Are the people who are assigned key roles still the people who need to be assigned?
  • Is your current staff cross-trained on fire and safety processes to respond effectively during an emergency?

Physical Distancing Guidelines

Finally, I strongly advise you to develop an COVID evaluation plan that includes physical distancing, healthcare protocol and workplace operations. Revisit your plan in about six months because as you and your employees get familiar with the new routine, they may have valid concerns and valuable suggestions for improvements.

About Brothers Fire & Security

As one of the premier providers of fire and security solutions in the Upper Midwest, Brothers Fire & Security strives to build long-term, value-added relationships. We work with business owners and property management companies, as well as all types of public institutions to solve fire and security needs. By taking advantage of our integrated bundled services, many of our clients find that they can save 25-30% on their safety services, annual inspections and more. From a single location to franchises throughout the region and the country, our integrated approach saves our clients valuable time, money and stress. We provide fire protection systems, security systems, fire sprinkler systems, fire alarm systems, 24-7 monitoring, fire extinguishers, card access and kitchen hoods. And coming soon, our new Online Academy: Life Safety — Made Simple with eLearning courses designed to help you get and keep your staff trained and your business fire and security code compliant.