There are many ways that an administrative or security staff can communicate throughout a facility. A Mass or Crisis Notification system is not simply a phone system throughout a facility installed for day-to-day communications. NFPA 72, 2010 Chapter 24 was a game changer for our industry. The adoption of the new code now requires the local Fire Marshal to be responsible for the adoption and enforcement of the new code. Understanding the differences and application is fundamental for design and implementation of a master plan. An emergency communications system has specific features that allow for communications to a designated area or an entire facility during crisis situations. In many cases, emergency communications system capabilities include: graphical user interface, live and pre-recorded paging, hands free intercom, dedicated emergency call switches, remote system access, automatic off-site notification, emergency tones and visual displays. UL 2572 is the regulatory standard that outlines the compliance requirements.
There are many types of events that can cause certain elements of an emergency plan to go into effect. Those include: tornado/weather alerts, child abduction/non-custodial parents, bomb threats, armed intruder/hostage situations, chemical spill and the facility used as an emergency shelter. Whether its lockdown, lockout, or evacuation, the time to develop a plan is before an emergency event, not after it has already happened. Emergency communications is quickly emerging on the regulatory landscape as a new standard in building design. Several organizations are providing guidance and standards relating to emergency communications to help authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ’s), engineers, building owners and contractors adopt the new standards.