Various tragic events over the last several years have made it apparent that occurrences other than fire related incidents can cause loss of life. Tragedies such as the 911 attacks and shootings at Virginia Tech University, Sandy Hook Elementary School and more recently Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, FL) and Madden NFL Video Game Tournament (Jacksonville, FL) demonstrate the need for action. The Mass Notification System (MNS) concept was first developed by the U.S. military.
The U.S. Air Force approached NFPA to develop a life safety standard for mass notification that could be used by both military and civilian applications. In 2007, mass notification signaling was introduced into NFPA 72 and then incorporated into Chapter 24 of the NFPA 72 2010 Edition. UL addressed requests to establish requirements for mass notification equipment by publishing Subject 2572. Coinciding with the addition of mass notification signaling to NFPA 72, these published requirements were used to assess control equipment for both in-building and wide area mass notification systems. UL2572 was written to align with the performance requirements of NFPA 72; the fire alarm and signaling systems must work in a coordinated fashion so as not to confuse people.
A key element of the NPFA 72 is the change to fire alarm, life safety, and mass notification emergency communications. The code requires that audible messages must have “reach and clarity,” meaning that they must be clear and intelligible throughout a building or structure and meet specific requirements, as well as visible notifications as achieved through digital signage, strobes, textual, graphic, or video interfaces. An emergency communications system must quickly inform and instruct people of the threat(s) and direct them to safety. Modern MNECs such as Lencore’s n.FORM Solution integrate audio, zoned paging, signage, social media platforms, email, strobe lights, and text messaging. Since failure is not an option, the more points of communication, the better, but only if they are absolutely synced and working together cohesively. n.FORM™ meets the UL 2572 standard for mass notification systems delivering the highest quality for reach, clarity, redundancy and reporting. This listing allows n.FORM to interface with a Fire Alarm Control Panel and conforms with the National Fire Protection Association code 72: Fire Alarm and Signaling.
Facility Managers need to stay current with MNEC regulations and guarantee that their buildings are equipped to meet the new criteria for emergency notifications and life safety. Mass Notification Systems do not have the advantage of early detection for all types of emergency events like fire alarm systems have with smoke detectors. With the unpredictability of human actions, tornadoes and other quick onset type events, there is little to no detection. MNS events such as a gunman or hostage event have potential to be dynamic and can last several hours. It is critical for the MNS to have the ability to convey messages in a real-time manner. Mass notification is a very dynamic concern and Lencore remains active in identifying issues as well as solutions.