Mass Notification + Fire Safety Training = Aware Campuses

Mass Notification + Fire Safety Training = Aware Campuses

This piece was originally published in the May 2016 issue of ei, the magazine of the electroindustry. 

Tim Knisely, Senior Fire Inspector for the Centre Region Council of Governments

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College officials learned the benefits of combined mass notification systems and fire-safety training in a one-day pilot program at Montclair State University. Photo by Susan Adams, Honeywell.

In 2015, NEMA and the Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS) collaborated to establish an informational training program that combined mass notification systems (MNS) and fire-safety training for college and university officials. The overall goal of the partnership is to develop and deliver a free training program in the major college markets across the country. The objectives include raising the awareness of campus personnel and providing resources for them to improve or create customized systems and programs.

Once the MNS committee identified its tasks, members spent a great deal of time developing individual presentations and confirming that the content was appropriate for the intended audience. The program was designed as two half-day sessions that start with an introduction to MNS and the evolution of MNS in the code development process, followed by the history, purpose, and fundamentals of MNS.

The afternoon session offers a glimpse into the CCFS Fire-Smart Campus training, which includes a roadmap for creating a campus fire-safety program, as well as guidelines for building partnerships. The program strongly emphasizes methods that encourage all stakeholders (i.e., administrators, parents, landlords, students, and staff) to act as a team to overcome common problems and obstacles and to improve fire safety.

The next step for the committee was to roll out a pilot program, hosted in December at Montclair State University in New Jersey. The final product will be fine-tuned using feedback from that program.. Approximately 40 officials from campus, municipal, and industry affiliations across the Mid-Atlantic attended. The response was very positive, with attendees indicating that there is a true need for this type of training. It leads trainees to better understand the benefits and necessity of effective communications during fire and non-fire emergencies.

The committee continues to meet to apply lessons learned and further improve quality and content. The committee, which agrees on the need for more training opportunities, hopes to continue the partnership between NEMA and CCFS to offer this important training program in 2016 and beyond. Stay tuned for more details.

Many industry leaders support the MNS committee, including Richard Roberts, Dan Finnegan, Maria Marks, Rodger Reiswig, Susan Adam, Fred Santos, and Wayne Moore. CCFS board member Tim Knisely manages the project, with support from Cathy Tabor (CCFS Director of Marketing and Communications) and Bobby Ferrara (CCFS member) of Montclair State University.

Mr. Knisely is a director and project manager for the Center for Campus Fire Safety in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He has worked in fire code enforcement and life safety education for 20 years, and emergency services for more than 30 years.

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