Today we are going to pull back the curtain on a segment of fire safety that you may have never heard of. In studio I have two fire safety experts, Queen Galamb and Chis Santamaria of Intelligent Fire Systems & Solutions. They design, install, service, and inspect fire life safety systems, in many types of structures. Commercial properties, museums, industrial buildings, high-end residential homes, and specialized applications, we'll get to that later that's a fun one. Their high-tech systems warn you about potential fire before smoke is even present, I don't know how they do that. With over 30 years of combined experience in fire safety, I would like to welcome to the show the owners of Intelligent Fire Systems & Solutions, Queen Galamb and Chris Santamaria welcome to the show.
Thank you, sir.
All right the first question I have to ask is Queen, is that really your name?
It's actually Queen Victoria.
Queen Victoria all right. Your parents had fun when they named you and introduced you all around. Did you have tiaras when you were a little girl?
No. I actually never ever used 'Queen' until I was in my 20s, just for fear of being teased too much.
There you go. But you're a grown woman now you can take it?
Perfect. This is what I want to know first. What exactly is an intelligent fire system? We all think of smoke detectors that we put in our home, you get them at Home Depot, usually get like a 4-pack for 40 bucks or something like that. What is an intelligent fire system?
An intelligent fire system is basically - we call it in the industry - an addressable system. Where we have different types of devices; smoke detectors, flame detectors, duct detectors, that all have a point identification. Those devices respond back to the main fire control panel and give you an exact location of where the fire or the hazard is at.
Wow, that's cool. So if you have a big building, you know exactly where the fire is occurring.
And how do they differ from a regular smoke detector?
A regular smoke detector basically is just a conventional type technology, where it gives you an area basically, maybe it's a zone, a floor, or it could be the general zone for the whole building and you don't really know where that detector is alarming at, you just know that there's an alarm somewhere.
Right. So that brings up a good point, because I mentioned there are two things that every home owner should have that could save their life. One of them of course is a smoke detector, it doesn't have to be a smart one, you should definitely have it. Where should you have those in your house?
Basically they are required to be inside the sleeping areas and outside the sleeping areas. Also on each level of every floor, so if you have a two story home you should have one on the first floor, and also on the second floor.
Basement as well, if there is a basement present.
Right, and I happen to know because I do sell some condos and townhomes, that those have to be hardwired in the city of Los Angeles.
So battery operated, back up is good but a hard wire is also critically important. And the rationale of having it in the sleeping area is of course you want to wake up if there's smoke. And then if the room happens to be full of smoke, that's why you have them in the hallway so you can follow the sound. That's what I've heard.
It blows my mind that your systems can pick up smoke before there's even smoke. Can you explain how that works?
That's an air sampling technology. Basically, it's an active system. So whereas a regular smoke detector waits for the smoke to get to the smoke detector, in an air sampling system it basically constantly sampling the air in the space, or in the room. It goes through a laser chamber where it's basically counting the smoke particles that are coming through. And when it sees a certain amount, it will actually send an alarm, or notify the tenant to-- that there's a problem in the building basically.
That's very cool
It's very advanced.
Yeah, absolutely. I've seen pictures on your website, which we'll give out at the end of the segment, and they look very high-tech. The other thing that I want my listeners to know about is the smoke detectors one life-saving thing, but the other one would be the carbon monoxide detector. Right?
So tell me a little bit about why people need that.
A carbon monoxide detector unlike the smoke detector, it's basically sensing carbon monoxide in the air. And with a smoke or a fire, you see something. You see some kind of activity going on, and you know that there's a problem. Unfortunately with carbon monoxide, it's invisible. So you don't know it's there. You don't know you're breathing it in. The next thing you know you're fainting and you could eventually just past away.
Yeah, you could die. And I looked at some of the statistics. It's not actually a whole lot of people that this happens to. There was a thing in the news recently, but it's so avoidable. So why-- ?
It's so cheap to buy one. You might as well just get one, and they have the kind that you can plug into an outlet. Which brings me to an interesting point. I was at one of those fire-- you know how the fire houses have breakfast, pancake breakfast to raise money? So I was there with my kids and I cornered a fireman, I said, "Look there's been debate going back and forth that the home inspectors say one thing, and I hear another. I can't even figure it out from reading the package. Where is the right place to put a carbon monoxide detector?" And it was in terms of not like where in the house, but whether it should be by the ceiling or by the ground. So if you put it up high, where you have you have your normal smoke detectors, by the time it gets there he says if you're lying in a bed you might be--
Yeah that would not be good. You don't want that to happen. Alright so that's the second safety item that you should definitely have in the house. Now another one might be a fire extinguisher would you agree?
Of course we recommend having those at least two in any standard home.
Now what's the best place to have one?
Definitely near the kitchen. Secondly some people like to have one in their bedroom just in case a fire should occur. And thirdly in the garage.
Now is there a particular day of the year that most fires - residential fires occur on?
That is crazy.
It makes sense though, right?
Yeah it does, but it's so sad. Here you are giving thanks having your Thanksgiving dinner and you have a fire. Which is when you should have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Not under the stove because that's what's going to be on fire.
Just so I can interject, make sure that the extinguishers are fully charged at all times because they do tend to leak after several years, and they need to be certified each year as well.
You know charging is actually a good thing to talk about when it comes to smoke detectors as well because most people change the batteries when they hear it beep. That annoying beep that you can't make go away. But I had someone give some great advice once. And she said, "Look, every time you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time, just change the batteries in, that's twice a year." You just take out the old one, put new ones in - that way you know you're covered. Because you don't want the battery to be dead and it not work, right? One other question I have for you is, are there any online resources that you would recommend to learn more about fire safety?
Definitely, Todd. First and foremost being NFPA.org. That stands for National Fire Protection Association. There is a plentiful amount of information for consumers to go get more information about home safety and that would cover all categories of dangers in the home. Second to that, I would highly recommend through NFPA's website as well, there's a link to sparky.org, which is targeted towards children. There's a lot of fun, interactive games and activities. There's apps for the phone, and it's a great teaching tool for children, and how to encourage fire safety amongst them.
All right. Excellent. Chris and Queen, thank you so much for your insights on fire safety. If you're listening and you want to know more about Intelligent Fire Systems & Solutions, you can contact me and I'll make the introduction, or feel free to check out their website. What is your website?
All right. www.intelligentfire.com. Chris and Queen, thanks again. Thanks for coming on the show.