CODE & STANDARD REFERENCES
What is one-way emergency communication?
What is one-way emergency communication?
Next up in our series on notification appliances, we're going to discuss emergency communication systems. This will be a three-part module.
First up is one-way emergency communication followed by two-way emergency communication and then finishing up with what is mass notification.
One-way emergency communication system as defined by NFPA 72 is a communication system that's intended to broadcast information in an emergency to people in one or more specified indoor or outdoor areas.
It is intended that emergency messages be conveyed either by audible, visual or textual means or any combination thereof.
Chapter 24 of NFPA 72 provides the requirements for the installation and performance of emergency communication systems.
One-way emergency communication systems include:
The goal of one-way emergency communication is to provide real time messaging to occupants within a building and or outside of a building.
NFPA 72 refers to the process of layering.
For inside the building, not only do you have speakers for the voice communication, you also have desktop PC's which send e-mail messages. You have LCD and LED signage. You also have IP phones; all of these can provide messaging.
Having the target audience become familiar with the communication means is an important aspect of emergency communication systems.
INSIDE THE BUILDING
One of the more popular communication systems is the scrolling LED signs, my company uses them for all our Department of Defense projects.
The scrolling LED signs display messages which individuals within the building can see and become familiar with, such as - today is Joe's birthday party, time of the day, weather events - the more the people become familiar with the emergency communication system method, the more they pay attention to it.
OUTSIDE THE BUILDING
Outside of the building a one-way communication systems consist of HPSA's or high-powered speaker arrays, call stations and also sirens.
High-powered speaker arrays are becoming quite common across college campuses and also within individual communities and cities.
In the city I live in, we have high-powered speaker arrays around the river which is adjacent to the city. In the event that there is large rain storm coming, they have the ability to communicate with people that live along the river, that there may be an emergency situation.
As for Sirens – those are quite common in the Midwest, for example, where you have tornado warnings.
Call stations or muster areas are locations where individuals can go to receive messages and instructions from emergency personnel and authorities having jurisdiction. If you have ever been on a cruise ship that is the first thing you do, line up at a muster area.
The next layer is called - At your side - which would consist of cell phones, SMS, text messaging, radios, pagers, and also laptop PC's.
Jumping into the App Store on your smartphone, there are a number of very useful and helpful apps now with one-way emergency communication. I have an emergency alert which lets me know when there's earthquakes throughout the country.
As discussed in our earlier module on emergency voice alarm communication or EVACS, the main consideration for any voice system is going to be intelligibility.
If the system is not intelligible and individuals cannot understand what the message is, then there is no point to an emergency evacuation voice message.
One-way emergency communication systems need to notify building occupants and key personnel as to what is happening and where it is occurring.
The information of the message needs to be clear and understandable, therefore intelligibility is the key to effective emergency communications.
WHERE ARE ONE WAY COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS USED?
Where are one-way communication systems used?
Well, they're becoming more and more popular across the United States. You will mostly find them in educational occupancies. You'll find them in large sporting arenas. You'll find them across college campuses, high rise buildings, and also institutional occupancies such as large hospitals.
On the day of this recording, January 9th, 2023, I just received an SMS text message on my iPhone from the National Weather Service which indicates a flash flood warning is in effect for this area until 9:00 PM with the following message:
“This is a dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order.”
We are experiencing torrential rains here in California, based on this effective one-way communication, I do not plan on going anywhere.
In summary, one-way communication systems are systems which convey important instructions and information in real time to a target audience, which could be building occupants, patrons of a sporting event or children on a playground.
The goal is to provide clear and effective communication to the target audience for them to take action.
A one-way communication comes in many forms and typically involves a layered approach which consists of speakers, sirens, LED signs, email, text, and notifications on your smart phone. It can consist of any method of emergency communication.
In our next video, we will discuss two-way emergency communication systems.
Until next time, I'm Al Yakel, and this is MeyerFire University.
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