Mass Notification Systems (MNS)
In an ever-changing world where new threats and hazards are increasing, it is important to have a flexible Mass Notification System (MNS) that can alert the public in an efficient, and most importantly, timely manner. MNSs provide emergency voice communication capabilities to facilities that enable first responders, safety directors and emergency operations managers to clearly communicate emergency messages to the public. Such communication is achieved through various mediums including, but not limited to, live or recorded voice messages, text messaging, email / computer alerts and digital sign boards.
NFPA defines a Mass Notification System as “a system that indicates the existence of an emergency situation and communicates the necessary information to facilitate a response.” NFPA recommends use of a single integrated combination MNS to minimize confusion and panic during emergency conditions. By integrating the Fire Alarm System with the MNS, conflicts that can arise between two separate systems are eliminated.
Importantly, an MNS should be listed to the UL 2572 standard for such systems. Many intercom systems do not comply with the UL 2572 standard and are not so listed, nor do they have power backups or circuit / integrity supervision of any kind. These intercom systems can be woefully insufficient in alerting people of an emergency and can fail when they are needed most.
A properly-designed MNS could alert building occupants of fire events, terrorism events, extreme weather conditions and the presence of an active shooter. Departing from the traditional response to a fire alarm condition, which is typically to evacuate the building, an MNS might alert occupants of an outside threat and inform them to “shelter in place.” The system can also facilitate the automation of other building systems, such as placing doors into “lockdown” or fully unlocked modes, based on the type of incident.