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Now You See It…

The use of emergency light fixtures will always be a balance of competing functions. Specifically, can the appearance of the fixture support the occasional emergency capacity, reliably? I’m always looking for the two sides of this equation: a new invention, and the occasional breakdown in fixture reliability (especially if they result in recalls).That’s why the low-profile variety of fixtures is always on the radar of interesting options. To be honest, however, most of these emergency light fixtures tend to be attractive only if used in residential settings. On occasion, these fixtures can be used in more boutique commercial settings. Traditional commercial settings that need more than the ususal short-term emergency service of a residential setting are more willing to sacrifice looks for multi-hour units.

A new era of emergency and egress light fixture lighting that is flush against the wall is here. One exemplary unit also features the unique ‘pop up’ lens cover. In the event of power failure, the lens automatically opens. Before engaging in emergency mode, the fixture appears to be nothing more than an old-fashioned light switch plate. The internal battery will take a recharge once power is restored…and in good imitation of Star War’s R2D2, the lens retracts after AC power is restored.

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Self Aware

One increased area of interest in emergency light fixtures comes from the integration of self-diagnostics into the fixture. While no one is (yet) making claims of robotic fixtures and self-repairing units, there are significant advantages in new, more elaborate fixtures. These programs are especially important to meet increasingly strict requirements for 30-day and annual diagnostics on all parts of emergency lighting.

If looking at self-diagnosing programs, be sure the equipment has been throughly tested, and what rewards come from its use (e.g., lowered maintenance costs and extended warranties). Be sure to find out that the diagnostics match existing national and local codes. After all, diagnostics that fail to meet industry standards are not self-aware enough to evidence limitations…or safety risks.

Many new fixtures will also allow for ‘remote’ sensing, saving costs in physical handling: these remote functions may include battery voltage, lamp continuity, incoming power, and unit performance. These tests may be run more often than minimal test requirements, perhaps as frequently as every 10 seconds.

Self-diagnostics can be figuratively invaluable in making sure maintenance issues are identified, perhaps in advance of scheduled diagnostics. After all, nothing says that emergencies manage to make themselves available for scheduled maintenance checks.

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A Sound Combo

The development of emergency light fixtures is often part of new inventions, addressing aesthetics as often as utility. This is because the appearance of a fixture often relates to its selection as well as where the fixture will be placed.

Traditionally, the most reliable light fixtures have tended to address power supply problems through the introduction of a separate battery power unit. This has made many fixtures bulky and unattractive. These efficient but unwieldy fixtures are often called “combos,” as they combine lights with a sign and power supply. Combo construction has led, often, to the placement of fixtures in less than ideal locations. A recent invention speaks directly to this limitation: according to its patent claims, the result is a lighter and more attractive combo.

One key aspect to the invention is to make the illumination self-contained. By having an internal lighting system, the lines of the new fixture become more pleasing to the eye, and also less cumbersome in spacing or placement. Ideally, the parts of the combo are all co-extensively built to match…giving a sleeker, linear look. One by-product of this sleekness is to make placement in a variety of places more effective…and attractive.

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Becoming a Fixture

Emergency light fixtures are increasingly subject to scrutiny for utility and appearance. This may well be because of the ubiquitous concern for safety all across America…especially after 9/11 showed a host of vulnerabilities. The world is becoming more and more awareness of safety hazards. Emergencies, from terrorism to energy brownouts and hurricanes, have all added to a sense of needing new and functional emergency light fixture designs to address logistical and aesthetic concerns.

One of the great breakthroughs has been the miniaturization of a transformer, built into the fixture base. This enhances the versatility of emergency lighting, by literally improving the base for emergency lighting’s specific electrical need. In general, fixture transformers act to reduce the voltage so that emergency lighting is relatively unobtrusive until needed. These transformers are also, as part of the emergency lighting system itself, required to meet the specifications of UL 924.

But not all emergency light fixture transformers are built equally. The increasing number and types of load generation, for example, may cause unexpected (meaning, undesirable) failures. While there are usually two types of power supplies (an engine generator or a battery source), transformers may not be optimally suited to one or the other.

The moral is: be certain the fixture is regarded as vital to emergency reliability as is the light.

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UDEC: Lighting The Way to Safety Presents: The Inchon Karaoke Bar Fire

UDEC's Historical Safety Moment

Historical Moment: 1999 Inchon Karaoke Bar Fire

Fire swept through a four-story building crowded with diners and drinkers, killing at least 55 people, many of them teen-agers on October 30, 1999. Over 80 people were injured.

Most of the victims - mainly high school students were out enjoying themselves at after school festivals - were trapped in a billiard parlor on the third floor, or inside a second-floor bar that illegally catered to underage drinkers.

The fire started in the basement that was undergoing renovations. Workers broke a light bulb, sending sparks into open tins of paint thinner.

The 20-year-old building apparently had no sprinklers and fire alarms and the flames quickly spread. Hundreds of people were trapped on the top two floors. There were few emergency exits and many of the windows were blocked.

Flames raced through a narrow corridor, burning plastic furniture and carpets. Everyone in a ground-floor restaurant got out of the building. But more than 120 people in upper floors were trapped, killed by the toxic gas that quickly filled the building.

When fire engines finally arrived at the scene, it took only 40 minutes to put out the blaze. However, many of those who survive were unable to breathe on their own. One doctor was quoted as saying their lungs had simply burnt out.

The building was in an entertainment district in the center of Inchon, South Korea’s third largest city. A report on state-run television said it was about 20 years old and lacked basic fire prevention systems, like sprinklers.

President Kim Dae-jung ordered a tightening of safety regulations for clubs and bars. The tragedy has once again highlighted South Korea’s lax safety standards.

Are you aware that not every exit sign, emergency light, or emergency light fixture is safe? Just because you can see an exit with the light shining, doesn’t mean it works with the power off.

UDEC’S auto-test is the difference between safety and Russian roulette with the lives of the people inside your building. Auto-test makes emergency lighting easy, but more important; it is the safest way to ensure emergency lighting is there when it’s needed.

UDEC’S Featured Product: Emergency Light Fixtures: Compact with Remote Capability - Plain Vanilla Choice

Completely self-contained. Fully Automatic Operation.

Emergency lighting and exit signs are about saving lives. UDEC Corp. offers powerful, safe, unique

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UDEC: Lighting The Way to Safety Presents: The Ohio Fraternity House Fire

UDEC Historical Safety Moment

Historical Moment: Ohio Fraternity House Fire

A fire started by a cigarette thought to have been extinguished, re-ignited during the night, damaging a fraternity house and killing a 19-year old resident.

A campus security officer responding to an early morning disturbance call at a nearby fraternity house notice the smoke coming from a second floor window. He reported the fire to his dispatch center, which notified the fire department.

The guard entered the smoky building, heard the fire alarms operating, and started the evacuation of the students, who heard the alarms, but were not leaving the building.

Three minutes later the fire department arrived, to find smoke and flames coming from the rear of the building. Assured by the fraternity staff that everyone had been evacuated, the firefighters started the battling of the flames. The attack crew reported severe heat and smoke as low as 6+ inches from the floor as they advanced to the origin of the fire, and knocked down the blaze.

A primary search of the fire floor revealed one student dead in a bathroom a few feet from an enclosed exit stairwell.

The fire’s origin was in a room in the middle of the second floor, two rooms away from the one in which the student who died was sleeping. Earlier that night in the first room, the residents had extinguished a small fire at one end of the couch, which was caused by careless smoking.

An hour and a half later, the room’s resident woke to find the fire had re-ignited. He left his room and returned with a fire extinguisher, which didn’t work. Leaving his room again, he left the door open.

The student who was two rooms away tried to escape to the nearby stairwell, but succumbed to the heavy smoke. His elevated blood alcohol level was 0.15, which investigators believed played a role in his death.

The building had passed previous inspections, meeting all safety requirements for fast evacuation.


Are
you aware that not every exit sign, emergency light, or emergency light fixture is safe? Just because you can see an exit with the light shining, doesn’t mean it works with the power off.

UDEC’S auto-test is the difference between safety and Russian roulette with the lives of the people inside your building. Auto-test makes emergency lighting easy, but more important; it is the safest way to ensure emergency lighting is there when it’s needed.

UDEC’S Featured Product: Emergency Light Fixtures: Dual Beveled Integral Incandescent Heads
Completely self-contained. Fully automatic operation.


Emergency lighting
and exit signs are about saving lives. Udec Corp. offers powerful, safe, unique solutions with 40 years of experience of emergency lighting and exit signs.

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Udec: Lighting The Way to Safety Presents: The Manilla Ozone Disco Fire

Udec's Historical Safety Moment

Historical Moment: The 1996 Ozone Disco Fire

March 20, 1996 was a night of fun celebrating the end of the school year when the worst night club fire in the Philippines took the lives of over 150 young people.

The Ozone Disco Pub in suburban Manila was a place where upper middle-class teens went to be seen. It was jammed that night with almost 400 celebrating college and high school students and the staff serving them.

There was food, drink and a tiny dance floor wedged between the disk jockey’s station and the bar. It was just after midnight, and the dancing and drinking were in full swing when sparks flew from the disk jockey’s booth. Other survivors thought it was an explosion from the kitchen, but they all agree that next there was the darkness and the smoke.

When everything went dark, and the young customers realized that there was a fire and only one way out — they panicked and stampeded for the exit.

One female survivor described the scene later. “Suddenly the lights went out. I thought it was a gimmick, but then suddenly somebody shouted ‘Fire!’ All I can remember is that there was panic…and a lot of pushing and shoving.”

The heat from the blaze was so intense that many bodies were reported to be charred and fused together. Authorities and family members attempted to identify the badly burned bodies from bits of jewelry and shoes.

Hermilo Ocampo, one of the owners, said the disco had a safety certificate from the Bureau of Fire Protection. He suggested that the high toll might have been caused by the panic triggered by the heavy smoke, making it difficult for people to find the exit.

Safety officials said the club had been approved for the maximum of 35 people, and the emergency exit was blocked by a new building next door. They confirmed that Phillipine club and restaurant owners often found it cheaper to bribe officials than to honor building regulations.

It’s impossible to avoid every calamity or accident, but prevention and safety are our top concerns. UDEC Emergency Lighting provides quality lighting when you need it most.

Udec’s Featured Product: Emergency Light Fixtures: Emergency Lighting Units
Emergency and economical unit with “EZ” install back plate feature has modern appearance and low maintenance. Optional Self Diagnostic/Self Test feature offers the ultimate in worry free maintenance and reliability.

Emergency lighting and exit signs are about saving lives. Udec Corp. offers powerful, safe, unique solutions and 40 years of experience of emergency lighting and exit signs.

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Exit Signs and The Düsseldorf Airport Terminal Fire

This article is about Emergency Lighting, Safety, and the Düsseldorf Airport Terminal Fire

UDEC: LIGHTING THE WAY TO SAFETY
Historical Moment: The 1996 Düsseldorf Airport Terminal Fire

A fire broke on the roof of terminal A at the airport in Düsseldorf, Germany’s third largest airport. 17 people were killed and 62 injured. The fire was caused by insufficient structural fire protection and ongoing welding work during a time where there was no fire watch.

The fire was enhanced by a litany of human and structural safety errors and violations. Smoke detectors were observed in the office areas of the second floor, but not at the ceiling level in the main concourse area. There where no fire walls or traps in the suspending ceiling. The west end was partially equipped with sprinklers, but the fire broke out on the east end that was built earlier and was not equipped with sprinklers.

Escape ways were not readily available at the right places. Eight of the victims were trapped at the Air France desk because of no nearby exits. Ventilation did not automatically stopped and poisonous smoke gases spread uncontrollably across ventilation systems, posing an even greater danger to people than the high temperatures of the fires. Unprotected vertical openings carried the fire upstairs.

The municipal fire brigade was called 27 minutes after fire alarm. The terminal’s alarm system had prerecorded messages, but did not transmit any signals to the local Düsseldorf fire brigade. After the alarm sounded, somebody started the wrong prerecorded warning message, which called people to go right into the burning area.

Elevators were not stopped, or even going to a safe place. Seven victims went by elevator from the parking lot on the roof top directly into the deadly smoke. When the door opened, the dense smoke hindered the light beam so that the elevator doors could not be closed again.

Besides the loss of life and injuries, damage to the airport was estimated to be in the hundreds of millions.

It’s impossible to avoid every calamity or accident, but prevention and safety are our top concerns. UDEC Emergency Lighting provides quality lighting when you need it most.

UDEC’s Featured Product: Exit Signs: Self Luminous Exit Signs
How do know if an exit sign is working? You don’t—because no one notices if they are on or out! Udec’s auto-test exit signs automatically test each sign as required by the codes each month and annually.

Emergency lighting and exit signs are about saving lives. UDEC Corp. offers powerful, safe, unique solutions with 40 years of experience of emergency lighting and exit signs.

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Posted in Exit Signs
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Exit Signs and the 2004 República Cromagnon Fire

This article is about Exit Signs, Safety, and The 2004 Republica Cromagnon Fire

UDEC: LIGHTING THE WAY TO SAFETY
Historical Moment: The 2004 República Cromagnon Fire

Argentines awoke on New Year’s Eve to scenes of horror on television: Pictures flashed of dazed, sobbing survivors from a nightclub fire, blackened by soot, outside the club or in hospitals. Others were frantically searching for loved ones, and  fainting, wailing  parents guarded charred bodies lined up outside on the club’s sidewalk.

 4,000 fans at a New Year’s Eve concert by the band Los Callejeros, nearly three times the building’s capacity of 1500 people, fought to reach the exits after a flare ignited the foam ceiling, sparking a blaze that killed 175 people and injured another 714.
 
Four of the six emergency exits were found padlocked or wired shut to prevent people from entering the club without paying. Instead, the barred exits prevented the young adults from leaving the building as burning debris fell on them.
  
Before the concert, the rock band playing at the club warned the crowd not to shoot flares because of the fire hazard. People attending rock concerts in Argentina frequently set off flares and fireworks. But during the first song, a flare was fired, turning the club into a blazing inferno.
 
The fire tore through the concert hall in the working-class neighborhood of Once, filling the club with thick, choking, black smoke. Several small children and babies, found in a makeshift nursery in the women’s bathroom upstairs, were also killed in the fire. 

One of the club’s barman said that a flare fired a week earlier in the same club caused a small fire that was quickly extinguished. It later became known that República Cromagnon was overdue for a fire hazard inspection since late November 2004.  

It’s impossible to avoid every calamity or accident, but prevention and safety are our top concerns. UDEC Emergency Lighting provides quality lighting when you need it most.  

UDEC’s Featured Product: Exit Signs: Self Luminous Exit Signs

These exit signs are entirely self-powered and do not rely on electricity, back-up batteries or generators for its illumination. It can be mounted anywhere without wiring or outlets, and needs no maintenance and is specifically constructed to resist tampering and vandalism and can withstand explosive, corrosive, humid or other harsh environment.

Emergency lighting and exit signs are about saving lives. UDEC Corp. offers powerful and unique solutions and 40 years of experience of emergency lighting and exit signs.

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Posted in Exit Signs
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Emergency Lighting and the 1912 Fraser Pier Fire

This article is about Emergency Lighting, Safety, and the 1912 Fraser Pier Fire

UDEC: LIGHTING THE WAY TO SAFETY
Historical Moment: Fraser Pier Fire (Ocean Park, CA)

A fire broke out at Fraser’s Million Dollar Pier in Ocean Park on September 3, 1912.

The fire started by someone carelessly tossing a smoldering cigarette in some bedding in the Japanese servants’ quarters in the basement. A strong late afternoon breeze fanned the flames and within minutes cries of “Fire!” came from a dozen different directions.

Sparks, leaping two hundred feet high, showered down like a fiery bath over the flimsy paint canvas and light wooden grill that adorned the pier’s attractions. Over a thousand visitors were still on the pier heading for the two main exits when the Skating Rink caught fire, blocking one of the exits. 

Fire companies’ efforts amounted to a few puny streams of water until Venice’s high pressure system was used. The Los Angeles Fire Companies speedy arrival only 27 minutes later did little to control the blaze.

Panic on the pier erupted. People, including owner Fraser and his young son, reached the docks and escaped by boat. Other’s leapt into the sea.
 
The fire totally destroyed the pier, all the amusements and five square blocks of the business district. All 225 structures burned, two people died, several were missing, 75 people were injured and 800 people were homeless. The loss was set at $2,000,000 with little of it insured.
 
It’s impossible to avoid every calamity or accident, but prevention and safety are our top concerns. UDEC Emergency Lighting provides quality lighting when you need it most. 

UDEC’s Featured Product: Emergency Lighting Fixtures Accessories: Fluorescent Emergency Lighting Ballasts

The BAL fluorescent emergency Ballast allows the same fixture to be used for both normal and emergency operation.

In the event of a power failure, the BAL switches to the emergency mode and operates one or two of the existing lamps for a minimum of 90 minutes.

The unit contains a battery, charger and inverter circuit in a single package. The BAL can be mounted in the wireway or on top of the fixture, and is UL Listed for factory installation or retrofit applications.

All Ballasts are Standard with Dual 120/277 Volt Input.

Emergency lighting and exit signs are about saving lives. UDEC Corp. offers powerful and unique solutions and 40 years of experience of emergency lighting and exit signs.

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Posted in Emergency Lighting
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