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  • Posted by: Lloyd Gitonga

Picture this: You walk into a building in downtown Nairobi for a job interview one afternoon. While in the waiting room, you are informed that the first phase will be written. The interview begins in a conference room with 9 other candidates, and 15 minutes in you hear a bell going off down the corridor. Just a bell. You sneak a peek at your fellow hopefuls, no one is moving a muscle. How long would it take for you to leave the room and evacuate the building? Three minutes? Maybe five?  How about 11?

A life safety sound systems company based in Britain carried out this social experiment on two separate groups of people, with the first hearing a loud bell during their interview. The first person to evacuate did so after three minutes, while it took the rest of the group 11 minutes to leave the room. A second group meanwhile heard an automated voice alarm system with clear instructions on how to evacuate the building, and they had left the room in less than 30 seconds.

Such innovative technological measures to improve emergency evacuation and response procedures were on the agenda as the Securex Uganda Family in conjunction with Honeywell Systems hosted the Life Safety Equipment Training Program at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala. Top on the agenda for participants was Honeywell’s X-618 Digital Public Address and Voice Alarm System, which combines the functionalities of a Public Address System and a Voice Alarm System in one compact, stylish device.

“Recorded messages and announcements can be operated within seconds. The X-618 device allows for individual messages to be broadcast automatically, making it ideal for buildings and public areas  with high volumes of human traffic,” said Mr. Gurpreet Singh, Securex Uganda Chief Technical Sales Officer.

The X-618 can easily be integrated with a building’s fire safety systems for a comprehensive life safety solution. With this device, pre-recorded voice messages would be broadcasted to the public automatically, as soon as a fire alarm goes off, instructing people on how to evacuate the building. The X-618 would also come in handy in directing fire rescue teams, ensuring smooth co-ordination of rescue efforts through effective communication. Additional features include a RiskFree multiple mode back-up system to ensure data security, automatic volume control based on noise levels, and a paging console with an LCD touchscreen. It also comes with an inbuilt 1GB flash drive to store your pre-recorded audio messages, or to play music on while your tenants go about their business! The X-618 is also internet-enabled, allowing one to monitor his/her building while on the go.

The system is ideal for hotels, medical centres, schools, offices, stadiums, theatres and leisure centres. Ken Kamau, Honeywell Technical Speaker, gave a practical example of the use of the X-618 device, demonstrating its benefits when applied to the tragic 9/11 terror attack on the Twin Towers in the U.S.A.

“If the Twin Towers had these gadgets when the terrorists struck, the number of fatalities would have been greatly reduced. Many fire-fighters died while saving lives because communication was compromised. Fire-fighters also wasted precious time and resources by searching for people on floors that were already completely evacuated.”

All in all, we believe that the X-618 device will revolutionize emergency evacuation and response, and ultimately save lives.

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