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[Home] [2010 News]

Tech-News & Views

October, 2010

HOW STUPID IS HE, REALLY?

October 22, 2010 - By Frank Kurz

Vancouver, B. C. - Okay, I get plenty of emails sent to me and I've seen plenty of examples of "dumb" (I've even reported on a few here).  Now (in one of the latest that made it through my spam filter), get ready to meet "even dumber".

Last year, Harjit Sangha (recently self-nominated Man of the Year in a paid advertising feature published to his company's website), got caught RED HANDED posting the intellectual property of several fire equipment service agencies on that same website.  Those agencies all filed official complaints with ASTTBC which resulted in a formal investigation.  I have a letter detailing the final outcome which includes a promise from Mr. Sangha to be “more vigilant” over the employees and companies he decides to involve in Active Fire's online promotional efforts.

Over the October 15th weekend, in what can only be described as his version of the proverbial single finger salute to ASTTBC, Mr. Sangha took it upon himself to break that promise when he quite blatantly purloined (stole) a key paragraph from the WD-40 Company's website (yes, you saw correctly - the WORLD FAMOUS WD-40 Company) in an effort to promote Active Fire's Commitment and Integrity on a page which was supposedly going to feature several Letters of Commendation.  The paragraph (on the WD-40 Company website) to which I refer reads:

    “WD-40 Company seeks to define, develop and communicate its commitment to community service. WD-40 Company will sponsor and support projects and programs that improve the quality of life in the communities we serve and where our employees live and work. WD-40 is committed to community relations through the application of financial and human resources.”

I simply can't fathom the stupidity or the total lack of professional ethics and integrity that this one individual has made manifest by a few mouse clicks and an editorial change (substituting WD-40 Company for Active Fire and Safety).  It is indeed a sad fact that this latest plagiaristic slip will undoubtedly negatively reflect on the employees at Active Fire (whom we all hope are innocent of Mr. Sangha's nefarious conduct).  You can read more about a previous foray into this kind of stupidity in a previously posted article.

The link to the page in the About Us section of activefire.ca was removed just before noon on October 20, 2010 (most likely because the four Letters of Commendation it listed pointed back to the Home Page and not to any actual letters).  The page itself was still accessible on their website up to 0930 hours PST November 2, 2010.   I should also advise that ASTTBC has been apprised of the situation and is currently in the process of reviewing the matter.

What's extremely troubling is that Mr. Sangha is an ASTTBC Registered Fire Protection Technician (RFPT).  How much longer is the PRB (Practice Review Board) going to tolerate this kind of behaviour from one of their members?  What is it going to take for them to wake up and see the smoke?  Now I don't normally hold with the belief expressed in that old adage about one bad apple making the

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whole barrel rotten but unfortunately when it's the head apple, there may, in fact, be some unfortunate truth to it.  Cancelling his professional registration will definitely serve as a wake-up call for those Registered Technicians in his employ that have also demonstrated a similar lack of regard for the principals and professional conduct ASTTBC expects of their membership (you can read more in a June 2009 feature story) which might serve to mitigate the situation somewhat.

I have two words much better suited to Active Fire's latest online efforts although I'll doubt you'll ever get the chance to see them used this way on their website.

STUPID

INCOMPETENT

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NOTE: Pictures are the Copyright © 2010 of their respective owners (links provided with permission).

I note that Active Fire is a member of both NAFED and the VRCA.  Both these organizations have articulated well defined and exceptionally rigorous Codes of Conduct. This member company has successfully demonstrated that it doesn't even approach those levels of commitment or integrity.

UPDATE! (December 24th, 2010) - ASTTBC has closed this file. A letter from their Legal Council has opined that, while the wording was a straight "lift" from the WD-40 Company's website, there was insufficient grounds to pursue with the matter as the offending material had been removed almost immediately and didn't comprise a significant enough infringement on the owner's Copyright.

 

HONEYWELL STEPS UP TO THE PLATE.  HITS A HOME RUN!

Worcester, Massachusetts

The Worcestor Polytechnic Institute plans to construct a new fire protection engineering facility and laboratory in which Honeywell Life Safety (Division of Honeywell International) will be the major sponsor. The company will be providing the latest in fire alarm and firefighting products in order to advance research in both fire detection and firefigthter protection technologies. The new research facility is expected to be completed sometime in 2012 and will provide academic training towards a fire protection engineering diploma.

 

THE RULES OF THE GAME!

Vancouver - by Frank Kurz

"Who IS that guy?" "Do you know him?"

These are questions I'm told a lot of people are asking these days - about ME!  One of the reasons centres around the issue of two fire alarm Verifications performed by Active Fire and Safety a few months back and the matter of a letter they received from Potter Electric Signal Company.  You see, Active (more specifically Active's President, Harjit Sangha) is using the letter in his company's defence (filed by his Lawyers) in response to a complaint currently under investigation by ASTTBC's Practice Review Board (PRB).

Now normally, I would have waited to have the outcome of the investigation in my hands before I took the drastic step of publishing any details in such an open forum, but I felt this issue has such extreme and urgent importance that I could not, in good conscience, delay releasing it.  So, put down your coffee cup and swallow before you read further.

Here's Potter's letter.

Let's highlight a few salient points in this correspondence:

The date of the letter is August 19, 2010.  I filed my complaint with ASTTBC on July 14, 2010.  There can be absolutely no doubt that Mr. Sangha requested this letter from Potter as a direct response to my complaint with a view towards using it to support the indefensible act of verifying an incorrectly installed fire alarm system.

In the official letter from Potter, Mr. Frankenberg states: 

    “Furthermore, the shielded cable is required on the data line in order for the data not being corrupted by high voltage or RFI.”

This is absolutely true, but he then immediately goes on to say:

    “In many instances, the annunciator is installed in close proximity the chance of induced voltage or RFI is a non-issue and therefore the shielded cable is not necessary.”

He admits in the very next sentence that:

    “Even though the installation instructions state shielded cable, this is a worst case requirement since we rarely have insight to the installation and have any input.”

Well, Mr. Frankenberg, you lost it after your first statement.  The Potter PFC-9000 REQUIRES twisted shielded pair for the annunciator.  The installation manual makes NO PROVISION for remote annunciators “installed in close proximity” (to the common control) to be able to utilize non-shielded cable.  In fact, it states quite plainly that:

    “The communication wiring must be two conductor twisted shielded cable from the panel or previous annunciator.”

(Reference page 17 of the installation instructions). Furthermore, it goes on to state (on page 19 of the same manual):

    “- RS-485 wiring must be twisted and shielded” and

    “- Separate cables must be used for power and the RS-485”.

For those of you readers relatively new to this business, you might be tempted to accept a letter from someone like Mr. Frankenberg as Gospel.  Indeed, it seems that the technicians at Active Fire have done just that because it explains a number of recent Potter installations in which the wiring to the remote annunciator has not met the requirements of the installation manual.  Some might even go so far as to be tempted to run 18/5 cable, for after all, why pull two independent cables when you can get away with only installing one?

I shudder to think that some local Authority may have even been swayed to accede to the persuasive tone of Mr. Frankenberg's letter, had they been presented with it in support of one of Active's Verification Reports.  It is THIS concern, more than any other consideration, which has prompted the early publication of this story.

ONLY ULC® and UL® (the two primary certification agencies in North America) can alter or amend the installation instructions for Listed equipment, and only AFTER that equipment has been rigourously retested in the proposed configuration.  Moreover, such testing requires the manufacturer to RESUBMIT the equipment (an expensive process which I doubt Potter will be remotely interested in pursuing in this regard, considering they're in the process of releasing a new line of panels).

The bottom line here is that the manufacturer's installation instructions can not be superseded by ANYONE (unless, of course the process described above is engaged).

As a Verifying Agency, the management at Active Fire should have realized all of this and that, by drawing Mr. Frankenberg into issuing such a letter, it would only serve to highlight their already questionable professional integrity and ethics.  I'm also deeply concerned that some could view the last sentence of the letter as confirmation that technicians at Active possess the knowledge and experience to properly Verify a fire alarm system.  They quite obviously do not.

UPDATE! - ULC's Market Surveillance Department has opened a file with respect to Mr. Frankenberg's letter.

More Reading:

June 2010 TECH-NEWS Extra!
September '09 TECH-NEWS
June 2010 Editorial
September '10 TECH-NEWS Extra!
Burning Brick Nomination!

 

CFAA TECHNICAL SEMINAR A TOTAL SUCCESS!

Kudos to CFAA's BC Chapter for organizing what can only be described as a stunningly successful technical seminar.  The attendees I spoke with were all extremely impressed by the lineup of speakers and the various subjects they presented.  It is my hope that the speaker notes and highlights will soon be featured on CFAA's website so that those of you that didn't have the opportunity of attending this event can still benefit from the knowledge that was imparted to those of us that did.

Ark Tsisserev (Stantec) kicked off the proceedings as well as provided an interesting glimpse into ULC's newest Standard on Fire Alarm Commissioning at the close.  Rob Mennie's (GBA) presentation on releasing systems was fascinating.  Service Managers and Service Coordinators would all benefit from Victor Smart's (Cadillac Fairview) inciteful commentary on some classic customer service "do's" and "don't's" (Victor, the invoice is in the mail - REALLY!).  Paul Jewett provided some good information on Verification procedures (a subject of particular interest to me as both of us serve on the ULC Working Group), and Ken Baird expanded on the requirements of Section 6 (Modifications to Fire Alarm Systems) in the same Standard.  Donald Boynowski's (Siemens) presentation on Mass Notification was outstanding.  I can foresee incredible opportunity for service agencies to increase revenues and for technicians engaged in the service of these systems to benefit as well from the additional training that will be required.  Ray DeMeyer (Vertech Elevator Services) provided an informative overview of the new Elevator Code and the changes required to ensure compliance (at last we'll all finally have a common service key!).  Andrew Harmsworth (GHL Consultants) gave an interesting talk about how people respond to emergency signals that only served to emphasize our role (as technicians) to ensure all aspects of the fire alarm and emergency communication systems we're called in to service MUST function perfectly!

All in all, a positively exciting (and engaging) experience. The lunch was delicious, too!

Let's try to put more butts in the seats next year!

 

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