Safe with Sound

Safe With Sound

Directional sounders reduce evacuation times by clearly defining immediate escape routes

Frank Savino, president and CEO of United Fire Protection (UFP), knew his long-time cus tomer The Seeing Eye was an obvious candidate for ExitPoint directional sound technology from System Sensor.

Installed at building exits or along egress routes, directional sounders produce broadband noise using locatable sound to guide building occupants (to safety or outside of the building). Because it’s an auditory system, directional sounders are ideal for helping visually impaired people, as well as sighted people whose vision is obscured by smoke, as during a fire.

Providing Accessibility

The Seeing Eye’s school and training grounds sit on 60 acres just outside of New York City. A residence hall with private rooms, a lounge and fitness center houses students who train with their new dogs onsite for almost a month. With facilities to train 120 dogs and a state-of-theart veterinary medical center containing additional kennels, the campus has a considerable population at all times. Many onsite visitors are unfamiliar with the layout, which is another reason the school chose directional sounders to reduce egress times.

Bud Liptak, director of facilities at The Seeing Eye, says the school was looking to upgrade its life safety system. After learning about ExitPoint and directional sound technology, he was convinced of its effectiveness.

“Rich Fischer from NOTIFIER gave us a presentation, and everyone at the school was on board right from the start,” Liptak says. “We are very excited to be pioneers in our field once again with this important life safety upgrade at our facility.

“The system has been installed throughout the entire administration building and has received favorable reviews from students, teachers, the administration and local fire officials. Our students say the directional sound system is extremely intuitive.

“Usually, when a class first enters the building, we hold an orientation with a quick fire drill to help students get their bearings in the building. We hold these practice drills about once a month when a new class of students arrives,” Liptak said.

To meet the budgetary needs of the non-profit institution, the new equipment was donated to the school. UFP designed and installed the system at no charge. Both the design and installation phases went smoothly, and UFP was able to integrate the product into the existing system, completing the installation in one week during the school’s summer break.

Effectiveness of Directional Sound

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has published the Emergency Evacuation Planning Guide for People with Disabilities for developing plans to protect disabled individuals during emergencies. This free guide can be downloaded as a Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat PDF document at

The guide brings various planning components for the disabled community into one comprehensive evacuation planning strategy. It is written for those in building management who are involved in life safety decisions. Sections explore the egress requirements of individuals with one or more mobility, visual, hearing, speech or cognitive impairment.

Chapter 3, “Building an Evacuation Plan for a Person with a Visual Impairment,” highlights the capability of a device that uses directional sound to lead people to a safe exit.

Directional sound is an audible signal that leads people to safety in a way that conventional alarms cannot, by communicating the location of exits using broadband noise. The varying tones and intensities coming from directional sound devices offer easy-todiscern cues for finding the way out. As soon as people hear the devices, they intuitively follow them to get out quickly.

A directional sounder is an advanced egress device that can accelerate evacuation times by as much as 75 percent. The device acts as an audible exit sign, directing people to the nearest safe exit using broadband sound. Some models can also use a recorded voice message to provide verbal instructions in 15 field-selectable language choices. The technology of exit-marking audible notification is referenced in NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code, 2007 Edition.

A “Personal Emergency Evacuation Planning Checklist” in the guide prompts emergency planners to consider a full range of appropriate devices and notification actions. References and links are provided for applicable life safety codes and studies.

This NFPA guide is based on input from the disability community. It will be updated annually, or when new ideas, concepts and technologies become available. The NFPA is a nonprofit organization that serves the fire, electrical and life-safety field with code and standard writing, research, training and education.

Incorporating Directional Sound

Today’s fire alarm control panels are highly sophisticated. When activated, they are capable of performing hundreds of preprogrammed action sequences within a fraction of a second. Although dependent on electrical capacity of the existing panel, directional sounders can be added into existing fire alarm systems with relative ease.

“Part of the beauty of the directional sound system is that it can be easily retrofitted to existing notification circuits,” Savino said. “This makes for fast installation. Also, the system draws an extremely low amount of power due to the absence of strobes and other visual components. In most cases, it can be connected directly to existing notification circuits without any additional wiring. However, consideration for power and load needs should always be evaluated.”

Because the installation on The Seeing Eye’s main campus went so well and everyone is satisfied with the system, Liptak says the school plans to use ExitPoint at other locations. “We have a downtown lounge in Morristown where students can relax while classmates are in training,” Liptak says. “We’re upgrading the lounge in the coming months and are encouraging the landlord to install the system.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Security Today.


  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Busy South Africa Building Integrates Custom Access Control System

    Nicol Corner, based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, South Africa, is home to a six-star fitness club, prime office space, and an award-winning rooftop restaurant. This is the first building in South Africa to have its glass façade fully incorporate fritted glazing, saving 35% on energy consumption. Nicol Corner (Pty) LTD has developed a landmark with sophisticated design and unique architecture by collaborating with industry-leading partners and specifying world-class equipment throughout the project. This includes installing a high-spec, bespoke security and access control system. Read Now

  • Only 13 Percent of Research Institutions Are Prepared for AI

    A new survey commissioned by SHI International and Dell Technologies underscores the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while exposing significant gaps in preparedness at many research institutions. Read Now

  • Survey: 70 Percent of Organizations Have Established Dedicated SaaS Security Teams

    Seventy percent of organizations have prioritized investment in SaaS security, establishing dedicated SaaS security teams, despite economic uncertainty and workforce reductions. This was a key finding in the fourth Annual SaaS Security Survey Report: 2025 CISO Plans and Priorities released today by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining standards, certifications, and best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity

New Products

  • Mobile Safe Shield

    Mobile Safe Shield

    SafeWood Designs, Inc., a manufacturer of patented bullet resistant products, is excited to announce the launch of the Mobile Safe Shield. The Mobile Safe Shield is a moveable bullet resistant shield that provides protection in the event of an assailant and supplies cover in the event of an active shooter. With a heavy-duty steel frame, quality castor wheels, and bullet resistant core, the Mobile Safe Shield is a perfect addition to any guard station, security desks, courthouses, police stations, schools, office spaces and more. The Mobile Safe Shield is incredibly customizable. Bullet resistant materials are available in UL 752 Levels 1 through 8 and include glass, white board, tack board, veneer, and plastic laminate. Flexibility in bullet resistant materials allows for the Mobile Safe Shield to blend more with current interior décor for a seamless design aesthetic. Optional custom paint colors are also available for the steel frame. 3

  • Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems, an industry-leading manufacturer of pedestrian and vehicle secure entrance control access systems, is pleased to announce the release of its groundbreaking V07 software. The V07 software update is designed specifically to address cybersecurity concerns and will ensure the integrity and confidentiality of Automatic Systems applications. With the new V07 software, updates will be delivered by means of an encrypted file. 3

  • Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden Door Controls is pleased to announce that, in response to soaring customer demand, it has expanded its range of ValueWave™ no-touch switches to include a narrow (slimline) version with manual override. This override button is designed to provide additional assurance that the request to exit switch will open a door, even if the no-touch sensor fails to operate. This new slimline switch also features a heavy gauge stainless steel faceplate, a red/green illuminated light ring, and is IP65 rated, making it ideal for indoor or outdoor use as part of an automatic door or access control system. ValueWave™ no-touch switches are designed for easy installation and trouble-free service in high traffic applications. In addition to this narrow version, the CM-221 & CM-222 Series switches are available in a range of other models with single and double gang heavy-gauge stainless steel faceplates and include illuminated light rings. 3