Could temperature monitoring have prevented Utah call center fire?
Thursday, Mar 20th 2014

A recent fire at a call center in Provo, Utah, forced the evacuation of close to 500 people there. The incident shows why all companies with a telecom presence should invest in temperature monitoring solutions to safeguard employees and mission-critical hardware.

The fire was first reported at a call center operated by Vivint, a home automation solutions provider, in Lindon, Utah, at around 9:15 a.m. on March 18, Provo-based newspaper the Daily Herald reported. All 300 Viviant employees were evacuated, as were 200 other people working in adjacent buildings.

The only person notably hurt in the blaze was a responding firefighter, who was sent to the hospital with shoulder and hip injuries after part of the ceiling collapsed on him, according to the Daily Herald. Cody Cullimore, Lindon Police Department Chief, also noted that two employees were treated for minor smoke inhalation. He stated the cause was likely some heat tape on the roof that was smoldering for a while before eventually starting the blaze.

"We would like to thank the fire departments that responded so quickly to the fire," said David Bywater, Vivint's chief operating officer. "We are also thankful that our employees were alert and reported the fire promptly after smelling smoke and hearing fire alarms. The well-being of our employees and customers is always our first priority."

This is far from the only fire to affect a call center and disrupt operations there. Last August, a fire caused significant damage to a call center in Augusta, Maine, NBC affiliate WSCH reported. That blaze started at around 5 a.m. on August 1 and was put out in about an hour. While no workers were on site at the time, Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette said that the fire caused so much damage that chunks of the building may have to be torn down as a result.

How temperature monitoring can help prevent fires from spreading
For call centers and any other facilities that house telecom equipment, safeguarding hardware and personnel is vital. As the incidents in Utah and Maine show, even small mishaps can have grave consequences, and fires are unfortunately just one of many variables that can impact these organizations.

One quick and easy way for facility managers to detect fires before they turn into roaring blazes is to deploy temperature monitoring equipment. For example, the SuperGoose II from ITWatchDogs offers call centers and others a wide variety of environmental monitoring functionality, as it is able to note changes in temperature, humidity, light and sound. Should anything go awry, the environmental sensor can send out email and SMS alerts to up to 200 people, allowing facilities management teams to quickly spring into action if an abnormality is detected. This way, teams can respond to issues like a piece of smoldering tape and address it before it turns into a fire that destroys a call center.

"You get an email telling you that temperatures have risen so that you can do something about it before the temperatures get to a certain point," ITWatchDogs President Charlie Mayne said.