Implementing An Emergency Communication System (ECS)

Provide critical updates during hazardous situations

Provide critical updates during hazardous situations


Emergency Communication Systems (ECS) are designed to alert and evacuate occupants of a building in case of emergency situations. Think of an ECS as an evolution of traditional fire alarms which provided alerts using simple horns and lights. An ECS will alert in case of fire, but also in situations like active shooters, intruders, dangerous accidents, and severe weather.

Emergency communication systems use a combination of voice calls, text messaging, email, flashing strobe lights, an alpha-numeric signs to alert and instruct occupants of critical updates. With real-time notifications sent direct alerts to an occupant’s cell phones or computer screens, they are empowered to react swiftly. A modern ECS allows leaders explain the safest path to exit a facility to avoid an active shooter or raging fire. They can tell others to stay away from a facility until a threat is clear.

Working in tandem with a company’s business continuity plan, an ECS not only alerts occupants of an emergency, but also advises them on the nature of the emergency and provides instructions on the correct actions to take.


An ECS provides flexible solutions to protect employees during a potential threat. Upon detection of fire or impending natural disaster (such as a tornado or earthquake), the ECS sends an alert tone over speakers, alerting occupants to the message that will follow. The system then plans a pre-recorded message providing evacuation or shelter-in-place directions. The tone and message are accompanied by flashing strobe lights and scrolling LED signs located in areas of congregation. The messaging mirrors the spoken message, providing visual cues to the occupants.

While a traditional FAS would alert occupants via a horn tone and strobe lights, an ECS provides verbal communications. An ECS also brings critical messaging about fire and natural hazards directly to occupants’ cellphones via emails, texts, and phone calls. The direct notifications are particularly important when surprise is a key element. Hurricanes can be predictable but other perils like tornadoes, earthquakes, flooding, or equipment accidents catch many by surprise.


As increasing attention is brought to the hazards of intruders and active shooters in the workplace, emergency communication systems are becoming a more common solution. If a potentially dangerous intruder is spotted within the building, an ECS can be manually activated, sending an alert tone over speakers alerting occupants to the pre-recorded message. Shelter in place and lockdown orders can be communicated, or instructions for safe evacuation away from harm. Messages from an ECS can be delivered in a variety of ways from flashing strobe lights and scrolling LED signs to text messages and emails.

Facilities Commonly Using Emergency Communication Systems

  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Warehouses
  • Power plants
  • College campuses
  • Corporate parks
  • Schools
  • Military bases
  • Houses of worship
  • Mass transit stations


In addition to providing warnings for fires and intruders, ECS can warn occupants of situations such as:

  • Earthquake, tornado and tsunami warnings
  • Accidents/facilities management incidents
  • Air-raids and acts of terrorism
  • Bomb threats
  • Hostage-taking events
  • Other evacuation or lockdown scenarios
  • IT outages
  • Traffic or parking alerts
  • Member-only notifications
  • Venue changes
  • Billing or shipping notifications
  • General updates regarding business operations, building closures, etc.


Reasons To Upgrade To An Emergency Communication System

An ECS can save lives, prevent injuries, protect property, reduce downtime, and keep all stakeholders aware of threats in real time. Yet far too many businesses are still relying only on fire alarms and sprinkler systems.

  • Scalability - An ECS can be specifically tailored to your unique facility, risks, budget, and risk profile.
  • Reduce business interruption - When you can no longer produce products or service customers, business suffers. An emergency communication system helps minimize downtime.
  • Injury or loss of life - People can be seriously hurt or die if you don’t have the proper warning systems in place.
  • Return on investment - Reducing exposure to risks is a winning proposition that saves you money in the long run.
  • Insurance doesn’t mitigate risks - Securing proper insurance coverage is crucial, prevention and protection against risks is a critical part of the puzzle.
  • Replacement parts - As systems go through their life cycle and become obsolete, replacement parts are harder to get.
  • False alarms - Older systems have more false alarms and many jurisdictions issue fines as a result.
  • Higher maintenance costs - When systems age, upkeep becomes more expensive.

How TÜV SÜD GRC Helps You Prepare For Emergency Situations

ECS technology is continually evolving and improving. The bid process can be complex. It is critical that you receive the best bids possible to ensure that the technology you place in your buildings is up-to-date and optimized for your unique needs. TÜV SÜD Global Risk Consultants (GRC) provides critical system designs for Emergency Communication Systems, allowing you to ensure that the bid quality design matches your business needs.

TÜV SÜD Global Risk Consultants provides services such as:

  • Site assessments
  • Mapping out existing fire alarm systems.
  • Creating bid quality drawings and documents.
  • Vendor selection
  • Bid review
  • Project management
  • Thorough review and optimization

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