Specifically Speaking with MCG Cx Services' Dave Miller

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

In this Specifically Speaking Q-and-A, security consultant Dave Miller, principal with MCG Cx Services of Newberg, Oregon, talks about his business.

1. Explain how your business differs from a consultant/A&E firm and how the work you perform is designed to ensure that security/fire systems work as designed on day one.

We focus on the system deliverables by reviewing the consultant’s system design during design development and construction document phases, by observing the installation during construction, and finally by performing comprehensive acceptance testing to ensure that the systems perform as intended by the basis of design, and to code when applicable.
What differentiates MCG Cx is that as a true third-party Cx provider, we are not affiliated with either the design or installing teams. We can be impartial in our assessment of the system design, installation and performance.

2. Describe how MCG Cx Services is involved with the different stages of a security/fire project.

There are essentially four stages of a project as specifically related to commissioning Cx: design, installation, acceptance testing and warranty.
The focus of a Cx design review is to assist the owner, based on a thorough understanding of their objectives, by providing a commentary back to the design team to help steer them to a result that will meet the owner’s needs and expectations.
By performing reviews of the contractor’s shop drawings and on-site inspections during the system installation process, many installation issues that are related to long-term system performance can be mitigated or prevented.
Acceptance testing is the key to the entire process, as comprehensive testing is conducted on all system components and devices, and vetting of system operation is done under all expected scenarios.
Often Cx is performed at the end of the warranty period, typically in one year, to verify that the systems are still performing as intended, and to review system operation to date. The key is that the Cx agent is a true third-party, with no affiliation or allegiance to the design or installing teams. Another way to view MCG Cx Services is that we are a “specialized” owner’s representative with respect to fire and security systems.

3. What is your background with fire and security installations?

I have over 25 years of experience in fire and security systems. The first 11 years were spent with various system integrators and contractors in Washington, D.C., Ohio and Oregon. I basically learned the business from the ground up, starting off as a warehouse manager/purchaser for a large engineered systems distributor in Washington, D.C., and eventually working on numerous large projects for high tech manufacturing, health care, and commercial facilities.

In 2000, I moved into consulting, and I have continued with large, multibuilding campus environments across a wide range of vertical markets for both fire and security systems.
As a consultant, my time was split approximately 40/60 respective to fire/life safety systems versus security. I currently hold a NICET Level IV in fire alarm systems, and will soon have three new certifications from ICC for commercial fire alarm plans examination and system inspection.

4. Is the commissioning process required or mandated? What types of projects, in terms of size and vertical market, are appropriate for MCG Cx Services?

Cx for fire and security systems is currently not mandated nor required in most jurisdictions. NFPA is currently working on NFPA 4: Standard for Integrated Fire Protection and Life Safety System Testing, which is slated for the 2015 edition and which should build the emphasis to have Cx performed on fire/life safety systems as they are treated as a holistic single system instead of separate, disparate systems. This will include fire suppression, fire alarm, emergency communications, and fire stopping.
Security systems are less mature in the Cx process, but like fire systems, building owners who are participating in comprehensive Cx are seeing the value of having Cx performed on all aspects of their building construction or remodeling. Often the initial emphasis is associated with obtaining LEED certification for a project, and the learned value of Cx is translated to subsystems such as fire and security. All projects can benefit from Cx, but our primary focus is education, health care, and large projects, such as airports and high-rise buildings. We are focused primarily on the U.S. market, but have the ability to work globally.

Specifically Speaking features a Q-and-A with a security consultant. Consultants are provided to Security Systems News by www.SecuritySpecifiers.com.