Smoke Detectors, Troopers Help Avert Fire At Texas Capitol

An electrical fire at the historic Texas Capitol in Austin was averted the evening of April 30 due to the building's security professionals, who immediately reacted to a signal set off by a smoke detector in the reference library.

"It's good to be diligent," said John Nichols, fire marshal at the Texas Capitol, who credits a System Sensor smoke detector for going into pre-alarm mode. Pre-alarm typically means that the detector has sensed smoke, but the event is not serious enough to warrant a full alarm.

The pre-alarm mode on the System Sensor photoelectric smoke detector (NOTIFIER® Model FSP-851) triggered an alert at 9:16 p.m. that Friday on the fire panel monitored by the security team's central monitoring office onsite.

The supervisor radio dispatched a trooper to the exact location noted by the addressable fire system, which basically assigns a unique location, or address, to each detection device throughout the capitol. Upon entering the library, the trooper smelled a strong, electrical burning odor and discovered soot around a ceiling-mounted light fixture that had malfunctioned.

Nichols credits the System Sensor detector and the capitol's quick-acting security team from keeping the smoke event from escalating into a full-blown fire.

"We are really glad we have these smoke detectors," he says. "It's nice knowing that we can depend on the detectors."

The reference library, which is open to the public, takes up the second floor of the north wing of the capitol.

The Texas Capitol completely overhauled and upgraded its fire and life safety system last year. The system, installed by Koetter Fire Protection in Austin, includes hundreds of smoke and duct smoke detectors from System Sensor and four NOTIFIER fire panels on a network that monitors the main capitol building, the extension and its parking garage.

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