Connecticut School Rebuilds Fire Alarm System After Mother Nature's Fury

A Connecticut school system damaged by two natural disasters continue to receive aid from an integrator. 

A lightening strike in 2010, followed by Hurricane Irene a year later, damaged the school facilities' fire alarm systems beyond repair. The previous systems were also plagued by false alarms and staff spent countless hours searching for elusive spare parts to keep them online. With a frozen budget tying the school to its current systems, the school's Maintenance Supervisor, Guy Boucher, scrambled for a quick, reliable solution with proven longevity.

Silent Knight by Honeywell and local integrator Barnum Engineered Systems stepped in to provide a Farenhyt fire alarm system. Cost-effective retrofit and expansion capabilities, ease-of-use and multiple local sources for products and service were this middle and high school's primary fire alarm system requirements.

A new Farenhyt IFP-100VIP  fire alarm and voice evacuation system from Silent Knight was installed in the school's gymnasium building by Bill Compton, now a sales engineer with Barnum Engineered Systems of Derby, Conn. Compton happened to be working for another company on a phone system in the school at the time.

"I mentioned my situation to Bill and he told me that he could have a new panel up and running before school started," Boucher said. "I took that to my manager and he went for it."

Paramount to the school's cost-effective, timely retrofit was Barnum's ability to re-use the previous fire alarm's existing copper wire and quickly replace any damaged detectors with new System Sensor devices. Built-in code wheels enabled each detector's point address to be set quickly.

After earning an appreciation for the ease of use and smooth operation of the gymnasium's new Farenhyt fire alarm system from Silent Knight, Mother Nature stepped in once again.

"On August 28th, Hurricane Irene blew in and we had no power for several days," Boucher said. "When the power came back on, the old fire alarm panel in the main school building did not."

After seeking a number of quotes, Boucher reached out to Barnum again, which got a new Farenhyt IFP-1000VIP system installed, online and code approved before the start of the school year less than two weeks later.

In terms of the decision to go with the Farenhyt IFP-1000VIP  panel, Boucher wanted an expandable, future-proof system - one that could accommodate the addition of carbon monoxide detection, if and when local code changes come to fruition.

"I knew that with the IFP-1000VIP, we could have as many as eight addressable loops, which could easily accommodate any system growth," Compton said. "And having worked on close to a dozen conversions with existing cables, I've found the Silent Knight system to work extremely well."

While Boucher intends to continue working with Compton, he appreciates having a fire alarm system that does not tie him to one vendor for the future. Being produced by Silent Knight in the United States is another positive factor for this public school system.

To make it easy for Boucher to monitor the gymnasium from the main school building, Barnum connected the two systems together utilizing one of the eight addressable loops in the IFP1000-VIP panel. Barnum also converted old heat detectors in the classrooms to addressable Farenhyt IDP thermal detectors. Now Boucher can monitor extreme shifts in classroom temperature thermal events through the Farenhyt fire alarm control panel, which is a big fire safety jump for the school.

Given the high-intelligibility standards of the Farenhyt system's audio capabilities, upgrading it to also serve as a mass notification system is another option Compton has offered the school. The introduction of a new Emergency Communications System from Silent Knight in early 2012 will enable a good number of existing Farenhyt systems to easily integrate this new mass notification technology.

"Barnum Tech's Mike Kozma and Chris Ramos came in, banged it out, we did some testing, and it all worked," Boucher said. "I'm very pleased with the Farenhyt system, and if I had to do it again, I don't think I'd change anything."

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