Security Ahoy

Security Ahoy!

San Francisco marina adds security, safety to its scenery

Emeryville Marina is located on 14 acres of land that extend out into San Francisco Bay. It is a popular local attraction with 381 permitted boat slips and hundreds of visitors every day. Built in 2005, the marina is run by Marina International, which owns 30 additional marinas around the country.

Don Gussler, a San Francisco-based boater with more than 30 years of experience, was hired as the Emeryville Marina harbor master and designated to create the marina’s safety and security plan.

Gussler was convinced the marina needed an emergency tower and, having previously worked with Talk-A-Phone, he knew that the company’s products would be a perfect fit for the marina. He had witnessed the durability and reliability of Talk-a-Phone’s emergency towers firsthand during several hurricanes and various emergencies at other marinas.

“In the early 2000s, there was a series of marina fires across the country, and I felt it was important to have quick access to fire suppression from the city of Emeryville,” Gussler said. “While on the marina, a boater may not have access to his or her cellphone during an emergency. They also may have to run from their current location. The Talk-A-Phone units give boaters an alternate and easy means of communication with local authorities.”

Emeryville Marina installed the emergency phones and towers along its main dock walkway, making sure the units were visible to every boater and visitor in and out of the marina.

Because the emergency phones needed to be installed on docks hundreds of feet out into the bay, Gussler initially believed that the installation would be difficult. To Gussler’s surprise, the towers were easy to install and integrate with the power and communication infrastructure already in place at the marina. The Emeryville police and fire departments also had no trouble setting up the towers to dial their call and dispatch centers.

It wasn’t long after the installation that the emergency phone towers were put to use. The marina had two boat fires in short succession, and the phone units proved invaluable. In both situations the boater did not have access to a cellphone and had to activate the emergency towers for assistance. The activation of the emergency phone towers allowed the Emeryville Fire Department to act quickly and prevent the fires from spreading to other boats in the marina.

Many marina boaters appreciate the fact that they can contact the Emeryville Fire Department so quickly.

“We tried to make sure that we put these units in the central dock run,” Gussler said. “The reason for this was to make sure that everyone had reasonable and quick access. Even in the electronic-connections world we live in today, it’s so much simpler to have these units. For our customers, one of the benefits of these systems with concern to a fire is that it gets them away from the boats.

“Boat fires can spread fast, and the risk of injury and damage to surrounding areas is high. Rather than having our customers sit there trying to put out a fire, we encourage them to use a Talk-A-Phone unit and get professional help. The towers also give our boaters a peace of mind knowing that someone is there ready to provide assistance.”

San Francisco Bay’s harsh environment presents many challenges for the installation of emergency phone towers. Every year, the towers are examined and tested to make sure they are working properly. The units have to withstand high humidity, saltwater, severe storms and physical abuse on a daily basis.

“The emergency towers have always functioned correctly and don’t require any maintenance,” Gussler said. “When we installed the docks, we put in a conduit to carry the phone lines. We test the units periodically, and we never have problems.”

Several new docks are currently under construction at the marina, and the installation of more Talk-A-Phone emergency phone towers is accompanying the construction. The plan is to place the units in strategic locations across the new docks, which will be located at the far south end of the Emeryville Marina central dock run. Due to the docks’ outlying position, quick and safe access to emergency communication at these locations is paramount.

“They will allow the boaters on the far end of our marina quick and easy access to emergency personnel,” Gussler said. “You won’t have to have a boat docked at our central dock run in order to have quick access to the emergency towers. All the major areas of our marina will be covered.”

Gussler and the Emeryville Marina boating community are happy to have the safety blanket the towers provide. The blue-light strobe on top of every unit allows boaters to identify the emergency phones’ location, and their bright blue color blends in nicely with the surrounding bay. At night, the blue lights act as a deterrent to crime for the marina and surrounding property. Boaters know that when they see a blue light they are in a safe area.

Gussler noted that the Talk-A-Phone towers have increased business at the marina.

“The emergency communications units are a good sales tool because it shows our customers what to do, how to do it and that we spent the time to put in a system to help protect them,” Gussler said. “We have many individuals who live here on their boats at the marina. For them, knowing that another form of communication is just a push of a button away is very comforting. They feel safe—and that is one of the reasons why our marina is so popular.”

This article originally appeared in the Security Products Magazine - July 2012 issue of Security Today.

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