Despite its stunning location on the cool, clear waters of picturesque Clear Lake in El Lago, Texas, the high-rise residences of Endeavour are an extremely hot property. How hot? Robin Parsley, president of Endeavour Holdings and property developer, reported in May 2006 that 60 percent of the 80 units in Endeavour Clear Lake - ranging from two-bedroom condominiums to five-bedroom townhouses - had already been sold, just one month after 30-story structure’s groundbreaking.
The first waterfront high-rise condominium in Houston’s bay area, Endeavour Clear Lake offers a life of luxury and convenience. This new property is so hot that the developers even launched a luxury magazine with the intention of capitalizing on the new building’s brand name.
The heat generated by Endeavour Clear Lake is, of course, figurative. However, the heat that might be created by a fire event in this lavish condominium is quite literal. Accordingly, the building developers demanded a fire protection system with a level of quality that would match the quality of the property itself.
Smaller Player Wins Bid
An invitation to join the bid process was sent out to a number of local fire alarm companies, many of them large firms with long histories in the fire alarm business. The winning bid, however, came from Smith Datacom LLC, a Houston-based IT service provider and relative newcomer to the fire protection industry.
“We feel the award of the Endeavour Clear Lake luxury condominium project is strategic to our goal of becoming an end-to-end fire protection and life safety provider in the industry,” remarks Shane Corrallo, executive director of operations for Smith Datacom. “Our company consistently strives to break out of the traditional IT services and consulting box by offering superior service in less time with a focus on reducing cost.”
The company’s range of services on the project was comprehensive, and included specifying the fire alarm system, putting in all the wiring, and completing the installation of the equipment.
“It is a competitive advantage for our fire protection practice to offer a complete solution for commercial and residential builders, where all the resources for the project will come from a single labor pool instead of multiple sources,” says Corrallo.
Choosing the Perfect Solution
Steven Dinh, managing director of Smith Datacom, recalls the building developers being very clear about the kind of system they needed.
“Endeavour was looking for an IP addressable fire alarm panel,” says Dinh. “They were also interested in a system that was capable of initiating the floor above and the floor below in a fire event. What’s more, it also had to be audio enabled.
“Ultimately, based on the quality of the condominium project, they wanted a very high-quality system,” he adds. “They hadn’t skimped on any aspect of the property, and they weren’t about to start with the fire alarm system.”
Dinh’s solution was a system from Silent Knight, part of the Honeywell Life Safety Group and a provider of industry-wide compatible fire alarm solutions for small and mid-size institutions and commercial sites.
“We exclusively specify Silent Knight systems because they are not proprietary,” Dinh says. “Basically, the nonproprietary aspect of their systems means that the customer isn’t locked into any one provider for service. That’s a huge plus for customers in terms of convenience as well as accessibility of parts.”
The system incorporates equipment from Silent Knight’s Farenhyt IFP series of addressable fire panels. The centerpiece of the system is the IFP-1000, an intelligent analog/addressable fire alarm control panel (FACP).
The basic system has one signal line circuit (SLC) loop that supports up to seven signal line circuit expanders. It offers built-in capacity for 198 addressable devices with expansion to 1,584 addressable devices using the IDP protocol. Features like individual point identification, drift compensation and maintenance alert help the system reduce the number of frustrating and costly false alarms and service calls. The IFP-1000 also supports a full range of detectors, modules and power supplies.
The firmware features detector sensitivity, day/night thresholds, a pre-trouble maintenance alert, and a calibration trouble alert. Central station reporting can be established by point or by zone, and a built-in annunciator with a backlit 80-character LCD display conveys critical information about the fire event.
A particularly attractive feature of the system is that it utilizes standard wire - no shielded or twisted pair is required. As a result, installation of the system was ultimately faster than it would have been with almost any competitive system.
The system is complemented by a range of ancillary devices including VIP-50, an intelligent 50-watt amplifier; RPS 1000, intelligent distributed power module; SLC 5815XL, a signaling line circuit controller; and VIP-CE4 to support almost 1,000 addressable devices.
The VIP-50 is used to amplify the audio message for distribution throughout the facility. Each device is capable of producing 50 watts of audio power and is easily connected to the VIP-CE4 audio circuit expander, which adds four audio circuits.
The RPS-1000 power module adds six amps of power, six FlexputTM I/O circuits, and two Form-C relay circuits to the system. It connects to the panel via the RS-485 system bus allowing up to an additional 6,000 feet of wiring. The SLC expander enables the addition of 127 addressable devices to the IFP-1000 system.
The IFP-1000 is located on the main floor of Endeavour Clear Lake; each of the five RPS power distribution modules and VIP 50s are dispersed relatively evenly through the 30 floors. Complementing the system are seven smoke detectors, two pull stations and three strobes, all placed in the common areas of every floor.
Appropriate emergency voice messages can be delivered over the three speaker strobes on each floor, in addition to the speakers within each unit. The system is able to control all the expected shut offs and elevator recalls.
The hardwired, 110-volt smoke detectors have been placed in every unit. The devices are not connected directly to the system, so that during a fire or smoke event in any unit, those residents would be alerted without bothering residents in other areas.
“Often, you get someone who overcooks a meal, which creates a smoke situation,” says Dinh. “We didn’t want smoke detectors wired to the system that would send out false alarms in these instances.”
Dinh also noted that there is a sprinkler system in each unit. If there were an actual fire event in one of the units, the sprinkler systems would break the heat and cause the sprinkler to go into alarm. Once the water flow started going through the sprinkler system, it would trigger the water flow assisters that are connected to the main panel. In doing so, the panel would quickly know whether there was a legitimate fire inside a residential unit.
Result to be Proud Of
The entire installation process began in January 2007 and took about a year - an impressive performance for a building the size and complexity of Endeavour. The system complied with all local codes and passed all fire marshal inspections with client occupancy being awarded in January 2008. The fire marshal testing was very rigorous with almost 90 percent of the devices being analyzed.
Most importantly, Endeavour management is satisfied with the results.
“They are very pleased with the system,” says Dinh. “It was very cost-effective, easy to install and configure, and because of its non-proprietary profile, will be simple to troubleshoot and maintain.” Dinh’s own satisfaction with Silent Knight’s Farenhyt system has convinced him to turn to Silent Knight for future projects.
“We are currently installing a Silent Knight 5820XL FACP at a 300-unit luxury apartment complex in Houston,” he says. “We also have five other apartment complexes that we will be working on, and Silent Knight will be heavily considered for those projects too.”
Dinh says Smith Datacom has even considered becoming an ESD [Engineered Systems Distributor] for Silent Knight. “It depends on how many we can actually sell. It’s hard to imagine recommending a different system for any of the work that is currently on our plate.”
Endeavor Condominium Fire/Life-Safety Equipment List
All products by Silent Knight
Qty. Product Description
1 - IFP-1000, An intelligent analog/addressable FACP
7 - 5815XL, Signal line circuit expanders
5 - VIP-50, Intelligent 50-watt amplifier
5 - RPS 1000, Intelligent distributed power module
3 - 5815XL, SLC expander
3 - VIP-CE4, Audio circuit expander
1 - RS-485, System bus
210 - photoelectric detectors, Located on common areas of each floor
60 - pull stations, Located on common areas of each floor
90 - strobes, Located on common areas of each floor
3 - speaker strobes, On each floor and every unit
N/A - smoke detectors, Hardwired, 110-volt in every unit