Courtesy Robert Benson Photography
As construction began on 360 State Street in New Haven, Conn., it was clear from the outset this would not be a run-of-the-mill apartment building. Developed by Fairfield, Conn.-based Becker and Becker, the 32-story, 700,000-square-foot structure comprises 500 upscale units and is the second-tallest edifice in the city.
Located three blocks away from Yale University, the $180 million complex is noted as the state's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum residential project. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) also recognized the structure, which opened for business in July 2010, for its sustainable building and construction designs. Among its environmentally friendly features, the complex utilizes a 400-kilowatt fuel cell to provide renewable power, heat and hot water to meet the majority of the residents' needs.
Just as the developers wished to erect a state-of-the-art "green" property, equal emphasis was given to safeguarding the lives of its residents and staff.
"We have about 300 people living here full time," says 360 State Street General Manager Lauren Lenox. "With such a large community, we need multiple layers of a fire/life-safety system."
Becker and Becker relied on Cosentini Associates, an engineering consulting company, to help with construction on the project. In turn, Cosentini called its go-to systems integrator, locally based Firetech Engineered Systems, to design and install a fire/life-safety solution for the structure.
By planning and working closely with building contractors and local authorities, Firetech provided a 1,200-device fire/life-safety system to the new development.
Planning Ahead Eases Installation
Since 1989, Firetech has provided solutions for commercial, government and military clients throughout the state of Connecticut. Roughly 70 percent of Firetech's business comes from recurring services, including fire alarm inspection, testing, systems maintenance, and monitoring provided by its own central station.
"We work directly with electrical contractors [ECs]," says Firetech Vice President of Engineering Adam Querker. "We often design and engineer the system and install the main components. Then we guide the ECs through the installation process."
Although the 360 State Street project started in early 2009, Querker and his team did not arrive on site to install the solution until early 2010. That's not to suggest Firetech rested on its laurels until it was time to put the system in place. On the contrary, the integrator spent months designing the solution.
The Firetech team used the engineers' drawings in the design and selection of the system to be installed in the multiuse building.
"They came up with a conceptual design of where they wanted the devices," Querker says. "The ECs and building contractors were constantly modifying the building and taking things out. The initial drawing of putting it together took a couple of months because we had to apply the system to the environment. We developed our drawings based on the system we chose and how we wanted it wired."
Realizing that installed devices would require easy removal for troubleshooting, Firetech decided to use System Sensor products for the project.
"The System Sensor speaker strobes feature a back plate," explains Querker. "When you're troubleshooting, it's a matter of just removing one screw, popping off the back plate and test things out. In the past, we've used other devices that have given us a headache."
In all, the integrator installed 840 speakers and speaker strobes, 370 intelligent smoke detectors, 250 monitor modules, 80 relays and 15 duct smoke detectors.
A Large, Multifaceted Job
Firetech also had to bridge the gaps between the building's automated system and the fire/life-safety system while meeting National Electric Code (NEC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements. Therefore, it was necessary for technicians to coordinate with local authorities to be sure the solution was being installed per their requests.
To ensure the highest level of protection, Querker installed a fire panel with corresponding notification devices on each level of the building. By doing this, the system was able to go live one level at a time before the integrator had to troubleshoot the next level.
"On the back end, this plays into easy servicing, knowing exactly where the fault occurs," Querker explains.