Fenway Park Fire Solution Is a Hit

The iconic baseball venue received a complete fire protection upgrade to accommodate system growth and new code considerations.


Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox, has a new fire/life-safety solution even an arch-rival New York Yankees fan could appreciate.

Fire detection and fire control functions are major considerations when it comes to sports arenas and other places of public assembly. In recent years it has become painfully obvious to civil authorities and private-sector stakeholders that voice evacuation systems specified today should do more than direct people to the nearest point of egress.

And so it is that Fenway Park management recently leaned on its longtime integration partner, AFA Protective Systems, to design and install a solution to meet the demanding requirements of one of the nation’s most iconic and beloved sporting venues.

Life-safety systems are now expected to protect against other threats in addition to fire, including weather, hazardous material and intruder-related emergencies. Having a ready means of notification capable of addressing specific risks using prerecorded and real-time announcements is viewed as a necessity. All of this is intended to place critical information in the hands of those who require it at a time when it is needed the most.

The upgrade of just such a system was the primary objective Team AFA met head-on as it set out to provide an advanced fire alarm emergency voice/alarm communications (EVAC) network throughout the historic ball park and its surrounding buildings.

New FACP Keeps Up With Growth

Opened in 1912, Fenway Park is a veritable mecca for baseball fans the world over, and the oldest venue used by a professional sports team in the United States. Because of the facility’s age and constrained location in an urban neighborhood, the park has undergone many renovations and additions through the decades.

Prior to World War II, the stadium was sometimes packed to the point of standing-room only. Soon thereafter, local officials adopted more stringent fire codes, setting lower occupancy limits. Today Fenway has a listed capacity of nearly 40,000.

AVA has provided its services to Fenway for more than 30 years. About six years ago the company completed a massive fire system overhaul that included replacing an Edwards fire alarm control panel (FACP) with Gamewell-FCI’s 7200 Series panel.

Fenway’s latest fire protection systems upgrade, which began in earnest in September 2008, was needed to accommodate system growth and new code considerations. Centralized control of new systems installed throughout the park’s facilities was another key element.

“It had come to a point where Fenway needed to upgrade their existing fire alarm system because of the additional initiating and notification appliance devices they were routinely adding,” says Sales Manager Joe Golini of Boston-based AFA Protective Systems.

This time utilizing the Gamewell-FCI model E3 Series EVAC system, AFA was able to satisfy all job specs with an advanced system of distributed intelligence, capable of integrating the park’s existing initiating and notification devices.

The Fenway fire protection project encompassed the park and other adjacent and nearby structures, including the executive offices, laundry building and restaurants. An E3 Series Expandable Emergency Evacuation System with integrated EVAC replaced the variety of existing head-end panels and bulk audio EVAC equipment, plus the specific peripherals used to provide initiating, notification and fire control input/output functions.

Commitment To Selective Paging

With a majority of the work needing to be completed prior to the start of the 2009 baseball season, this first phase of Fenway’s upgrade was a major one. Total cut-over of all independent controls and the bulk audio system to a new, single fire protection network with integrated voice has readied the stadium facilities for future renovations and additions.

At the behest of the Boston Fire Department, the capability to utilize selective paging has been designed into the stadium’s solution.

“Having selective paging ready for future expansion was a huge issue for the fire department,” Golini says. “They want to be able to control everything from the main command center at the ballpark.”

Fenway Park’s numerous adjoined buildings and tenant spaces are all tied into the life-safety solution, but heretofore there was no way to communicate to an individual facility.

“One of the gripes of Boston Fire [Department] was that if there is an alarm in a restaurant, they just want to go to the main command center and select the restaurant and tell people to evacuate — they don’t want to evacuate the entire ballpark. The E3 panel gives them what they are looking for.”

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