IQ Life Safety Systems gets “two thumbs up” for a next-generation fire and voice evacuation system

Movie theaters ain’t what they used to be. Just like the films they showcase, today’s multiscreen cineplexes are becoming bigger and more spectacular, offering such luxurious amenities as digital surround sound, love-seat-style seating and unobstructed views in the style of most sports stadiums.

While the options theater owners have to choose from continue to evolve, one age-old concern has always remained: safety. After all, considering that during peak times the theater can have upwards of several thousand moviegoers in close quarters, safety is paramount.

Although moviegoers may enjoy subjecting themselves to such silver-screen calamities as multicar pileups, mushrooming explosions and other celluloid catastrophes, theater owners need to ensure that their customers will be evacuated safely should the theater ever experience a true-life disaster.

So when Loeks-Star Theatres planned to open a 25-screen movie auditorium at a popular mall in Auburn Hills, Mich., they hired IQ Life Safety Systems of nearby Davisburg to oversee the design and installation of a comprehensive fire and voice evacuation system. The debut system, manufactured by The Gamewell Co. in Ashland, Mass., offers several new features to help protect the 4,965-seat facility and the occupants who fill it.

System Planning Faced Few Obstacles

The Star Great Lakes Crossing Theatre project came about when Dan Lohmeier, president of Electrilite, the theater’s electrical contract company, hired IQ Life Safety Systems to design the fire and voice evacuation system for the megaplex. Although IQ Life Safety Systems is relatively new as a company—having been founded in 1998 by company president Tom Cusick—Lohmeier was familiar with Cusick, a 13-year veteran of the fire alarm industry with whom he worked in prior Star Theatre fire and safety systems.

Tight Time Frame Is Typical for Theater Projects

According to Cusick, the project brought with it a couple of major challenges. For example, rather than being a detached, self-contained facility, the theater was attached to the southwest end of Great Lakes Crossing, a 200+ store mall. As a result, the facility had smoke control features that had to be incorporated into the mall.

The heart of the system consists of the main fire alarm panel, which was installed with an adjacent pull switch, strobe and smoke detector. The system also features an LCD remote annunciator that has its control functions located at the annunciator panel.Overall, the system integrates 49 pull stations, 74 addressable photoelectric smoke detectors, 13 addressable thermal detectors, 87 sensor bases, 36 duct smoke detectors, 26 control modules, 10 monitor modules and 86 speaker strobes throughout the facility.

Inspectors Approve Fire System on First Round

When city officials inspected the completed installation, it was essentially approved on the first round. Cusick says one of the most challenging parts of the installation takes place during the final test and inspection, when they begin verifying the integrity of the wiring.

Overall, all parties were thrilled with the quality of the system and installation, most especially Cusick, who hopes to work with Electrilite and the Star Theatres on future projects. As the theater chain ponders an aggressive expansion plan to nearly double its 146 screens in 10 locations, the likelihood of working with Cusick again is promising.

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