Wireless Protection Preserves Pieces of History

McDaniel Fire Suppression, Fire Alarm & Security takes on installing a fire/intrusion detection system for an Indiana-based history museum. The challenge? Providing an efficient system without compromising the multimillion-dollar historical building’s structural integrity.

<p>McDaniel Fire Suppression, Fire Alarm & Security installed audible signals, horn strobes, manual pull stations and smoke detectors on all floors to protect exhibits.</p>Wireless System Installs Easily

In order to preserve the aesthetics of the building, McDaniel had to choose a system that would not cause damage to the historical structure, according to company General Manager Eric Wallenius.

“The installation logistics were a challenge due to the age and construction of the building,” he explains. “Back in the day, the sheriff lived in the front part of the building and the jail was in the back. The steel walls are a couple of feet thick, so during our inspection of the building, we constructed a custom solution for the system in order to minimize any destruction of the original building. We also wanted to maximize the capability of the system.”

With the help of DLZ, the McDaniel team decided that wireless technology would work best because it would eliminate the possibility of exposed conduit. To handle the wireless functionality, the crew installed the Honeywell Vista 128FBP, a fire alarm and burglary control panel that supports up to 128 zones/points using hardwired, wireless and V-Plex addressable technologies.

The UL 864-Listed system also features automatic smoke detector sensitivity maintenance testing, four-wire smoke reset using onboard J2 output trigger, carbon monoxide (CO) zone support and Internet alarm reporting.

“This is the first time we used this panel in particular,” Wallenius explains. “This panel pretty much had everything that we needed along with a secondary phone line as well as a radio transmitted phone line. We used a radio transmitter so that if somebody cut the hard line, the museum would still have access.”

Additionally, the McDaniel crew installed manual pull stations, smoke detectors, audible signals, and horn strobes on all floors. They also installed heat detectors in the basement. On the intrusion side, all windows and doors are protected by magnetic contacts and motion detectors are placed throughout the building.

Installing the Vista 128FBP was easier than expected, thanks in part to a local subcontractor that helped McDaniel with the installation. Wallenius credits good communication as the reason for the success, as they conducted weekly update meetings to determine the project’s progress.

Maintaining Structural Integrity

As mentioned, McDaniel wanted to do its best not to damage the structure’s aesthetics, but plas
ter was quickly becoming the team’s Achilles’ heel.

“Anytime you get into a plaster building, especially when there is a single brick wall with plaster over it, trying to get through the wall is difficult,” Wallenius says. “We ended up having to find a chaseway, coming up into the attic and then coming back down through all the walls.”

Additionally, McDaniel hired a contractor to paint over any exposed conduit. The challenge here was choosing the correct paint color to match the aesthetics of the museum.

As an active tourist attraction, the fire/life-safety contractor needed to set up an installation schedule that would not interfere with PCMH’s business operations.

“Working within the limitations of a fully operational and occupied facility, which was open to the public throughout the project, was definitely a challenge,” DLZ Architect and Engineer Eric Beaulieu says. “There were also obvious security concerns when contractors and employees are given access to areas that house valuable artifacts.”

To avoid any potential conflicts, the installers coordinated an installation schedule with Pazour, who was onsite during the entire project.

Handling a ‘Batty’ False Alarm

When the three-month project ended in June 2011, McDaniel found a local, third-party provider to monitor the fire alarm and intrusion detection system for PCMH. The installer also provided Pazour, who is the museum’s only full-time staff member, with training to operate the system. Attributing his ability to able to use the system to his great training, Pazour adds that McDaniel is more than willing to provide refreshers if ever the need arises.

Since the project’s completion, PCMH has not experienced a break-in, although Pazour notes that there were a few scares with the new system.

“We’ve had a couple of false alarms because of a bat,” he explains. “We took care of that very quickly, and we were able to relocate the bat to another place outside of the building. We also had some issues with the window sensors. As soon as I alerted McDaniel to the problem, and they realized that it was a problem with the installed sensors, they replaced them immediately.”

As PCMH continues to redevelop exhibits and reinvent the facility, there are plans to integrate a video surveillance system in the future to further enhance system capabilities. Still, museum officials, PCBC and more than 20 volunteers are pleased with not only the new system, but also McDaniel’s great customer service.

“It is considerably easier to sleep at night knowing that our museum is safer thanks to the innovative work of McDaniel,” Pazour exclaims. “If anything, their history belongs in our museum.”

Ashley Willis is Associate Editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.


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