Life-Safety Solution Takes Flight in Port Canaveral

A Florida-based integrator meets stringent codes and high end-user expectations deploying an addressable fire alarm and emergency voice system for Port Canaveral’s new seven-story Exploration Tower. Find out how the solution interlinks and integrates with

Port Canaveral has been home to many historically significant battles. It’s considered one of the world’s fastest growing ports, and is at the epicenter of international space exploration. To showcase local triumphs from present and past, the Canaveral Port Authority built a new 23,000-square-foot, seven-story visitor center, aptly named Exploration Tower. Considering its more than 350 daily visitors, plus weekly events hosting more than 1,000 guests, the safety of its patrons is of paramount concern.

To build the safest facility possible and meet Florida Building Code and Florida Fire Prevention Code, the Port Authority needed to install both a fire alarm and emergency voice system at the Tower. Unsatisfied with the proprietary nature of its fire alarm systems at other buildings, which were expensive to maintain and support, the Port Authority turned to Jacksonville Sound & Communications (JSC) for a new solution that meets all industry standards and is easier to maintain.

Based on its open architecture, ease-of-use and availability, JSC deployed a Silent Knight (SK) branded addressable fire detection and voice evacuation solution that would be compatible with other building and security systems. Challenges included creative programming to enable integration among the life-safety and other systems. Let’s see how it all unfolded.

Installer, Solution Reputations Precede Them

Founded in 1969, JSC has expanded through the years to become one of the country’s largest independent firms engaged in the design, installation, service and integration of low-voltage, electronic, life-safety solutions. The company, which maintains Florida-based offices in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee and Orlando as well as locations in Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., employs more than 120 people.

The integrator has amassed a customer base encompassing in excess of 10,000 facilities. Besides fire/life safety, systems and services it provides include: nurse-patient communication; intercom and public address; professional sound and audio visual; networking and fiber optics; access control; video surveillance; premise wire distribution; sound masking; and MATV/TV distribution. In addition, JSC’s service department offers 24-hour response associated with general maintenance agreements, fire alarm and nurse call system inspections, and central station monitoring of fire and security systems.

This wealth of experience and expertise, not just in these types of installations but also with the systems and products that were specified, made JSC an ideal fit for the Exploration Tower job. JSC Project Manager Daryl Fetterhoff says he had been impressed by how SK systems performed at other customer sites and has come to appreciate the ease of maintaining its operation beyond the warranty. “The Port Authority wanted to standardize on a solution that the entire maintenance crew, along with any fire alarm service provider, knew and could easily support.”

Fetterhoff’s associate, JSC Systems Estimator Rick Myatt, says, “This product line has a solution for any size deployment – from smaller parking garages to the seven-story Exploration Tower – and is very user-friendly so technicians can easily handle small service issues in-house, saving time and money.” Sold through a variety of distributors and manufacturer reps, these life-safety and emergency communications solutions are also readily available to speed up product replacement and reduce downtime. “The Port can’t afford any downtime,” adds Myatt.

The end user was equally enamored with the reputation and features the new system, which will be used at all new facilities and replace aging systems as required, held in store.

“We standardized on this one line of systems to gain compatibility across the Port, avoid the finger-pointing that sometimes occurs with multiple vendors, and achieve economies of scale,” says Bill Hammond, chief building official at the Canaveral Port Authority. “Silent Knight is equivalent to the Kleenex brand in fire alarm panels. We can go to any supplier and know they are familiar with the product.”

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