Fire Alarm Overhaul Helps Retirement Home Meet Municipal Requirements

MUSKEGO, Wis. — To meet code requirements and comply with the local municipality, Tudor Oaks Community, a 600,000-square-foot retirement facility here, has undergone an extensive renovation of its antiquated fire alarm system. Among the principal upgrades has been installing almost 200 horn strobes with 177 candela.

To handle the ongoing project, the end user contracted with Waunakee, Wis.-based Best Defense Security & Fire Protection. With three branches throughout Wisconsin, SAMMY Award-winning Best Defense provides access control, CCTV, fire alarms and security systems to roughly 2,000 accounts.

Divided into seven wings, Tudor Oaks offers a full range of lifestyle options for its more than 450 residents, including apartments, assisted living and a skilled-care nursing home. Providing care for tenants with diverse needs in the mixed living spaces necessitated Tudor Oaks to overhaul two separate fire alarm systems, Best Defense President Carter Rierson tells SSI.

“They had a Notifier system placed in the skilled-care area,” he says. “Throughout the rest of the building, they had an old 110-volt system. No parts were available for it, and it didn’t meet current code requirements.”

Rierson designed a solution that included Silent Knight by Honeywell’s Farenhyt IFP-2000 fire alarm control panel. Additionally, the integrator installed System Sensor addressable smoke detectors and horn strobes throughout the facility, and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all apartment garages to meet state code requirements.

A 12-member Best Defense team installed more than 875 horn strobes throughout Tudor Oaks. However, according to the municipal codes, all horn strobes placed in sleeping areas had to have 177 candela, which was no easy feat.

“Oftentimes we get a large count on our horn strobe appliance, but it’s not very often that I have to have 190 of them at 177 candela and an overall total of over 890 strobes,” Rierson says. “But the IFP-2000 really came in handy for this project. The benefit with this panel is the intelligent power expanders — the RPS-1000 — which supply about 150 amps of power. That’s huge for a fire alarm system.”

During the installation, Best Defense wired the IFP-2000’s power expanders into a database to program each of the 200 outputs powering the horn strobes. As a result, if a smoke detector goes off in one part of the building, an alarm will go off in other areas that might be affected.

“The benefit of doing this is that oftentimes the hazard isn’t just the fire,” Rierson says. “When you’re evacuating people in their 80s at 2 a.m., when it’s very cold, you’re creating more of a hazard than leaving them in the building if the fire isn’t directly in their area.”

Additionally, the power expanders in the IFP-2000 helped the integrator break down the six-phase project into smaller jobs, which made the installation more manageable for the team.

In addition to providing a fire alarm system, the company also installed an RS2 Technologies’ access control system, a Doorking telephone entry panel, eight CCTV cameras and a new paging system, which features roughly 350 speakers. The company also installed its Cellevator cellular elevator-monitoring product for emergency voice communications in the dozen elevators at Tudor Oaks.

Administrators at Tudor Oaks, which is owned by American Baptist Homes of the Midwest, are pleased with the system and are especially impressed with Best Defense’s deft ability to work around the residents, says John Marek, general contractor and owner’s representative of John Marek Inc.

“We couldn’t have the fire alarm or any other life-safety system down for any period of time because this is a healthcare and assisted living facility with several hundred people living here and 150 employees,” he says. “So, Best Defense built around them and integrated all the life-safety systems. After those were up and running, they put in the new system and it integrated seamlessly.”

Expected to be completed in late 2012, the project has not proceeded without difficulties. Originally slated to begin in 2007, turbulent economic conditions delayed the project until December 2009. Best Defense was the initial bid winner for the job, but when bank financing became a hurdle, Marek hired an electrician who brought in another fire alarm installer. However, the subcontractor was dismissed after it failed to research all the code requirements for the project.

Rierson’s in-depth knowledge of building codes allowed Best Defense to earn the job once again, according to Marek. That knowledge, as well as excellent customer service, has helped Best Defense become Marek’s go-to integrator for other ventures.

“When it comes to fire protection, Carter’s my guy. He understands security and fire alarms and the local ordinances,” Marek says. “I would say that 99 times out of 100, I’m bidding with Best Defense. I can call Carter up and ask him a question and he will almost instantly know the answer. He’s very good at what he does.”

To view a photo gallery of this project, click here.


If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters