Answering Fire Safety Prayers

A pair of church case studies spread the gospel of fire safety.

Sometimes even a higher power needs a little help. That’s why stake-holders associated with houses of worship such as churches often look to the latest electronic fire and life-safety system solutions to safeguard their flocks and facilities. This makes them strong prospects for installing fire contractors, providing they are prepared both for the nuances of this particular vertical market and also well versed in all applicable codes.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a pair of recent church deployments of address-able fire alarm and emergency communication systems. The first, Russian Evangelical Baptist Church in Westfield, Mass., illustrates how an end user and fire systems specialist can work hand-in-hand. The second, Western Pennsylvania’s North Way Christian Community Church, is a more straightforward installer-based account. Together, they offer those interested in this market a good idea of what to expect.

Electrician Enlists Integrator

Seeking to accommodate its fast-growing membership, Russian Evangelical Baptist Church began planning an expansion in 2010 that would include a new 35,000-square-foot octagonal building, with worship facilities for 1,250 people on the main floor and a basement expansion of the school next door.

Much of the work on the new church expansion was completed by volunteers. Church members with expertise in various trades helped to build the facility, from the foundation to the roof. Alex Izoita, a licensed electrician and a deacon of the church, led a group of six electricians working on the project.

Izoita went to electrical wholesale distributor Graybar in West Springfield, Mass., to purchase fire protection equipment for the new church. He also needed help designing and commissioning the fire alarm system, so he turned to Scott Dana, a NICET IV commercial sales representative of Protection 1.

“Alex is a good electrician, but he realized he needed a strong partner to help create the system design,” says Dana. “The partnership was perfect. He and I went over the plans, and we were able to collaborate to choose the best possible system for the church.”

The original plan was to expand an old, zoned fire alarm system that protected the older part of the church and school into the new building. However, in the end, the church opted for a new Fire-Lite Alarms addressable fire alarm system with emergency voice evacuation to protect the entire facility.

System Has Almost 200 Devices

The Russian Evangelical Baptist Church serves a Russian immigrant community that sprang up around neighboring West Springfield beginning in 1991. As Russia’s borders opened up in the 1990s, the community grew rapidly. The new congregation first purchased land for a church location in 2001 and started work building a large worship facility. When the church opened its doors, it was already too small for its growing congregation. At that point, the congregation decided to combine the church and a school in a single location.

The fire alarm system centers around a Fire-Lite Alarms MS-9200UDLS addressable fire alarm control panel with a Fire-Lite Alarms Emergency Command Center (ECC) system providing voice evacuation functionality.

The addressable system pinpoints the location of the emergency, enabling firefighters to respond faster. An annunciator located near the church main entrance offers fire officials easy access to nearly all system information and controls.

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