Web Exclusive Feature--New Fire Protection Systems Protect Washington, DC's Blair House
Interestingly, the house even doubled as the residence of Harry Truman for much of his presidency while the interior of the White House, which had been found to have serious structural faults, was completely gutted and rebuilt.
As comfortable as the Blair House makes these dignitaries feel, it is their safety that is the primary concern of Donald Traff, team leader of the Domestic Environmental and Safety Division for the U.S. Dept. of State. Traff serves as the department's AHJ regarding fire life safety programs and systems. This makes him responsible for all of the buildings that the department owns and operates within the domestic U.S., including the Blair House. So when the decision was made to install additional fire protection systems in the Blair House to make it even safer, it was up to Traff to find the equipment.
Due to the long-standing relationship between NOTIFIER, a leading manufacturer of engineered fire alarm systems, and the Blair House (NOTIFIER products were already being utilized there), and because Traff had already been impressed with the ease of programming and installation of the company's fire detection products, he voted to again go with NOTIFIER.
There were, however, a few obstacles that made the installation a bit more challenging.
"The historical nature of the building limited us as to what we could do in terms of design," Traff said. "Consequently, it was a relief that the NOTIFIER products allowed us to completely replace all of the old systems and devices on a one-for-one basis, utilizing the existing wiring, conduit and boxes, which drastically reduced the amount of time, effort and money required to retrofit the building. Ultimately, the ability of NOTIFIER systems to blend in seamlessly with existing infrastructure was a significant plus."
There were other considerations, particularly in terms of scheduling, that had to be addressed as well.
"There were several unusual aspects to this job," said Ed Graves, president of Antronnix, a NOTIFIER Engineered Systems Distributor (ESD). "To begin with, the entire job had to be completed within three days--start to finish. This was a job that would typically take anywhere from three to five weeks."
But that was only the beginning. To compound the difficulty, the installation took place during the biggest snowstorm of the decade. Also, because it is a secured building, every technician allowed into the Blair House required an official escort 24 hours a day. Yet in spite of all these restrictions, deadlines were met and increased visitor safety was achieved.
The NOTIFIER Network Control Annunciator (NCA) is used to annunciate network events and provide control of network points using an intuitive large screen display and PC style keypad.
The NFS-640 comes standard as one loop and is expandable to two, allowing up to 636 points per control panel. It is also designed to accommodate future expansion. The panels function separately or communicate as a network using an NCS or an NCA. What's more, it is forward and backward compatible for seamless upgrades of existing NOTIFIER systems, meaning that future fire detection needs in the Blair House can be easily met.
The FlashScan FSP-851 photo detectors, like all of NOTIFIER's FlashScan products, can poll devices up to five times faster than before, reducing response time. In fact, they are capable of polling 318 devices and can activate up to 159 outputs in less than two seconds. As with the NFS-640, FlashScan devices and detectors offer forward and backward compatibility with other NOTIFIER products. FlashScan systems are also built with the capability to utilize a voice option to create emergency announcements as necessary.
It took two shifts of 16 people each to get the job done, but Antronnix accomplished its goal. And it has been able to create an even safer environment in the Blair House that will make visitors from all over the world feel as secure as humanly possible.
"In spite of all the challenges, the installation went smoothly and we were able to realize significant time and money savings," Traff said.
For more information on NOTIFIER fire alarm and detection products, please visit www.notifier.com.