Little Sisters of the Poor in Gallup, New Mexico was originally created as a private, non-profit, Catholic nursing home, but the three-acre facility added a modern, assisted living component a few years ago. This new three-story complex connects to the main facility and enables residents who don’t need a nursing home to live independently while giving them access to the services.

Still, at least 95 percent of the residents in the two buildings would require some level of assistance evacuating the premises should a fire alarm go off. In order to keep disruption to a minimum, the workers need to quickly determine if there is actually a fire and if there is, be able to determine its exact location so only the people in proximity to the fire have to be evacuated.

Until recently, neither of these capabilities was possible with the existing fire protection system. A conventional, 10-zone panel with about 300 points of protection incorporating pull stations, smoke detectors and duct detectors had originally been installed in the facility. If a fire alarm was activated, the panel might show something like, “Zone 1 North Wing.” The problem was a zone might contain 20 to 30 protection points, and facility personnel had to try to isolate exactly where the problem occurred.

In addition, because the emergency could not be readily identified, the fire department had to dispatch engines to the scene. Financially, the facility is responsible for costs incurred when fire trucks are dispatched.

The solution was an addressable system that would not only pinpoint the exact location of a potential fire “situation” but allows personnel to determine its true nature. Joe Mesich, owner of Advanced Technical Services, also in Gallup, provided a fire protection system from Silent Knight with a IFP-1000 intelligent analog/addressable fire control panel. The basic IFP-1000 system has a single Signaling Line Circuit (SLC) loop, which can support 127 SLC devices, expandable to 1016 points (eight total SLC loops with a maximum of 127 devices per loop) using simple expansion cards. It features six on-board Flexput circuits that can be configured for notification outputs or for conventional smoke detector inputs.

According to Mesich, the ability to pinpoint exact locations within the system is by far the primary benefit.

“Between the nursing home side and the assisted living side, we’ve installed about 300 points of protection,” said Mesich. “The second a fire alarm goes off, personnel are instructed to go to whichever annunciator is closest to them. At every annunciator [one on each floor and one in the maintenance department] we have a list of all the points of protection, so personnel can scroll down and determine the exact location of the alarm.

“Concurrently, when a fire alarm goes off, our communications center will call the facility. They’re instructed to verify whether there is actually a fire or if someone simply tripped a pull station or burned something in the kitchen. We don’t actually dispatch the fire department unless they know it’s a fire, which saves time, money and resources.”