Home » Addressability Added to Condominium System:Fire Panel Failure Causes Management to Act
In September 2006, a service call was made to Fire Alarm Maintenance Co. (FAMCO) of Aston, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. The call came from the Plaza Condominium, a 14-story high-rise located on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk. The nature of the call? The Plaza’s fire alarm system had failed and required urgent attention.
Upon arriving on site, FAMCO technicians determined that the panel had “self-destructed.” Despite efforts to restore the control panel to normal operation, it was found to be unsalvageable.
“It was an old, outdated system, one that had been out of production for about 15 years,” recalls Ken Scott, president of FAMCO, which had acquired the service and repair contract for the Plaza’s system. “There was no technical support being provided for it anymore, no parts being manufactured. This system was clearly on its way out â€” permanently.”
It was the original system from the building’s opening in 1965, and although it didn’t seem like a positive event when it happened, the failure turned out to be just that. The Plaza’s staff began to search for a more modern, efficient system to protect the residents of the Plaza’s 158 luxury units.
After contacting the Atlantic City fire marshal and informing him that immediate action would be taken, the Plaza was forced to go into a fire-watch mode. This involved having a guard continually walking through the building on alert for any fire events, and if one were to arise, reporting it to the proper authorities, because any automatic warning capabilities were no longer available.
Claude Damico, the Plaza’s general manager, and the building’s managers, were faced with the daunting task â€” and expense â€” of finding a suitable replacement for the system.
The existing system was prone to false alarms because of its age. It consisted of a single, conventional panel board; it was not addressable and therefore was unable to pinpoint the exact location of a fire alarm event.
Although 110-volt horns were located throughout the hallways, no sounding devices were installed in the individual units. Consequently, if a resident were in the shower or listening to loud music, he or she might not hear the horn. Sprinklers were located in each unit, but those played no part in giving residents early warning.
Ultimately, Damico and the Plaza management turned to FAMCO to provide a solution. As long as the new system was effective, easy to use and reasonably priced, they decided that they would trust FAMCO’s recommendation.
Scott proposed a system from Silent Knight, Maple Grove, Minn., a part of the Honeywell Life Safety group and a provider of fire alarm solutions for small and mid-size institutions, as well as commercial sites.