Forty-eight hours

March/April 2001 Fire & Safety

Rarely does the opportunity arise where one can test the skills of one’s organisation and the benefits of products that one sells in a single weekend.

Design Systems Group, EST's (Edwards System Technology) Strategic Partner in Grand Prairie, Texas, USA was presented with such an opportunity. Steve Pierce, Facilities Manager for Fort Worth Investors, had two buildings in Fort Worth that needed major fire alarm work to bring them up to code.

Tall order

The Commerce Building is a 20-storey high-rise with basement and a five-storey garage. Built in 1927, the last renovation on the building was carried out in 1985. The second facility, known as the Oil and Gas Building, is an 18-storey high-rise with basement. Built in 1952, it was also last renovated in 1985. A common lobby and multiple elevator banks connect the two buildings. Together they comprise some 40 764 m2 of office space excluding basement, garage and mechanical areas.

During initial discussions with Design Systems Group, Pierce expressed concern about disrupting the tenants on the site and causing downtime and inconvenience resulting from the extensive work that was required. Approximately 800 existing devices had to be replaced with the exception of a few speaker and strobe circuits. The contractor also had to reconnect existing waterflow and tamper switches and the fire pump monitor circuits. The HVAC interface needed to be completely re-worked. Elevator recall with a secondary landing floor also had to be added. Finally, the system needed to interface with the existing pre-action systems and provide override functions for the existing security access control system.

Design Systems Group staff reviewed the requirements and closely inspected all aspects of the two buildings. Based on their experience, Project Managers Robert and Steve Morphew developed an ambitious upgrade plan. The job went to bid and Design Systems was awarded the job. Design Systems' price was half that of the closest competitor, largely because, thanks to Signature Series, they were able to use existing wiring - a factor no competing firm could bring to the job.

Weeks in the making

An EST3 system was proposed because of its ease of installation and because it would provide the customer additional benefits above and beyond those specified, at no additional cost. But what really sold the job was the fact that with careful planning and execution, Design Systems pledged to carry out the entire retrofit in one weekend!

Three weeks before the installation the EST3 hardware was taken from stock and assembled in Design System's build-up room. The basic program for the buildings was loaded and each function was checked.

With a week to go before installation Design Systems had an electrical contractor install conduit to all new devices being added to the new fire alarm system, which included waterflow and tamper switches and duct detectors.

Below is a brief account of the fire alarm retrofit that took place during the weekend of 26-27 September 1998.

Installation - day one: Oil and Gas Building

7:00 a.m. The existing system is powered down and a team of 17 personnel begin the installation. Eight techs begin at the top of the building replacing devices. Two more begin device replacement at the large basement and first floors. One team member starts replacing end-of-line resistors throughout the building while others organise and stage the equipment, placing the right devices in the right locations while keeping up with the bar codes for programming. Another three members start replacing existing control equipment and mount the new cabinets.

3:00 p.m. The EST3 system is brought on-line.

6:00 p.m. The system is clean and green and the team starts testing.

6:30 p.m. Tools and equipment are moved to the Commerce Building.

Commerce Building

8:30 p.m. Members discuss work on special systems interfacing and some wiring issues.

10:30 p.m. Two members of the team finish up the system interface.

Installation - day two:

3:00 a.m. Whilst the team takes a break a Security officer begins a fire watch.

8:00 a.m. Everybody starts over again replacing devices.

3:00 p.m. EST3 is up and running and testing starts.

4:00 p.m. Two members begin testing to find any faults in the wiring and do final system programming.

11:30 p.m. The system is up and running.

EST products are available locally from Progressive Systems Technologies (PST).

For details contact PST on tel: (011) 285 0056, [email protected]

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