There was a need to stay up to speed with post-9/11 codes. Since that time and the sharper focus on terrorism, there has been a big push for military bases around the country to install anti-terrorism mass notifications systems in conjunction with compatible fire alarm systems. “A new flexible non-proprietary system made it a perfect partner for the two types of mass notification systems we were using,” said Brian Banta, vice president of Freedom Communications of Louisville.

Such mass notification systems, as part of crisis management and disaster recovery for enterprises, industrial sites and government and military facilities, mean these organizations must setup new systems or integrate mass notification in existing systems and facilities.

Fort Knox was no exception. It’s a sprawling and critical location.

It’s the home of the Army Armor Center, and the U.S. Army Recruiting Command. Encompassing 109,000 acres in four Kentucky counties, Fort Knox has a population of over 23,000 soldiers, family members and civilians. The Armor Center and the Recruiting Command School, the largest organization on Fort Knox, performs the mission of bringing men and women in to the U.S. Army. These military personnel and other residents are housed in 14 barracks. Several years ago, Fort Knox called on Freedom Communications to completely upgrade the fire alarm systems in a number of key buildings at the base, including the 14 barracks.


Banta explained the thinking at the initial stages of the Fort Knox project. “We got our feet wet working with the electrical installer on a small job at the base in 2003. While doing that, they informed us about the bigger project, which included installation of fire control panels and mass notification systems in 14 barrack buildings. They told us that they were looking for non-proprietary control panels that they could easily work on and order parts for after the install. We looked at a number of different brands that were out there, and the Fire-Lite panel quickly rose to the top of the list.”

The new fire alarm system was a long time coming and much needed at Fort Knox. The previous system was conventional, as opposed to addressable, so pinpointing a source point for an alarm posed a challenge. In fact, Banta and his team had four months to complete the entire project; the installation of the fire alarm systems was being done in conjunction with many other building upgrades, including rewiring, new windows, new roofs and overall interior remodeling.

Another step in the integration design: new tech in a number of other locations around the base, including the regional correctional facility, two elementary schools and an officers’ club.

Banta explained how the officers’ club project, although a smaller project than the barracks installation, posed its own unique challenges. He said, “With the officers’ club, we were set with the task of providing a system that could shut down the audio on the dance floor, turn on all the lights and initiate a mass notification message. We were able to put in control modules and relay modules so that all of these unique events could be easily controlled and monitored.”

SIDEBAR: What’s In the New Design

Freedom Communication’s winning project bid incorporated the installation of 14 Fire-Lite MS-9600 control panels in the different barracks. The addressable fire alarm control panel is a compact system with surface-mount technology. It includes advanced fire protection features like maintenance alert, automatic detector test and smoke detector sensitivity printout. The units can also come with the convenience of an optional digital alarm communicator transmitter, which allows for remote site upload/download and remote monitoring and diagnostics.

SIDEBAR: IP Rings Life Safety Bell

There are IP advances in security video and access controls systems. Now IP is making noise with life safety systems. Newly-released devices enable the transmission of alarms generated by a fire control panel through any type of IP network (i.e. ADSL, cable, Internet).

One example, the IPDACT from Fire-Lite Alarm eliminates a fire system’s need for two separate, costly phone lines for alarm communications. Through the use of an existing network line and phone line (as back-up), this simple add-on device integrates seamlessly with a wide majority of panels to allow for faster alarm transmissions, therefore improving response times.