Fire System Nurses Its Way To Health
Mountain Laurel Nursing Center is a 240-bed facility that also offers in-house and outpatient physical therapy. Mountain Laurel Nursing Center is located in a town with a population of about 6,500 called Clearfield, Penn. About a year ago, Mountain Laurel completed the installation of a new intelligent fire alarm panel and life safety system.
The new system replaced the fire detection system that provided complete coverage, but inadequately reported on the status of Mountain Laurel’s 99,000 square foot area. Because the original three-story facility, originally built in the 1960s, included several add-ons, the older fire system was divided into 32 zones, each including many rooms.
It was obvious that too much time was being lost between smoke detection and fire fighter response. An alarming incident included a smoking motor in one of two massive air-handling units in the attic. The entire attic, covering almost the entire building, was included in a single zone. Fortunately it was just a motor that smoked, not an actual fire. The incident emphasized the need to upgrade to a smart system that would immediately provide relevant information, so response time would not be longer than necessary.
SELECTING A SYSTEMThe selected system included an intelligent fire alarm panel, featuring analog addressable detection, programming and memory capability. Its initiating devices for the Mountain Laurel installation included 35 intelligent manual-pull stations, 250 photoelectric detectors and 80 thermal detectors. The system also featured approximately 80 monitoring and internal interface modules, plus horns, strobes, horn/strobe combinations and a remote LCD annunciator. Detectors were installed in all patient rooms, common rooms, administration areas, work areas and storage closets.
INSTALLATION FLEXIBILITYInstallation flexibility was a positive aspect of the new system. The system’s initiating devices are polarity-insensitive, and could be installed employing existing wire. Considering the size of the building and potential downtime and inconvenience to residents and caregivers, this was timesaving and money saving.
With the old system, if rewiring or polarity of existing wiring was necessary, residents would have to be moved for long periods of time while ceiling tiles were raised to check wire sizes, shapes, colors and positive or negative.
With the new system, workers simply went into the rooms, moved the ceiling tile, did the work, cleaned up and had the residents back in their rooms in less than 20 minutes. Because of the system’s flexibility, there was no substantial inconvenience to patients or disruption of facility routine.
Protection and monitoring were still available while the replacement took place because the new system was interfaced with the old system and replaced it almost immediately. Part of the old system was still operative while the new system was being fired up.
As a result, the facility continued to be protected 24/7 during the replacement, as required. The retrofits continued one zone at a time, while the other 17 zones, old or new, continued with operation. If this had not been the case, facility maintenance would have had to institute an inconvenient and costly fire watch program.