The Notifier fire and life safety system allowed the Gilcrease Museum to fulfill its mandatory building and fire code requirements.

There are no tumbleweeds blowing through its halls, no gunfights taking place in the restrooms. Still, if you are hankering for a taste of the old American West, you would be hard-pressed to find a more authentic experience than the Gilcrease Museum.

Located just northwest of downtown Tulsa, Okla., the Gilcrease Museum is one of the country’s best facilities for the preservation and study of American art and history. Gilcrease Museum is the product of a lifetime of artifact collecting by Thomas Gilcrease, whose fortune was made in the dusty oilfields of Oklahoma nearly 100 years ago.

Drawing thousands of visitors from around the world for a glimpse into the past, the Gilcrease Museum houses the world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. The museum also offers an unparalleled collection of Native American art and artifacts, as well as historical manuscripts, documents and maps. Gilcrease tours, workshops, musical events and lectures provide numerous opportunities to expand insight into the museum and the history it presents. And themed gardens have been developed on 23 of the museum’s 460 acres to enhance the overall experience.

Several years ago, museum officials were applying for reaccreditation of the museum. The museum’s insurer, as well as the Smithsonian Institution, which certifies many of the museum’s exhibits for authenticity, required the reaccreditation. As part of the process, it was determined that the museum’s existing fire protection system was insufficient, lacking the reliability that the insurer looked for. Further, the system did not comply with the 2003 International Building Code and NFPA 72, both of which are now standards for museums.


Clearly, a new system would have to be obtained and installed. Because the museum is a department of the City of Tulsa, the museum was required, like all other city and state agencies, to secure a number of bids for the job. Mac Systems, one of Oklahoma’s oldest suppliers of fire detection, submitted the successful bid. Once Mac Systems was awarded the job, there was little doubt in which direction they would go – or which equipment they would recommend.

“We have a long-standing relationship with the system supplier,” said Tom DeTar, division manager of the Electronics Systems Division at Mac Systems. “In fact, it began way back in 1964. The number of installations we have completed with Notifier products is literally in the tens of thousands, and there are very few products that we haven’t used at one time or another. We are particularly pleased with the performance and reliability of the Onyx Series of controls and devices,” said DeTar.

This partnership came as no surprise to anyone familiar with the company. The system’s ability to handle such a large number of detectors and other appliances came in handy for the Gilcrease installation, given the laundry list of devices that Mac provided with the panel.

Interfacing with the system is the UniNet 2000, an advanced network that allows users to monitor and control security, fire, card access, security video and other facility information over a proprietary LonWorks network. This system is designed to allow a mixture of different technologies and manufacturers to operate on the same network.

Roger Harmon, the director of security at the Gilcrease Museum, was impressed with the speed of installation, as well as the system’s performance, even at this early stage.

“The installation was completed in just nine months,” said Harmon, who is responsible for the protection of Gilcrease’s entire collection. “This was a relatively fast process considering the scope of the system and the myriad city codes requiring compliance.

“The system is working even better than we expected, and has already paid for itself many times over,” he added. “In fact, it has already detected one problem in an overheating transformer that could have been disastrous.”

Systems integrator DeTar said, “We had no problems obtaining materials from the manufacturer on this project. Plus, we needed very little assistance on the project. That was because we used factory trained technicians on the project.”

The installation of this system fulfilled the mandatory requirements, and also allowed peace of mind for the guests. Patrons of the Gilcrease Museum can now enjoy an authentic trip back to the Wild West time and again, with good faith that the artifacts inside will be preserved and protected for years to come.