AllSafe retrofits fire system for historic courthouse

AllSafe manager says the ‘versatile’ Potter products used for the challenging job provided an ideal solution
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

DALLAS, Ore.—AllSafe Fire & Security, a four-year-old fire company based here, recently completed a job overhauling the fire system of one of the town’s oldest buildings: the Polk County Courthouse.

“It was a very interesting project,” Michael Beecher, a manager for AllSafe, founded in 2009, told Security Systems News.

The main building of the historic four-story courthouse dates back to 1899 and it has a three-story annex added in 1964 and also a jail addition built in 1999. Beecher said AllSafe won a competitive bid of about $160,000 to install a new fire alarm system in the sprawling complex, which totals about 69,000 square feet.

The project brought “its own unique challenges,” Beecher said. Not only did the outdated conventional fire alarm system need upgrading but so did the sprinkler system, which was installed by a separate company.

But Beecher said the solution AllSafe used—Potter Electric Signal Co.’s P400R analog addressable releasing panel and the company’s PSN-1000(E) power expanders—was more than up to the job.

“I’ve been in the industry a little over 25 years … [and] I’ve seen a lot of different systems and this one here just amazes me,” Beecher said of the Potter system. He said it made for “the easiest install” of all his years of experience.

St. Louis-based Potter—which bills itself as the only independent manufacturer with a full line of fire alarm systems—said the zone monitoring associated with the courthouse’s conventional fire alarm system was outdated and insufficient. The new analog addressable system brings “reliability, pinpoint accuracy, and 24/7 on-site monitoring,” the company said.

The retrofit of the courthouse included five pre-action fire sprinkler systems in critical areas, such as a central computer server room and a storage room containing vital court documents, the company said.

“While many fire alarm control panels can only handle one pre-action system, the Potter P400R can handle multiple pre-action systems at once,” according to Potter. “This unique capability allowed the five preaction systems to all be linked to the single P400R, thus saving money” because the end user didn’t have to purchase multiple panels and link them together, the company said.

Previously, the courthouse had two separate fire alarm panels—one for regular fire alarm functions and one for releasing capabilities. The new P400R panel serves as an addressable fire alarm panel as well as a releasing panel, saving installation time and costs.

 “Quadrasync multi-strobe circuit synchronization technology” made for a smooth, simple installation. Additionally, the company said, the PSN-1000(E) power expanders “provided power to notification appliances, auxiliary power, and releasing circuits for pre-action solenoids.”

Beecher called the PSN-1000 (E) “first truly fully synchronizable addressable NAC [notification appliance control] panel.”

Among other reasons the courthouse’s new fire system stands out, Beecher said, is its “ability to text [the end user] for all the troublesome alarms.” The courthouse, like other public entities, is experiencing budget cuts that can mean fewer maintenance personnel, so instant notification of problems to remaining staff is important way, Beecher said.

The fire panel, he said, “does a self-diagnostic every 24 hours and sends you the results via email or text. It’s just so versatile.”

Currently, he said, AllSafe is doing fire alarm retrofits with Potter products in two elementary schools in Independence, Ore. and the email and text notification capabilities of the panel was the “main selling point to them.”

AllSafe is a part of DC Electric, an electrical contractor in Rickreall, Ore., Beecher said. AllSafe has four employees, supplemented by DC Electric employees when needed, he said.