Donated fire system plays critical role in fire tech training

Silent Knight and Delaware life safety company team up to ensure technical college has latest real-world fire equipment
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Monday, August 25, 2014

DOVER, Del.—The recent donation of a Farenhyt fire alarm and ECS system and the free installation that local company Advantech provided to Delaware Technical Community College’s Fire Protection Engineering Technology program benefits not only the college but also the industry, according to Advantech.

Eric Schaeffer, president of Advantech, a life safety and integration firm based here, said it’s imperative that future fire protection employees get the experience that working with the latest in real-world equipment will provide.

“When we look at trying to hire people out of a school with no or little field experience, having that knowledge is important, so it certainly helps us and our industry,” Schaeffer told Security Systems News. “It’s the largest college in the state and they put out a lot of people in the work force every year.”

Silent Knight by Honeywell donated a Farenhyt alarm and emergency communications system to the community college’s professional fire education training lab, the company said in August. The Farenhyt IFP-1000ECS fire alarm and emergency communication system was installed free-of-charge by Advantech.

The donations will allow students receive hands-on training in fire system design, maintenance and programming, a news release said. Also, the new system ties into various suppression systems so the college can train students on suppression technologies as well.

Schaeffer told SSN that cross training is essential. “In the fire alarm industry,” he said, “there’s always been that lack of understanding from the sprinkler guys to the alarm guys, ‘Exactly what do you do and how does what I do [fit in]?’ … [Having] that level of understanding helps troubleshooting skills tremendously.”

Schaeffer said Advantech, a 15-year-old company with 42 employees, donated labor, professional services and additional equipment to the college. That’s partly because the college, which has four campuses throughout the state, is one of Advantech’s largest customers. Also, Advantech hires many of its technicians from the college and Schaeffer considers Delaware Tech’s training lab an “awesome facility.” He said, “I’ve not seen anything like it anywhere.”

Delaware Tech’s program stands out as one of the few engineering technology programs in the country that specifically focuses on fire protection, according to the news release.

Schaeffer said that the installation was initially scheduled to take two days, but it took about two weeks on site and another two months to answer all the college’s questions and finalize the installation. “But the finished project is awesome,” he said.

The additional time was needed because the company’s technicians came up with solutions that made the project even better, he said. “We have some pretty talented technical people and we assigned a few of them to it, and from the original scope to what the finished product was, it changed a fair amount and provided additional functionality,” Schaeffer said.

For example, he said, lead technician John Gampp came up with the idea of making “a custom panel to control the different [nine sprinkler] risers [in the lab]. … We also put lights above each riser so when the active riser was on, the light would light up above the active riser so students in the classroom could quickly understand [which riser the lesson was on that day].”

Advantech this year became a member of Security-Net, a provider of security integration services.