Notifier protects historic warship from fire

Fire alarm system 'did its job' on USS Yorktown
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

NORTHFORD, Conn.—Thanks to a Notifier by Honeywell fire system installed about two years ago on the USS Yorktown warship in Mount Pleasant, S.C., a fire on the historic aircraft carrier Aug. 9 was quickly detected and extinguished, according to the company, which is based here.

“It did its job,” Tim Cooney, president of Falcon Fire Systems, the local Notifier engineered systems distributor responsible for the commission, testing and maintenance of the ship’s fire alarm system, told Security Systems News.

He said a smoke detector activated the alarm and the firefighters responding from three cities to the World War II vessel—now the centerpiece of the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum—were able to locate the fire immediately. “They went and looked at the panel and it said, ‘smoke detector in the print shop,’ and they went right to the print shop … and put it out,” Cooney said.

The warship museum re-opened the next day, according to the company.

Originally built for the U.S. Navy in 1943, the Yorktown served in the Pacific during World War II and in the Vietnam War. It also recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts and capsule in December 1968, before being decommissioned in 1970, according to the Patriots Point web site.

The vessel draws scores of visitors, and Boy Scout groups stay onboard overnight on weekends.

According to The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., the executive director of the Patriots Point museum, Mac Burdette, said, “The ship’s alarm system worked perfectly … It was the first time the system was required in a real emergency.”

The newspaper reported that the electrical fire started in the ship’s print shop, likely sparked by a printer or monitor. Firefighters arrived at the scene about 12:30 a.m. and put out the fire in about 10 minutes, the paper said. Although it was confined to a single compartment, damage to the ship was estimated at about $20,000.

But Cooney said it could have been far worse had the fire gone on smoldering for hours. The ship contains many historical artifacts, including planes. “It’s a pretty neat place,” he said. “Actually this is the first time anything like this has happened on the Yorktown from what I understand … They got their money’s worth, I guess.”

Cooney said Falcon Fire has met with Patriots Point about the possibility of upgrading the fire alarm systems aboard other vessels there, such as a World War II submarine and a destroyer, using Notifier systems. He said the museum would like to have all the vessels networked together, tied to one panel on the Yorktown, for easy monitoring and control.

Falcon Fire, a 10-year-old company with five employees based in Summerville, S.C., does work on a range of verticals that include hotels, schools and industrial clients. One of its previous jobs was installing a Notifier system in the U.S. Custom House in Charleston, which dates back to the 1800s.