Quake shakes up thinking

New York installer predicts recent earthquake will create new demand for seismic-certified products
 - 
Thursday, October 20, 2011

WESTBURY, N.Y.—Gamewell-FCI by Honeywell recently announced that its fire alarm and emergency communications systems have earned International Building Code (IBC) seismic certification.

The announcement this fall came after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the East Coast on Aug. 23, and so was very timely, according to Alan Glassman, VP of Classic Systems, a Gamewell-FCI engineered systems distributor based here.

“If you would have asked me a year ago about the importance of seismic listings I would have laughed, to be honest with you,” Glassman told Security Systems News. However, he said, given the recent unusual weather events in the region—the earthquake and then Hurricane Irene, which battered the East Coast in late August, shutting down New York City—“I’m singing a different tune now.”

He believes the earthquake will be a wake-up call to others as well, such as the engineers and specifiers who engineer many of Classic Systems’ projects. He said seismic requirements “have never been in their specs before, but I can tell you I totally expect to see it coming forward.”

His company, he said, also plans to be proactive.

“We’re going to try and make it a specifiable item when we meet with engineers and specifiers,’ Glassman said. “My sales staff and engineering guys, we’re going to kind of push it and make sure that they understand that Gamewell FCI’s panels do have that listing now.” He believes that “will give Gamewell-FCI and consequently Classic Systems a heads up on anybody else.”

Classic is a 14-year-old company that serves metropolitan New York and New Jersey from its main New York office and also a satellite office in New Jersey.

Typically, Glassman said, 50 percent of the business the 24-employee company does is fire and the rest security, such as access control and CCTV. However, he said, “this year I would say we’re about 75 percent fire and I think that’s the result of the economy.”

While cash-strapped building owners can put off upgrading their security systems, national and local codes demand fire systems be up to date, Glassman said. “There are mandates and the clients can’t ignore it,” he said.

The company does installation on some smaller jobs, but in New York City, where union rules prevail, it usually does the “parts-and-smarts” and an electrical contractor does the installation based on Classic’s drawings and instructions, Glassman said.

Among Classic’s customers are hotels, and high-rise office and apartment buildings, he said. Also, Glassman said, the company currently is doing the fire alarm system for New York City’s first casino. The 1-million-square-foot Resorts World—actually a racino at the Aqueduct horseracing track in Queens—is slated to open this fall.

“It’s a huge fire alarm project,” said Glassman. “It’s going to be a Gamewell FCI-E3 multi-node system with full voice.”

In the first phase of the project, Classic is providing the fire alarm to the casino portion of the four-story resort, a parking-garage tower and a connecting building, he said. The contract for the job exceeds $500,000, Glassman said.

He said the company hopes in the future to be involved in the plan to eventually have the Gamewell-FCI system monitor the whole facility, including stables and paddocks.