Virginia company growing its fire business
WILLIAMSBURG, Va.—A former candle factory in this historic city is so large and rambling and houses so many different types of businesses that installing a new fire system in it was challenging.
However, Protection By Design, based here, which has been expanding its fire-related work in the past two years, was happy to tackle the job, said Michael Kidd, the company’s commercial project manager.
“It was a pretty different fire alarm,” Kidd said of the project, the first phases of which have taken about a year and half. “And I’m glad they chose us.”
Protection By Design was founded in 1990 by Rob and Paula Sheldon to offer custom security and today also offers a variety of other services. Fire currently accounts for about 15 to 20 percent of the business but the company’s fire division is growing, said Kidd, who has been with the company two years and specializes in fire.
Williamsburg—home to Busch Gardens, the Williamsburg Pottery Factory and Colonial Williamsburg, the city’s restored historic area—is a busy commercial area with a lot of construction, Kidd said. “It’s a good [fire] market for us right now,” he said.
The former candle factory is an example of the commercial fire jobs the company undertakes.
The building is on the site of the former Williamsburg Soap and Candle Factory, although much of the original complex has been replaced with new construction.
Still, Kidd said, the complex is rambling. “There are so many buildings attached to buildings.” Also, the complex now houses businesses as diverse as a Pizza Hut, an accountant’s office, an Amish food and furniture store and a boat and RV storage facility. “It’s got a little bit of everything,” he said.
Protection by Design is a Fire-Lite by Honeywell dealer and Kidd said, “I’m glad we used Fire-Lite,” because of the technical support he got from the company and the ease of the install.
“That candle factory took two control panels,” he said. “We had the bigger one up front and a smaller one in the back…the Fire-Lite 9600 in the front and a 9200 in the back.”
He said he used two systems to facilitate the wiring, which was a challenge in the lofty space. “For the wire running we had to have a high lift in the building,” Kidd said. “It was very intense to get all the wires where we needed to get them. That’s why we chose to split the building.”
He said there were about 50 heat detectors in the building’s attic and about 100 smoke detectors and “so many horn strobes, it’s unbelievable.”
He added, “Fire-Lite in that building … couldn’t have been a better match,” because of the system’s power and the ability to add on with ease. “When they called us up and said, ‘We have another store or another business going in,’” expanding the system was relatively simple, Kidd said.
The project is not yet done because the central part of the structure is still awaiting development, but Kidd said Protection By Design expects to do that part of the project as well. “They’ve already told me that when they start to develop more, they will keep me on for that,” he said.