Diplomatic Safety

The Blair House, a National Historic Landmark and the official guesthouse of the President of the United States, is located across from the White House. Built in 1824, the 93,000-sq.-ft. residence is renowned as a favorite stopover for foreign VIPs. With its below-grade basement and four above-grade levels, the Blair House provides these dignitaries with unparalleled service, security and privacy.

07/01/2004


The Blair House, a National Historic Landmark and the official guesthouse of the President of the United States, is located across from the White House. Built in 1824, the 93,000-sq.-ft. residence is renowned as a favorite stopover for foreign VIPs. With its below-grade basement and four above-grade levels, the Blair House provides these dignitaries with unparalleled service, security and privacy.

As comfortable as the Blair House is, guest safety is the primary concern of Donald Traff, team leader of the Domestic Environmental and Safety Division for the U.S. Dept. of State. Traff serves as the department's AHJ regarding fire and life-safety programs and systems, and is responsible for all of the buildings that the department owns and operates within the United States.

As safe as the building is, additional fire-protection systems were needed. However, there were obstacles. "The historical nature of the building limited us as to what we could do in terms of design," Traff said. As such, Traff decided on a system that could replace all of the old systems and devices on a one-for-one basis utilizing the existing wiring, conduit and boxes. This drastically reduced the amount of time, effort and money required to retrofit the building and assured a seamless integration with the existing infrastructure.

Scheduling was also an issue. "There were several unusual aspects to this job," said Ed Graves, president of Antronnix, the project's system installer. "To begin with, the entire job had to be completed within three days, start to finish. This was a job that would typically take anywhere from three to five weeks."

But that was only the beginning. To compound the difficulty, the installation took place during the biggest snowstorm of the decade. Also, because it is a secure building, every technician allowed into the Blair House had to be officially escorted 24 hours a day. In spite of all these restrictions, deadlines were met and increased visitor safety was achieved.

Antronnix installed a peer-to-peer fire-alarm network incorporating two fire control panels, as well as photo detectors. The system allows each fire-alarm control panel to maintain its own area of protection while monitoring and interacting with other nodes. Fire-alarm control panel nodes react to network events with coordinated programmed responses. In designated fire command centers, the network control station (NCS) provides operators with text and graphic annunciation of network activity as well as network control and panel programming. Additionally, the network control annunciator (NCA) is used to annunciate network events and provide control of network points using an intuitive large screen display and PC-style keypad.

The panel comes standard as one loop and is expandable to two, allowing up to 636 points per control panel. It is also designed to accommodate future expansion. The panels function separately or communicate as a network using an NCS or an NCA.

The photo detectors are capable of polling 318 devices and can activate up to 159 outputs in less than two seconds. Both the panels and detectors offer forward and backward compatibility with other of the manufacturer's products.

It took two shifts of 16 people each for Antronnix to meet its goal.

"In spite of all the challenges, the installation went smoothly and we were able to realize significant time and money savings, which made our decision look even better," Traff said.

For more on fire control networks from Notifier, on the Reader Service Card.





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