Fenway fire protection

October 1, 2009
The upgraded fire protection system provides centralized control of the newly installed systems for Fenway Park, the executive offices, a restaurant, and the park’s Bleacher Bar located in center field. All photos: Honeywell Fire Systems

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Fire detection and fire control functions are major considerations for sports arenas and other places of public assembly. In a modern commercial building setting, it has become abundantly clear that voice evacuation systems need to do more than direct people to the nearest point of egress.

Life safety systems should protect against other threats in addition to fire, including weather, hazardous material, and intruder-related emergencies. Having the means to notify large volumes of people to the specific, real-time risks at hand is a modern-day necessity.

Based on this concept, historic Fenway Park home of the Boston Red Sox and its surrounding buildings upgraded their emergency voice/alarm communications (EVAC) network. Built in 1912, Fenway Park has undergone its share of MEP and life safety system renovations. Fenway Park has a listed capacity of 36,108 for night games and 35,692 for day games. The fire protection system at Fenway recently underwent a complete upgrade to accommodate system growth and new code considerations. Centralized control of new installed systems throughout the park’s facilities was another key component of the upgrade.

AFA Protective Systems chose the Gamewell-FCI model E3 Series EVAC system because of the system’s distributed intelligence, capable of integrating the park’s existing initiating and notification devices. The new Fenway fire protection system encompasses the park itself, the executive offices, a restaurant, and the park’s “Bleacher Bar” located in the center field stands. The E3 Series replaced a variety of existing head-end panels and bulk audio EVAC equipment, plus the specific peripherals used to provide initiating, notification, and fire control input/output functions.

The first phase of the Fenway upgrade consisted of a total cut-over of all independent control and the bulk audio system to a new, single fire protection network with integrated voice commands. Nearing its 100th anniversary, Fenway Park has plans to expand its restaurants, concession areas, and gift shops to neighboring buildings. The E3 Series’ modular design and capacity will allow the planned expansions to seamlessly integrate into the fire protection network. New emergency communication codes and sizeable renovations will eventually lead to selective paging for Fenway Park.

“There are new fire alarm mandates coming out that require selective paging where you have more than one tenant,” said John Stofa, northeast regional manager with fire alarm/life safety systems manufacturer Gamewell-FCI, Northford, Conn. “While Fenway management was thinking fire alarm, we were thinking ahead to mass notification.”

The future codes relate to the new NFPA 72: National Fire Alarm & Signaling Code, 2010 Edition, which requires zoned audio for selective paging. Although the park has yet to adopt the new NFPA 72 requirements, building officials felt it was necessary to lay the groundwork for additional improvements in the future.

Fenway’s new EVAC system allows authorized users a means for delivering real-time announcements throughout the park. The new system integrates with Fenway’s public address system to allow emergency personnel the ability to address the entire park, including the playing field, directly from the central command center.

The previous fire protection infrastructure at Fenway provided the groundwork on which the new system could build, including more than 500 notification appliance circuit speakers and strobes. An additional mix of nearly 500 devices, ranging from manual fire pulls to automatic initiating devices, was already in place in the park. Since the E3 Series needs only one unshielded twisted pair conductor for complete system integration, the existing installed wire throughout Fenway was repurposed, saving money on field labor and material costs.

AFA Protective Systems implemented an additional 800 W of audio power on top of the 400 W required by the present audio field. The extra power provides backup amplification and additional headroom for sudden system demands and future growth. The audio field uses 70-V line to carry audio tones and verbal instructions throughout Fenway Park. The higher levels of audio power provide a positive effect on the intelligibility of audio communications—a principal requirement of EVAC systems outlined in NFPA 72. In the event of a power outage, AFA Protective Systems installed enough battery power to operate the total system in standby mode for 24 hours with a subsequent alarm time of 15 minutes at full load.

Facilities personnel and first responders have quick access to fire protection information via the remote annunciators installed throughout the park. The control room’s head-end panel includes a network graphic annunciator featuring touch-screen controls and an intuitive menu structure for ease of operation and immediate access to critical information. Six additional textural annunciators were placed in key locations, including the laundry building, “Bleacher Bar,” and the planned entryway gate for first responders.

The translation and conversion of the original control panel’s software program for use in the E3 Series panels

First responders have quick access to vital fire protection information via remote annunciators located throughout the park.

was a huge challenge for the integration team. The two-wire data bus provided substantial cost savings by communicating data from node to node over a single pair of unshielded wires over a 625K baud—the industry standard for data communications is 100 to 318 baud.

The Fenway Park fire and life safety systems’ upgrade demonstrates how the public’s increased focus on emergency communications is playing an important role in project design and completion. Technological advancements and the development of building codes like the 2010 Edition of NFPA 72 will continue to push for the installation of high-tech EVAC systems in commercial structures.

Information provided by Honeywell Fire Systems



Fenway Park in Boston upgraded its emergency voice/alarm communications (EVAC) system to accommodate updated building codes and take advantage of advancements in life safety systems.

AFA Protective Systems chose the Gamewell-FCI model E3 Series EVAC system because of its distributed intelligence, capability of integrating with the park’s existing infrastructure, and modularity for future expansion. The new fire protection system encompasses Fenway Park itself, along with the executive offices, a restaurant, and the park’s “Bleacher Bar.”

The new EVAC system allows users to deliver real-time announcements throughout the park through the park’s public address system. Previous fire protection infrastructure allowed the integration team to use more than 500 notification appliance circuit speakers and strobes, along with the pre-existing installed wire to save time and money during installation. Additional levels of audio power provide backup amplification and additional headroom for sudden system demands.

The project represents a new relationship between advancements in fire protection technology and more stringent building codes.