General Mills installs Notifier solution

Company’s research and development facility utilizes intelligent fire alarm network


Whether it’s for a new children’s cereal or a comprehensive fire and life safety system, Lauren Hoen, a Building Operations Manager for General Mills, understands that the recipe for success calls for only the finest ingredients.

Hoen is the building operations manager at the James Ford Bell (JFB) Technical Center, General Mills’ research and development facility located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Recently, Hoen was tasked with finding a fire safety system that could address the extensive challenges posed by the large and complex JFB campus.

The JFB Technical Center’s 690,000-sq.-ft. facility is home to numerous R&D labs and offices, sensory labs, and four pilot plants. The Center also houses a cereal science classroom and a comprehensive research library that contains over 800 journals, 20,000 books, 500 online databases, and over 1,400 food industry Internet resources.

The existing fire alarm system at JFB was nearly twenty years old, outdated, and no longer in production, making system upgrades impossible. Hoen had seen first-hand in his former job at Pillsbury that a NOTIFIER system could provide a powerful, effective, and flexible fire safety solution for a large company—one that easily adapted to growing or changing needs.

Hoen explained, "I installed my first NOTIFIER system at the Pillsbury R&D center in the early 1980’s. Upgrades and building expansions over the years have kept the system current to this day. In 2001, General Mills acquired Pillsbury and I was transferred to JFB. As a result of the merger, the main campus practically doubled in size. I’ve installed fire alarm systems at four different facilities over the years. From my experience, I knew that a NOTIFIER system would provide a seamless and consistent interface for the existing JFB campus."

To get the precise NOTIFER system he needed, Hoen chose to work with Low Voltage Contractors, a NOTIFIER distributor that’s been serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for twenty-two years. According to Dan Westberg, Operations Manager at Low Voltage Contractors, a systems integration company, NOTIFIER was a “natural fit” to address the complexities of this project.

"The JFB campus, with its size, unique needs, and unusual serpentine configuration, posed many challenges to maintaining fire safety. The building itself is designed with a primary "spine" with branches shooting off of it at many different points, some leading to entirely new and sizable building sections. The NOTIFIER product had the horsepower, ease of use, and zone control that this application demanded," Westberg said.

Westberg recommended that JFB go with solutions from NOTIFIER’s ONYX series, specifically, an NFS2-3030 intelligent fire alarm-voice evacuation control panel to be located in the facility’s incident command center, an ONYXWorks graphical workstation, and eighteen NFS2-640 intelligent fire alarm control panels strategically located throughout the building.

Hoen added, "I find the zoned voice evacuation components to be highly valuable. Our facility is very complex; there are product development labs, data centers, clean rooms, process pilot plants and production facilities, courtyards, employee services and amenities, and hundreds of offices. The NOTIFIER system gives us complete vision of and control over fire safety throughout this facility, and yet it is extremely intuitive to use. I particularly like the ONYXWorks graphical user interface—ease of use is critical in a fire alarm system today."

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