The founding of Cooley Dickinson Hospital in 1886 in the town of Northampton, MA, was made possible by the bequest of $100,000 by Caleb Cooley Dickinson. Today, over one-hundred and twenty years later, Cooley Dickinson Hospital enjoys a sterling reputation as a locally governed, not-for-profit community hospital, providing professional and personalized care for a wide range of diagnoses. It was not long ago, however, that the hospitalâ€™s fire-alarm system was the patient in need of attention.
In 1997, a hospital expansion project that would add a 100,000-square-foot childbirth center to the existing facility could not be accommodated by the existing fire alarm system, which was installed back in 1984. Jim Aldridge, chief electrician at Cooley Dickinson for the past 30 years, explained, "It was limited to 32 zones and was already filled up. There was simply no room to add any other devices." The existing fire alarm panel was incapable of supporting the additional devices and subsequent protection that the new facility demanded. A newer, more modern system that could accommodate the current build-out, as well as any future expansion, was required.
Aldridge also noted that "We needed something that was easy to use since we do most of our own equipment maintenance. I wanted something my whole staff could readily adapt to without spending significant time on training."
After considering the options, Aldridge determined that an AM2020 intelligent fire alarm system from NOTIFIER, a leading manufacturer of commercial fire alarm systems and technology and part of the Honeywell (NYSE: HON) Life Safety Group, was not only best-suited to allow for current and future growth, it would also offer the best protection while still allowing Cooley Dickinson to keep within its budget.
The NOTIFIER AM2020 system, which came strongly recommended by the architectural firm working on the expansion project, was installed by Lee Audio â€˜N Security, a NOTIFIER Engineered Systems Distributor for over 20 years that has installed and serviced fire protection systems for a number of healthcare facilities in the Western Massachusetts area. They also upgraded all of the existing ancillary devices, including smoke detectors, strobes, control relay modules, and speakersâ€”in sum, approximately 1,000 total devices were replaced, all with NOTIFIER equipment.
Based on the success and positive experience of this first expansion project, "We knew that if we had any additional fire safety needs, we would turn to NOTIFIER," Aldridge said.
So in 2006, having just finalized plans for another additionâ€”a new 126,000-square-foot building that included a surgery center, joint center, state-of-the-art laboratory, and an additional patient floorâ€”Aldridge was determined to continue working with NOTIFIER to provide the fire protection. But now there were new requirements that had to be met.
"The local fire department had special regulations for a building of this size," he said. "One of the most critical was to have a graphical representation of all fire alarm devices, exits, and the like. We wanted to be sure to accommodate the request."
Richard Gore, president of Lee Audio â€˜N Security, explained the requirement in greater detail. "The fire department wanted a campus-based graphical system to interact with," he said In addition, "The system also had to consist of UL 864 Ninth Edition listed products," he added, and "NOTIFIER worked diligently to expedite the regulatory approval process so we could acquire the listed products on time before the building was opened."