Massachusetts hospital installs NOTIFIER fire alarm system

Manufactuer's solution 'best-suited' for growth of Cooley Dickinson Hospital

Based on these specifications, the NFS2-3030, an intelligent fire alarm control panel designed for medium-to-large-scale facilities was selected for the project along with ONYX FirstVision, a graphical touchscreen interface for firefighters. ONYX FirstVision connects to the fire alarm system and graphically displays the location of all fire alarm devices, water supplies, evacuation routes, access routes, fire barriers, gas, power and HVAC shutoffs, and chemical and structural hazards in the building. With ONYX FirstVision, responding firefighters can quickly identify the origin and migration of the fire along with anything that can help or hinder their response—exactly the kind of graphical interface that Cooley Dickinson and local fire officials had been looking for.

The fire alarm systems upgrade called for one NFS2-3030 panel to protect the entire hospital except for the new wing, which has an NFS2-3030 of its own. A total of about 400 ancillary devices complement the system in the new wing. What’s more, all patient rooms in the new wing are equipped with smoke detectors as well as visual notification devices (strobes). In fact, the hospital recently completed the addition of smoke detectors in all of the patient rooms throughout the entire facility.

"Having smoke detectors in each room is definitely the way the hospital industry is going right now," said Aldridge. "There’s no actual requirement to do this, but it’s coming out in the next version of the fire code, so we wanted to be ahead of the curve. Here, patient safety comes first, with staff alerting devices supporting that mandate. We felt it was worth the relatively small investment."

"The reliability of the system is obviously one of the key issues we took into account when expanding the facility, so system testing is critical to us," said Aldridge. "The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is very specific about testing requirements, and we adhere to them strictly. Every year we have the system and every individual device tested with our fire alarm vendor."

"With the NOTIFIER system we can get a printout of each device’s performance, which makes it particularly easy to see if there are any areas in need of troubleshooting. For example, we can clean every smoke detector that has reached certain level of sensitivity due to dust accumulation."

With the completion of the new wing in the spring of 2007, the entire hospital is now protected by NOTIFIER, as well as all of the hospital’s offsite facilities, including the MRI center and radiology center. And, according to Aldridge, the system gives Cooley Dickinson the option to expand well into the future.

"Basically, we can just about expand forever," he said. "We have no limits on our building, at least not from a fire protection perspective."