Vertical Market Focus--Public/Cultural: Mets Draft Major League Fire Protection

Oct. 19, 2012
New fire protection system at the Mets' Citi Field a home run for public safety

When the New York Mets National League ballpark in Flushing, N.Y., was built in 2009, countless hours were spent on the planning, installation and testing of this 1.2 million-square-foot facility’s fire protection system. Citi Field, named after corporate sponsor Citigroup, comprises a unique contoured seating design for optimal views from all seats within the ballpark’s “bowl,” with a 360-degree walking path around the entire park.

 For the system’s head-end, Citi Field management chose the ONYXSeries NFS2-3030 fire alarm control panel with integrated DVC (Digital Voice Command) manufactured by NOTIFIER. Local fire and life safety systems specialists, Cross-Fire & Security Co. Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y., worked alongside the job’s electrical contractor, managing all aspects of system design, installation and programming.

“We originally installed is a 26-node voice evacuation system and just added another NFS2-3030 to the network to accommodate a new bar/restaurant in the admin building,” said Brendan Doorly, Cross-Fire’s vice president. “We visited the site twice a month to perform regular testing and maintenance and the system works flawlessly.”

More than 2,000 initiating devices were installed throughout Citi Field, most of which are duct and spot-type smoke detectors. Per Citi Field specs and the AHJ’s (Authority Having Jurisdiction) approval, relatively few manual fire pull boxes were installed to deter bogus alarms.

Superior polling capabilities

A fire alarm system with a large number of field devices must be capable of reacting to events just as rapidly as a small system. ONYX Series panels use FlashScan, a protocol unique to NOTIFIER, which is capable of polling 318 devices in two seconds and initiating a full system response in less than five seconds.

The ballpark is equipped with a centralized method for monitoring and control of the entire fire protection network. The ONYX Series NCS (Network Control Station) is a computer with graphic user interface, complete with detailed facility floor plans that allow users to check system status and search event history. During an event, the screen automatically zeroes-in on the activated device and displays related information labels such as nearby hazardous material storage and special occupancy areas.

According to Cross-Fire’s Senior Systems Engineering Manager John Beers: “Anytime we’re onsite, we use the NCS to perform walk tests or to temporarily disable devices for maintenance. It’s so intuitive, the park’s facilities and security people use it all the time to keep an eye out for potential issues.”

Synchronized batting order

When two or more strobes can be seen at the same time, they must be synchronized to flash in unison. Per NFPA 72 and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, the flash rate of a typical listed visual notification appliance must be no less than one per second and no more than two per second.

“You can see one side of the ballpark to the other, so we had to put in strobe panels in order to achieve synchronization throughout the park. When the fire alarm system goes off, it looks like one giant flash bulb,” stated Beers.

 Each strobe panel receives a sync pulse from the NFS2-3030 fire alarm control panel. This enables the system to coordinate each and every flash from one side of the facility to the other.

 The system protecting Citi Field is divided into four quadrants with a DGP (data gathering panel) node positioned in each. The four panels report to the main NFS2-3030 fire alarm control panel, which in-turn issues commands as needed. Interconnection of panels, annunciators, DGPs and other command/control devices is accomplished via NOTI-FIRE-NET, a token-style network manufactured by NOTIFIER.

 Due to the system’s distributed intelligence, if connection is lost with the head-end panel, each DGP will continue to operate independently until connection is restored. Once the interruption is corrected, system operation returns to normal with data, such as event information and programming changes, continuing to be exchanged between each DGP and fire alarm control panel node.

 “We ran the data bus to the DGP node in each quad and we placed addressable SLCs and output cards in them as needed,” said Beers. “One of the added benefits of the ONYX Series is that there are very few wires that run between each node and the main fire alarm control head-end. Unlike many other systems, we didn’t have to install a ton of cables to accommodate the 2,000+ initiating devices, warden phones, graphic command stations and other command and control equipment.”

 Most of today’s traditional fire alarm systems call for multiple wires per device. While capable of utilizing one or more networking options, involving copper, fiber optic cable or IP, the ONYX Series system in Citi Field uses UTP (unshielded twisted-pair) per N.Y. City requirements.

Interleague integration

“There was a lot of integration on this job. We had to integrate with the BMS (building management system) on site as well as the PA (public address) system in the bowl,” continued Beers. “We received the final approval from the New York Fire Department to use the public address system as a method of broadcasting alarm signals throughout the ballpark.”

Integration with Citi Field’s PA system was accomplished using input from a NOTIFIER DVC.   If warranted for mass notification purposes, the fire alarm’s DVC can override the bowl’s public address system to broadcast live emergency communications throughout the ballpark. The DVC is capable of providing up to eight channels of audio with five channels of firefighters’ telephone, plus control and supervision for up to 32 digital audio amplifier units. During an event, the screen automatically zeroes-in on the activated device and displays related information labels such as nearby hazardous material storage and special occupancy areas.

 Additional integration to Citi Field’s fire protection system includes controls of fans, dampers, elevators and escalators for smoke control functions.

 “We’ve been very pleased with the (fire alarm) system,” said Pat McGovern, vice president of operations at Citi Field. “The system itself comes with interesting features that I’ve never seen before in a fire alarm system. Because of the scalability potential, I am confident that it will meet our needs well into the future.”