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Cohesive Protection System
Breaches to security by students on a campus and the frequency of campus arsons (an estimated 1,000 per year) have given many school administrators the reason to upgrade their institution's infrastructure of communications, establishing a higher degree of safety for students and personnel. Located in Lynnwood, WA., Federal Firesafety Inc.- a company specializing in the design and the installation of high-end fire alarm and security systems helped Western Washington University to achieve such a goal. Edwards Systems Technology (EST) in Connecticut manufactures the system known as the FireWorks Snergy System that is unique because security and access control functions are combined in truly one system, giving personnel the much needed information for effective action. Whereas, in the industry, a majority of these type of systems are separate and require gateways or relays to talk between fire and security.
Vital to this goal is Ethernet technology suitable to create the required connectivity. This is one of the first Ethernet installations of this magnitude for this type of application ever accomplished according to Federal Firesafety. More than 34 thousand devices, i.e. Smoke Detectors, Pull Stations, Motion Sensors, Duress buttons or other items to be monitored are part of the network.
TCP/IP, used at the recommendation of EST, is the protocol. TCP/IP powers the Internet, but it is known for its reliability and efficiency. It also allows for the interoperability between the system's existing and new equipment.
As part of the upgrade, Federal Firesafety approached Contemporary Controls, Downers, Grove, Ill., as the supplier for the six- and eight-port Ethernet switches in the system based on the results of the testing of the products conducted by EST in several Beta sites. Any adverse situations were critical to the selection of these switches, as the system needs to access important information with split-second timing.
In this application, removing the grounding on these switches was significant because unlike industrial control systems, fire alarm systems always float above ground. In this way, fire alarm systems can measure the wires for integrity by potential to ground. "A ground is cause for concern as the system may not function as required," explains Chris Golian, vice president of Federal Firesafety. "Multiple grounds create a path between circuits and may be the source for failure."
"Another important fact," says Golian, "is that we'll always be able to receive a consistent supply from Contemporary Controls. In my business, you develop the plans and submittals a year before construction. If the product we select is no longer available, it can mean a redesign and a resubmittal, even if there is a replacement that works in the same manner."
Western Washington University is a liberal arts college situated in Bellingham, just 90 miles north of Seattle. The University maintains 73 buildings on a 215-acre campus and 15 residence halls housing 4,000 students.
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