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News

Evacuation system donated to charity home

Gamewell-FCI : 28 September, 2009  (Application Story)
Lodgings in Alabama for the parents of children who are being treated at a local hospital have been provided with a Gamewell-FCI emergency evacuation system by local distributor
Evacuation system donated to charity home
Gamewell-FCI distributor Prestige Alarm and Specialty Products of Birmingham, Alabama, has recently donated an E3 Series Expandable Emergency Evacuation System, manufactured by Gamewell-FCI, to a nearby Ronald McDonald House.

In 2003, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama (RMHC.A) assessed the long-term viability of their existing facility. With nearly $2 million in repairs and renovations required at a facility that would remain inadequate in size and location, RMHCA Board of Directors voted to build a new facility with a goal of raising $6.75 million in funding.

Eddie Harden, CEO of Prestige Alarm, recalls being asked for pricing on the fire alarm system. His young children overheard and offered to help pay for it. This ultimately moved Harden to donate the system in his children's names, along with the installation and three years of monitoring and maintenance services.

'I've seen families receive the blessing of the Ronald McDonald House. It meant a lot to me to be a part of the new facility and provide a system that will protect lives there for many years,' says Harden.

To ensure split-second detection, notification and communications, Harden utilized a Gamewell-FCI E3 Series system, operating on a 625k broadband pipeline with the bandwidth to ensure a fully-loaded panel delivers immediate results. One UTP (unshielded twisted-pair) of wires integrates the House's entire fire protection system while reducing its overall footprint and facilitating efficient installation and troubleshooting.

The system's modular design and minimal wire requirements allowed Prestige Alarm to customize its fit and function for this facility. Capable of supporting a network of up to 64 nodes and more than 20,000 sensors, the E3 Series can be easily expanded or reconfigured to accommodate future growth.

According to Harden, the fire protection system installed at the new Ronald McDonald House includes smoke detectors in each guest room and common areas, as well as facility-wide pull stations, speakers, annunciators and control modules for integrating elevator and HVAC control.

'The system also includes wireless radio communications for monitoring the system at our central office without the use of telephone lines,' says Harden.

Increased 'survivability' was an element other systems of this size did not readily offer. The centralized command design used by most traditional systems is susceptible to single network faults which can interrupt total fire alarm operations. The E3 Series' distributed intelligence enables each system segment to operate independently. If one or more segments are damaged, the remaining components continue functioning properly.

The new 33,000 square-foot, three-story Ronald McDonald House features 41 bedrooms, an elevator, private bathrooms, a family-style kitchen and common areas. The house sits on donated land located within blocks of the local Children's Hospital and the hospital of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System, which includes a new Women and Infants Centre opening in spring 2010.

'We were at the peak of construction inflation when building this facility and had a very small budget for a basic life safety system,' says Roberta Shapiro, former executive director and construction consultant for RMHCA. 'With donations that totaled over $1.5 million, the project was a great source of satisfaction that brought out the best in many people. For a company the size of Prestige Alarm, the contribution of this system was a very big donation.'

Birmingham's Ronald McDonald House is open 24 hours a day, 365 days each year and charges just $5 to $10 per night for daily services that cost more than $50 to provide. According to current RMHCA Executive Director Mike Singer, the $8.7 million facility was paid for through fundraising and many donations like the fire alarm system from Prestige Alarm. This enabled the facility to open without any debt and allows monies raised today to be allocated to maintaining operations and providing services for the families that stay at the House while their children are treated at nearby medical facilities.

'With well over 100 people staying at the facility and using the kitchen and common areas over the course of a day, it's critical to have a reliable life safety system,' says Singer. 'We're happy that we haven't had to use the fire system and we hope to never hear those alarms. But we know it's here, it works and it's a critical component to making Ronald McDonald House residents as safe as possible, especially at night when people are sleeping and staff is limited.'

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