Gamewell-FCI Sees Rise in Specialty Detection

Gamewell-FCI by Honeywell (NYSE: HON) is experiencing an increase in the number of aspiration, gas, and flame detection products its nationwide network of Engineered Systems Distributors of fire alarm and emergency communications systems are utilizing. Growth within certain markets that require specialty detection, including data centers and hospitals, mixed with increased education on diverse uses of these advanced detectors are seen as major contributing factors for this trend.

Alarm Tech Solutions, a life safety systems integrator covering parts of Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia, has seen a substantial rise in the number and size of data centers recently constructed within their area.Image removed by sender.

"The server farms we are developing fire detections systems for can cover an area that can be measured in acres and they require systems designed for high-survivability," says Mike Ramey, Alarm Tech's executive VP.

Massive rooms holding fuel-fed generators to power all data center operations require robust flame detectors that can withstand harsh weather conditions, including extreme temperatures and humidity.

"The data center's generators are housed in areas within the facilities that  are big enough to drive a tractor trailer through, and they need specialty detectors to protect the areas where fuel could be ignited," Ramey explains. "High-industrial facilities are no longer the only facilities using advanced flame detection."

Considering the disruption a small fire could cause to business continuity, data centers typically require Aspiration Smoke Detection for Very Early Warning of Smoke.

"You want the ability to detect smoke immediately and provide the user with the technology for early warning.  One of the last things you want your customer to experience is the discharge of a suppression system. That's a lot of down time and potential clean-up. Not to mention they're very expensive systems to recharge," says Ramey.

While using a network of pipes to continuously draw in air samples to test using multiple sensing technologies, aspiration systems offer more rapid and accurate detection. However, the flexibility of this system's layout can prove just as beneficial.

"The anechoic chambers within the research facilities we've done require all devices to be mounted on the outside of that space. So not only is it useful for drawing air out of these rooms to test, but being mounted on the outside makes the system's display and controls easier to monitor and service," says Ramey.

Across the U.S. in Arkansas, integrator Advanced Cabling Systems has seen a rise in use of aspiration, gas and flame detection for the same reasons.

"Data centers, hospitals, and industrial sites, like the gas exploration sites that continue to pop up here, have been our main clients for these," says David Roberts, senior VP for Advanced Cabling.

Beyond the more common uses for specialty detection, both integrators agree demand will continue to rise as it becomes more widely known and better understood. Ramey asserts educating engineers and facility managers on benefits such as improved detection and long-term cost savings is important.

"We've run the air sampling pipe for an aspiration detection system to monitor air vent returns in-place of return air detectors installed across the opening or duct detectors within the duct itself. That makes that device easier to test and service," Ramey says. "When you can show the labor costs this can save over time, the majority of customers are willing to pay a little more up-front for the device."

As many states enact legislation mandating carbon monoxide detection in commercial residential facilities such as apartment complexes, nursing homes and hotels, multi-criteria detectors such as Gamewell-FCI's 4-Warn/CO have quickly grown in popularity. The combination of smoke and CO detection into one unit can save as much as 54% in material and labor costs as compared to installing two, separate devices.

"We just fitted a homeless shelter with smoke/CO detectors and I imagine as our state requirements become more strict around CO detection, we'll be installing many more," notes Roberts.

Other carbon monoxide (CO) detectors have proven to conserve both money and power usage, particularly in applications such as parking structures, vehicle maintenance garages, warehouses and more. Rather than running fans 24/7 to circulate air, CO s detectors tied to the HVAC system through the fire alarm can be programmed to turn fans on and off when CO sensors hit preset levels.
As more integrators include specialty detection as part of their common offerings, the ability to integrate these with the existing fire alarm system is key.

"In the past, we would have shied away from these systems," explains Roberts. "Now that we have the knowledge and equipment, which ties right into our existing Gamewell-FCI systems, it's a no-brainer."

More information on the variety of capabilities Gamewell-FCI's specialty detectors offer is available at http://www.gamewell-fci.com/. To connect with a nearby Gamewell-FCI Engineered Systems Distributor, contact a local regional sales manager.

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