New fire protection system for Western museum

There are no tumbleweeds blowing through its halls, no gunfights taking place in the restrooms. Still, if you’re hankering for a taste of the old American West, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more authentic experience than the Gilcrease Museum.

Located just northwest of downtown Tulsa, Okla., the Gilcrease Museum is one of the country’s best facilities for the preservation and study of American art and history. Gilcrease Museum is the product of a lifetime of artifact collecting by Thomas Gilcrease, whose fortune was made in the dusty oilfields of Oklahoma nearly 100 years ago.

Drawing thousands of visitors from around the world for a glimpse into the past, The Gilcrease Museum houses the world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. The museum also offers an unparalleled collection of Native American art and artifacts, as well as historical manuscripts, documents and maps. Gilcrease tours, workshops, musical events and lectures provide numerous opportunities to expand insight into the museum and the history it presents. And themed gardens have been developed on 23 of the museum’s 460 acres to enhance the overall experience.

Several years ago, museum officials were applying for reaccreditation of the museum. The reaccreditation was required by the museum’s insurer, as well as the Smithsonian Institute, which certifies many of the museum’s exhibits for authenticity. As part of the process, it was determined that the museum’s existing fire protection system was insufficient, lacking the reliability that the insurer looked for. Further, the system did not comply with the 2003 International Building Code and NFPA 72, both of which are now standard for museums.

Clearly, a new system would have to be obtained and installed. Because the museum is a department of the City of Tulsa, the museum was required, like all other city and state agencies, to secure a number of bids for the job. The successful bid was submitted by Mac Systems, one of Oklahoma’s oldest suppliers of fire detection, alarm, and suppression, as well as facility communications and security systems. Once Mac Systems was awarded the job, there was little doubt in which direction they would go — or which equipment they would recommend.

“We have a long-standing relationship with NOTIFIER,” said Tom DeTar, Division Manager of the Electronics Systems Division at Mac Systems. “In fact, it began way back in 1964. The number of installations we have completed with NOTIFIER products is literally in the tens of thousands, and there are very few NOTIFIER products that we haven’t used at one time or another.

“We are particularly pleased with the performance and reliability of NOTIFIER’s ONYX® Series of controls and devices. But in the end, every one of the company’s product lines has lived up to our expectations,” said DeTar, who was the owner of A&A Electronic Systems from 1980 until its merger with Mac Systems in 2000.

Mac Systems’ satisfaction with NOTIFIER should come as no surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the company. As the world’s largest manufacturer of engineered fire alarm systems — and part of Honeywell International’s Automation & Control Solutions Group (ACS), in the Fire Solutions Group — NOTIFIER offers complete fire detection and protection systems for a variety of end-user markets, including commercial, healthcare, education, and government.

While the choice of NOTIFIER was a simple one, the decision of exactly which system to use was a bit more involved. After careful deliberation, it was decided that the NFS2-3030 panel with six Signaling Line Circuits (SLCs) and UniNet® Interface would comprise the heart of the system. The NFS2-3030 is part of the ONYX Series, a patented intelligent sensing technology that delivers rapid, intelligent response to incipient fire signatures while reducing nuisance alarms. An intelligent fire alarm control panel designed for medium- to large-scale facilities, the NFS2-3030 is actually ideal for virtually any application due to its modular design and can be easily configured to each project’s unique requirements.

Offering up to 10 SLCs, the NFS2-3030 supports up to 3,180 intelligent addressable devices. In addition, the panel’s large 640-character LCD screen presents vital information to operators concerning a fire situation, fire progression, and evacuation details. A maximum of 159 detectors (any mix of ion, photo, laser photo, thermal, or multi-sensor) and 159 modules (N.O. manual stations, two-wire smoke, notification, or relay) per SLC can be integrated with the system.

The system’s ability to handle such a large number of detectors and other appliances came in handy for the Gilcrease installation, given the laundry list of devices that Mac provided with the panel. This list included:

  • 10 remote power supplies

  • 28 addressable manual pull stations

  • 26 Intelligent Heat Detectors

  • 235 Photoelectric Smoke Detectors

  • 259 Intelligent Laser Smoke Detectors.

  • 30 Intelligent Air Duct Smoke Detectors

  • Eight Intelligent Photoelectric Beam Detectors

  • Strobes and alarm horns

  • Waterflow switches and fire sprinkler valve supervisions switches

Interfacing with the system is the UniNet® 2000, an advanced network that allows users to monitor and control security, fire, card access, CCTV, and other facility information over a proprietary LonWorks™ network. UniNet 2000 is designed to allow a mixture of different technologies and manufacturers to operate on the same network.

A PC workstation is the operator interface to the UniNet system, featuring plug-in applications and allowing continued expansion of workstation and network functions. The workstation features customizable screens that allow a wide variety of configuration options for any situation. What’s more, the UniNet 2000 workstation has the ability to monitor multiple local device networks and remote sites.

Roger Harmon, the director of security at the Gilcrease Museum, was impressed with the speed of installation, as well as the system’s performance — even at this early stage.

“The installation was completed in just nine months,” said Harmon, who is responsible for the protection of Gilcrease’s entire collection. “This was a relatively fast process considering the scope of the system and the myriad city codes requiring compliance.

“The system is working even better than we expected, and has already paid for itself many times over,” he added. “In fact, it has already detected one problem in an overheating transformer that could have been disastrous.”

The availability of product, as well as the minimal assistance needed from NOTIFIER, were familiar advantages for DeTar.
“We had no problems obtaining materials from NOTIFIER on this project,” he said. “Plus, we needed very little assistance from NOTIFIER on this project. That was because we used NOTIFIER factory trained technicians on the project.”

Thanks to Mac Systems and NOTIFIER, patrons of the Gilcrease Museum can enjoy an authentic trip back to the Wild West time and again, with good faith that the artifacts inside will be preserved and protected for years to come.

NOTIFIER is part of Honeywell’s (NYSE:HON) Life Safety Group.

Honeywell International is a $31 billion diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; automotive products; turbochargers; and specialty materials. Based in Morris Township, N.J., Honeywell’s shares are traded on the New York, London, Chicago and Pacific Stock Exchanges. It is one of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is also a component of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. For additional information, please visit

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