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Addressable Fire-Alarm Control Panel Plays Key Role in Hotel’s Revival

June 30, 2015
A P400 analog addressable fire-alarm control panel from Potter Electric Signal Co. was chosen because of its ability to easily function using the existing THHN wiring.

Erected in 1965, Hotel Pontchartrain in Detroit went through many ownership and name changes before closing in 2009; years of neglect and poor management had taken their toll. When Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts set out to resurrect the 25-story, 422-room luxury hotel in 2012, the dated conventional, non-addressable fire system proved to be a hindrance.

Rather than rewire the building with new twisted, shielded cable, fire-protection and security contractor Fire Pros Inc. sought an addressable panel that could communicate using the existing thermoplastic-high-heat-resistant-nylon-coated (THHN) wiring installed throughout the building.

A P400 analog addressable fire-alarm control panel from Potter Electric Signal Company LLC was chosen because of its ability to easily function using the existing THHN wiring.

The original system had a zone configuration with selective signaling (floor above/floor below) and was configured with audio-voice-evacuation capabilities. Typically, there were three zones per floor: one for water flow, one for common area or general alarm, and one for guest-room smoke detectors. This zoned configuration made determining the exact location of an alarm or trouble on the system extremely difficult. This also made performing the NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code-required smoke-detector sensitivity test disrupting to business, as well as time-consuming and expensive. The P400’s ability to distribute power and system expanders throughout the facility on a simple four-wire bus made configuring the entire 1,290-point system, including analog addressable room smoke detectors and sounder bases, very easy. With the analog addressable detectors and sounder bases connected to the P400, the required sensitivity testing can be accomplished easily by utilizing software from the main control panel, saving time and money.

Fire Pros, led by Bob Proos, was pleased with the P-Link flexibility offered by Potter’s fire-alarm systems.

“It is a benefit to have the Potter P400 able to support all NACs (notification appliance circuits) and SLC (signaling line circuit) cards on P-Link, as opposed to peer-to-peer like many other networks,” Proos said.

Fire Pros technicians were able to easily install nine PSN-1000 power-supply units, 12 remote SLC cards, two remote annunciators, and Voice Evax throughout the building because of the flexibility of the P-Link circuit on the Potter P400 panel. They also had an easy time incorporating firefighter telephones and elevator recall to ensure the safety of patrons as well as firefighters.

Potter’s panel-programming software proved to be especially helpful to Proos and his crew.

“The software for the P400 panel is excellent,” Proos said. “Our technicians had no trouble programming the entire system.”

After they had finished programming the system, Fire Pros technicians were notified that, because of a requirement set forth by the more stringent Crowne Plaza safety standards, the entire system had to be reworked. This rework was not an issue, as Fire Pros technicians were able to easily reprogram the system without having to remove hardware. Using Potter’s easy drag-and-drop software, they were able to interface with the system quickly.

“The download speed is excellent,” Proos said. “It took 10 to 15 sec instead of 15 min, like other panels.”

Throughout the installation process, Proos was able to communicate with the panel in Detroit via e-mail reporting from Fire Pros headquarters in Grand Rapids, Mich. This made assessing any issues pertaining to the installation process very convenient and minimized travel time. Management could easily send information to technicians in the field through the panel.

Daily Operation

On July 17, 2013, Crowne Plaza Pontchartrain Detroit officially opened for business. The Potter P400 fire-alarm system helps to ensure that every inch of the premises is monitored at all times, producing detailed notifications quickly and providing a safe environment for both guests and employees.

“I like to be able to get information that tells me exactly where the trouble is located, so we can address it and notify the fire department as well as our entire staff,” LaTina Johnson, construction manager for the property, said. “The Potter P400 panel gives a detailed description when addressing trouble notifications, which is helpful when giving incident reports to our security department.”

The panel makes identifying problems with specificity concerning time and location simple, which is extremely helpful in such a large building.

With easily accessible information on hand at all times, the hotel staff can properly manage any potential dilemma. Problems such as guest disputes over smoking in non-smoking rooms and pinpointing exact alarm locations in a building of such magnitude can be solved easily with e-mail reporting.

“It is nice to have a technical reference for what has transpired,” Johnson said. “It really helps us properly manage every situation on site, which is important because our staff wants to stay ahead of any situation, being proactive, as opposed to reactive.”

With Crowne Plaza Pontchartrain Detroit carrying on its historical legacy as one of Detroit’s finest hotels, it is important the standards for Crowne Plaza as well as “The Ponch” are kept in mind. These standards are implemented to serve customers in the best way possible, and that includes keeping them safe in case of an emergency. The installation of a Potter alarm system ensures safety standards will be met.