Life and Taxes

Aug. 3, 2004
Advanced Fire Alarm System Pays Dividends in IRS Facility
Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. To the second part of that familiar axiom, we should add a corollary: It is essential to protect taxes and the people who collect them.That’s exactly what the fire alarm system installed at the Internal Revenue Service building in Farmers Branch, TX, was intended to do, and for years it did the job admirably. However, like most buildings of its era, the fire system technology installed was beginning to lag behind.The existing systems were limited in their ability to pinpoint trouble areas and to alert the entire facility to emergencies. In addition, the older systems were unable to clearly provide direction as to which routes to take when exiting the building during an emergency, thus directing the occupants away from the danger zones.Therefore, it was decided to completely overhaul the fire alarm system for the 20-year-old facility. After all, the building is staffed with more than 1,100 employees in its 322,000 square feet – far too many human assets for management to rely on systems and equipment that are out of date.The General Services Administration (GSA), which ultimately would purchase the new system, turned to Carl Ball, president, Fire Systems Design, a NESCO affiliate located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Ball, in turn, recommended NOTIFIER, a leading manufacturer of commercial fire alarm systems and part of Honeywell’s Fire Group.Once the main NOTIFIER fire system control technology was firmly in place, Ball further recommended NOTIFIER’s XPIQ Quad Intelligent Audio Transponder. The XPIQ is an integrated, multi-channel distributed audio amplification subsystem, remotely controlled by a fire alarm control panel through a signaling line circuit. By using a software program and internal switching capabilities, the XPIQ eliminates the need for relays and complex wiring during installation, and it is compatible with NOTIFIER’s complete line of voice evacuation intelligent fire alarm panels. As a result, the XPIQ handles all the switching easily with less wiring.“The fact that the system can point out the exact device that is in ‘trouble,’ so that it is easily found, is a tremendous benefit,” says Fred Oeltjendiers, IRS facility director, Farmers Branch, TX. “Traditional systems can point out the zone where the trouble is located, but not the exact location. The time savings, which may be only a matter of seconds, can make all the difference in a life-threatening emergency.”In addition, every occupant of the building can now hear and see an alarm, thanks to the voice messages and strobe lights. The old system was limited in that it was not audible throughout the building. Now, for example, if there is an emergency on floor five of the 15-floor building, people on floors one through four and six through 15 will also be informed of the event.To Betty Doss, senior support service specialist and the IRS building’s on-site facility manager, the minimal wiring is a huge plus. “Because each floor has an individual transponder, there are very few cables,” says Doss. “Thus, there were fewer wires to be pulled through the entire building, which obviously means less potential damage to the building’s infrastructure. As a facility manager, this made me very confident in the installation.”So now there are three things in life that we can be sure of: death, taxes, and the fact that the occupants of the IRS building have the biggest and best fire alarm system in Farmers Branch, TX.Nick Martello is director of Marketing at NOTIFIER (, a Northford, CT-based manufacturer of commercial fire alarm technology and systems and part of Honeywell’s Fire Group.

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