A high school moves beyond fire protection with integrated systems

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By Julie Brown, Institutional Market Leader, Johnson Controls
When a central U.S. high school began experiencing an increased number of violent threats, there was an immediate need to do more to protect students and staff. The school’s existing fire system was competitive, but it was difficult to access the company’s local office for support. They were concerned they would be left vulnerable and without resources during a potential emergency. They began looking at systems with the capability to quickly communicate with facility occupants during emergency situations, leading them to Johnson Controls advanced fire solutions.

On budget, on time, and on-target: planning and implementation
Johnson Controls was involved in the process from the planning stages, assisting with the analysis of existing systems to determine the most effective solutions. The teams worked together to develop a multi-faceted approach in an effort to reach the school’s goal of better communication and management of incidents. First, Johnson Controls replaced the existing fire system with a Simplex Fire Alarm Emergency Communication System. This gave the school the ability to provide live instructions and pre-recorded messages to students and staff during emergencies, keeping evacuations or lockdowns orderly and reducing panic.

Due to the success of the project, the approach is being implemented across the entire school district. In addition, Johnson Controls ability to provide support well into the future means that this level of safety will be maintained. The peace of mind that these technologies provide allows students and staff to focus on what matters most: education.

Building upon this foundation, Johnson Controls then helped the high school integrate the fire system with additional protective technologies. In addition to the standard fire alarm, lockdown alarms were implemented as well. When pulled during a lockdown emergency, installed blue strobe lights are activated to immediately alert students and staff to the situation. Differentiating between a lockdown and a fire evacuation allows the school population to react accordingly; blue strobes, as opposed to white, indicate they should shelter in place or seek out accessible lockdown stations at exits and various other locations. At the same time, interior doors automatically release to minimize sightlines within corridors and a high-priority alert is sent to local law enforcement.

Successful implementation, expansion and support: the full lifecycle
Johnson Controls estimated a savings of 40% on the installation costs, and the system implementation was performed during the summer break to minimize disruptions during the school year. The flexible design of the new system and resulting efficiency meant the school could put more notification devices on circuits, adding to the overall value received.

Shortly after implementation, an emergency incident occurred at the school. After the threat was identified, the protective technologies built into the Simplex fire system enabled the school to take swift action, activating the blue strobe panic alarms and quickly notifying occupants to begin lockdown protocols. While students and staff took shelter, police were immediately notified and able to safely take control of the situation.

Due to the success of the project, the approach is being implemented across the entire school district. In addition, Johnson Controls ability to provide support well into the future means that this level of safety will be maintained. The peace of mind that these technologies provide allows students and staff to focus on what matters most: education.

Learn how Johnson Controls can help your school and its surrounding community become safer, smarter and more sustainable here.

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