Major League Fire Protection

The below story comes from Consulting-Specifying Engineer and Notifier
An interesting article for those fire prevention officials that do not have the opportunity to work with systems/facilities of this magnitude.

Major League Fire Protection

Citi Field’s highly advanced fire protection and evacuation systems make use of both centralized and distributed intelligence.

When the New York Mets National League ballpark in Flushing, N.Y., was built in 2009, countless hours were spent on the planning, installation, and testing of the 1.2 million-sq-ft facility’s fire protection system. Citi Field, named after corporate sponsor Citigroup, comprises a contoured seating design for optimal views from all seats with a 360-deg walking path around the entire park. The system needed to meet fire codes from several different governing bodies, including NFPA 72 2007, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), New York Fire Dept., and the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).

For the system’s head-end, Citi Field management chose the ONYX Series NFS2-3030 fire alarm control panel with integrated digital voice command, manufactured by NOTIFIER. Local fire and life safety systems specialists Cross-Fire and Security Co. Inc. worked with the job’s electrical contractor to manage system design, installation, and programming. M.E. Engineers Inc., a group that has worked on several other major sports stadium projects, was the consulting engineer on record.

More than 2,000 initiating devices were installed throughout Citi Field, most of which are duct- and spot-type smoke detectors. To accommodate Citi Field specs and an AHJ request, relatively few manual fire pull boxes were installed to deter bogus alarms.

A fire alarm system with a large number of field devices must react to events just as rapidly as a small system. ONYX Series panels use the FlashScan protocol, which can poll 318 devices in 2 sec and initiate a full-system response in less than 5 sec.

The ballpark is equipped with a centralized method for monitoring and control of the entire fire protection network. The ONYX network control station (NCS) is a computer with graphic user interface and detailed facility floor plans that allow users to check system status and search event history. During an event, the screen automatically zeroes in on the activated device and displays related information labels, such as nearby hazardous material storage and special occupancy areas.

When two or more strobes can be seen at the same time, they must be synchronized to flash in unison. Each strobe panel receives a sync pulse from the NFS2-3030 fire alarm control panel. This enables the system to coordinate each and every flash from one side of the facility to the other.

“You can see one side of the ballpark to the other, so we had to put in strobe panels in order to achieve synchronization throughout the park. When the fire alarm system goes off, it looks like one giant flash bulb,” Beers said.

The system protecting Citi Field is divided into four quadrants with a data gathering panel (DGP) node positioned in each section. The four panels report to the main NFS2-3030 fire alarm control panel, which issues commands as needed. Interconnection of panels, annunciators, DGPs, and other command/control devices is accomplished via NOTI-FIRE-NET, a token-style network.

Due to the system’s distributed intelligence, if connection is lost with the head-end panel, each DGP will continue to operate independently until connection is restored. Once the interruption is corrected, system operation returns to normal and data (event information, programming changes) can continue to be exchanged between each DGP and fire alarm control panel node.

“There was a lot of integration on this job. We had to integrate with the building management system on site as well as the public address system in the bowl,” Beers said. “We received the final approval from the New York Fire Dept. to use the PA system as a method of broadcasting alarm signals throughout the ballpark.”

If necessary, the fire alarm’s DVC can override the bowl’s PA system to broadcast live emergency communications throughout the ballpark. The DVC can provide up to eight channels of audio with five channels of firefighters’ telephone, plus control and supervision for up to 32 digital audio amplifier units. Additional integration to Citi Field’s fire protection system includes controls of fans, dampers, elevators, and escalators for smoke control functions.

Would love to hear other stories of people who work with these large-scale facilities and systems.