Lessons Learned on the Installation of a Site-wide Fire Alarm System on a Large Operating WWTP


  • Robert Ivers - CB&I
  • Nat Federici - NYCDEP
  • Vincent Tomarch - Hazen and Sawyer

One of the final projects at the Newtown Creek WWTP upgrade program required the electrical contractor to install a networked “site wide” fire alarm system to tie eight local panels into one large networked system, reporting detailed alarm information to a central monitoring station. This complex system faced multiple challenges during all phases of the construction lifecycle. In design, there were meetings with FDNY officials over the specific requirements for system acceptance. During construction, the team encountered logistical issues related to the staged construction of the 15 year upgrade program had to be overcome. Inspections, repairs and upgrades of various local system components were required to ensure that the new system would function properly.

For each required FDNY test, a various plans and forms needed to be generated, signed off by multiple stakeholders and submitted through the proper channels in order to get timely inspections. This combined effort of electrical work, fire alarm panel programming, and documentation processing required good communications and sustained leadership in order to achieve success.

Some of the key lessons learned: – When specifying FA systems for multiple projects on the same site, it is critical to sole source the equipment. – When the coordination is complicated, meetings are the key to success. – Special inspection agents with intimate knowledge of FDNY requirements can be the key to ensuring proper filings and successful tests. – Performing mid construction code compliance reviews caught mistakes early to limit the rework needed to correct. – System pre-testing is essential for a successful FDNY test. – In some applications, wet coverage may be a better option because of fewer routine inspections and components less likely to fail in harsh environments.

Other facilities that operate multiple buildings in harsh environments can benefit from the lessons learned on the Newtown Creek project.

For more information, please contact the author at vtomarch@hazenandsawyer.com.

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Horizons showcases significant water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater projects and innovations that help our clients to achieve their goals, and can help you achieve yours. Articles are written by top engineers and process group leaders, demonstrating and explaining the beneficial application of a variety of technologies and tools.

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