Bad Installation Jobs

We had this on the old board, but I want to bring it up again. How many of you have ever come across a bad installation job. I don’t mean one with one or two minor flaws, I mean a bad job in general.

Here’s one that applies to me. A bowling alley in my area had an “upgrade” a little more than a year ago. I went there in February of 2006 to a rock-n-bowl, and these were the alarms then:

Simplex 2901-9833s on the 2903 light plate. How do I know it was a light? Because that same evening they accidentally set the alarm off because of all the fog from the fog machines (tripped the detectors). The system then was a 4001 (newer version, because the door was black - I saw it), and the pulls were the 4251-20 T-Bars. Now, when the alarm went off, it was basically inaudible because there was no alarm where I was. The bowling alley building is uniquely shaped - it consists of 2 rectangles, one straignt, one tipped at a 45 degree angle. The exits were on the corners of the rectangle turned 45 degrees. The alarms are all located at the exits, however, in one corner, there’s a snackbar, and for some reason, there’s no alarm in that corner. That was the corner where I was when the alarm went off, so again, it was barely audible. I think there was no alarm because that corner looked to be recently rennovated, and instead of replacing the alarm, they just got rid of it. But that’s not the bad job I’m talking about. Fast forward to June 2006, and I went there again to bowl. I was excieted about going because I wanted to get a picture of the alarms (the one you see above is a pic from an eBay auction). Well, when I got there, I got more than I bargained for. THIS is what they looked like 4 months later:

How bad can an install job possibly get? They just slapped SpectrAlerts on where the -9833s used to be, and as you can see from the first pic, it doesn’t quite fit. The 4001 is now gone, in favor of a Honeywell keypad and extension panel. IDK if the pulls still work, but I assume they do, and they just disconnected the old signals and and hooked the exitsting wires upto the SpectrAlerts. Also, I went back a couple of weeks ago, and nothing’s changed. This time, I went back to that corner where there was no alarm to see if they installed a SpectrAlert there, and there’s still nothing there, at least from what I could see, and I did check quite well. This is perhaps the cheapest and poorly done upgrades I’ve seen…

Has anyone else seen similiar install jobs? I’m sure the techs have a few stories up their sleves…

Do you know who installed those spectras? It cant be Simplex.

IDK who installed it, but it was a company who selled Honeywell products…

I saw a Spectra slapped (not literally) onto an SAE light plate…

Dan, wasn’t the panel an SK panel?

No. The only time I’ve seen a Silent Knight panel is in a church here in the city…

Hmmm. Honeywell installer…

Honeywell installers tend to do installations like that. Not Simplex… They actually remove the old alarm and put a new one in it’s place, and they use an adapter plate to make it nice. I saw this at a hospital: A TrueAlert on a large metal plate in place of what probably was a 2903 because of the plate’s size and shape. It looks nice. At my MS, a 4050-80 was replaced by a 4903-9237. They mounted the 9237’s backbox on the wall and partially on a gray metal plate covering the hole where the 4050-80 was.

I’d wager that the bowling alley’s “upgrade” was done by a local security system company that replaced the 4001 with an Ademco panel (or any other Honeywell name) for whatever reason – my first guess is so that the panel can be monitored. the only monitoring option for a 4001 is the city connection which only accomodates older types of alarm transmission (reverse polarity, local master box, etc) but no digital communication with a dialer. since honeywell’s smaller panels (eg, 5110XM and Vista series) are 12-volt systems, they weren’t able to use the current horns, so they used Spectralerts which can be operated on 12 volts. since you saw a honeywell keypad, it’s most likely an Ademco panel.

I’ve seen some shotty installations, one that comes to mind is a Fire-Lite MS9600 system in a senior citizens’ apartment building. they have magnetic door holders tied into the NACs. when I did my first inspection there, the place had been occupied for 6 months and most of the detectors still had the orange dust covers on them. we found duct detectors that didn’t have the cover screwed on. no way to disable elevator recall, and they changed the code to let me get into walk test.

I’ve seen other ones where smoke detectors were screwed directly to ceiling tile with no ceiling junction box. I can visualize all of those detectors working themselves loose in a few years.

how about a 4120 system that has smokes and pulls on the same zone? we were the first inspection team to actually sound the horns for testing. when I pulled a pull station, nothing happened. so I reset it with the key, and pulled it again. now it went off. as it turns out, pull stations are being verified by the panel. so if you pull it, there will be no alarm for at least 60-90 seconds. there is a way to use smokes and pulls on the same zone with the pulls causing an instant alarm (direct short on the zone) and smokes causing verification (through a resistor at the detector). apparently, they didn’t think of this. this was a multiplexed upgrade from a 2120 system.

and pretty frequently, even on new systems, we come across smoke detectors that are right next to air vents in the ceiling. some are right up against them, code requires at least 3 feet of clearance.

I’m sure many of you have seen this pic

Very lazy if you ask me. the light on the 4050-80 is disconnected, as I assume is the one in Dan M’s 2903+spectra pic. They also re-used the 4251-20s and the “wiffle ball” smokes and one (at least) TrueAlarm from the old Simplex system. Before I moved out they were replacing any “wiffle balls” that didn’t activate or were out of sensitivity with i3s. The 4251-20s still work very well.

You could say this is laziness, but you should also keep in mind that installers can only do what they are paid for. Re-wiring an entire building adds significant cost to a fire alarm installation. And it also means more down time for the facility while the fire alarm is out of service. If a building owner cannot afford to have a whole re-wire done or to close the building for a long period of time, he can choose to use the existing risers and boxes. This saves considerable time and money as only cables need to be pulled and equipment to be hooked up! So what you may call laziness or cheapness by installers really may be thriftiness or conservative building owners.

That 4050-80 pic DOES appear to be a poorly-done installation! It must have been done in the early-to-mid 1990s because that looks like the older non-ADA-compilant version of the MA-SS.

But WeatherDan, regarding the cheap Simplex upgrade, I remember someone here mentioning that his elementary school used to have 2903 Simplex fire alarms like that, but got replaced with SpectrAlerts or some other System Sensor alarm, and he said that the pulls were BG-10s, probably replacing older T-bars. But at least in that bowling alley, they kept the original pulls.

And 7002T, I sent ya an email with my comment on that 4050-80 pic. It does look pretty sloppy. If I were upgrading that system, I’d replace the 4050-80s (and the SS horn/strobes) with TrueAlert horn/strobes, and the panel would be a newer Simplex 4100U. The smoke detectors would be new TrueAlarms and I’d either keep the old 4251-20s or replace them with 4099-series T-bars.

BTW, here’s a cheap-looking upgrade they did with a few alarms at my college…
Although they are keeping the old Standard 450 horns, this is a pretty pathetic excuse to replace the light. They could’ve easily just retrofitted the horn on a newer Faraday strobe plate. To make matters worse, they did an even more shoddy install job recently involving a U-HNH. I will post a pic of it soon.
BUT… one Standard horn/light in the Student Union cafeteria was replaced in the 1980s with what appears to be either a Faraday 6020 or Simplex 2901-9833 horn on a 2903 light plate.
It looks like a pretty good upgrade on that one there. Similarly, the Student Union building had a computer lab added to it recently, and there wasn’t a fire alarm near or in the room, so they installed a SpectrAlert into the new addition.
Since this was installed right into the new computer lab, it does not have a sloppy upgrade like that bowling alley, and it didn’t replace any older fire alarms. A pretty odd mix with the other fire alarms in the building.

Thankfully, the upgrade of replacing the old Simplex fire alarms (mostly 4051 horns 4050-80 retrofits) with SpaceAge Electronics horn/strobes around campus isn’t done in a lazy manner. They usually mount the new alarms on red trim plates so it doesn’t look too noticeable. But a few replacements do not have these trim plates, and it gives away the fact that they were installed to replace the 4050-80S. A couple of buildings (the Humanities and LA buildings) had their Simplex 4251-20 T-bars replaced with addressable Faraday Chevrons, but the other buildings getting these upgrades keep the old T-bar pulls. I assume they still work really well.

like ben said on the old forum

“it looks like the spectra and light plate are mating”

ohh boy Fire Alarm porn :lol:

Well, there is that, but they already have a security system, and I know the 4001s city connection can be wired to a zone on the security system, as that’s how it is w/ MHS’s 4002 and their security system.

I understand that, and I have nothing against re-using existing equipment, but in these cases, they didn’t do a very good job. Beside, some of this stuff might be against codes…

That gives me bad, bad, images.

They did a pretty shoddy cheap-ass job down at the Coronado Post office down the street from where I live. :x They slapped some Wheelock 7002T’s over some 2901 retrofit plates. Sorry, no pics, just a very accurate and vivid description! Oh yeah, they have that old-school “map” style panel down at the post office too. :smiley:

That Faraday strobe added on to that Standard horn light wasnt bad… They just removed the light and put the strobe on. Nothing too wrong with that…

In the Lecture Hall at my school, there was once an HDCD, but that stopped working, so they took the horn out, kept the back box and put a Spectra on, which is a bit bigger than the box.

A what?

She means a CP “HDC” horn.