Strange system at my school.

At my school, we have a Simplex/Edwards/Fire Lite system. The current panel is a Fire Lite MS-9200. The notification appliances are red Amseco MSB-10B-PV4 10" vibratory fire bells on continuous. The majority of the pulls are Simplex 4251-113 chevrons and Simplex 4255 fixed temperature mechanical heat detectors. Many of the 4251-113’s have been replaced with Simplex 4251-20’s. At the end of the hallway leading to the entrance of the cafeteria is an Edwards 270-SPO local alarm pull station. Don’t ask me why that’s there, i don’t know. In the editions done from 2000 to around 2005 are System Sesnor SpectrAlert classic’s set to temporal code-3. They’re 15/75 candela and red. The pulls are Fire Lite BG-12LX’s. Their are Fire Lite SD-355 addressable photoelectric smoke detectors in the editions as well. All the original classrooms and bathrooms have Simplex 4255’s and no notification appliances (Their are bells in the hallways.) In some of the classrooms their are bells though. I don’t get it either! Classrooms and bathrooms in the editions have SpectrAlert Classic remote strobes and Fire Lite SD-355 smokes. In the newest edition done in 2006 their are System Sensor SpectrAlert Advance P4R horn strobes in the hallways and SR strobes in the class/bath rooms. The panel is in the main office. Right next to the FACP is another FACP. A Fire Lite Sensiscan 1000 cabinet flush mounted in the wall. What id don’t get is… if the Sensiscan was the original panel, why are their Simplex pulls and heats? My theory is that the original panel was a Simplex 2001. When the 2001 died, the board thought it would be cheaper to get a new Fire Lite control panel (The Sensiscan 1000.) When the Sensiscan died, Fire Lite replaced it with a MS-9200 and a Fire Watch communicator. The Sensican’s cabinet now just has a bunch of monitor moudles in it (For the original conventional pulls and heats.) Fire drills can be pretty cool, going from quiet SpectrAlert Classic’s (Compared to the bells) to fire bells (or visa versa.) In the main entrance room, there is a Fire Lite RZA-8ls annunciator with 5 zones. It’s silver with a silence switch, a buzzer and 5 red alarm l.e.d.'s and 5 yellow trouble l.e.d.'s. It is extremely high up (I’m 6 foot 4 and i can’t reach it) and long since been disconnected and forgotten about. There is now a Fire Lite LCD-40 mounted lower and on a different wall in the entrance. All the original pulls and T-Bar’s are mounted high (against A.D.A.) And there are no strobes (also against A.D.A.) other than the SpectrAlert ones in the editions. So what do you think? Any theories?

Not uncommon - especially for a school! Public school building or renovations are always done on “lowest bidder”. And if you have a building or complex that is being built or renovated in phases, it gets even worse. You could have Company A doing the fire alarm system on Phase 1. But when Phase 2 comes along, Company B gets the bid. And this can be several years apart. So not only will you get different brands getting thrown in there, you will get different technologies too. But to answer some of you more specific questions - the pull station in the hallway leading to the cafeteria, I’m guessing this pull station is in the middle of the hallway? There is a travel distance requirements between pull stations (in brand new apartment buildings with long hallways I’ve seen pull stations in the middle of nowhere to deal with this) or it is possible the pull station was located where there used to be an exit that is no longer there - and the pull was never in the scope of work to be removed. Replacing panels in existing buildings is always a game - and when you have the customer wanting the work done as least expensive as possible things get crazy. And that’s why you usually get those panels on top of panels being used as junction box configurations - again, they just want a working system at a low cost. So you don’t include demoing the old equipment as part of the work (old annunciators get left in place, old panels used for modules, etc.). There is something in the code about old devices being removed I believe, but again, that is left up to the school to take care of (not the job of the alarm installer). Finally, for the pull stations being mounted too high and no strobes in the one part of the buildings - not really a violation if that was the standard for when that section of the building was built or last renovated. Unless the AHJ requires them to update the system in that part of the building, it will probably never be done!

Take a look at my posts on this page, about halfway down - you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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School systems can get quite interesting. My high school had EST Genesis NAs in most of the building, Integrities in one wing, GX90s and MIZs in some of the classrooms, a mix of EST and Simplex pulls, and a Simplex panel in the office. After my freshman year, an EST3 was put in, pull stations were lowered in the old section of the building and the 2 remaining T-bars got replaced, and some NAs were moved around for ADA reasons (most of the Genesis NAs my freshman year were on top of what appeared to be 4050 flush mount horns). A 90s intermediate school in the same district has a Simplex system with the Simplex rectangular horn-only units mounted 2 feet over Wheelock RSS strobes.

A neighboring high school was even more interesting. Most of the building had Gentex GMH horns mounted 2 feet over SpectrAlert Classic strobes. A later addition had the same setup, but with Gentex strobes in the halls and classrooms. Pulls in these parts of the building are BG-10s Then the new wings have EST Genesis remote strobes mounted under SpectrAlert Advance horns with BG-12s as the pulls. Why they didn’t just use horn/strobe units (especially in the new wings) is beyond me. Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, NY has the same SpectrAlert Advance horn/EST strobe setup in its renovated wings, except with EST pulls.

Then you have an apartment complex at my college. Each building has a Simplex 4005 system, with all being tied into a 4100 panel at the office. N/As outside each building are Gentex GMS units and in the apartments are GX90s with TrueAlert strobes in the bathrooms. All smokes are TrueAlarms and pulls are single-action T-bars. So far, not too crazy, as Simplex used Gentex horns for outdoor and mini horn applications until pretty recently. Some of the buildings have a pretty-standard setup of TrueAlert horn/strobes in the halls. Most, however, have EST Genesis horn/strobes in the halls, and these are all original. I don’t know what they were thinking, especially because it’s a Simplex system except for those horns.

When was the original system installed?

There was no real uniformity as to where and how many NA’s needed to be provided before the codes in the mid 90’s came about, and many of those weren’t adopted by local jurisdictions until well into the late 90’s or early 2000’s. Any system from the early 90’s or before seem to just be kind of random, especially in schools, as far as horn/strobe/bell placements go. Even the mounting height’s for the pulls didn’t get standardized until the mid 90’s.

Unless the AHJ requires it, or the area is renovated, the original codes the system was installed under applies. The newest adopted codes only apply to current construction.