In the upscale Atlanta suburb of Buckhead, the owners association of the 1898 Wycliff Condominium—a 13-unit, three-story structure built in 1928—is justifiably proud of the building’s vintage look and feel.
Yet residents had relied on inexpensive ceiling-mounted smoke detectors, and the building had no intrusion alarm protection.
Recognizing safety concerns, they decided to upgrade entry security as well as fire and carbon monoxide alarms.
Enter Protex Security Systems
“We just wish we’d done it sooner,” says Sue Skipper, association president. “We have a young population that are more tech oriented than myself. With all the newest options we can do a lot of improvements.” She is especially impressed with the wireless life safety system.
“The technology for this kind of job is there right now,” says Jim Eure, president of Protex, which first put in a telephone entry system at the common entry areas, basement and back stairwells.
Trouble is, first-generation wireless could not pass easily through the brick-and-concrete walls, and even when it did, its range was limited. They needed a wireless system.
Eure recommended the PowerSeries Neo hybrid wireless alarm system from Tyco Security Products, which has a strong enough signal to go throughout the building. It beats other systems on the market, Eure says. “Even now, some systems cannot talk to the control unit across any distance to check signal strength,” he says. The Neo’s 2,000-foot range is more than enough for the job.
In addition, Eure wanted to avoid installing multiple repeaters throughout the condominium, saving residents money.
Eure finds residents are excited about technology when it first is installed but quickly see it as a given. “There is a degree of self-satisfaction, especially with the fire alarms,” he says. “When you’re talking life safety, you’re serious.”
Wireless Alarms Put to the Test
The new alarm system got two unexpected tests. The first came when the carbon monoxide detector alarmed on the hot water tank in the basement. The venting system, old and jury-rigged, was belching toxic gas. That problem was fixed.
Shortly after installation, there was a stove fire in one unit. Skipper and the other owners were reassured when the smoke alarm in the hall tripped and the monitoring service sent the fire department to their door.
Just as satisfying is the cost of the system. “We pay $25 a month for common-area monitoring,” Skipper says. Individual unit owners can piggyback on the association’s wireless. “It looks good for selling a unit when you can say that your fees cover wireless technology and fire detection.”
The next step is for Protex to work with the association on CCTV to pair with access control for verification of entry.
Curt Harler is a Cleveland-based freelance writer specializing in physical and data networking security, technology and environmental issues. Harler’s articles are widely read and respected for their leadership and insight.