Government Case Study
Comanche County Courthouse Fire Alarm and Security Renovation Completed: 2016 Associated Builders and Contractors of Oklahoma Excellence in Construction Award 2016
In 2014, disturbed by news of increasing cases of terrorism and workplace violence, Comanche County Commissioner, Johnny Owens, felt that the citizens and staff of the County deserved to feel safer while visiting or working within the five-story, 92,000 square foot, courthouse located in downtown Lawton, Oklahoma. The Board of Commissioners hired Oklahoma City-based CEC Infrastructure Solutions to evaluate and prepare designs and specifications for the upgrade and renovations to their life safety and security systems. York Electronic Systems responded to the call for bids and was awarded the contract in late 2014. York quickly jumped into action and started installation in February of 2015. York would act as the prime contractor on the project, subcontracting 70% of labor and services to qualified and licensed electrical, cabling and elevator contractors. York performed the remaining 30% of the labor conducting project management, systems integration, software programming and in-service training..
The first phase of the project involved the life safety renovations. The original courthouse fire alarm system was antiquated and obsolete. Due to fire code changes over the years, the system fell out of compliance with local and national codes. York installed a new Addressable Fire Alarm System with Emergency Voice Evacuation. The building elevators, automatic sprinkler and access control system were integrated with the new fire alarm. Local Operating Consoles were provided at strategic locations within the building, allowing responding firefighters the ability to communicate with each other and make special evacuation announcements over the system speakers; reassuring building occupants that the fire department is on scene. The alarm system also provides the ability to alert and instruct the building occupants about other threats such as tornado, active shooter, bomb threat, chemical spill, etc. The second and final phase of the project was the security system upgrades which included new access control, video surveillance, panic alarm, and door entry intercom systems. Each department within the courthouse has their own network, therefore, York had to create a stand-alone network dedicated to these systems. The access control system consists of card readers installed on all exterior doors and select interior doors. The readers have dual-factor authentication requiring both card and pin number to gain entry; providing an added layer of security. Special locking hardware and sensors were provided on the doors with card readers. The access control system is interfaced with the fire alarm and video surveillance systems. The new video surveillance system consists of security cameras installed on the exterior and interior of the building. All the new cameras are of the latest technology, consisting of HD and 4K video quality. Video analytic technology is built-in to the cameras allowing for alarms to be triggered when people are loitering in area to long, to track a suspicious person or vehicle throughout and around the building. Video is recorded and stored on a video management server. The surveillance system is interfaced with the access control system so that every time a building occupant presents their badge to a reader, a snapshot is taken for video verification.
The new panic alarm system consists of discreet panic buttons located throughout the courthouse for staff use. If an emergency or threatening event occurs, the staff can press the panic button which then sends a distress signal to the Sheriff’s office, located on the first floor. The new video door intercom system consists of door intercom stations which have a built-in camera. A video master station is provided in the Sheriff’s office. Once a call is placed from the door station, the staff can communicate with and have visual confirmation of the person at the door. A remote lock release grants door entry.. The installation faced many challenges which required strategic coordination with the other sub trades and the courthouse staff. The work required installing dedicated system conduits above existing drop ceilings that were congested with cabling and duct work, as well as upgrading an obsolete elevator controller installed in 1973 to allow the required interface necessary to meet current codes and having to drill floor penetrations for new conduit risers. The biggest hurdle was trying to work quietly while court was in session which required daily coordination. The York Project Managers scheduled weekly meetings and inspections with the installers and the County. These meeting consisted on planning, trade coordination and safety. Inspections and evaluations were performed to ensure the systems were being installed per the designs, code, aesthetically and in a safe manner. During this project there were no reported injuries or accidents and the project was completed in just seven months and on time.. Today, with the newest life safety and security systems in place, Comanche County Courthouse is a safer place to visit and work. With new technology, the County is able to develop new processes and procedures to further enhance security for staff and patrons alike.