Jail’s new fire alarm system installation ahead of schedule

Published 6:01 am Saturday, February 10, 2018

Installation of a new fire alarm system at the Boyle County Detention Center is ahead of schedule, which means it could be less expensive than planned, Jailer Barry Harmon said Friday.

Two workers from Vulcan arrived at the jail Monday to begin installation of the new system, Harmon said. The new system is replacing a nearly 20-year-old system that was malfunctioning and signaling false alarms.

The installation was initially expected to take four weeks to complete, during which time the jail would be without a permanent fire alarm system. Instead, temporary workers are conducting 24/7 “fire watch” patrols.

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Harmon said he asked on Thursday how far along the installation was.

“He said, ‘we’re a little over halfway,'” Harmon told the Boyle County Joint Jail Committee during his report Friday. “… So hopefully, we’ll see them out in two weeks instead of four weeks, unless they run into issues — which they haven’t.”

Harmon said the new master control panel has been delivered to the jail and it will be hooked up as soon as the installers finish adding all the new modules, such as smoke detectors, to the system. So far, all the wiring that’s already in place has been good and none of it has needed to be replaced, Harmon said.

“Hopefully, in another week and a half, they’ll be done — and I hope that reflects in labor costs, because it should. They charged us for four weeks.”

Jail Captain Chad Holderman has said previously that the old fire alarm system, which ran on a DOS-based operating system, was considered “obsolete” when it was installed in 1998. It’s had problems through the years, but the company that installed the system, Vulcan, had always been able to repair it.

Holderman came to the Joint Jail Committee in January with bad news about the system: To fix regularly occurring false alarms, Vulcan would need to shut the system down. The company doubted the system would come back online after the fix, which would have necessitated the installation of a new system.

Instead of gambling on the fix, the Joint Jail Committee and Boyle County Fiscal Court voted to purchase the new system using up to $40,000 out of a jail savings account. The cost for upgrading was previously expected to run in the vicinity of $36,000.

Normally, projects that cost more than $20,000 must be bid by public agencies such as the fiscal court. But in emergency situations where health, life or property is put at risk, governments are allowed to declare an emergency and not seek bids. That’s what the Boyle County Fiscal Court did on Jan. 17.

Harmon said the fire watch patrols are going well and the temporary workers are doing a good job.

“It’s really going without any issue.”