Mt. Laurel Fire Department, NJ
- 3 firehouses
- 1 administration headquarters:
a facility used by the fire, police,
and emergency medical services departments
- serves a 22.5 square-mile community
Mount Laurel Township is a suburban area about 20 miles east of Philadelphia. The Mount Laurel Fire Department started in 1953 and now has three firehouses serving the 22.5 square-mile community.
Until 2004 the administrative headquarters and the small central firehouse were across a driveway from each other. That year the small separate firehouse across the driveway was demolished and a new firehouse was built attached to the administrative headquarters.
Today the central station comprises a firehouse along with administrative and operations offices, the Bureau of Fire Prevention, a commissary, training room comfortable for 100, a shop with a lift, a conference room, cascade system, foam bank, and outdoor training area. Also in this facility is a gym shared by the fire, police, and emergency medical services departments of the Township.
The Mount Laurel Fire Department considers itself a growing, progressive facility and “if we don’t stay state-of-the-art, in the end it will cost us more,” says Roman A. Lupan, IT Systems Administrator for the department.
Mount Laurel prides itself on taking advantage of state-of-the-art technology whenever possible. So when the department first learned about card access reader systems, they decided to try one. When the new central station/administrative headquarters building was in the planning stages, Mount Laurel decided to outfit it with Keri equipment. “We not only had more doors but we needed tighter security. Besides, homeland security is at the top of the mind for everyone in the public sector. Keri not only won the bid but met all of our requirements.” The department’s first Keri system was installed on the old headquarters building in 2000.
Immediately the difference was obvious. The time and expense needed to make keys, keep track of keys, and redo cylinders when keys were lost or personnel left the department was completely eliminated. “Since the system was quite successful on headquarters, it just seemed logical to make it part of any renovation or construction,” says Mr. Lupan.
When the Masonville firehouse was renovated in 2002 Keri Systems equipment was specified during construction. But initially the new system was not connected with headquarters. “At that time we didn’t have the funds to upgrade the older system at headquarters. But we knew we’d be doing the new building, so we incorporated the expense of hooking everything up into that project. When we hooked everything up, we didn’t change the Masonville system, we just rerouted it for networking.” By using Keri’s LAN module, the Masonville system is managed from headquarters via the Internet. This saved wiring costs and eliminated the need for a modem line between sites.
The Keri Solution
Mount Laurel Fire Department secures approximately 20 doors in two buildings (the headquarters and the Masonville firehouse). These installations include perimeter doors, unit rooms, equipment rooms, and the duty office.
The new central station/department headquarters building uses nine pairs of Keri PXL-500 Tiger II Controllers and SB-593 Expansion Boards.
Keri MS-7000 SuperStar Proximity Reader units were specified, for the new building, because of its 15 inch (38 cm) read range, important for extra-wide firehouse doorways. But it was discovered that many of the doorframes required a smaller form factor, and on those Mount Laurel uses Keri MS-3000 MicroStar Proximity Readers, which are just 1 1/4 inches across (3.2 cm). “These are perfectly adequate for every application and we haven’t had a problem,” says Mr. Lupan.
At any given time, approximately 150 department employees and volunteers are carrying PKT-10X or PKT-26X Proximity Key Tags.
The Masonville firehouse installation from 2002 has two PXL-250 controllers and two Keri MS-Series readers. Using DoorsTM software, the two facilities are managed through a single database.
Ease of use with daily routine activity is a principal reason Mount Laurel Fire is pleased with its Keri Systems installation. Besides the ability to manage multiple sites, set holiday schedules, and perform database backup within the software, Mount Laurel Fire takes particular advantage of the following features:
- Enroll/Unenroll users – The Mount Laurel Fire Department is a combination department with approximately 50 active volunteer personnel and 44 career personnel. Volunteer personnel are on call at the stations when career personnel are off duty, serving as the primary source of manpower for fire protection during this period and on weekends. Using Doors, Mr. Lupan can enable and remove volunteer access privileges as needs change.
- Automated and manual door lock/unlock – Office doors leading to public areas are set to be unlocked during office hours – but not unless the system detects that at least one administrative employee has already checked in (using the First Person In feature in Doors). When needed, Mr. Lupan can manually set after-hours door unlock/lock times to meeting rooms for community groups – so no employee needs to be on call. On some days, these doors are programmed to unlock/lock several times to accommodate different group meetings, leaving no one outside waiting.
- System event reports – People make mistakes, and people make messes. For example, says Mr. Lupan, “Occasionally I’m asked who was in the building on a Saturday, because the bathrooms were left in a mess, or a door was left open. The system event reports help us determine who was responsible, so we can approach that person and resolve the issue.”
- Instant access activation/deactivation – “The biggest issue we have is getting someone to tell me they lost their fob. They know they’ll get a lecture! But as soon as I know, I can shut it off in the software, and we don’t have the issue of rekeying.”
- Physical assets and intellectual property – “An automated system more easily secures our property and enables us to know who went where,” says Mr. Lupan.
Mount Laurel doesn’t use every feature available through Doors. For example, Mr. Lupan says, “We don’t normally get into monitoring, because we don’t need to keep track of everybody’s footsteps. But because we’re a progressive facility we always look for features that we might find a use for in the future.”
The department plans to add its third firehouse to the Keri installation in 2006, as soon as budgets permit. And, says Mr. Lupan, “We’re planning to stay with Keri, and update to state-of-the-art whenever we can.”