Turner boosts construction site safety with wireless fire system

Dive Brief:

  • Turner Construction installed Ramtech WES3 units, a wireless fire evacuation system, across its Maine Medical Center jobsite to boost its fire protections.
  • The wireless technology, officially launched in 2019, eliminates the need for a hardwired power source and panels, which most other similar systems often require, according to a Turner Construction press release.
  • Jobsites often lack sprinklers, fire walls and detectors until the final stages of the project, making fire risk a top priority for general contractors during the construction process.

Dive Insight:

Due to lack of power during the initial stages of construction projects, some sites rely on air horns as an evacuation method on construction sites, but it’s not without drawbacks.

Sean Ryan, environmental health safety manager at Turner Construction, said background noises on a jobsite can drown out an air horn, and the horns do not pinpoint the location or origin of the fire. Additionally, air horns also provide only one solution: noise. They do not include smoke and heat sensors, nor a medical call feature.

Additionally, to control false alarms before, the general contractor would often limit alarm activation to management only, and rely on phone or radio communication from the field, then activate the alarm. With the Ramtech WES3 system, anyone can activate the alarm, notify the entire general contractor staff and confirm the event.

“This is an important safety culture item to empower all trade people onsite,” Ryan said in the release. “I’d be happy to continue using the system for as long as the project is in motion, as it provides peace of mind and a secure environment for the site, its workers and the surrounding locations.” 

A battery with a three-year life under normal use powers each unit of the Ramtech WES3 fire evacuation detection system to secure the jobsite during all phases of construction whether electricity is available or not. Each WES3 unit can also be mounted anywhere.

There are currently more than 50 active construction projects with the WES3 system across the U.S., said John Tryer, sales director at Ramtech. Top contractors with the system include Turner, Lendlease and Gilbane, among others.

The cost of installation varies on the size of the projects and type of build, with an average cost of around $8,000 per project, said Tryer. 

The $588.4 million Maine Medical Center project is now in its third construction phase due for completion in early 2024, which includes a 270,000-square-foot inpatient tower with 96 beds and 19 procedure rooms.

The third phase adds to the rest of the completed works, including a three-story expansion to Maine’s campus visitor parking garage offering 225 additional spaces, a two-story expansion to the East Tower and a 110,000-square-foot medical office building for neuroscience, vascular surgery and ENT, as well as a 2,450-space car parking garage for staff.

Sebastian Obando
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