College board approves new fire alarm system

Joshua Kellogg

FARMINGTON – San Juan College will replace its aging fire alarm system in the Henderson Fine Arts Center after college board members approved a nearly $500,000 contract during their meeting Tuesday night.

The board approved an agreement with Cooperative Educational Services for about $495,000 to replace the fire alarm system, which has become costly to maintain and problematic, according to Garry Smothers, the college's physical plant interim senior director.

The current system was installed in 2000 and, according to the National Fire Protection Association code, the life span of the system is about nine years.

Smothers said the college has been working with Cooperative Educational Services vendor Honeywell on designing the new system earlier this year.

The current system was manufactured by a company called Faraday, which has discontinued its line of fire alarm equipment installed in the fine arts building. With new equipment no longer available for purchase, it has caused the college to buy used but certified parts at an extra cost.

“Every time we have a board that goes bad or we need a replacement part, we have to buy a rebuilt part at about four times the cost,” Smothers said. “No one is going to sell you a fire alarm part that is not certified.

All portions of the fire alarm system, including the life/safety system and fire suppression system, will be replaced across the nearly 182,000-square-foot building, including the performance hall, classrooms and conference rooms.

A new dry fire-suppression system will be installed in the Henderson Fine Arts Gallery to replace the wet fire-suppression system, which would help limit damage to any artwork on display, Smothers said.

The building will make a couple of safety upgrades to comply with fire code changes introduced over the last 14 years.

Smothers said the exit signs will be replaced, and two rows of seats will be removed from the performance hall to provide better wheelchair accessibility.

Work will start on the new fire alarm system later this month and is expected to be completed before the end of March next year.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627