It doesn’t matter whether you’re a volunteer firefighter or a career firefighter – in the event of an emergency, there isn’t a second to be spared. After all, the sooner a firefighting team is able to respond to a call, the better chance they have of containing the fire – not only limiting structural damage, but possibly even saving lives.
The East Whiteland Volunteer Fire Association consists of both volunteers and salaried firefighters. And being that East Whiteland Township had grown so significantly since the concept for the fire association was conceived in 1952, organizers recently raised $5 million toward building a new firehouse that could better serve the community. On the new firehouse wish list was none other than an access control system that would enable better organization within the firehouse as well as the ability to better streamline the assembly of firefighters when a call comes in.
Access control systems are ideal for venues that operate around-the-clock and have various areas that professionals may need to access within a work day (or night). They’re also ideal for venues that experience high turnover – such as a firehouse with many volunteers – as key cards which can be easily deactivated are an option associated with such systems.
Benefits of Access Control Systems
Here’s a closer look at the many benefits of an access control system:
Management from any computer: Access control system data is stored on a central database, meaning that any changes and modifications can be made regarding a specific facility’s system on any computer, just so long as it is connected to the network.
No need to install any type of special computer software to make changes to the system.
More than just doors: While the firehouse uses the access control system mainly for doors, such systems also work with the likes of turnstyles, gates and other types of barriers.
Key cards: Another benefit is the option to hand out key cards to employees or building occupants, rather than traditional keys. These key cards can be activated and deactivated easily. On some systems, key cards can actually be customized per the employee or associate, giving them respective access only to where their position status permits.
Hardware issues: From the administrative portal that can be accessed on any computer, defects or issues with the hardware (i.e. dead batteries) are also detailed.
Smart phone access: Access control systems can be configured to work with smart phones, another big benefit when it comes to convenience.
Access Control Systems and the Firehouse
Chris Strauss is both the deputy fire chief with the East Whiteland Township Volunteer Fire Association and the owner of Great Valley Lockshop. Utilizing Strauss’ expertise when it comes to both locksmith work and the inner workings of a firehouse, it was decided that the firehouse would select the Bright Blue access control system from Vanderbilt – and that Great Valley Lockshop would integrate the technology into the new building.
The Bright Blue system was an ideal one for the firehouse, as it’s able to control over 30 doors or access points (for comparison’s sake, conventional access control systems usually only are built to control up to eight doors). Being that the new firehouse had 28 doors on its system, the Bright Blue system option was just about perfect.
As is the case with most firehouses, the new East Whiteland Township firehouse operates 24/7 – so someone has to be on the premises at all times. Usually, there’s three to four people on hand at all times. The access program has been configured to give all firefighters access to the common areas, but only select firefighters access to specialty rooms, like engineer’s storage rooms and ambulance rooms.
What’s more is that the Bright Blue access system also comes with a lockdown feature. This type of feature is critical for a facility such as a firehouse, where, when an emergency call comes in, the only thing firefighters are concerned with is assembling and getting out the door as fast as possible. The lockdown feature works to close and lock the main bay door following fire truck exit, giving firefighters one less thing to worry about as they head out to fight a fire.
As we mentioned in the opening, a matter of seconds can be the difference between life and death, between a total structural loss or one that can be restored. That’s why when it comes to emergency public service, anything that can be done to save time and streamline operations should be considered. The East Whiteland Volunteer Fire Association is already realizing this in its new building with its access control system – and Strauss says that officials are still tinkering with the settings to truly optimize the effectiveness of the system.
For more information on how an access control system can help streamline your facility’s operations, just as it has helped do with the East Whiteland Volunteer Fire Association, contact Great Valley Lockshop today at (610) 644-5334 or request service.