Northern New England’s premiere life-safety and security company Norris Inc., a Minuteman Company, recently completed a retrofit deployment of a Bi-Directional Amplifier (BDA) system, a new life-saving technology, at UNH’s historic Hamilton Smith Hall.

The BDA system was put in place to ensure that first responders in the building always have a life-saving line of communication open–no matter where they’re responding to the need for emergency services. BDA brings an assurance to the table that first responders need.

“As a former first responder, BDA is a game-changer that allows first responders to have radio communication even in the worst of locations\buildings,” said Norris Chief Operations Officer, Craig Elkanich. “First responders can enter any building with a BDA deployed and be confident that even if they are in the sub-basement they are going to have excellent communication.”

According to Norris Technician Bob White, who ran the installation in the field at UNH, the process for implementation was detailed in order to ensure the system functioned as flawlessly as possible.

“Initially a site survey was conducted in order to determine what the site’s requirements were. The survey took readings throughout the building in order to determine where coverage needed to be improved,” White said. “This information was then given to our partner, Radio Solutions Inc, and they determined the location and quantity of antennas that would need to be added.”

White notes that once the pretesting and system design was done, the electrical contractor and Norris techs got to work.

“Once RSI gave us their plan, the electrical contractors installed the cabling throughout the building,” White said. “Once that was complete, we installed the antennas and made connections throughout the building, mounting the antenna on the rooftop, and the head-end equipment in the attic.”

White said that once the system was completely installed, it then went through final testing and acceptance with the AHJ. Then training was performed with first responders, including the fire and police departments.

Norris uses Notifier as their fire alarm solution. Notifier Regional Sales Manager Ricky Houde said that BDA is a solution whose time had come and that 2020 was looking promising.

“This was my only BDA install for Notifier in 2019. 2020 is a different story as one project has six of them. BDA continues to be a Notifier growth strategy for 2020. I will be looking for more from Minuteman/Norris in 2020 regarding BDA,” Houde said. “There is no one else in the Northern New England territory that is certified and licensed at this time.”,
Norris Systems Integrator, Bob Bridges who performed the original survey of Hamilton Smith Hall, said the retrofit installation was challenging in many respects.

“The BDA was a retrofit installed after the building renovation was completed. The largest challenges were finding ways to meet the wire survivability challenges,” Bridges said. “The wiring and the BDA itself are required to be in 2-hour enclosures.”

Making sure that the wires could survive for 2 hours in a fire was only part of the challenge the University and Norris and its partners faced.
“UNH had to build a room in the attic specifically to house the BDA and we had to utilize a 2-hour duct chase for the risers,” Bridges said. “The struggle with the risers was that the chase also housed the CI cable for the generator so extreme caution had to be taken to avoid damaging that cable.”

A major $37 million renovation of Hamilton Smith Hall was begun in 2015 and completed in 2017, expanding the original building and bringing new technology to the historic campus hall.

What is Norris all about?

Norris, Inc.—a Saco, Maine-based life-safety and security systems integrator with satellite offices in Bangor, Maine; Lee, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont—was founded nearly 40 years ago by two brothers, Brad and Harty Norris.

On February 28, 2020 Norris Inc was acquired by Minuteman Security Technologies Inc.  Minuteman Security Technologies Inc. (Minuteman), headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts and founded in 1998, is a leading provider of enterprise security technology solutions. Minuteman security systems are used by a wide range of organizations throughout the United States. Customers include law enforcement, energy companies, mass transit, large retail chains, academic institutions, public safety agencies, and community hospitals with regional offices from Maine to Illinois.