Lincoln Fire & Rescue (LF&R) in Lincoln, Nebraska offers an all hazards emergency response service including fire and emergency medical services with professional personnel on staff. Each member is sworn to protect the lives and property of all Lincoln city residents. The fire department promotes life safety through public education, fire suppression, emergency medical services, and hazardous materials, and by developing and enforcing ordinances and fire codes. Currently, the fire department is comprised of 232 firefighters, 60 captains, and 10 chief officers within 17 buildings servicing 272,996 residents of Lincoln, Nebraska and surrounding areas.
With life safety as the mission of Lincoln Fire & Rescue, ensuring timely and efficient rescues and firefighting is imperative and requires quick access to buildings. Nearly 5,000 fire departments nationwide use the Knox-Box® system including L F & R for afterhours building access to investigate the possibility of a fire. The Knox-Box® system provides a secure, rapid entry after-hours solution specifically developed for fire departments. The system consists of hardened steel boxes installed on the exterior of a building near the entrance that business owners use to store entrance keys, access cards and floor plans. A single master key is controlled by the local fire department, making it vital that these boxes are heavily protected, and access to these keys is secured and restricted. Department personnel developed a mobile application using the ISONAS system to secure this single master Knox Box key on specific apparatus.
The Main Challenges
Lincoln Fire & Rescue needed to secure all 17 facilities within the department from unauthorized visitors and prevent access to costly medical equipment, oxygen tanks, uniforms, and other expensive fire equipment. Specifically, LF&R wanted to secure facilities that contained multiple access points covering a large geographic area and find a solution that could expand with them as they grew. New fire houses built in the department would need to be seamlessly added to the main access control system; which posed another challenge. Most importantly, LF&R needed to keep their fire trucks safe and inaccessible and needed to safeguard the on-site master keys associated with the Knox Box system for numerous businesses in the community.
Lincoln Fire & Rescue had previously worked with Cable Guyz Communications, Inc., a local systems integrator that provided systems and services for a variety of network based products, including computer networks, phone systems and access control. Initially, the integrator was contracted to help the fire department with their computer networking and cabling needs. Cable Guyz had established themselves as a reputable vendor for systems integration for the City of Lincoln and was chosen by LF&R to maintain and upgrade the department’s ISONAS Pure IP access control system. Cable Guyz handled the work very professionally. Their flexibility to work around fire trucks coming in and out of the garage and running wire through the high ceilings was sincerely appreciated and they were able to meet multiple deadlines with no delays.
"The application of our Pure IP
ISONAS was the clear choice for access control and worked within the department’s budget to deliver a custom designed solution that was second to none. “We chose the ISONAS Pure IP access control solution for a myriad of reasons,” states Patrick Borer, Assistant Chief at Lincoln Fire & Rescue. “The fire department was looking for a cost-effective, reliable solution that was capable of providing audits and reports while being web accessible. It was important for us to figure out which access points should be card access controlled and which doors should be locked. ISONAS and Cable Guyz were with us every step of the way in the decision making process and helped us make this project a huge success.”
A total of 34 ISONAS PowerNet™ Reader-Controllers were installed throughout the department’s 17 facilities, and four additional readers were installed using wireless technology on the fire trucks. The ISONAS system was used with a vehicle inverter and modem to create a mobile security solution for the district’s Knox Box keys. The ISONAS card reader stores all of the entries remotely, and the ISONAS DB Crystal Windows-based software allows the fire district to monitor all access points in real-time and access reports for all activity throughout the facilities and fire trucks.
“We are extremely proud of our work with Lincoln Fire & Rescue and helping to create a safer environment for the department with our Pure IP access control solution,” states Rob Mossman, CEO of ISONAS. “The application of our Pure IP technology on the fire trucks demonstrates that access control is about more than doors and is flexible and scalable to meet many customer needs.” The district chose to install card readers at the main employee entrance in each facility and issue all employees, interns, and vendors an ID card with the capability of being read by ISONAS card readers. The flexibility of the ISONAS system allowed L F & R to schedule multiple doors to be locked and only provide access with a card swipe. Set schedules allow all other facility access points to remain locked at all times as staff members have to leave the premises quickly in an emergency and do not have time to secure doors upon exiting.
The Importance Of Securing All Access Points
The ISONAS Pure IP access control system offered numerous advantages to Lincoln Fire & Rescue. Previously, the staff felt apprehensive about leaving behind costly fire equipment and protective apparel without a security system in place, now they have peace of mind. Also, due to department budget limitations, LF&R needed to find a cost-effective, reliable solution quickly. The ISONAS solution was the perfect choice providing an affordable system due to the fact that it is easier to install and operate and provides flexibility and scalability that meet an immediate need as well as future expansion demands. The ISONAS Pure IP access control system eliminates the need for a panel and only requires our all in one PowerNet™ Reader-Controller and a category 5 cable to provide power and a network connection; creating intelligent access control at the edge.
The Fire District’s Future Plans
Lincoln Fire & Rescue is in a booming city that will continue to see significant growth in the future. In order to keep up with the growth, the department plans to build five new facilities within the next three years; two of which will be new facilities and three will replace older, existing facilities. While this is in progress, the department has identified the location of the next three fire stations that will open in the next few years. Being prepared is important to L F & R; whether it is an emergency situation or keeping up with the security of a growing department – the department is ready for anything that comes their way with the scalability of the ISONAS solution at their doors.