Wherever groups of people congregate, there is a heightened requirement to keep them safe and secure. The Hershey Entertainment and Resort Co. (HE&R) encompasses an arena, a stadium, an amusement park and much more, and each area requires specifically tailored security and safety systems.
Gary Troxell, electrical foreman, HE&R, explained that fire safety is a big concern for companies such as HE&R, and determining which system is chosen depends on the type of public area it needs to protect. For instance, at the Giant Center, a 12,500-person-capacity enclosed arena that houses concerts and sporting events, fire safety is a fully automated, computer-driven system that is basically hands-off. However, the automated system can be placed into a bypass mode to help stave off false alarms that could cause more harm than good.
“In bypass mode, the photostrobes and warning alarms are controlled manually because, in the event of a false alarm, you would not want a mass exodus of 10,000 people during an event,” Troxell said.
At Hersheypark Stadium—a 30,000-capacity, open-air venue housing both sporting events and concerts—fire safety is viewed differently, simply because the location is open to the outdoors, Troxell said. The same holds true for Hersheypark, also an open-air venue. According to Troxell, in both areas, the overt concern for fire safety is massive, quick-moving summer thunderstorms. In fact, the owners take thunderstorms so seriously that there are sophisticated weather and a lightning strike monitoring systems in the park that help the facility staff stay abreast of approaching weather conditions.
“There are cameras located both inside buildings, outside buildings, in parking lots and just about everywhere, except places such as restrooms and changing areas,” Troxell said, adding that the camera systems allow for multiple location monitoring so that all areas can be watched to ensure the safety of visitors.
“When you invite people in to your facility, you need to provide them with a safe environment, so we use our camera system hard,” he said.
The cameras monitor crowds throughout all venues and areas and watch for suspicious activity. Recorded footage can be used to review events after they have transpired.
When it comes to lighting, different areas deserve unique attention for specific reasons. For instance, at the stadium, there are two types of lights in use. High intensity discharge (HID) lamps are used for vast lighting at events, such as football games. HID lamps also are used inside the arena since they are bright enough for sporting events. However, there is one downside to the HID lamps.
“They take 20 minutes to cool down in order to turn them back on. They are energy efficient, though. We also use quartz lighting in conjunction with the HID, as they are instantaneous,” Troxell said.
Having that second quartz lighting option is critical in public places because, in an emergency, the second type can be used for illuminating exit areas and making dark areas safer and more secure.
All lighting systems, according to Troxell, are computer-controlled and operate off schedules that have been specifically written to accommodate each area. In addition, the system is fully automated.
This, too, is considered a hands-off system that can be placed into an override mode based on circumstances.
“At times, we can use touch panels to control the lights if something needs to be turned on outside of a planned schedule,” Troxell said, adding that, “The system is really cool. For example, in Giant Center, we can place the building into hockey mode, and the system knows to use the HID lights for the rink, to turn on lights in the restrooms, concession areas, VIP suites, everything. The system is so automated, we can even control things through a cell phone, if need be.”
In the end, those in charge of operating and maintaining public areas need to also be in charge of serving guests. Advances in technology have allowed owners and operators to tweak safety and security operations based on unique circumstances. The fact that each individual venue and area can have its own set of life safety systems makes securing public places earlier. No two public areas are exactly the same, so the systems used within should be specifically tailored to their purpose.
STONG, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.