Safe and Sound on Block Island

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Safe and Sound on Block Island

August 29, 2012

As the spring of 2012 warmed Block Island, David Chieffo began the familiar routine of readying his 19th century bed and breakfast for the tourist season.

Set atop a hill, with sweeping views of the harbor and the ocean beyond, the Island Home Inn appeared ready for the annual trek of travelers from around the world who come to Block Island for a sense of life in old New England. But all was not ready. The inn couldn’t host guests in 2012 until its fire alarm system was upgraded.

“To meet new fire codes, we needed a new fire alarm system, and we needed to get it done quickly,” Chieffo said.

The inn has 10 guest rooms spread across two buildings:  the main Victorian farm house built in 1875 and the carriage house added just after the turn of the century.  The inn’s historic architecture and period décor are central to its appeal, Chieffo said, so installing a modern fire alarm system had to be done without damaging the look and feel of the property.

“Our first priority is the safety of our guests,” Chieffo said.  “We needed a state-of-the-art fire system, but we also had to make sure the installation wouldn’t detract from the architecture of the inn. We have horse-hair ceilings, old wallpaper, original floors and woodwork, so the work had to be done with great care.”

So Chieffo called Carol Mitchell at Electronic Alarms, who has worked extensively with fire and security systems in historic homes. Carol designed a system for the inn and worked closely with the Rhode Island State Fire Marshall’s office to have the design reviewed and approved in time for the 2012 season.

With the design in hand, two technicians from Electronic Alarms, Ronnie Tetrault and Jason Cesana, stocked their vans and headed to the ferry terminal at Point Judith, RI, to sail for the island . They stayed in guest rooms at the Inn for nearly two weeks, snaking wires through walls and ceilings, to install a Fire-Lite Alarms system by Honeywell in the most unobtrusive manner possible.

“They installed three thousand feet of wire, and you would never know it. Their work was meticulous,” Chieffo said. “Some days it was over 90 degrees, and they were up in the attic, so I know it had to be miserable, but they treated the houses with great respect.”

The installation was completed in time, and the system is now operating to protect the guests of the inn, Chieffo noted.

“It was a challenging project, but also satisfying to see it accomplished,” Mitchell said. “Our team understands how to work in historic homes, but the truth is we treat every installation project with the same level of professionalism. We do what needs to be done to meet the customer’s needs, and we treat people’s homes as if they were our own.”

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