Protecting American history
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.--Jim Morris, owner of American Detection Specialists, has a knack for finding the odd job. Two years ago, he helped secure the home of a man with the rare Prader-Willi Syndrome, keeping him from literally eating himself to death. Now, his company has secured Riverbluff Cave, reportedly the oldest fossil-bearing cave in North America, and its attendant educational center.
Morris, whose full-service company serves nearly 1,000 customers in the Springfield area, came to this latest job because he secured the home of a county commissioner, who is "a good friend of mine," said Matt Forir, who manages the cave site as part of his position as executive director of the Natural History Museum of the Ozarks. "He said, 'You've got to give Jim a call.'"
The cave, which contains fossils that are invaluable to the paleontology community, had been broken into and vandalized shortly after its discovery as part of a road-building project in 2001.
"They say think out of the box--well, this was out of the box," said Morris. With the cave entrance covered by a 200-pound manhole, American Detection installed an overhead door sensor that goes to a GE Concord Pro 6000 panel, which is also connected to steel doors that are on either side of a four-foot-diameter tunnel leading deeper into the cave. "The amount of sensors isn't that big," chuckled Morris, "but it's awfully important that it works ... You can't just go to Sears and get another one of those skeletons."
"Jim really is kind of a security system genius as far as I'm concerned," Forir said. "He asks questions like, 'What's your average day in this cave?' He catches little details." After finding out Forir spent a great deal of time alone in the cave, for instance, Morris suggested a mobile panic button so that Forir could get help in a hurry in case of an accident. "To the best of my knowledge, this is the only cave that has a system like this," Forir said. "To actually have this monitoring capability in an emergency--that's monumental. It's kind of the big brother that you can always call."
"That is a true life safety system," Morris said of the installation, which he said his youngest installers were excited to put in, considering the cave can be toured by invite only.
"Security is something that nobody thinks of until they get broken into," said Forir. "So many collections like this get vandalized. Jim has a really crack staff, they really worked [hard] to design switches, drilling through plate steel, a lot of fabrications. And it works. I'm very pleased with what they've done."