Siemens helps update storied venue

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Saturday, May 1, 2004

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Just in time for the 130th running of America’s most famous horse race, Siemens Building Technologies has provided Churchill Downs with a new fire protection system as part of the track’s $121 million renovation.

When the Kentucky Derby is run later this month, it will have been outfitted with a new sound system and a fire protection system that includes emergency voice evacuation and sprinkler monitoring, both provided by Siemens and installed by Henderson Service, based in Louisville.

The voice evacuation system is wired into the track’s main public address system and includes an instant communication link between the fire department and a designated refuge area for the physically challenged to facilitate rescue.

According to Mary Mushala, director of marketing communications for Siemens Building Technologies, the new sound system will extend beyond the range of the old system, delivering more than 200 zones, 300 channels and 400,000 watts of power.

The new system was delivered under Siemens’ $1.4 million contract with the track, Mushala said. The installation, she said, involved updating the existing system and tearing out what was there, although that aspect didn’t involve a lot of heavy construction.

“Churchill Downs was grandfathered. What they had was sprinkler monitoring, so there wasn’t a heck of a lot to rip out,” she said. “It was mostly just installation of the system.”

Siemens has been providing fire protection systems to Churchill Downs since 1999. Previous installations have included the track’s jockey dormitory and administrative office on the track’s backside and a system installed in the Kentucky Derby Museum adjacent to the track.

This latest installation was part of the $95 million second phase of the renovation, which also includes rebuilding a large section of the track’s six-story clubhouse. The installation also included a security system from InfoGraphic. The renovation is scheduled for completion in April 2005.

The driver behind updating the facility’s fire protection system was the age of the facility, which opened in 1875, said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs.

“Churchill Downs is one of America’s great sports venues and areas of our track are more than a century old, so safety is obviously a critical issue,” he said.