Siemens Recognizes South Carolina Firm for Innovative Approach to Fire/Life Safety Design

Friday, June 16, 2017 11:31 am EDT


Buffalo Grove, Illinois

Siemens has announced O’Neal, Inc. of Greenville, S.C., as the winner of its fourth annual Engineering Innovation Award for fire and life safety design. An external panel of industry experts selected O’Neal, which used an innovative design approach that incorporated Siemens’ Firefinder® XLS fire panel into Solvay’s existing Specialty Polymers site in Augusta, Georgia.

O’Neal provided the fire protection engineered solutions for Solvay’s new process unit that produces a world-scale polyether-etherketone resin (PEEK). PEEK is used to help lighten composite materials, reduce energy consumption, and enable high performance in applications such as healthcare, electronics, oil and gas, aeronautics, and automotive. 

The fire safety design and build proved challenging as heat flux from one unit could cause heat detectors in nearby units to activate multiple deluge systems simultaneously. Additionally, the site could not supply an adequate amount of water to douse fires or sufficiently store the water once used. To address both concerns, O’Neal proposed a creative two-prong design/build engineering solution that would reduce fire water supply needs, limit spent fire water containment, and provide on/off capability of the deluge systems.

First, O’Neal designed the deluge fire sprinkler zones so that only those within the direct impact of the heat flux generated by a fire would operate. Although this approach required a greater number of sprinkler systems, it minimized the amount of fire water supply needed and thus, the necessary storage capacity for spent fire water.  

Even with the reduction in water demand, fire sprinkler deluge systems could still be activated in areas where no flames were present. Solvay tasked O’Neal with finding an additional solution to this problem to ensure that the site had a sufficient water supply for any possible event. 

“Discussions with Solvay and its insurance underwriter led us to this outside-of-the-box solution,” says Tom Goss, Design Specialist for the Fire Safety Group at O’Neal. “The fire water demand for this facility is as large as I’ve ever seen, and, in working with Solvay and Siemens, we were able to provide a solution that allows the fire brigade at Solvay to limit fire water usage.” 

O’Neal’s design incorporated deluge control valves as well as Siemens’ Firefinder XLS fire panel and a remote panel in a location that is a safe distance from the operating facility. Positioning the panels in such a way would help Solvay and its onsite fire brigade to remotely monitor a fire and turn individual deluge control valves on and off as needed.

“Our congratulations to O’Neal for implementing such an innovative program and winning this prestigious award,” says Brad Haeberle, Vice President, Solution and Service Portfolio, Siemens Building Technologies Division. “Incorporating the FireFinder XLS panel into the PEEK facilities’ fire safety design allows first responders to not only quickly take control of a fire should one occur but also to conserve the amount of water used in putting it out.”

Siemens would also like to thank the judges for reviewing this year’s submissions: Dr. James Milke, Chair of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering and Professor at the University of Maryland; Dr. Tahar El-Korchi, Professor and Department Head at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Mass.); Andy King, Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal for the City of Franklin, Tenn., and Vice Chair for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), Fire and Life Safety Section and for the International Code Council Fire Code Action Committee; and Chris Jelenewicz, Senior Manager for Engineering Practice at Society of Fire Protection Engineers and Technical Editor of SFPE’s Fire Protection Engineering magazine.

“Being part of the review panel helps me learn about the various creative solutions implemented using Siemens technology,” says Dr. Milke. “In turn, my students can see how real-use examples of recent cutting-edge innovations are helping address specific fire protection challenges.” 

Siemens’ annual Engineering Innovation Award recognizes consulting specifying engineering firms that have incorporated Siemens fire and life safety technologies into an innovative design that solved a customer’s difficult challenge or advanced the use of technology in this field. Examples of innovation may range from new applications of existing technology, to cost-effective design solutions, to meeting unique building or construction requirements. An external panel of experts in the fire protection industry selects the winner from the applications received each year. The award is part of Siemens’ EngineeringAdvantage™ program. To learn more about the award, visit

FireFinder and EngineeringAdvantage are trademarks of Siemens and/or its affiliates in some countries.


About O’Neal, Inc.

O’Neal, Inc. (Greenville, S.C.) is an employee-owned integrated engineering and construction company that has been successfully delivering complex capital projects in the food and beverage, process chemical, manufacturing, packaging, and pulp and paper markets worldwide since 1975. As an engineering procurement and construction contractor, O’Neal focuses on the business of project delivery — integrating overall project planning, design, procurement, and construction to create cost-effective capital solutions. For more information on O’Neal, visit or follow on Twitter at

About Siemens Building Technologies Division

The Siemens Building Technologies Division (Buffalo Grove, Ill.) is the North American market leader for safe and secure, energy-efficient and environment-friendly buildings and infrastructures. As a technology partner, service provider, system integrator and product vendor, Building Technologies has offerings for fire protection, life safety and security as well as building automation, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), and energy management. To learn more about the Siemens Building Technologies Division, visit

Siemens Corporation is a U.S. subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies, Siemens is a leading supplier of systems for power generation and transmission as well as medical diagnosis. With approximately 348,000 employees in more than 190 countries, Siemens reported worldwide revenue of $86.2 billion in fiscal 2015. Siemens in the USA reported revenue of $22.4 billion, including $5.5 billion in exports, and employs approximately 50,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

To receive expert insights sign up for our Siemens’ U.S. Executive Pulse leadership blog. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter at:


Contact for journalists

Allison Britt

Phone: +1-847-941-5724; E-mail: