Lightning Protection System

Florida 911 Center Upgrades Lightning Protection System for Maximum Safety
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Owner: Orange County Florida
Administration / Management Dept.
201 Rosalind Ave. Orlando, FL 32801

Client: David Watson, CH2MHill
PBS & J / CH2M Hill, JV
482 South Keller Road
Orlando, Florida 32810

Cost: $10 Million
Completion Date:


Orange County, Florida’s emergency response system is based at Apopka, an Orlando suburb. Dispatchers at the facility take citizens’ 911 calls, then contact appropriate agencies by way of a 28- channel radio network. The 280-ft (85-m) antenna tower, one of 11 in the system, is a frequent target for the area’s many lightning storms. High-resistance grounding enabled a lightning strike to destroy expensive transmitter equipment here. Similar incidents have cost taxpayers more than $2 million over 10 years, but damage ceased when the county installed a low-resistance, all-copper grounding system.

Meteorologists call Central Florida “Lightning Alley,” and for good reason, because severe thunderstorms occur there on an average of 130 days each year, more than anywhere else in the country. Orange County sits in the heart of the alley, and it sees more than its fair share of damaged buildings, disrupted power lines, fires and, unfortunately, injuries.
The county defends its 820,000 residents — 150,000 of whom are seniors — with an extensive emergency response system.