English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College in Hartlepool, County Durham, is benefiting from a streamlined low maintenance and an innovative high-performance fire alarm system, provided by Hochiki Europe. The school is one of the largest in Hartlepool, with a population of 1,637 students aged 11 to 18. Founded in 1973, it comprises a number of outbuildings of varying sizes, designs and ages, all clustered around the original structure.
With such a complex site layout, the ageing closed protocol fire safety system was becoming increasingly expensive for the school to maintain, as it needed replacement components that could only be sourced from a single supplier. The school demanded an innovative solution to safeguard the well-being of students while streamlining maintenance. All this had to be achieved within a tight time-frame of five weeks during the school holidays to minimise disruption to classes – a target that even its maintenance team didn't think was feasible.
“With so many people using the buildings every day, we were finding it more and more of a challenge to keep the fire safety technology in top condition without disrupting classes,” explained Mick Dempsey, building manager at English Martyrs School. “So it became crucial to find a solution with minimal aftercare requirements.”
Having a well-established working relationship with Hochiki Europe, David Hynes, project manager at the contractors leading the installation, Tees Fire Systems Ltd. (TFS), felt that the manufacturer had the right life safety solutions for the project. The school was particularly keen to investigate solutions to reduce false alarms, caused by the frequent use of ovens, Bunsen burners and kilns in the home economics, science and craft classrooms.
To help meet these objectives, it was decided that the school would benefit from the use of ACC-EN multi-sensors from Hochiki Europe. Installed in the rooms most at risk from alerts caused by class work, these detectors could be programmed to detect just heat by day and heat and smoke by night, ensuring optimum safety for students, while eliminating the issue of false alarms.
FB-1 Reflective beam smoke detectors were installed in the ornate main halls and sports hall, due to the breadth of coverage they offered. With their advanced motorised technology, they are able to self-align to their opposing reflectors when necessary, reducing the need for intervention from maintenance teams. The beam detectors were installed directly onto the loop using Hochiki Europe's Powered Output Module (CHQ-POM) with just one point of cable termination. As a result, significantly less cabling was required compared with standard solutions which require further cabling to connect the fire and fault contacts to the rest of the safety system. Not only did this reduce the impact cable work on the aesthetics of the building interior, it also streamlined the installation for TFS.
All of the technologies installed in the school feature the manufacturer's innovative open Enhanced Systems Protocol (ESP), making them compatible with standard components from other suppliers, and cutting the cost of aftercare. The system has also been designed to automatically transmit fault or fire alerts to mobile phones, enabling the maintenance team to locate the source of any problem and rectify it before the alarm sounds, reducing aftercare time and further cutting the impact of false alarms.
David at TFS explained: “With so little wiring required, the cables were barely visible from the ground. This meant we were able to install the detectors on the ceilings of the hall and sports hall without having to hide it with casings, which significantly reduced the duration of the project.”
“Moreover, choosing a multi-looped system meant that we could fit the new equipment in different areas of the school in phases, which further cut installation time and allowed portions of the site to be used throughout the project, such as classrooms for summer school and the hall for exam results days.”
“As a result, we were able to complete the entire installation throughout the school in just five weeks, not just meeting the customer's ambitious deadline, but exceeding its expectations.”
Richard Wharram, regional sales manager at Hochiki Europe, added: “English Martyrs School is a vast and busy site, with hundreds of students and visitors passing through the building every day. As such, it was crucial that its fire safety systems were not only reliable, but also as easy to maintain as possible, to keep disruption to the school day to a minimum. ”
“The solutions we recommended offered the performance required with lower aftercare needs and a reduction in false alarms, saving the maintenance team time and money, while allowing students and staff to go about their day as safely as possible.”
Commenting on the project, Tony Cooney, technical sales director of TFS, said: “The team's organisation skills and hard work on this project were outstanding. We're proud to have been selected by Hochiki Europe as the only Hochiki Systems Partner in the North East of England.”