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Chubb ensures shoppers' fire safety at Howard Shopping Centre

Published on 20 May 2010
Chubb Fire's flexible working practices for fire safety installations have been praised by managers of the Howard Shopping Centre
Shopping centres present a unique set of challenges in fire safety

Chubb Fire won the contract, on competitive tender, to replace both the existing fire alarm and Public Address/Voice Alarm (PAVA) system at the Howard Shopping Centre.

Chubb Fire's flexible working practices have been highlighted and praised by managers of the Howard Shopping Centre in Welwyn Garden City, following completion of a successful project to upgrade an existing fire safety installation. Chubb Fire is part of UTC Fire & Security, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

Chubb Fire won the contract, on competitive tender, to replace both the existing fire alarm and Public Address/Voice Alarm (PAVA) system, re-utilising as much of the existing fire alarm cabling network as possible to keep the project costs to a minimum and limit disruption to shops opening hours. Maintaining normal business hours was a priority, according to Peter Brooks, Centre Manager, and Chubb Fire was proactive throughout. Chubb Fire’s engineers accommodated our needs as the installation progressed, and ensured that our exact requirements were met, he said.

While assessing the analogue fire alarm, engineers realised that some of the high beam detectors were not operating to their maximum potential. Sunlight through the windows of the atrium and dirt had limited their capacity. An aspirating smoke detection (ASD) system, capable of detecting minute smoke particles that are invisible to the human eye, was installed. The ASD consists of a central detection unit that draws air through a network of pipes, sampling it to detect smoke. Work was carried out over a five-month period out of hours, and during working hours in non-public areas including the car park and back-of-house, so that the impact on business was kept to a minimum and safety of shoppers was not compromised.

The Howard Centre is named after Sir Ebenezer Howard, founder of the Garden City movement. Built by Tarmac Construction and opened in October 1990, it provides 240,000 sq ft (22,000 m2) of space on two levels and includes stores Marks & Spencer, Boots, WH Smith, Next and Monsoon. Jane Garland, Marketing Communications Manager at Chubb Fire, says that shopping centres present a unique set of challenges in fire safety. Protecting the public and staff from the threat of fire in a busy shopping center is a high priority, she said. Chubb Fire engineers worked out of hours to carry out the extensive upgrade while minimizing business disruption.

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