The Laurus Trust is a Multi-Academy Trust predominantly based within the Greater Manchester area. The trust consists of seven schools which are: Cheadle Hulme High School, Laurus Cheadle Hulme, Laurus Ryecroft, Didsbury High School, Hazel Grove High School, Gorsey Bank Primary School and Cheadle Hulme Primary School.
In 2017, The Laurus Trust, along with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), selected BAM Construction Northwest, based in Salford, to deliver the Laurus Cheadle Hulme, Cheadle Hulme Primary School and Didsbury High School, with the contract valued circa £40 million. BAM also went on to secure the Laurus Ryecroft School, as part of the scheme, with the schools opening between September 2018 and March 2020.
Protec’s full turkey solution
The Laurus Trust’s group of schools set Protec the task to provide a full turnkey solution for the various life safety systems, installed at three of their schools.
All the systems provided would have to meet current British Standard recommendations for the fire alarm and emergency voice communication (refuge alarm) systems, as well as take into account whether any value engineering solutions where possible, so as to ensure costs stayed within the contract budgets.
BS5839-1 L2 compliant fire alarm system
The scheme called for the installation of a BS5839-1 L2 compliant fire alarm system
The scheme called for the installation of a BS5839-1 L2 compliant fire alarm system. The fire alarm systems of the 3 No. schools, all benefitted from the new 6500 main fire alarm panels, provided with ‘open protocol’ capabilities.
The fully digital addressable panels would offer the display, control and monitoring of the 6000PLUS series fire alarm devices, fitted throughout the schools. The field devices were made up of digital addressable multi-sensors, heat sensors, beam detection, fire alarm interfaces, voice-enhanced sounders and visual alarm devices.
At the tender stage, Protec identified multiple value engineering solutions, whereby a detailed up-front fire alarm system design could cut the overall installation costs. Solutions such as using the fire alarm system to indicate the intervals between classes, by adding a timer to the fire alarm system (i.e. Class Change).
Protec 6000PLUS series Talking Sounders
As the systems utilized the Protec 6000PLUS series Talking Sounders, this enabled the class change signal to use the ‘Bell Tone’ sound, within these devices, thus replicating the sound of a real bell, in a class change period.
With Protec installing a fully digital addressable fire alarm system, this negated the need for providing remote indicator units, as the text on an addressable system shows the location of a fire or fault, on the main fire alarm control panel, for integration by the fire service, maintenance engineer or designated competent person.
Lockdown Systems are becoming popular within the education sector. Sadly, this is due to the growing number of events that could impact on the safety of pupils and staff. The lockdown system is a means to alert staff of an incident, without causing undue distress to the pupils.
In this case, Blue manual call points are installed within strategic locations in the schools, connected directly on the fire alarm detection loops. Upon activation of any blue manual call point, in a ‘lockdown’ event, this activates the coded message to alert all members of staff, so that they can implement the correct lockdown procedures.
NACTSO guidelines for use of fire alarms
Protec overcame the problem by using their Talking Sounder range of fire alarm devices
The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) guidelines state that the use of fire alarms should be avoided, so as to reduce incorrect response to an incident. This statement is down to fire alarm tones being confused with the tones that could be used for a lockdown scenario.
Protec overcame the problem by using their Talking Sounder range of fire alarm devices. The system provided enables various messages to apply for each of the different types of scenarios, reducing the risk of confusion.
Differentiating between fire and lockdown alarms
For these projects, the fire alarm is via a warble preamble, followed by the announcement, ‘Attention please, attention please, fire has been reported in the building, please leave the building immediately, by the nearest exit.’
The lockdown scenario would be initiated via a pulse preamble, followed by the announcement, ‘May I have your attention please, an incident has been reported in the building, please listen for further instructions.’ And finally, the class change is via a ‘Bell’ tone, which is a recorded message that replicates the sound of a traditional type bell.
By utilizing the fire alarm system infrastructure for providing the lockdown feature, the system installed has become part of a value-engineered solution for the client. The use of the fire alarm system with the additional devices would mean a dedicated system for the lockdown system would not need installing, thereby, saving costs for the client.
Emergency Voice Communication (Disabled Refuge Alarm)
Emergency Voice Communication (Disabled Refuge Alarm) is a system used in an evacuation scenario
Emergency Voice Communication (Disabled Refuge Alarm) is a system used in an evacuation scenario, so as to assist building management and the emergency services, with the safe evacuation of the building.
The refuge intercom system offers a secure temporary ‘refuge’ area for the pupils, staff and visitors, requiring assistance to evacuate to a ground-level via stairs, so that they are able to safely wait and communicate to the emergency services, during a building evacuation.
Two-way voice communication
The systems across the schools offered two-way voice communication between the outstations, at the dedicated refuge points and the main emergency voice communication control panels. The fire & rescue service would use the main emergency voice communication control panels, which are located at the main point of entry to the building, for ease of access in an emergency scenario.
Protec offered a fully compliant BS5839-9 system, across the 3 No. sites, a total of 5 No. 16-way main control panels and 21 No. refuge outstations. Additionally, 20 No. accessible toilet alarms were installed in the accessible WC’s and linked into the refuge alarm system, across the 3 No. sites, as part of a value-engineered solution, to incorporate the toilet alarms and refuge alarm into one complete system.
Protec aftercare and service
By combining these two systems, this reduced the costs of having a dedicated system for each. Since completion of the 3 No. school sites within this scheme, the Laurus Trust has taken out a PPM service contract with Protec, to ensure that the systems stay correctly maintained and operational for years to come.