NHS hospital services are run and managed by NHS trusts, which make sure that hospitals provide high-quality healthcare, and that money is spent efficiently. They also decide on strategies for hospital developments and are responsible for ensuring the safety of all patients, staff, visitors and equipment. Fire safety is part of this strategy and paramount in any environment, but imagine a fire scenario in a hospital. A severe fire would cause chaos and major disruption to patients in the event that evacuation is required. This could be life threatening itself, let alone the impact of a fire! With this in mind, there are many factors to consider when installing a fire alarm system in a hospital.
Hospitals need to have effective and reliable fire alarm systems and the audible alarms must be targeted to sound accurately in all appropriate areas and not in areas where there is no risk and also not to people who don’t need to be moved.
During a recent fire alarm installation at a major community hospital we installed a 4 Panel Network Addressable Fire Alarm System (Gent Vigilon System)
The Gent System has the programming power (in a real fire situation) for the hospital to implement a controlled evacuation and only evacuate areas that are affected.
The reason for this is obvious, but essentially a hospital environment has sick people whom you only want to move in an emergency situation and minimize any unnecessary movement or stress to those involved.
There are many benefits of using the Vigilon system and the S-Quad range of devices that are used on the Vigilon System include multi-sensing devices that have been proven to drastically reduce the occurrence of unwanted alarms.
Also, the relationship between call points and detectors and the outputs they control i.e. bells, sounders and relays is critical to ensure a safe and effective evacuation is carried out.
There were 1400 devices sited within the hospital with a complex cause and effect matrix. This meant that in this multi storey, multi site building; in the event the fire alarm is triggered they could alert adjoining areas both horizontally and vertically throughout the building. This ensures that only people in immediate adjoining areas would be made aware of any potential fire situation.
It was an extremely complicated cause and effect matrix that could even rival the enigma machine!
Other factors we had to bear in mind with the install of the new system were as follows:
- Regular planning meetings were held with the Estates team to discuss how the install would take place in the different areas within the hospital.
- We had to phase in the install with minimum disruption and carry out the install in normal working hours whilst considering the day-to-day functions of a hospital environment.
- We minimized downtime by having sufficient stocks of spare devices (if required) on hand at all times.
- We also had to bear in mind that the old existing system still needed to be working whilst we were installing the new system and that maximum coverage was maintained at all times.
- In some instances, we had to swap out devices from the old system into the new system using existing wiring. Our main focus with this was to ensure the hospital had maximum protection at the end of each working day.
- Some of the older hospitals use Pyro (or MICC cable), which is an old type of fire retardant cable, which doesn’t like being disturbed and has now been replaced by a variety of soft skinned fire rated cable. We have experience of upgrading this type of cable.
- Audibility testing (sound tests) also needed to be carried out with minimum disruption and our working flexibility meant we could carry out these tests on a Sunday with the support of the Estates Team (or interested parties).
Fire Safety Services is an independent company, meaning we are not tied into anyone manufacturer and offer the best solution for the site irrespective of the manufacturer. We come up with bespoke solutions which best fit/suit the requirements of the client.
We are not influenced by a single supplier, which ultimately gives our clients the best system at the best price.
We are third-party accredited and all our Technicians are highly qualified so you can rest assured your hospital is in safe hands.
If you need help and advice with installing a fire alarm system in your hospital, please contact one of our expert team today on 08000 234114 or visit our website for more information on our range of services.
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