During the summer of 2021, not only were the teachers at two educational settings preparing for the start of the new school year, but both school sites were undergoing a major upgrade to their life safety systems, and Hochiki’s fire detection devices were the brand of choice.
Based in the Northeast of England, Darlington is home to two highly popular schools; Rydal Academy, a vibrant primary and nursery setting for 2–11-year-olds and Longfield Academy offering outstanding secondary and sixth form education.
Both schools required modernisation in their life safety systems which would change the system from closed protocol to open protocol, allowing any qualified fire safety engineer to work on the system and devices rather than being fixed to one brand. For educational settings this can make the long-term use and ongoing maintenance of the system far more flexible and far more cost effective, particularly important when educational budgets are already stretched.
Hochiki’s ESP Intelligent range was prescribed for both schools. Designed and manufactured to the highest international standards, this range of projects specialises in false alarm reduction, is fully compliant and has a wide range of devices that work well within a school environment. Not only that, but the range has also extended addressing capability which can be extended from 128 to 254 for certain alarm devices, which minimises costs and allows for greater flexibility.
Optica Fire & Security won the contract to carry out the projects at both schools and Michael Shearon, project lead, said of the Hochiki products installed “we have a long-standing relationship with Hochiki, going back several years. We know the devices that we installed at both schools well and trust them for their reliability and ease of installation. Plus, for the end user they are cost effective and for us, should we need it, their technical support is second to none.”
Both school sites are large, but Longfield had the added complexity of networking across several spread-out buildings and over multiple floors inclusive of classrooms, staffing areas, dining area, school halls, library, a sports hall, and swimming pool, which all required new cabling as well as where appropriate the upgrade of the existing. With the added pressure of the six-week summer holiday deadline looming this was quite a complex project for the team to undertake. As well as fire and repeater panel installation, there were over 800 Hochiki devices installed across both sites, with a life safety system designed to meet a category L3 requirement – the standard for school settings where there are lots of classrooms and corridors to consider, plus outside spaces.
Longfield also required the Hochiki devices to perform multiple functions, and the entire network was programmed for ‘cause and effect’ to include a class change system. Based on pre-programmed timetables, to signify the end of a lesson or lunch session for example, the Hochiki sounders would activate, utilising a different tone to the fire alarm. This is possible via enhanced controls within the ESP products that include variable volumes and tones that allow the system to be tailored to the application specifics.