Chubb Fire Showcases The Future Of Fire Detection Technology In Schools

July 10, 2007


With arson attacks on schools an ever-present danger, and the cost now estimated at £74 million per year*, Chubb Fire is helping schools address this by showcasing a new fire detection solution as part of a major ‘Schools of the Future’ project in conjunction with the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

A full scale, three-storey model of a school has been built at a BRE site in Watford to help the construction industry learn more about how to deliver smarter, more sustainable buildings whilst achieving the highest environmental and construction standards. Chubb Fire has been subcontracted by NG Bailey, one of the principal project partners, to provide the fire detection element of the design against a background of figures that suggest one in 15 schools will at some time suffer the effects of a fire and that 75% of all fires in schools are started deliberately.*

Chubb Fire’s solution for schools includes smoke detectors, call points, sounders and beacons with a system built around its Controlmaster 1000 fire detection technology that meets the stipulated Category L1 criteria required. It was chosen for its ‘flexibility’ which in this case means lower service and maintenance charges, a more tangible lifecycle cost, greater integration with associated technologies including CCTV, status monitoring of components within the fire safety strategy (such as fire doors) and a better performance with dramatic impact on false alarm reduction.

Chubb Fire’s Product and Technical Manager, Graham Faulkner, explains: “Controlmaster 1000 has been designed very much with the future in mind.

“The system is fully IP functional which will enable not just engineers but actually the schools themselves to use their existing infrastructure (ie networks) in the future to ‘see’, with adapted software, the state of their alarm systems from their PC or laptop.  This will be especially beneficial for Local Education Authorities (LEAs) responsible for multiple buildings, as they will have greater ‘visibility’ across their entire portfolio, being able to view data on all their sites simply by dialling in to their intranet.

“Controlmaster 1000 will also have the ability to network several Panels together to create a bigger system. Such ‘Multi-Panel connectivity’ – as it is known – will allow the state of each panel to be monitored, potentially giving end-users not just a view of their current ‘health’, but also access to vital management information on the system’s performance.

“The third significant technological advancement that Controlmaster 1000 will bring in the future is the ability to integrate with associated technologies, notably CCTV. The opportunity to link cameras on a site via IP to a Fire Graphics Package, such that a school can literally ‘see’ an incident as it is triggered, will have obvious advantages and supports the operator in delivering an appropriate response.

“Of course the whole raison d’etre behind the development of future fire detection technology for schools is ultimately to provide better levels of protection,” Graham continues. “But it is also about providing better levels of false alarm management and reduction. Panels can link with all manner of detectors, but Controlmaster 1000 will be able to analyse a combination of factors to determine whether an alarm can be confirmed as genuine.”

As well as its performance characteristics, Controlmaster 1000 has also been installed because of its practical advantages including the ability to be ‘pre-commissioned’ without an engineer even having to visit the site. This means it will be possible for the system to attain its Factory Acceptance Test before it even leaves the Chubb’s facilities.

“Chubb Fire estimates that such technology represents a potential 22% saving on the time an engineer spends on site commissioning a system, with the commensurate savings in terms of money and resource,” Graham adds.

Controlmaster 1000 will ultimately have the benefit of Condition-Based Monitoring and Remote Diagnostics. Both will enable an engineer to pre-examine the system, and through the Panel identify faults and those parts of the system that may need changing or replacing. Again, the benefit to the school will be that the time a service engineer spends on site can be reduced, and the cost-savings re-invested in more direct educational support.

The model school was opened in June, and will remain on the BRE site for the next two years, during which time it will be used as a showcase for demonstrations to schools, LEAs and relevant government departments.

*The Arson Prevention Bureau estimates that almost a third of school fires occur during the day, putting the safety of pupils and staff at risk. Fires also interrupt learning, and more than 90,000 pupils per year will experience disruption to their education as a result of damage to classrooms or school property.