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Complex fire alarm upgrade at Royal Papworth

Complex fire alarm upgrade at Royal Papworth

SSG has been appointed to design, supply and install the fire alarm and management system at the new Royal Papworth Hospital, a state-of-the-art specialist heart and lung hospital situated adjacent to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

The new system encompasses 15 networked fire alarm panels and in excess of 4,000 addressable devices, including 1,900 detectors. The system was overseen by Skanska’s appointed building services engineers, Troup Bywaters + Anders, who also set the outline brief.

The new hospital features:-

  • Five operating theatres, five catheter laboratories and two hybrid theatres.
  • 14 isolation rooms.
  • Approximately 300 single beds, plus a 46-bed critical care unit and 24 day beds – most of which are en-suite individual rooms.
  • A centrally located Outpatients Unit offering a wide range of diagnostic and treatment facilities.
  • An atrium on the ground floor with a restaurant, coffee shop and convenience store.

One of the biggest challenges we had to address during the design process was the significant requirement for the site-wide fire alarm system to interface with different systems – including fire dampers, air handling plant, and smoke extraction – in order to provide a completely integrated system that manages the air flow and smoke extraction to safely direct smoke throughout the building. In addition, the system also interfaces with security, nurse call and sprinkler systems.

Chris Smith, Head of Project Delivery at Static Systems Group, explains: “With different systems and equipment being installed simultaneously, there was a significant amount of co-ordination required to ensure they would interface together. We also needed to understand where they were being installed and how they were being fitted to ensure there were no physical clashes of equipment and materials.”

When working on a new build project of this scale, early engagement and close collaboration with all parties involved in the design and supply of the fire engineering systems are essential to its success. In the case of the new Royal Papworth Hospital, those suppliers responsible for the fire alarm, building management systems, damper and duct work worked closely together from the outset.

During the design process, for example, frequent project meetings were held on site where representatives of the suppliers came together with Skanska’s construction team and Troup Bywaters + Anders to discuss design issues and integration requirements.

Chris explains the benefit of this approach: “Early engagement made a huge difference to the progress of the project. Our early engagement throughout the pre-construction phase meant we could provide detailed advice on our system rather than a generic product being built into the scheme at a very early stage. This meant that by the time construction started, we already had a robust design.”

Evacuation planning was also a key consideration when designing the fire engineering system for the new Royal Papworth Hospital. In the event of a fire, hospitals typically have a phased evacuation process, whereby a fire in a zone would result in the affected zone being evacuated and adjacent areas being given an alert. However, at the Royal Papworth Hospital, the Trust wanted to create a bespoke operation when it came to the ward areas. As each ward area went across more than one of the fire zones for the building, the Trust wanted an evacuation process based on the ward areas rather than on the fire zones. We were able to design the system to meet this requirement.

Following the installation of the fire engineering system at the Royal Papworth Hospital there was a considerable period of testing to ensure that all the systems met the rigorous criteria of Skanska and its client, Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The whole installation and testing period went very well, and the Royal Papworth Hospital’s patients, staff and visitors are now protected by a reliable and highly sophisticated system that will have a significant lifespan.

We will continue to be actively involved in the site, providing ongoing system maintenance in partnership with the hospital’s facilities management company.

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