Tower blocks’ fire alarm systems raised to top category protection with Aico

Tower blocks’ fire alarm systems raised to top category protection with Aico

Watford Community Housing has completed the installation of Grade D, LD1 fire detection systems in two 16-storey tower blocks using Multi-Sensor Fire Alarms and accessories from Aico, wirelessly interconnected with the company’s RadioLINK+ RF technology.

Abbey View and Munden View tower blocks on the Meriden Estate, which recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, are iconic Watford landmarks. They are part of Watford Community Housing’s property portfolio of over 5,000 homes located across South-west Hertfordshire.

Domestic Fire Alarm installation is guided by BS 5839-6:2013, which clearly identifies both Grades of alarm system to use and Categories of protection. Grade D is the most common and requires one or more interlinked mains powered alarms, each with an integral stand-by supply. LD3 and LD2 are the most common categories, but Watford Community Housing has chosen the highest category, LD1, for the two tower blocks. David Wright, Surveying Manager at Watford Community Housing explained: “Our tenants’ safety and wellbeing is our highest priority. With this in mind, and due to the known risks around high-rise buildings, we decided that full detection would be appropriate.”

The decision to install alarms to the highest category possible was made some time ago, as part of an organisational review of housing stock. The housing association has been using Aico alarms for many years: “We believe the products deliver the best in safety for our tenants,” commented David. “We are also aware of what is required from a maintenance point of view, helping us to minimise the time we spend in the properties.”

This was one of the considerations for Watford Community Housing when specifying alarm types, which led them to Aico’s Multi-Sensor Fire Alarm. “We identified these alarms as a way in which we could protect and future-proof our properties” stated David. “The wireless capabilities and the possibility of being able to potentially test properties without having to gain entry was a real selling point. Data extraction was also a real plus for us in making this decision. We were also looking to address the issue of false alarms and we believe that the dual aspect of this product will help to reduce nuisance alarms.”

The Multi-Sensor Fire Alarm uses two sensor types, optical and heat, to constantly monitor smoke and heat levels which are processed through intelligent detection software to provide the best response to all fire types, as well as reducing potential false alarms; the latter is enhanced through a dust compensation feature.

It comes with two types of data extraction technology. The AudioLINK enables real time data to be extracted from each alarm directly to a smartphone or tablet via a free App to create an Alarm Status Report. RadioLINK+ can extract total system data from a property, providing a valuable record of the alarm system in every property managed, which is useful for both asset management and maintenance purposes.

Three to four Multi-Sensors have been installed per flat (depending on the number of bedrooms), plus an Ei164e Heat Alarm in the kitchen and a wall mounted Ei450 Alarm Control Switch. The Switch allows residents not only to test all alarms on the system, but also silence them and locate the trigger alarm from a safe, accessible location.

The devices within each flat are interconnected wirelessly using Aico RadioLINK+ RF technology, which helped meet tenants’ concerns. “When we consulted tenants,” said David, “one of their main concerns was that they didn’t want masses of surface-mounted trunking over the ceiling. RadioLINK allows for minimal trunking use, which meets our residents’ wishes and also helps to reduce labour costs.”

A further product — the company’s Ei414 Fire/CO Alarm Interface — has been installed to provide a dedicated connection between the Aico Part 6 Fire Alarms in each property and the Part 1 system in the communal hallway. Also benefitting from RadioLINK+ wireless interconnection technology, the Ei414 did not require any apertures to be made for wiring, which was vital as Watford Community Housing had recently carried out compartmentation within the fabric of the buildings. The Ei414 will also enable the Part 6 Fire Alarm systems to be readily interconnected to sprinkler systems, which Watford Community Housing is considering for a later date.

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