The fire detection system is based around Hochiki Europe’s ESP, communications solution for intelligent fire detection
Hochiki Europe detection and alarm devices and Kentec Syncro AS panel meet the school’s requirements

Located in the Kentish town of Sittingbourne, Milton Court School is a one-form educational establishment for children aged 3-11 years old. Over 250 staff and pupils occupy a two storey Victorian building that has undergone extensive refurbishment over recent years to create a stimulating, comfortable and energy efficient learning environment.

However, after recognising that its fire detection system was nearing the end of its life and becoming increasingly unreliable, Paula Cruikshank, office manager at Milton Court, took action. She comments, “We were experiencing frequent false alarms, which in this type of environment is extremely disruptive. In order to have a more reliable life safety infrastructure we needed a completely new solution that could meet our needs both now and in the future.”

Milton Court invited Maidstone based Obsidian Security to tender for the contract. Now one of the UK’s leading installers of security, fire detection and access control technology, the company enjoys an enviable reputation for providing innovative and cost effective solutions, and prides itself on its ability to take an analytical approach to assess a customer’s needs.

On the basis of its competitive price, technical excellence and sustainability-based credentials, Obsidian Security was awarded the contract in July 2013. It’s project manager, Ben Aspland, explains, “We carry out a lot of work in schools and colleges, and understand exactly what works and what doesn’t. Milton Court required a BS 5839 compliant category L2 analogue addressable fire detection system. Detection and alarm devices from Hochiki Europe, controlled by a Kentec Syncro AS panel provided an ideal package to meet the school’s requirements.”

Obsidian Security has worked with Hochiki Europe and Kentec Electronics for a number of years and Ben continues, “We’ve installed fire detection devices from Hochiki and control panels from Kentec on many occasions. In our experience they always integrate seamlessly and they provide a highly flexible, reliable and robust solution for a wide variety of applications.”

The fire detection system is based around Hochiki Europe’s Enhanced Systems Protocol (ESP), a total communications solution for intelligent fire detection. The fact that ESP is an open protocol system means that detectors, interfaces and control equipment are interchangeable.

“Our new Hochiki Europe fire detection system is a vast improvement on what we had before and has already proven to be reliable, easy to manage and completely hassle free"

To minimise disruption to Milton Court during term time, the work was carried out during August. Describing the scope of the activity, Ben Aspland says, “We needed to keep the existing system fully operational to provide complete protection during the process. We also had to put in place a brand new wiring infrastructure, as the cable that was already in-situ was very old, did not meet the current standards and did not extend into some of the areas where new devices would be sited.”

The system features a wide range of Hochiki Europe devices including over 60 ALG-EN optical smoke detectors, which feature Hochiki Europe’s unique High Performance Chamber Technology. This minimises the differences in sensitivity experienced in flaming and smouldering fires and helps to reduce the possibility of unwanted alarms at Milton Court. These are complemented by a number of the company’s industry leading heat detectors, sounders, sounder bases and interface units.

In addition, ACA-E multi sensors have been sited in the canteen and staff kitchen and were chosen specifically for their ability to alternate between day/night detection modes. The detectors are programmed to operate as heat sensors during normal school hours and as optical smoke sensors and heat sensors outside of these times. This significantly reduces the probability of false activations caused by normal cooking smoke or steam in these areas. The times are set via the control panel time clock and can be reset when necessary to account for changes of use or school holidays.

Situated on the same site is Milton Court Children’s Centre, Obsidian Security needed to ensure that the fire detection systems from both buildings could communicate with each other. Aspland comments, ‘This represented a particular challenge as we didn't want the Children’s Centre to evacuate during a fire alarm test at the School. Therefore, we configured a “double knock” arrangement, whereby the use of one manual call point will not activate the Children’s Centre’s fire detection system but two active devices, as would be typical in a genuine fire situation, will.’

Milton Court School’s Paula Cruikshank, concludes, “Our new Hochiki Europe fire detection system is a vast improvement on what we had before and has already proven to be reliable, easy to manage and completely hassle free. We want our staff, pupils and visitors to be safe here and I’m now 100 per cent confident that they will be.”