Apollo Discovery multisensors lie at the heart of an intelligent fire detection system installed to protect Belfast’s Ulster Hall. The fire detection system features different sensitivity levels depending on the time of day and was supplied and commissioned by Ashdale Engineering Ltd, which is also responsible for its maintenance.
A two-storey concert hall and exhibition venue, The Ulster Hall dates back to 1862 and is one of the oldest buildings owned by Belfast City Council. It has capacity to host approximately 2,000 people in the main hall and 200 in the group hall. The building is made up of a great deal of timber work and houses the Mulholland Organ, which was donated to the people of Belfast by its ex-Mayor, Andrew Mulholland, at around the time that the hall was built.
The design of the fire detection system had to take into account the uses of the building, particularly as a concert hall, and had to also ensure that false alarms caused by concert smoke machines and cigarette smoking were avoided.
Comments Colin Simms, Service Manager of Ashdale Engineering: “Apollo technology is very versatile. Using multisensors from Apollo’s Discovery range allowed us to provide different levels of sensitivity for the building at different times of day. For example, the fire detection system can switch the combined smoke/heat multisensors in the roof space to heat detection only when performers are using smoke machines in the main hall.”
This was possible because Apollo Discovery fire detectors feature five panel-selectable sensitivity bands that make them particularly adaptable to changing conditions. To help to protect against unwanted alarms even further, devices in the Discovery range are also equipped with inbuilt drift compensation, a non-volatile memory and fail-safe operation.
The Ulster Hall fire detection system incorporates over 150 Apollo Discovery multisensors as well as 100 loop-powered beacons. With a low current consumption of just 3mA, Apollo loop-powered beacons can be incorporated on an existing loop, reducing installation time and cost. The loop-powered beacon uses LEDs instead of Xenon for added reliability and is fully addressable, using the same XPERT address system as Apollo’s XP95 and Discovery detectors.
A number of interface units enable an alarm to shut down the boiler control panel, open the smoke extraction vents, bring the lift to the ground floor and operate the aspiration system in the lift shaft. The system is governed by a purpose-designed Advanced Electronics four-loop panel plus four repeater panels networked together. A Signet PAVA system is also connected.
The fire detection system is programmed with two modes of operation: ‘performance mode’ and ‘non-performance mode’. The first is activated when a show is on, with a three-minute interval before evacuation to allow an alarm to be investigated by staff. Non-performance mode is used at night and when the building is not occupied. An alarm in this case will effect an immediate ‘one out, all out’ evacuation of the building.
Summing up, Colin Simms says: “Apollo Fire Detectors offers a reliable open protocol system and the fact that the products are readily available if spares are required is a definite plus. The ease with which the Apollo system can be commissioned and installed was also a great benefit. Apollo was the obvious choice for the fire detection system for The Ulster Hall.”
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