Apollo Is Fire Detection Of Choice For Scotland’s International University

Students attending Scotland’s ‘international’ university, Heriot-Watt, are being protected by a new fire system based on Apollo Discovery intelligent fire detection technology. The university, which designed the new fire system in-house, specified Apollo’s proven Discovery multisensor to eliminate nuisance alarms being caused by steam in bathing and cooking areas.


Heriot Watt is often referred to as Scotland’s international university because it boasts four student campuses: three in Scotland – Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders and Orkney – and a campus in Dubai. The new Apollo fire detection system protects students living at the Scottish Borders campus in Galashiels, which is situated 38 miles south of Edinburgh. It was supplied, installed, commissioned and maintained by Safe Services.

The Scottish Borders Campus is home to the School of Textiles and Design and also runs a number of courses from the School of Management and Languages. Two separate accommodation blocks on the campus, both of which comprised three storeys and one of which was self-catering, required a fire system upgrade. The previous system was 15 years old and no longer fitted the fire detection requirements of the university. The two buildings house around 200 students and more than ten staff in total.

Phasing the works
The old fire system was addressable with conventional heads and there was a lack of tolerance, causing false alarms, which needed to be addressed. The fact that it was a closed protocol system was also a major factor for the upgrade, as Graeme Millar, Senior Fire Engineer at Safe Services, explains.

“As there was a closed protocol system in place before, the main difficulty with upgrading the system in the two accommodation blocks was phasing out the old system and bringing in the new one without losing coverage. Everything had to be rewired as nothing on the old system could be used.

“The work was carried out during normal working hours with students in residence. We had to give each individual block a week’s notice before we were due to be in that area so they could be up and changed by 8.30 am for when we started.”

The existing system had to be kept up and running until the very last day. A block at a time was wired then fully commissioned, followed by the decommissioning of the old system in that block.

An interface was also created between the new and old panels to ensure that no coverage was lost. The final changeover was completed in a day and a new connection to the alarm receiving centre was created to replace the existing dial up digital communicator. No areas of the Halls had to be taken out of use during the works.

False alarm reduction
Heriot-Watt specified a new fire system to L2 standards based on Apollo Discovery technology using analogue addressable panels. Graeme Millar says: “Apollo devices were already being used in another building on the campus, and the designers of the system at the university trusted Apollo technology to such an extent that they wanted to base the new system upon it too.”

The most likely sources of nuisance alarms in the accommodation blocks are the shower rooms, where steam could give a false reading, and kitchen areas where transient levels of smoke or steam from cooking are a common occurrence. In addition, each of the bedrooms is equipped with its own sink so there is a potential source of steam-related incidents in those as well.

Apollo’s Discovery range of high-specification, intelligent fire detectors is an ideal choice for this type of application, as it has been developed for installations where adaptability to changing conditions and protection against unwanted alarms are of paramount importance. For example, all detectors in the Discovery range are equipped with inbuilt drift compensation sensitivity, a non-volatile memory and fail-safe operation. However, it is the inclusion of a multisensor in the range that really gives Discovery-based fire systems their flexibility.

Multisensor detectors incorporate two or more sensors of different types and process the signals to produce one output on which the decision ‘fire/no fire’ is based. Apollo’s Discovery multisensor is equipped with an optical smoke sensor and a heat sensor and offers five operating modes that are selected by the system designer or commissioning engineer via the control panel.

It can be selected to operate as a smoke detector only, a heat detector only, or as one of three combinations of both. If an “in combination” selection is made, the signals from each sensor are considered in relation to each other. The Discovery multisensor is certified to EN54 standard in every one of its five operating modes and its reliability in the field in reducing nuisance alarm incidents has been proven over several years.

Future proofed
The new fire detection systems at Heriot Watt’s Scottish Borders campus incorporate over 550 Discovery devices in all, of which approximately 400 are multisensors.

The fire protection in the self-catering accommodation block is configured around a two-loop system, while the system in the accommodation-only block is designed around an eight-loop control panel. Both fire detection systems incorporate interfaces to page staff to alert them in the event of an alarm sounding and the evacuation procedure is on-out, all-out.

Graeme Millar concludes: “We completed work on the campus in May 2007 and the Discovery technology has certainly improved things for the students and the staff.

“Going forward, as the fire system is now based on Apollo’s open protocol, rather than being a closed system, it can easily be upgraded or added to in future with minimal disruption.”

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Apollo Is Judged Worthy Of UK’s First Community Justice Centre

Apollo fire detectors have been installed at North Liverpool’s Community Justice Centre, a unique initiative which brings justice into the heart of the community. Liverpool based company Specifire supplied, installed and commissioned the fire detection system for the project and the system was designed by Atkins Design & Engineering.

North Liverpool Community Justice Centre

The first of its kind in England and Wales, the Community Justice Centre aims to work closely with local people to understand and tackle the causes of anti-social behaviour and crime as well as crime itself. It combines the powers of a courtroom with a range of community resources available to residents, victims and witnesses, as well as offenders. It also organises and supports activities involving local residents and, in particular, young people.

The centre is built on the site of a former school in Boundary Street, Vauxhall and has 38 rooms in two separate buildings of two and three storeys. One of the buildings is a community centre and the other houses the magistrate’s court and youth court along with a cell area.  The criminal justice agencies are also on site (including the police and probation services) as well as advice and support services such as addiction counselling, debt and housing advice.

The client specified an open protocol system featuring analogue addressable panels and the fire detection system, which is designed to L1 standards, incorporates XP95 and Discovery detectors, two control panels and multisensors in the plant room.

Apollo’s Discovery range allows for the provision of different levels of sensitivity depending on the needs of the space to be protected. This is possible because Apollo Discovery fire detectors feature five panel-selectable sensitivity bands that make them particularly adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions. To help to protect against unwanted alarms even further, devices in the Discovery range are also equipped with inbuilt drift compensation. All fire modes are LPCB approved to EN54.

Operating on a one-out, all-out basis, the fire system interfaces with doors, security access, turnstyles and lifts.

David Hughes of Specifire comments: “Apollo fire detectors were used at the Community Justice Centre as they are reliable and efficient. These are tried and tested products that we use whenever the opportunity arises. At Specifire, we nail our flag to Apollo as they are the market leaders – and justifiably so.”

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