New Dawn for Apollo Fire Detection at Sofitel London Heathrow

A flagship luxury 605 room hotel at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 has been equipped with a sophisticated intelligent fire detection system based on Apollo technology.

Sofitel London Heathrow is one of the largest conference hotels in the UK, owned and operated by Arora International Hotels. The hotel has been conceived as an oasis of luxury for discerning international business and leisure travellers passing through Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow airport.

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Leader Systems, based in Rugby, was appointed by the main mechanical and electrical contractor Crown House Engineering to design, supply, install and maintain a comprehensive fire detection system. Leader had no hesitation in specifying Apollo intelligent fire detection technology and Advanced Electronics control equipment to meet the client’s exacting standards.

The project
Heathrow’s only luxury hotel comprises three below-ground levels housing car parking and extensive conference facilities, including a lecture theatre with widescreen cinema and 45 meeting rooms. The hotel boasts five atria with various public areas such as a tea salon and a Zen garden; the main reception; and the “Avenue Sofitel”, the central boulevard of the hotel where retail outlets can be found.

Above the ground floor are six four-storey blocks comprising 605 bedrooms and suites. Among the many unique features of the hotel is a link bridge that enables guests to walk directly from hotel to airport terminal in under five minutes.

At any one time, the hotel could be host to several thousand guests, with its conference and meeting facilities alone capable of accommodating more than 3,000 delegates at any one time. In addition to residents and non-residents, the hotel employs several hundred staff. A comprehensive automatic fire detection system that would provide reliable and accurate information in the event of an incident was therefore essential to ensure the safety of guests and employees alike.

Fire detection requirements
Leader Systems became involved on the project early in the process. As well as taking responsibility for the automatic fire detection, the company supplied related services such as the smoke control system, emergency refuges, nurse call facility and PA systems.

In addition to the main point fire detection, a fire assessment identified the need for an aspirating system in the two metre void above the lecture theatre, which houses the sound and audio equipment. The lecture theatre’s high ceiling means that maintenance could be an issue, while the five atria presented another challenge as they are wide open spaces. Beam detection, in places on different levels, was specified for these areas.

Phased evacuation sequences were also closely evaluated at an early stage, in conjunction with local fire officers and the district surveyor. Requirements included stopping the hotel’s 20 lifts safely, shutting off escalators, isolating the link bridge to the airport and activating air conditioning, smoke dampers and door closers as appropriate.

Due to the complexity of the fire system requirements, Mike Simmons, Leader Systems contracts manager, was permanently based at the hotel development site for 14 months to ensure success. He says:

“The cause and effect sequences for the fire detection system and related safety and evacuation equipment were extremely complex. For example, to achieve the interface between the fire system and the sprinkler system involved the installation of sixty separate flow switches. We then had to develop a bespoke mimic panel to enable the emergency services to interpret the sequences correctly so that resources could be deployed effectively in the event of an emergency.”

The layout of the hotel and the variety of activities it contains – such as eating, cooking and sleeping – meant that a range of environmental conditions needed to be taken into account to ensure that nuisance alarm incidents were minimised. Leader Systems chose Apollo’s Discovery range of intelligent fire detectors to meet these requirements.

Apollo’s Discovery fire detectors can operate in one of five response modes, any of which can be selected from the control panel. Each mode corresponds to a unique response behaviour, which can be broadly related to sensitivity to fire.

Says Mike Simmons: “When you are faced with the type of complexity we encountered at Sofitel London Heathrow, being able to use fire detection technology that is proven to be reliable and accurate in the field is very reassuring. Apollo’s open digital protocol enabled us to link safety-critical systems together effectively and its Discovery range of intelligent fire detection devices offered the flexibility of programming and product choice necessary to meet all the environmental and operational requirements of this fascinating project.”

The hotel’s fire detection system incorporates 5,500 Apollo Discovery devices and is controlled by a network of 21 Advanced Electronics control panels. The hotel opened in July 2008 – on time and within budget.

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Deckhead Mounting Box Protects Apollo Fire Detectors From Ingress

Apollo’s new Deckhead Mounting Box is a robust polycarbonate unit designed to protect bases, sounder bases and sounder beacon bases from ingress of water or other liquids. It is screwed to the soffit and accepts a variety of Apollo bases.


In most cases the device can be used on its own, but in some instances either an extension sleeve or adapter ring is required: an extension sleeve is required when fitting heater or deep bases, while an adaptor ring is needed for fitting sounder bases, beacon bases, or sounder beacon bases.

 The Deckhead Mounting Box has six cable access ports for M20 glands and is secured to the mounting surface via two 5.4mm holes in the webs.

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Apollo Fire Detectors Showcasing Products Compliant with the new CCCF Standard at China Fire 2009

Apollo Fire Detectors is looking forward to welcoming many of its friends, colleagues and customers onto its stand (New Hall, Booth A126-130) at the 2009 China Fire Exhibition. The country’s leading fire exhibition is being held at the National Agricultural Exhibition Centre in Beijing from 16 – 19 October and attracts visitors from around the globe in addition to those from China and Asia.

Apollo offers 40 products which are fully compliant with the updated CCCF standard. On display will be a range of products from their Discovery® and XP95® analogue addressable ranges, Orbis® conventional range, as well their XP95 and Orbis intrinsically safe ranges. Throughout the show, the company’s team of experts will be on hand to offer product knowledge and advice on choosing a fire detection solution to satisfy customer requirements.

To coincide with the exhibition a new Chinese language website will be launched which will contain details of Apollo’s product offering, latest news and downloadable literature.

Mike Lam, Apollo’s Marketing Director for China, says, “We regard China Fire as a premier event in the industry calendar, which is why we return year after year. China is an important market for Apollo and is fully supported with representatives in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The exhibition gives us a chance to speak to our customers face to face, which is an essential part of developing our relationship with them and finding out their requirements.”

China Fire – 13th International Fire Protection Equipment Technology Conference and Exposition
National Agricultural Exhibition Centre, Beijing, China
16-19 October, 2009
New Hall, Booth A126-130

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