aston university main building

Midland Fire Security Services Ltd recently completed the upgrade of electrical works at Aston University’s main building – improving the existing electrical infrastructure while ensuring compliance with the latest IET Wiring Guidelines.

The objective of this project was to replace obsolete tap off units, located on the power and lighting rising busbars to 8 floors of the main building, the project is known as phase 4 of previous similar works at the university.

As the appointed principal contractor Midland Fire was expected to plan, manage, monitor and coordinate the entire construction phase. Principal contractors have an important role in managing health and safety risks during the construction phase so they must have the skills, knowledge, experience and, where relevant, organisational capability to carry out this work. Sub-contractor management was key to ensuring the process went smoothly with minimal disruptions to university activities.

The principle contractor is expected to meet or exceed The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 – Ensuring accountability and a high standard of service and quality of workmanship.

Project Management and Planning

The main building features laboratories used for research and a constant power supply is required to keep essential equipment like freezers and fridges turned on. A temporary power supply to essential equipment was provided to avoid disruption.

Sub-contractors were specified for certain aspects of the project. This included builders, data specialists, fire stop specialists, cupboard installers and decorators.

A Successful Tender Process Based on Quality

As with all public tenders, the client assessed the proposed methodology and planning of all bidders. This was an important part of the tender, as the chosen contractor needed to provide all aspects of the installation. This Phase 4 project had been carried out 3 previous times by the university and on each occasion the project was not completed within the timescales as planned because of the previous contractor’s execution of works. The evaluation process was based on quality (planning, methodology and previous experience) and price.

Experience in Electrical Works with Planned Shutdowns

As the nominated framework provider for electrical works at the university, Midland Fire had already completed works at other buildings on campus. This helped provide clear evidence that they could deliver the contract with minimal disruption to university activities.

Previous projects including Electrical Installations at The Medical School, MB 7 Workplace, The Library (HV Switch Room Panel Extension) and Student Guild Demolition and Car Park Extension. All of which included an element of planned shutdown works. Midland Fire currently has an on-site presence of 4-8 engineers daily carrying out planned and reactive maintenance.

 

Aston University Busbar Upgrades

Before and After Installation Of New Tap off Units And IFE Ethernet Modules

Upgrading the existing power distribution system

The main building uses a series of vertical and horizontal Busbars to distribute power. They are controlled by tap off units on each floor. Originally installed in the 1950s, the tap off units at the main building were obsolete and in need of replacement.

Rising busbars are vertical metal containment systems containing copper bars – sending electricity around the building. Horizontal bars send electricity to distribution boards (mains switches) which are split into power and lighting.

Tap off units are mains switches that control power to each horizontal busbar. They make up a crucial part of the infrastructure of the building.

Quality Products

All products and equipment specified by the University are manufactured by reputable companies – known for reliability. Midland Fire procured the electrical switchgear from MCH Electrical Systems Ltd, these custom built enclosures were colour coded – applicable to the building location, lockable and housed Schneider Electric MCCB’s and Interface Ethernet (IFE) Modules.

 

schneider electric mccbs

 

IFE Electrical Metering

The Schneider Electric Interface Ethernet (IFE) module allows the university to view, control, and streamline data from electrical equipment assets, helping to reduce costs and improve uptime. A central control unit is used the monitor electricity use in real-time.

The Benefits of Electrical Metering Usage for the University

Adam Reilly Estates Engineering Manager, said “The low voltage distribution network within the Main Building is a mesh of vertical and horizontal busbars dating back to the 1950s. The system design gives us lots of supply options and resilience, including operating the system as a mesh of open LV rings. Whilst the copper busbars are in good condition, the tap off switches are ageing and require replacing. The upgrade project is being carried out over six phases, with phase four just being completed. MFSS have completed two phases of the project.

“The tap off switches are being replaced with Schneider NSX MCCBs within individual lockable enclosures. The Schneider Facility Expert system is also being included, with IFEs being installed in each tap off box. This allows us to monitor contact wear, breaker position and metering data by connecting to the device IP address. The data from the Schneider Facility Expert devices is also transmitted to our AM&T system provided by component, allowing metering data to be processed by our campus metering system without the need to install additional meters.”

On-site Works & Planned Shutdown

A weekend isolation and shutdown period was planned to prevent disruption to normal week day working hours. Midland Fire completed as much of the work as possible before the shutdown period such as cable containment and cable installation. All potential equipment had been prepared prior to the event.

An on-site team of Midland Fire staff including 6 Electricians, 3 apprentices and 1 Foreman carried out the works. Work included removing the existing switchgear and installing new units – terminating at the vertical and horizontal Busbar system. To support and assist the university estates team, experienced electricians and Midland Fire managers – Luke and Jack were also on-site.

Projection Completion

The operation was successfully completed 24 hours before the end of the 48-hour isolation window. This gave Midland Fire and the Estates Team plenty of time to carry out testing and inspection of the new installation. After the successful re-energisation of the electrical infrastructure, all temporary supplies to the laboratory and research equipment were removed ready for the start of the working week.

James Timmis, Project Officer said  “Midland Fire has successfully completed many electrical and fire alarm projects under my direction since I have been working at the University. This project was a highly complex electrical infrastructure upgrade with associated building works, undertaken within one of the most sensitive areas of the Main Building on campus, which houses over 30 laboratories of various disciplines. These laboratories were in use, with live experiments running throughout the period of works, so it was business critical to the University that these works were completed within the limited timeframes available.

Not only were the works completed to a very high standard, but also well within the available timeframes. MFSS also sub-contracted and managed the associated building works, which were completed around the needs of the business in a prompt and professional manner.

Overall, MFSS more than delivered in line with the agreed specification for this project and I would not hesitate to recommend them for similar works in future”.

 

For more information and a free consultation contact Midland Fire Security Services Ltd.

wullcomb-building-leicester-4

Midland Fire Security Services has been awarded an extensive maintenance contract for the Life Safety Systems at “The Wullcomb” residential building. Located on Vaughan Way in Leicester city centre, the contract has been awarded by Way of Life Management Ltd.

The Wullcomb is a build to rent development offering 297 apartments, a shared kitchen and dining space “The Perch”, coffee shop, roof top terrace and private theatre and function room “The Bower”. The development also benefits from a secure car park and a 24 hour concierge.

Complete Life Safety System Maintenance

The life safety system at The Wullcomb comprise of 2 networked Gent Vigilon Panels combined with Self-Contained LED Emergency Lighting. Midland Fire will also be responsible for maintaining their Cameo Disabled Refuge System with Emergency Voice Call.

In addition to these systems the contract also includes maintenance of Portable Fire Extinguishers, Lightning Protection, Dry Risers, Sprinklers and Smoke Vents.

Having such a wide range of systems to maintain on a single site provides its own logistical challenges, for example, the fire alarm requires 4 visits per year, the emergency lighting and smoke vents require 2 visits per year and finally, the disabled refuge system, lightning protection system and portable fire extinguishers require a single visit per year. The contract includes 100% testing of all devices on all of these systems within the contract term.

Real Time Monitoring

Another feature of the services provided is the inclusion of cloud based real time maintenance event data logging which gives both the client and Midland Fire greater visibility and control over the planned maintenance activities within the building and ensures a fast response to any issues that may require investigation and rectification.

wullcomb-building-leicester-5

Midland Fire Security Services look forward to this opportunity to work in partnership with Way of Life Management Ltd to provide services to this modern and prestigious housing development.

Looking for a complete life safety and fire alarm maintenance service?

Please get in touch by calling 01283 741000 or sending an email to info@midlandfire.com

Midland Fire Security Services is proud to announce that it has recently won a significant maintenance contract working in partnership with Coventry City Council. This contract involves the planned maintenance of close to 250 individual sites.

The contract period is set initially at 2 years, with an option to extend for a further 2 years. It involves the maintenance, testing, repair and installation of Fire Alarm Systems, Sprinklers Systems, Dry Risers and Fire Hydrants throughout Coventry. Each site varies in size and complexity including housing accommodation, some with vulnerable adults, public spaces such as shopping centres and museums. The contract entails providing the planned maintenance of Fire Alarm systems on these sites along with an “all inclusive” 24 hour call out service for faults and repairs.

Fire Alarm Maintenance at Prestigious Buildings

fire alarm maintenance at one friargate coventry

One Friargate Coventry

Included among these sites are a number of prestigious buildings such as Friar Gate which is the principle home of Coventry City Council and Coventry Retail Market. The market, which has been operational for over 60 years was originally built to replace the old market which was destroyed by bomb damage during World War II. The new building was opened by Princess Alexandria in 1958. Its pride is its diversity of goods on sale and the many venues supplying a wide variety of food and beverages. The market has worked extensively at making itself Covid safe and is now, after a closure during lockdown, once gain welcoming traders and customers.

Coventry City Market

Coventry City Indoor Market

 

There are a number of tourist destinations covered by the contract, principle among these are Coventry Transport Museum, The Herbert Art Gallery and Lunt Roman Fort.

Coventry Transport Museum Fire Alarm Maintenance

Fire Alarm Maintenance at Coventry Transport Museum is included in the contract

The Coventry Transport Museum provides a home for a collection of vehicles of designated national importance, and consisting of 300 cycles, 120 motor cycles and 250 cars and commercial vehicles.

The Herbert Art Gallery

The Herbert Art Gallery Coventry

The Herbert Art Gallery, a nationally recognised art gallery and museum located close to the iconic Coventry Cathedral, has permanent galleries dedicated to the visual arts, social and industrial history and Natural History. It is also home to the Coventry Archives, the location of historical documents, photographs, maps and archive material relating to the city.

Lunt Roman Fort Coventry

Lunt Roman Fort

Of significant historical interest is Lunt Roman Fort, built in 60AD by the Romans in an attempt to suppress the Iceni rebellion led by the fearsome warrior queen Boudica. The fort is unusual in the sense that although these type of forts were built quickly from timber in an attempt to secure recently occupied territory, most were later rebuilt using stone. The fort had the advantage of being in easy reach of both Watling Street and the Fosse Way, both major arteries in Roman times and not dissimilar to the M1 & M6 of modern times.

Implementing a life safety system maintenance plan

Providing a service contract to such a large, diverse customer presents its own array of unique challenges. Foremost among these is preparing an accurate asset register for each site detailing the amount and type of equipment installed in each location, creating a comprehensive list of contacts and access information for each of the sites which is made all the more challenging by the current pandemic.

For the planned maintenance, there is a logistical challenge associated with organising our engineering workforce where each visit is booked directly with the site and there is a requirement to attend sometimes as many as four sites per day within specific, predefined time slots. The contract includes a number of schools and nurseries where knowledge of who will be attending site and at what time is important to the safety of the occupants.

In addition to the planned works for maintenance and building modification, the contract also incorporates surveying existing sites which contain obsolete equipment and devising a path to replacing and upgrading to current specifications. In most cases this will involve installing Gent fire equipment other than in locations where a wireless solution is preferable, either for reasons of aesthetics or buildings where asbestos may be found, and in these circumstances EMS radio equipment will be utilised.

From an internal perspective, the task of integrating locations, asset lists and timetables into our inventory system is no small matter. This has involved creating new processes to assist in prioritising and managing the workload. These new processes include devising a methodology for organising and storing paperwork including engineer reports, certifications and site surveys all of which has to be achieved in a fashion congruent with the council’s own prescriptive manner of doing things.

Although there are clearly both challenges and opportunities ahead, Midland Fire Security Services relish the prospect of working in conjunction with Coventry City Council on this large and varied contract.

We thought that we would leave the final word to Kenton Sarjaeant, Compliance Manager for Coventry City Council;

“Midland Fire Security Services took over the Fire Alarm installation, maintenance and repair term contract for Coventry City Council in July 2020. These are challenging times for the country as a whole and they have embraced the requirements of the contract as well as dealing with the added complications caused by COVI-19.

For obvious reasons it hasn’t been straight forward but I am pleased with the way things are going and look forward to further progression over the coming months”

the oaks coventry student accommodation

Main Contractor: McLaren Group

Client: Mechanical Contractors (Ashfield) Ltd

The Oaks in Coventry is a brand new private student accommodation block located just 1km away from Warwick University. It includes space for 382 residents, communal areas and high specification fittings, fixings and furniture throughout.

Midland Fire Security Services Ltd completed the supply and commission of fire detection and alarm system throughout the building. This included the installation of a managed fire alarm system in all living spaces including apartments, communal corridors, kitchens and games rooms.

The recent Grenfell Tower fire has highlighted the complexity of fire safety and evacuation procedures in Homes of multiple occupancies (HMOs) and busy student accommodation blocks. Life safety must be built in during the design stages to ensure that the risk to life is minimised in an emergency.

As a Gent Honeywell Approved Network Installer we were able to specify the latest Gent Vigilon system throughout the building utilising the brand new SAFE programming features designed specifically to bridge the gap between residential and landlord fire alarm systems. As part of the project we helped implement a complex ‘Stay Put’ fire strategy, helping ensure the safety of residents in the event of a fire and reduce false alarms.

Using the latest Gent SAFE programming features

The GENT safe system bridges the gap between BS5839 Part 1 and BS5839 Part 6 without the risk of generating multiple false evacuations.

SAFE, uses the principle of CONFIRMED fires. The panel confirms a fire, if a heat channel of a multisensory detector activates OR two smoke channels activate OR a single smoke channel detects smoke for a sustained period of time (programmable).

At the Oaks, each cluster flat is programmed as a “SAFE Area”, this means that if smoke is detected by a single sensor, the Sounders will operate in the “SAFE Area” only. If after 6 minutes there is no smoke present, then the panel resets itself.  If there is a smoke present after 6 minutes, OR a heat channel operates or a second smoke detector channel operates, then this is deemed a CONFIRMED Fire. The Sounders then play the Voice Message, “This is a fire alarm! Please leave the building immediately by the nearest available exit.” and automated cause and effect operations take place (smoke vent system operates, lifts ground, doors release etc) and the fire latches on the panel.

With the use of a SAFE button, it is possible residents would be able to test their own fire alarms, silence an unconfirmed fire activation and/or extend the delay period, if they knew the cause of the alarm was a false activation. Landlords can check to make sure alarms have been tested at the correct intervals from a central control panel. This will also tell the landlord which areas have had the highest number of false alarms, helping identify problems early.

At the Oaks, the latest Gent S-Quad multi detectors with integrated voice and EN54-23 certified visual alarms were installed throughout the building minimizing risk to life during a fire and reduce confusion when the alarm activates. Different tones and voice messages are used to distinguish between an activation in the cluster flat or from another area in the building. This allows residents to quickly understand if the activation is in their flat or if they should evacuate the building. The control panel for the entire system is located on the ground floor for convenience and compliance with the latest fire regulations.

What is a HMO?

HMO is an abbreviation of Homes of Multiple Occupancy. This includes any property that is rented out by at least 3 people who are not part of the same household but share facilities like bathrooms and kitchens. HMOs are subject to different fire safety regulations when compared to a home occupied by just one family.

Implementing a ‘Stay Put’ Fire Safety Strategy for Student Accommodation or a HMO

In a building of this size with residents living in close proximity to one another, fire safety is a lot more than just providing fire alarms in every room. Using passive fire protection materials, fire is compartmented into each living space allowing residents in adjacent areas to evacuate safely. False alarm prevention is also important given the inconvenience and complexity of evacuating an entire building.

At the Oaks – Bedrooms, shared kitchens and games rooms have their own one-hour fire compartments. This prevents the rapid spread of fire between rooms.

The building is divided into ‘shared apartments’ where up to 8 students may share the same kitchen and games room. Each shared apartment has its own fire alarm system giving residents the opportunity to silence a false alarm (if they burn their toast in the kitchen for example) and also extinguish a fire themselves before the fire brigade is automatically notified. Fire blankets and extinguishers are present in the kitchens of every ‘shared apartment’ for this reason.

Further to this, Corridors and key escape routes also have one-hour fire compartments. They must be kept empty of flammable objects (sterile) to prevent the rapid spread of fire and give occupants time to evacuate safely.

The system is very reliable meaning that only a single escape staircase is required by law.

A timely delivery

Due to the nature of this type of work, there was a tight timescale for the commissioning of the system. We had to be ready to demonstrate/witness test operations of the system to building control.

Several cause and effect fire strategy meetings were held throughout the process to ensure compliance with fire safety regulations.

Midland Fire was responsible for supply and commission only. The finished system was installed by Mechanical Contractors (Ashfield) Ltd.

Need a Fire Alarm System for your Student Accommodation?

Over the past 20 years we have provided reliable Fire Alarms for student accommodation blocks and HMOs of all sizes. Please contact Midland Fire Security Services Ltd for a free consultation.

Moseley Hall Hospital Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust

Over the past 12 years Midland Fire Security Services (Midland Fire) are proud to have worked on fire and life safety projects with Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust (BCHC). Our reliable design, installation and maintenance service has helped the trust comply with legal requirements on time and within budget.

BCHC NHS trust operates a portfolio with 22 sites, predominately health centre clinics, however the portfolio includes 4 residential hospital buildings across Birmingham and the West Midlands region.

We conducted comprehensive site surveys at each location. We also worked with the existing fire and life safety systems to ensure they are fit for purpose and meet the latest legal requirements.

2007 – Present

  • Access control systems
  • BT Redcare centralised monitoring services
  • Electrical installations in line with site refurbishments
  • Fire alarm system Installation
  • Planned and reactive maintenance services
  • Remedial works and electrical safety testing

Working in a live hospital/care environment

BCHC NHS Trust operates primary care facilities for the elderly including patients with high dependant needs with conditions such as dementia. When working in this environment, extra care was taken to ensure patients were not disturbed.

Dan Sillito, Director at Midland Fire explains: “Midland Fire safety engineers are experienced in working in busy public spaces. All engineers have up to date DBS checks and we took extra care to ensure that patients were not disturbed and planned our work around the hospital’s day to day routine. A detailed risk assessment was completed and agreed with the BCHC NHS Trust prior to any work taking place.

Asbestos is a big concern in older facilities. Our engineer’s due diligence was crucial in checking the Asbestos Registers prior to carrying out work and their awareness throughout each project.  Commissioning works were performed by our fully trained fire system technicians, who are qualified to Gent24 standards and competent in many system protocols.”

Planned maintenance and emergency callouts

Midland Fire has been awarded a planned maintenance contracts for fire alarm systems across the region. Projects include working with fire alarm equipment from multiple suppliers including Gent Vigilon, Ziton & Notifier multi panel network systems.

Our maintenance service includes regular site visits for maintaining the fire alarm systems, planning and liaising with site contacts, testing of control panels and standby batteries, input device testing (MCP’s, Sensors), Cause & Effect testing & reporting defects / recommendations for compliance to BS5839-1 2017. As part of this contract we also provide full customer support, callout facilities and access to our qualified technicians 24hrs a day, 365 days a year.

BT Redcare secure 24 hour alarm monitoring

Midland Fire has recently been awarded the BCHC BT Redcare manned centre monitoring contract. Monitoring is an important part of any life safety system. All monitoring is undertaken by our partner company EMCS monitoring who provide comprehensive monitoring solutions for a wide variety of fire alarm equipment. Midland Fire worked closely with EMCS to ensure a seamless transition to our services.

Helping the NHS stay within budget

Working with EMCS Midland Fire secured a significant discount (and in some cases free) on BT Redcare monitoring equipment. We are pleased to have been able to add value to the contract. The new equipment comes with a full manufacturer’s warranty, reducing the risk of expensive maintenance should equipment need replacing in the near future.

Access control and Fire alarm refurbishment at Moseley Hall Hospital

As part of a major building security improvement project, new door access equipment was installed and interfaced to the main fire alarm system. Midland Fire was responsible for conducting initial site surveys and worked closely with NHS project management and security contractors to ensure the system was adequate for the trust’s needs.

All fire safety system design work is completed in house at Midland Fire to ensure that legislative and technical requirements are met. The system meets or exceeds the requirements of the Fire Risk Assessment, Fire Safety Order Regulatory Reform (2005) and British Standards in Fire Alarms BS5839-1 2017.

 

We look forward to working with BHCH NHS Trust on future projects.