Alpha Tower Birmingham entrance

Grade II listed office skyscraper, Alpha Tower’s new state of the art refurbishment includes the latest fire safety technology, following a deal with Staffordshire based, Midland Fire Security Services Ltd.

The Alpha Tower has secured its place in Birmingham’s heritage since opening its doors over 50 years ago. The 28 storey building was the former home of ATV, which formed part of ITV’s regional television network, producing classic programmes including Tiswas, Crossroads and Bullseye until 1982.

Now owned by property company, CEG group, the iconic tower has recently undergone a £20million refurbishment, transforming the building into a state of the art, flexible workspace combined with lifestyle and wellness services, designed to deliver the perfect work-life balance.

The iconic Alpha Tower in Birmingham

The iconic Alpha Tower in Birmingham

Midland Fire Security Services were brought on board to ensure the Alpha building not only met but exceeded fire safety standards and compliance throughout the extensive refurbishment and to secure the safety of the building and its occupants for the future.

Fire detection and life safety system planning

With 196,000 square feet of office accommodation, breakout spaces, a cafe, wellness studio and gym, the Alpha Tower presented many logistical challenges to ensure full fire coverage and protection. Midland Fire carried out a full assessment and evaluation to identify the specific requirements and recommendations for each aspect of the project.

This service included planning and design, through to installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection systems and fire alarm systems to B5839-1:2017 Category L1.

Thomas Sleath Business Development Manager at Midland Fire Security Services said: “It has been a pleasure working to protect such an iconic building as the Alpha Tower. We worked closely with DP Designs of Bromsgrove, to deliver a seamless, phased, service throughout the refurbishment and going forward.”

Maintenance and implementation of life safety systems

As part of this service, Midland Fire deliver quarterly maintenance visits to manage the project and ensure full fire safety compliance at each stage. The service visits enable the team to pinpoint and highlight any potential issues and implement the required improvements to adhere to the BS5839 safety standard.

Following recommendations from a routine service visit, the team installed upgrades to the Alpha Tower’s GENT Vigilon fire alarm system. This provides full fire alarm system coverage to adhere to the BS5839 Part 1 (2017 category L1) code of practice.

GENT Vigilon fire alarm systems monitor activity throughout the building, with each of the 28 floors having its own fire alarm control panel installed. Each control panel is linked to Local Loop Devices on that floor, feeding detailed information back to the panel.

All panels are incorporated into the GENT Vigilon fire alarm network giving a complete, real-time view of the building at all times. GENT Vigilon then feeds that information to the WINMAG PC system front end, which reports activity directly and clearly to the end-user.

Among the many benefits of the WINMAG system, any fire safety notifications can instantly be located and identified. The WINMAG system then issues an immediate alert, evaluating the situation, initiating the required action and alerting the reception area which is manned at all times.

GENT S-Quad detectors installed and networked

The fire safety system includes GENT S-Quad series detectors throughout, which feed information directly to the localised control panels. The GENT S-Quad detectors combine advanced sensing technology with multi-alarm functionality. This works in 4 ways:

  1. First, the detector uses a range of sensing elements to identify any potential threat from heat, smoke or carbon monoxide. The S-Quad can easily be programmed to allow for likely changes in key areas such as steam in bathrooms, to significantly reduce potential false alarms.
  2. Once its sensor is activated it sends an alert via the loop devices to the panel and back to control. It then sounds an alarm which can be set to change tone and sound to indicate the threat level.
  3. Tailored voice messages can also be programmed to advise occupants what to do and when to evacuate, ensuring their safety at all times.
  4. Finally, visual alarm devices (VADs) with flashing/intermittent lighting are used to ensure those with hearing loss or wearing ear defenders can be alerted, so everyone in the building can be guided to safety.

Total coverage and protection

To offer complete coverage, all the lift shafts in the Alpha building were upgraded to include state of the art Vesda Aspirating Systems, also known as Air Sampling Detectors (ASD). These devices continually monitor and evaluate the air around them to detect any impending hazard at a very early stage. This buys critical time to assess the potential threat and act accordingly.

Vesda ASDs can be programmed to detect not only potential fires in their infancy, allowing the alarm to be raised in advance of an open fire or intense smoke developing. ASDs can also be equipped to detect hazardous and combustible gases. This allows for early investigation and evacuation to protect life, property and minimise disruption.

Efficient and reliable service

 Thomas Sleath added: “The fluctuating pandemic restrictions at the time of the Alpha Tower project required us to strictly adhere to additional safety measures, which brought with them significant time constraints. However, with careful planning and the experience and expertise of our dedicated team, we managed to overcome these challenges and complete the project on time and within budget.”

At Midland Fire, we’ll work with you to plan and deliver the optimum fire safety solution for your premises, including ongoing maintenance, support and fire safety training. At Midland Fire WE PROTECT.

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