Tower blocks swap waking watch for cost-effective hybrid wireless solution

News | March 2022

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Costly waking watch patrols, deployed at half a dozen high-rise potentially flammable exterior-cladding-covered apartment blocks in the home counties, are no longer needed thanks to the installation of a hybrid wireless fire alarm extension system specified and commissioned by Tann Synchronome, part of CDS.

The six 11- and 17-storey blocks, a mixture of local authority and privately owned flats, are among the hundreds of multi-storey buildings across the UK whose management has employed round-the-clock in-person patrols to ensure residents can sleep soundly at night without fear of fire breaking out.

Tann Synchronome technical sales manager Grant Wheeler explained: “The management company had been paying a fortune for a waking watch to patrol the buildings floor by floor every night. It proceeded with a programme to install sprinkler systems throughout the flats to negate the need for the patrols. However, there was a resistance from the private owners not wanting ugly sprinkler pipework through their flats.”

The management company’s struggle to find a safe, cost-effective and aesthetically suitable solution to the problem saw it turn to electrical contractor James Ferguson Ceejay Electrical and Tann Synchronome for an alternative to sprinklers in the private dwellings.

“My solution was to extend the existing hard-wired systems with radio heat detection in the flats into the rooms with windows above the cladding. The communal analogue addressable fire alarm systems which are in all the blocks were originally designed solely to protect the escape routes and are made up of Kentec Synchro control equipment employing either the Apollo or Hochiki protocols,” said Grant.

“Another option would have been to install a completely separate wireless system which would have involved far more extensive radio communication infrastructure, as well as being more costly and disruptive to install.

“Extending the existing systems means that as they are already remotely monitored no further remote connection is required to summon the fire brigade in the event of an activation.”

CDS has been heavily involved in designing, supplying, installing and maintaining complex fire safety detection systems in multi-storey residential blocks, many with numerous lifts, for several decades.

These include buildings for student, private rental and housing association tenants across the UK.