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Bangor University ensures optimum safety for its students
Bangor University ensures optimum safety for its students by installing Gent fire system
St Mary’s is a brand new student village at Bangor University, comprising nearly 900 rooms alongside a range of cutting edge facilities. HESIS Fire & Security used technology from Gent by Honeywell across the site to ensure that it has the very best fire detection solution in place.

Situated next to the Menai Straits at the foot of the Snowdonia National Park in north Wales, Bangor University has a long tradition of academic excellence. With over 12,000 students and 2,000 members of staff, Bangor University is made up of five colleges housing 22 academic schools, as well as over 50 specialist research centres. As part of its ongoing development programme, it aims to provide students with the very best places to live and work and the St Mary’s student village is the latest addition to its accommodation portfolio.

With 10 individual buildings including en-suite studio apartments and townhouses with nearly 900 rooms, St. Mary’s also has a café bar, shop, laundrette, common rooms, and sports and fitness facilities on-site. With a strict deadline for completion, the mechanical and electrical contractor on the St Mary’s project needed to work with a life safety specialist that could deliver a quality installation on time using state-of-the-art technology. Liverpool based HESIS Fire & Security was selected to carry out the fire detection system based work and the company’s Account Manager, Rob Beck, says, ‘We were delighted to be awarded this prestigious project and knew that we could exceed Bangor University’s stated requirements. We have worked closely with Gent for the last five years and we were recently awarded Gent Technology Centre status, demonstrating our resource and capability to design, supply, commission and service the company’s fire detection and alarm systems to the very highest standards.’

The solution specified by HESIS Fire & Security is based around Gent’s industry leading Vigilon system. Vigilon combines powerful software in the control panel and intelligent loop powered devices to deliver a flexible, easy to use system. Its modular concept makes systems simple to design for any building and algorithms are used to match the pattern of activity in the sensor with data from test results stored in the panel memory. 

St Mary’s utilises nine networked Vigilon control panels with 10 repeater panels across the site. In addition, over 1,800 devices, including sounders and beacons (VADs) are installed, which signal back to the main security office at Bangor University. Uniquely, the detector heads have been programmed so that instructions are given in Welsh first and then English.

HESIS Fire & Security decided that the Gent S-Quad S4-711 Dual Optical Heat Detector would offer the best level of reliability and prevention of unwanted alarms. Martyn Keenan, Business Manager (North West) at Gent, explains, ‘S-Quad was the first intelligent loop powered multifunctional device to include a sensor, sounder, speech and visual alarm, and its extensively patented technology has an unrivalled ability to prevent unwanted alarms. Incorporating four separate sensing elements – heat, carbon monoxide, and dual angle optical forward and backward scatter, the fully EN 54-23 and EN 54-3 compliant S-Quad combines local processing in the sensor and the panel to achieve an immediate response to genuine fires.’

Asked why these were considered the most suitable option for the accommodation areas, Rob Beck replies, ‘Students are renowned for having very sociable and busy lifestyles, and it’s not uncommon for fire alarms to be activated by mistake as a result of bread being left too long in a toaster, or pans burning on the cooker hob or even steam from the integrated shower rooms. Therefore, in the event of something like this happening the S-Quad dual angle optical multi-sensors allow identification of the particle source, filtering potential unwanted alarms due to steam and dust etc.’

The Equality Act makes it the responsibility of all organisations to ensure that access to buildings and services is available to everyone, regardless of any physical disabilities. Therefore, in order to meet this obligation and to provide an additional level of safety, visual alarm devices (VADs) were also installed to offer an appropriate signal by emitting a bright red or white light.

Due to a number of delays caused elsewhere during the project, HESIS Fire & Security had to complete the installation and commissioning programme in a considerably reduced time scale. Beck comments, ‘It was tough and there was a lot of pressure on us to meet the handover. However, as well as a lot of long days, our mission was successful thanks to the ease of use, flexibility and versatility of the Gent equipment. This ensured that the commissioning process in particular was very smooth.’ For Ken Griffith, Head of Residences and Head Warden at Bangor University, the installation of the new fire detection system has been a resounding success.

Ken concludes, ‘St Mary’s represents the very best in student accommodation and will enhance the reputation for excellence that we have developed over the years. Student safety is a vital part of our day to day activities and I’m convinced that we now have the very best technology in place to prevent the potentially devastating consequences of fire and smoke.’