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Gents EN54-23 certified devices get a first at University of Leicester
The University of Leicester’s high quality academic reputation has earned it a position in the top 2% of universities of the world, and a ranking in the top 20 of UK major national league tables. Based a mile south of Leicester city centre, the University’s compact campus contains a wide range of twentieth century architecture, from the oldest building, which dates back to 1837, to its three distinctive towers built in the 1960s.
Like all educational establishments, the welfare and safety of its students is the University of Leicester’s highest priority, whether it is security procedures in the teaching halls or fire protection in the student accommodation. There are 23,000 students attending the University and a significant proportion of these reside in the multiple accommodation blocks based close to the main campus.

One of the University’s accommodation blocks, part of Oadby Student Village, has recently undergone a refurbishment of its fire detection and alarm (FD&A) system as the existing system became obsolete. Marston Fire, based in Loughborough in Leicestershire and a Gent 24 approved Elite System Integrator, carried out the install having won the contract when the business was put out to tender.

Oliver Marston, managing director, Marston Fire, oversaw the installation and was involved in the tender process from the initial stages. Marston said: “The original brief was to replace the existing fire alarm system that was obsolete and the only solution that would meet all of the University’s requirements was the Gent system that we put forward. We had to use the existing wiring that was already in place and install a brand new panel and detection devices.”

The solution that was selected for the project was the Vigilon Compact panel together with Gent’s brand new EN54-23 certified S-Quad devices.

Marston continued: “This was the very first installation of Gent’s new S-Quad devices and when the discussions took place about the benefits of the new VADs, the customer was very keen to use them. The University is already familiar with Gent’s products as their FD&A systems are installed in a number of buildings across the main campus, so it was an ideal opportunity to try out the new devices.”

The S-Quad devices conform to the European Standard EN54-23, which specifies the criteria for Visual Alarm Devices (VADs). Prior to EN54-23 there was no way to determine the effectiveness of a VAD, so the requirement was introduced primarily to standardise the VADs rating and performance.

The VADs usually provide a primary alert for deaf or hard of hearing people, or for areas with high background noise. In the University of Leicester’s student accommodation the visual alarms were designed to meet BS5839 pt1 and EN54-23, providing 0.4lux. This allowed the VAD’s to be used as the primary source of indication for the building’s residents if required.

Marston Fire carried out the installation at the end of April 2014. As the building was occupied, one of the biggest challenges for the project was the very short timeframe for completion.

Marston said: “We installed the system in the morning and it was fully operational the same evening so it took less than a day to complete. The existing product was removed early in the morning and the new Gent solution was up and running later that day.

“The main challenge, apart from the speed of turnaround, was to remove all the existing equipment as it was not compatible. Once we changed over to the new system we used the new loop diagnostic software from Gent. We tested the system alongside the Gent development team which provided an extra measure of assurance and gave us a health check on the existing cabling in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

Dan Ascough, business manager, Gent by Honeywell, said: “The FD&A solution was completed successfully and the University has since praised the speed and professionalism of the installation team. The system is providing the University with the highest possible fire detection and evacuation technology, the higher power strobe output in the new S-Quad VADs will ensure the students are safeguarded in any fire scenario.”