Morley-IAS by Honeywell Provides First Degree Fire Protection for UCL Wilkins Building

3rd July 2009

Founded in 1826, University College London (UCL) is today home to some 27,000 students and staff. And, with students from more than 140 countries studying at the University and a worldwide network of more than 107,000 graduates, UCL can lay fair claim to being “London’s Global University”.

UCL Wilkins BuildingAt its heart is the Wilkins Building, sited in Bloomsbury, Central London and which since 2005 has been undergoing a major phased refurbishmentprogramme. As part of this, leading Morley‐IAS Fire Systems distributor, Fisk Fire Group (Fisk), was selected to provide full fire protection for the Grade 1 listed building.

The installation in the Wilkins Building -one of London's architectural ‘jewels' designed by William Wilkins, who was also responsible for the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square and Downing College, Cambridge ‐includes four five‐loop Morley‐IAS ZX5e networked fire alarm control panels, seamlessly integrated with Apollo detection devices.

The Morley‐IAS addressable solution replaces a previous radio‐based system and, says Fisk's senior estimator, Tel Fisk, "provides the level of flexibility, robustness and security essential in a major Listed building which includes a large refectory, UCL's administrative centre and main Library."

Consistent approach

Until the late 1990s, UCL worked with a number of different fire systems, protocols and service providers across its broad 180‐strong estate in Central London and the Home Counties, ranging from halls of residence, laboratories and lecture theatres to animal houses and libraries and museums housing priceless books and historical artifacts.

UCL then took the decision torationaliseits fire protection system, "as werecognisedthe benefits ofstandardisingsafety provision with a single specialist provider, both in terms of operational efficiencies and to ensure a consistently high level of protection," confirms Bob Osborn, chief engineer. Under the agreement, a long‐termprogrammeis underway in which Fisk is replacing all existing fire safety equipment with Morley‐IAS panels and Apollo devices.

"We selected Fisk because of its strong track record working with public sectororganisations‐in particular in health and education," he recalls. "From day one, the company has provided a highly responsive and proactive service: in addition, Morley‐IAS's flexible multi‐protocol control panels have helped us overcome problems with existing legacy equipment which have arisen during the replacement period."

Flexible response

The first building to incorporate a Morley‐IAS solution was the nearby RaynesInstitute in 1998, housing the University's medical laboratories, followed by the Christopher IngoldChemistry Building a year later.

As part of the rolling replacementprogramme, implementation of the new fire safety system in the Wilkins Building started in spring 2006 and was completed, on schedule, in March 2007. Listed status has placed considerable constraints on installation work, all of which has had to be undertaken overnight: further, the nature of the building's use as a centre for major University functions -often at short notice ‐has also required the timetable to be revised.

Fisk and Morley‐IAS have had to work closely with English Heritage and the University's estates department throughout the installation period to protect the delicate building fabric. All the complex cabling has had to be chased into the walls, for example, to preserve the original appearance of the building: in addition, flush‐mounted stainless steel panels were also specified for aesthetic reasons.

"Installing fire safety equipment in Listed buildings presents special difficulties," confirms Fisk. "However, our extensive experience working with UCL and other clients over many years has enabled us to overcome any hurdles, without affecting the implementation schedule."

The University currently operates a ‘one out, all out' evacuation policy; however, should the policy change at any future point, the Morley system is programmable for either single phase or phased evacuations.

At the same time, Fisk has installed a 10 loop Morley‐IAS panel with 240 sounders in the adjacent Paul O'Gorman Building, a new site for the Institute for Cancer Studies, which was also completed in March and in which voice alarms are being trialledfor the first time. Similarly, three five‐loop networked panels have been installed in the Engineering Department's 14‐storey Roberts Building, also in the Bloomsbury area.

"The on‐going UCLprogrammeprovides the perfect example of how the multi‐protocol ZX Series' adaptability, support and intelligence makes it equally suitable for new builds, system expansions, retrofits and systems upgrades in application areas as diverse as education and hospitals, offices and manufacturing plants," says Keith Minster, UK & Ireland sales manager, Morley‐IAS.