When a leading global content and technology solutions provider with over 15,000 employees needed to change its fire detection system as part of a complete building refurbishment, it turned to Surefire Services - one of the UK’s leading specialists in the configuration of fire detection solutions. Surefire already holds the maintenance contract for the estate and as part of this process was asked to carry out a full audit of the building’s life safety system.

Looking At The Bigger PictureMarcus Kemp, Surefire Services Director, explains, ‘One of our senior engineers was asked to spend a weekend making his assessment of the incumbent closed protocol fire detection system. Once this was completed he was subsequently asked to analyse the maintenance costs of the system over a specified time frame, factoring in items such as replacement detectors and other devices.’

Remarkably, after crunching the numbers, it was discovered that the cost of extending and maintaining the existing closed protocol system over a 10-15 year period far outweighed the expense associated with completely replacing it with an open protocol solution from Hochiki Europe.

Surefire Services has enjoyed a long-term relationship with Hochiki Europe, Marcus Kemp states, ‘We have installed its fire detection systems for over 20 years and the reasons for this include its extensive range, proven reliability and excellent support structure. The quality of the company’s products is second to none and because of the way they are designed, we knew we could make significant time and cost savings.’

Marcus Kemp firmly believes that customers should assess total cost of ownership (TCO) before making a purchasing decision, a view shared by Paul Adams, Hochiki Europe’s deputy marketing manager, who adds, ‘Initial cost is often the area that gets most attention when it comes to selecting a fire detection system. However, this often proves to be a false economy as maintenance, standards compliance and limiting the problem of unwanted alarms are just some of the factors that contribute to TCO. It is always advisable to look at what a manufacturer can offer in order to prevent additional costs going forward, for example, warranty periods of three years or more are now available from some manufacturers for detector heads, eliminating the need to allocate budget for replacements during this timeframe.’

Once Surefire Services findings were presented to the customer, they had no hesitation in giving the go-ahead to the installation of the new system. The BS 5839 compliant category L1 solution is based around Hochiki Europe’s Enhanced Systems Protocol (ESP), which is designed for intelligent fire detection and fully integrated systems. It has a multi-purpose structure that provides the flexibility and expansion to accommodate simple addressable systems, as well as integrated building management and complex life safety systems. Together with its integral noise immunity, this makes it one of the most robust protocols in the market and, as such, is the specifiers’ choice.

The installation and commissioning work was carried out over a five month period and a wide variety of devices were installed including 36 HCP-E(SCI) call points, and 36 audio/visual devices such as wall sounder beacons and base sounders. In addition, 280 ACB-E multi-heat sensors were installed, which incorporate a variable temperature heat element and a rate of rise heat element, controlled from a Kentec Electronics control panel, allowing either element or both elements simultaneously to be active in making the fire decision. Remarking on the ease of installation, Marcus Kemp comments, ‘Once the base is installed fitting the devices is a fast and efficient process – usually taking just seconds. This is considerably quicker than most other products that are currently available.’

The new system is now up and running and the customer is delighted with it. A spokesperson for the company concludes: ‘We now have the best of both worlds – high performance fire detection technology from Surefire Services alongside significant cost savings over the long-term. I think that our experience bears out the fact that when it comes to fire detection it pays to look at the bigger picture.’