Excelling In Fire Protection For Healthcare Environments

Over the last 70 years, the NHS has transformed the health and wellbeing of the nation. While delivering invaluable care and treatment, the safety of staff, visitors and patients alike is of paramount importance. With that in mind, Johnson Controls is continuingly striving to innovate fire protection and detection technology, specifically suited for these demanding environments.

When designing a system for a hospital, a key priority is to ensure building occupants have a quick and obvious means of escaping the space to temporary safety in the event of a fire. This could be alternate space within the building where a further escape route can be followed, or directly out of the building to an evacuation zone. Once this route has been designed, the requirements of the fire detection and alarm system can then be determined.

Evolving technology
As healthcare delivery is constantly evolving and buildings are required to adapt to changing facilities and requirements, this presents new challenges for fire detection and safety systems that must be innovated and adapted, to keep pace.

Our new Visual Alarm Devices (VADs) and Visual Indicating Devices (VIDs) have been designed to ensure evacuation responses occur quickly during a real fire event, especially in locations with vulnerable building occupants, such as hospitals. The range features an innovative LED light output with a pulse width lower than 20 milliseconds – proven to be more effective at alerting people because of the light frequency – meaning reaction to an alarm activation is faster.

The devices use a new and highly sophisticated self-testing technology, developed by Johnson Controls, to assess real light and sound output. Reflective Sound Monitoring (RSM) and Reflective Light Monitoring (RLM) features also enable facility managers to test and maintain the devices much faster than before. During an automatic test, the VAD’s real light and sound output levels of all sounders are checked in a fraction of second per device and recorded. Data on their output levels is sent back to the fire control panel to highlight if devices are not functioning as required, making it simpler and quicker to see if any need replacing. This remarkable self-testing means the device’s output can be tested without causing disruption to occupants and reducing desensitization of a genuine activation.

In addition, all Johnson Controls’ technology has been developed with longevity in mind, and the reliability and future-proof assurance we provide with our products is perfect for the NHS, where long-term investments need to be carefully considered. For example, our new ZETTLER PROFILE Flexible range of panels are scalable and expandable, meaning as building requirements change, the systems too can be adapted, to meet every need.

Minimising false alarms
Not only do false alarms cause unnecessary disruption, NHS trusts now face hefty fines for fire brigade false call outs. Alongside the obvious financial implications, false fire alarms can cause unnecessary disruption and panic for patients and staff alike, halting essential care and medical procedures, and putting additional pressure and worry on those who are already vulnerable. Whether a real or false alarm, evacuation is essential, meaning that both patients and equipment need to be moved to safe locations.

Our triple sensing detection technology has been developed specifically to reduce unwanted alarms and provide a fit for purpose solution for hospital environments where there is high exposure to factors that could trigger alarms, without due cause.

An example of this could be if a kitchen door is left open. Heat can escape, typically triggering detection systems and a fire alarm. With triple sensing technology, the detector is sensitive to three main elements of a fire: heat, CO2 and smoke. The levels of sensitivity can be programmed to suit the environment – making it less likely to activate where this is only one element of fire present.

Johnson Controls expertise
At Johnson Controls, our experts have a comprehensive understanding of Health Technical Memoranda – the government’s official advice and guidance on the design, installation and operation of specialised building and engineering technology used in the delivery of healthcare services. We take a collaborative approach, working with our customers to design and develop systems that are truly fit for purpose.

We have worked in close partnership with the National Association of Health Care Fire Officers to understand the standards of fire safety required in hospital settings, ensuring we deliver effective fire suppression and detection solutions for multiple NHS organisations that have needed to overcome a range of fire safety challenges. In addition, we remain determined to help improve the standard of fire safety in healthcare through our technology and expertise.

For more information about our product ranges suitable for healthcare settings, visit our website, or contact our experts: http://www.zettlerfire.com/enquiry.asp
Roberto Catena, Product Marketing Manager for Fire Detection Products at Johnson Controls.

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