Integrated fire protection and BMS for mixed-use scheme

Designed to transform part of East London as part of the £3.7bn Canning Town and Custom House Regeneration programme, a new mixed-used scheme – including a mix of residential, retail and leisure accommodation – presented varied challenges when it came to designing and installing the security and fire safety requirements.



hose challenges were taken up by WLS, a leading fire safety and security specialist that has been responsible for the installation of the fire safety and security measures across phase two of the development – including the varying requirements of the hotel, the residential blocks and the retail accommodation.

Hotel requirements

The 196-room hotel requires a robust fire safety strategy, and WLS has installed a fully addressable and programmable fire alarm system that has been integrated with the BMS on a cause-and-effect scenario basis.

Explains Jeremy Ewen from WLS: “The guests in a hotel are usually unfamiliar with their surroundings and may find it more difficult to navigate their way to exits in the event of a fire than the occupants of a residential building – who usually know the location of exit doors and staircases.

“The client had already developed a full fire strategy for the hotel, based on the operator’s standard fire protection policies, and we worked closely with them to locate sensors according to their requirements and programme the system to work with their preferred cause-and-effect scenarios.”

The fire alarm system installed by WLS features sensors throughout the corridors, guestrooms and social spaces within the hotel and has been designed to escalate the response to risk as additional sensors are triggered.

Jeremy continues: “In any environment, there must be a balance between responding swiftly to minimise the threat to life and property in the event of an incident, and managing risk effectively to avoid disruption in the event of a false alarm. In a hotel environment, for example, we want to avoid a complete evacuation from a single sensor being triggered by a cigarette, while ensuring that evacuation is triggered promptly and carried out efficiently in the event of a verified risk.”

To provide high levels of protection that escalate as the level of threat detected increases, the system installed in the hotel sends the lift to the ground floor after the activation of the first sensor, preventing guests from using it as this would present a danger in the event of a genuine fire. If a second sensor is triggered, the BMS will shut down all electrical and mechanical plant and the automatic opening ventilation (AOV) system will be triggered to allow smoke to escape.

In addition to interfacing with the building’s BMS, the smoke detection and fire alarm system have also been integrated to a pager system, ensuring that the duty manager is notified of any incident, should he/she be out of earshot of the audible alarm. The hotel has also been designed with disabled access and safety in mind. Four rooms on each floor have been designed for use by disabled guests and WLS has installed pull cords for requesting help, along with a vibrating fire alarm to alert deaf guests to danger in the event of a fire. Each level of the hotel has also been fitted with a disabled refuge for every staircase on each landing to enable those unable to use the stairs to call for help and await rescue.

Jeremy continues: “Building enhanced safety features for those with physical, visual or hearing disabilities into the fire system is also particularly important for hotel environments to aid evacuation. Combining rooms with disability safety features with disabled refuges and external monitoring for this building significantly enhances guest safety.”

Residential and retail

The first of the three residential blocks involved in the WLS installation features a cloud-based access control system, which was preprogrammed off-site prior to installation. WLS has integrated this with the door entry system, which controls access to an inner and outer lobby from where a concierge can call individual apartments, with a video handset and panel installed in each apartment. The access control system also controls entry to the residents’ roof terrace and the communal areas at basement level, which include bike stores and parking.

WLS has also installed a fire detection and alarm system at basement level and for all the staircases and common areas on the ground floor.

CCTV completes the security arrangements for this block as part of a phase two-wide CCTV installation by WLS involving more than 50 cameras across the site, all of which are monitored centrally from a dedicated security room in one of the residential blocks.

WLS has also installed a fob and keypad-based access control system in two further blocks as part of the same phase of works, providing secure access to the basement, ground-level entrances, roof terraces and podium-level bike stores. The company has also installed a fire detection and alarm system across the ground floor retail accommodation and basement car park along with disabled refuges for each block at basement level.

All fire and security provision is monitored centrally in the security room in one of the residential blocks, with the varied fire alarms networked together. This ensures that the management team in neighbouring buildings can be alerted to an incident and take appropriate action if a fire is detected anywhere on the complex.

Jeremy adds: “While the fire detection and alert systems are largely located in the common areas of each building, the system is so sophisticated that the exact sensor that has triggered the alarm can be identified from the safety and security control room so that informed decisions can be taken about the level of risk for each building and the phasing of any evacuation.”

Rapid progress

WLS’ installation at the project is now complete and the development is moving on to phase two.

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