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  • Writer's pictureKCS Projects

Case Study: The Green School For Girls

The Client:

KCS Projects were awarded the contract for The Green School for Girls in October 2021. The Green School for Girls is an all-girls secondary school and sixth form with Academy status based in Isleworth, Middlesex, dating back to 1796 when it was originally established as a Sunday School.

The school comprises three blocks, varying in style and structure, with a mixture of two and four-storey buildings dating from the Victorian era, the 1970s, and the Modern era.

The Brief:

The brief allocated by the client was to design and install an L1 fire alarm system networked across various locations throughout the large site in order to ensure high levels of fire safety. Due to the diverse nature of the structures on site, we were required to work in a flexible manner and adapt our approach to the unique requirements of each building.

The works were due to start during the school half term and scheduled to continue at nights once the teaching resumed. As such, this contract required careful planning to avoid causing disruption to the school and students, and needed to stick to a strict budget in order to keep costs down while working overnight shifts.

During term time, our work was scheduled to begin at 4PM; however, the school ran extracurricular activities outside of its usual hours, so was often still busy with students and staff after our shifts began.

As such, we were required to know where students and staff members would be at all times, and to carry out work to the buildings appropriately. This was arranged through our Contracts Manager, who liaised with the site manager and the school in order to plan our business operations around the students’ movements.

As our work hours finished in the early hours of the morning, when school staff would not be available, our Site Foreman was also required to meet with the school’s Site Manager at the beginning of our shift to confirm where we would be working. Our Foreman also needed to lock up the site and set the alarms at the end of each shift.

Members of our team were required to have enhanced DBS checks and to follow the Covid-19 guidelines outlined in the school’s policies and in the UK Government’s legislation. We were also legally obligated to use access controls to prevent students and unauthorised personnel from accessing our site compound, which could have presented a health and safety risk.

Our Work:

In order to design a system that met the requirements of three very different structures from varying eras across a large site, we installed multiple panels - including four main fire alarm panels and three repeater panels - that were then networked together at various locations across the school.

When installing the cables, we were required to use a variety of containments to meet the unique needs of each building type. Following our initial site visit, we ensured that we had a variety of options through which cables could run, including plastic trucking, plastic tubes, metal tubes, and metal trays for above the ceilings.

Damage to any of the cabling may have presented a risk that the alarm system would not go off; as such, we designed this system using a fault-tolerant network. This meant that in the event of cable damage, the network would run in an alternative route to ensure that the alarm still sounded, helping to keep students and staff safe if a fire were to break out.

We also installed several interface connections throughout the site, which provided additional emergency safeguards. These included an automatic turn-off for access controls, and a fire door magnetic hold shutoff should the fire alarm sound.

The alarm system was equipped with BT Redcare system monitoring, which in the event of the alarm being triggered during working hours would call four recipients in a set order. When answering, the recipients would then confirm their identity using a password - but if the recipients did not pick up, or if the alarm sounded out of hours, the monitoring system would then alert the fire station to arrange an emergency response.

We conducted our work at the Green School for Girls' buildings under the supervision of a Contracts Manager, who attended the site at least three times per week. We also used a Commissioning Engineer, a Site Foreman who oversaw the work and the health and safety practices on site, and eight operatives who were responsible for the installation of wires and cables.

Following the completion of the works, we had a handover session with the Site Manager and the school’s caretaker team. This included a half day of training in order to ensure that they understood all aspects of the new fire alarm system.

The training covered all aspects of the panel and alarm system, including how to configure the system for a weekly fire alarm test. It also educated the school’s team about how to use the cause-and-effect function on the main fire panel, which would prevent gas from being turned off during the weekly alarm tests to avoid disruption to the school kitchens and other areas of the site.

We left our contact details so the school could easily contact us should there be any issues or questions subsequent to the end of the contract. We carried out all works according to the BS 5839 standard and were rigorous in conforming to all the relevant legislation.

The Outcome:

We were able to meet the requirements of each individual building on the school’s site by using a variety of materials and design techniques; each system was networked together and connected to a BT Redcare monitoring system that ensured the alarm would be effectively raised and responded to in the event of a fire.

The alarm was also configured so that a member of staff would be alerted if the alarm was raised during work hours, and so that the emergency services would be called if the alarm received no response, or was raised outside of work hours.

Through careful planning and strict adherence to school policy and government legislation, we were able to carry out the works with minimal disruption to the school’s operations. We communicated clearly with the school’s representatives at all times to avoid errors, clarify instructions, and carry out our work around the movements of students and staff.

Our work also delivered additional benefits to the school, including the installation of a lesson bell sounder, which was operated through the installed panels. By obtaining the school timetable and confirming which areas of the site the sounder needed to be heard in, we were able to programme the lesson bell sounder into the system using the laptop app.

Throughout the course of our work at the school, there was also the possibility that staff would need to be alerted in the event of another Covid-19 lockdown being announced. We installed this feature into the alarm panel and provided comprehensive training to the site team on how to implement this feature.

In addition, the ceilings in the Sports Hall and Drama Studio buildings were particularly high, and as such, we advised that the school have smoke beam detectors installed to provide maximum fire security.


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