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  • Writer's pictureKCS Projects

Case Study: The Warriner School



The Client:


KCS Projects was awarded the contract to design and install an L1 fire alarm system at the Warriner School in June 2022.


The Warriner School is a coeducational secondary school, based in Bloxham, Oxfordshire. Founded in 1971, the school has 1,500 pupils, aged between 11-18 years old.


The Warriner School achieved Flagship status in 2022 as part of their Inclusive School award, and continues to support students from a wide variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds under their mantra of ‘Everyone Different - Everyone Equal’.


The Warriner School spans a large site with multiple facilities, including the main building, Reception, School Hall, PE Facilities, Sports Hall, swimming pool, Sixth Form Centre, and centres for Science, Design & Technology, English, Humanities, Maths, Philosophy & Ethics, Art, and Business.


The site also includes 2 staff car parks, 1 visitor's car park, a school canteen, and a school farm comprising 120 acres of farmland.


The Warriner School has been consistently rated as 'Good' by OFSTED, who report that it is 'very close to moving to Outstanding'.



The Brief:


We were awarded the contract to design and install an L1 fire alarm system at the Warriner School, Bloxham in June 2022.


To achieve this, we would be required to install 11 fire alarm panels throughout the school site, which would then be networked together to create a comprehensive fire alarm system.


All staff were required to have Enhanced DBS Checks, and the works had to conform to BS 5839 2017 standards.



Our Work:


The works on the Warriner School commenced in June 2022 and continued through to October of the same year.


To cater to the needs of such an extensive site, we installed 11 fire alarm panels around the school grounds that were then networked together using a fault-tolerant network to ensure consistent and reliable communication throughout the area.


If any damage occurred to the cabling around the site, the network would run in the opposite direction, ensuring that the system would still work. Additionally, the fault would show on the fire alarm panels, and staff would have two minutes to respond to any potential false alarm before the sounders went off.


When the school was open during term time, we carried out our work overnight. These works started at 4 PM, when there were still several staff and students on site attending after-school clubs. As such, we were required to be aware of the areas where staff and students would be, and to work around them accordingly.


To allow for this, we carried out our work under the supervision of a Contracts Manager, who liaised with the Site Manager and with the school to formulate our Programme of Works around the school's daily operations. This enabled us to prevent any possible disruption to students' learning.


Our shifts would finish in the early hours of the morning, so to prevent the Site Manager or a member of the site team needing to return to the school to lock up after our team had left the site, our Site Foreman met with the Site Manager at the start of each shift.


The Site Foreman would confirm where our team would be based at the end of the shift, and then lock up the site and set the alarms when we finished for the day.


On the completion of the works, we led a handover session with the Site Manager and his team of caretakers. This session ran for one day to ensure that they fully understood the new fire alarm system.


The training session covered all aspects of the new system, including how to turn it on for weekly testing while using the cause-and-affect function on the main fire panel to prevent gas from being turned off during the tests, as this would otherwise disrupt the kitchens and other areas of the school.


When the session was finished, we left our contact details to allow them to contact us should they have any issues or questions after our team had left the site.


All works carried out conformed to BS 5839 2017 standards.



The Outcome:


We were able to successfully design and install an L1 fire alarm system at the Warriner School, Bloxham in June 2022. We carried out our work with minimal disruption to the school, using our Programme of Works to operate around the movements of students and staff on site.


We had to overcome one significant challenge during our works on the Warriner School site.


On the completion of our works, the school contacted us to report that they had experienced multiple false alarms in a set of toilets, and expressed concern that there was a fault in the system.


We worked collaboratively with the school to find the source of the alarms and carried out a full investigation. As part of this, we installed a CCTV system outside the toilet block.


We then discovered that students had gained access to the locked/out-of-bounds toilets and were using them as a smoking area, causing the fire alarm system to be triggered. As such, we established that this was the cause of the 'false alarms', and there was no fault with the system.


These 'false alarms' had created considerable disruption for the school by causing the whole site to be evacuated each time, so we worked with the school to find a solution that would prevent further unnecessary evacuations.


The solution involved adjusting the detector in the toilet from a ‘one out, all out’ setting to a 'cause-and-effect' setting instead.


The original 'one out, all out' setting caused all the alarms in the school to sound if just one detector was set off. But the cause and effect setting allowed for a 2-minute ‘investigation’ to take place before setting off all the alarms. This gave time for the school to check the toilets to ensure that the alarm was not set off by pupils smoking in the area.


As part of this cause-and-effect setting, a warning sounded on all the site's 11 panels when the detector in the toilets was triggered, so staff could then check the toilets and reset the panel if there was no fire. If the panel was not reset within 2 minutes, then all the alarms would sound, leading to an evacuation of the entire school.


This would help to ensure that the source of the fire alarm was confirmed, and that unnecessary disruption was prevented, while keeping the school safeguarded against fire risks at all times.



Added Value:


We also delivered three examples of added value as part of this contract.


Firstly, we were able to set up the lesson bell sounder through the fire alarm panels. Our Contracts Manager worked with the school to get the timetable for the school bell and details of which areas the sounder needed to go off in. We then programmed this into the system through the laptop app.


Secondly, we set up an alarm to alert staff if a COVID-19 lockdown was announced. We installed this feature into the panel and provided training to the site team on how to implement this.


As a third point of added value, we also installed a Blue Break Glass Call Point in the Admin area of the school site. In the event of a lockdown, the call point would emit a continuous noise, allowing staff to make emergency arrangements.


For example, in the event of a COVID-19 lockdown, they would be able to organise the students, inform them of any changes to COVID-19 guidelines, and escort them off-site as necessary.


Alternatively, should a threat to student safety be detected on site, a teacher would be able to organise all students for a roll call, thereby ensuring they were accounted for and kept safe under teacher supervision.


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