Drax 360 has won two contracts with a London hospital – to carry out planned maintenance and weekly testing to ensure it is compliant, and to replace an obsolete system with an alternative which enables security staff to pinpoint the precise location of a fire.
It is the unique skillset offered by the Drax 360 team – its ability to understand the existing system and replace it, in phases, with an industry-standard alternative without any disruption in service – which appealed to the NHS Trust awarding the work.
The first contract is a three-year planned maintenance programme which will see Drax 360 engineers spend two days a week at the 500-bed site, which employs around 4,000 staff. Tasks will also include carrying out weekly testing of the hospital’s 20-year-old system.
Drax 360 business development manager Jeremy Allen explained: “The key driver behind the NHS Trust which runs the hospital seeking outside expertise was its need to be compliant. If it doesn’t tick the right compliance boxes, the Trust’s CEO would be liable in a court of law.
“Having an alarm system which doesn’t function correctly also has huge cost implications. A false alarm could see operating theatres and clinics closed, meaning fewer operations and appointments going ahead while the buildings are vacated. This would cause massive disruption as they attempt to make up the backlog. In a commercial environment, a false alarm could see a company losing hundreds of thousands, or maybe even millions, of pounds through having to down tools or cancel services. A train operating company, for example, may have to pay damages for cancelled journeys.
“A hospital, with numerous buildings and departments, many of which are very specialised, needs a robust, effective fire alarm and evacuation system, and planned maintenance is key to ensure this works smoothly.”
The second contract will see Drax 360 implementing a multi-stage changeover from the hospital’s existing alarm panels, which have a ten to 15-year life span, and replacing them with industry-standard Advanced MXPro5 alternatives. The final phase of the project will involve installing Drax 360’s own graphical alarm management suite, AMX, which will enable both the security staff and the estates team to identify the precise location of any fire event.
“We will initially install new alarm panels alongside the existing ones, then we’ll migrate across the existing loop with future phases including replacing non-compliant wiring and obsolete detectors. Finally, we’ll install the AMX graphical operating system,” explained Jeremy.
“While the old detectors will activate, they often take longer to do so and are also more susceptible to false alarms. As well as being hugely disruptive and costly, the fire service has been known to fine organisations which trigger them too often, another reason why the hospital is keen to replace its outdated system.
“Our engineers are very technology-aware and will download the information from the old panels, replicating it onto the new ones and changing the format to suit the new operating software. But in moving the information across, everything has to carry on working to enable the hospital to function as normal.
“The two contracts will ensure the hospital has a robust, workable, compliant fire system across the whole site.”