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Fire safety for Rievaulx

Rievaulx Abbey was built by Cistercian monks in 1131 near the River Rye in a remote valley in what is now the picturesque North York Moors National Park.

Site managers English Heritage has built a visitor centre that includes a museum displaying previously unseen artefacts including medieval stone carvings, chess pieces and gold coins; plus shop and tearoom.

For the fire safety part of the development, English Heritage called on Shipley-based Rosse Systems to specify, install and commission. Dave Thewlis, the company’s Sales Director, says: ‘As well as having over 34 years of experience and knowledge in the fire detection industry, we have worked closely with English Heritage for a number of years. Likewise, as a longstanding Morley-IAS partner, we know that its innovative technology is reliable, robust and has the ability to minimise unwanted alarms.’

Rosse Systems designed a BS 5389 compliant category L1 system, that deploys automatic detectors throughout all areas of the three buildings – including roof spaces and voids – with the aim of providing the earliest possible warning. This was based around three networked Morley-IAS DX Connexion (DXc) panels from Honeywell.

The single loop DXc1 variant was used. Hugh McQuaid, Business Manager, Honeywell Security and Fire, says: ‘This panel is ideally suited for use in the protection of small to medium sized buildings like those at Rievaulx Abbey. Completely open protocol, it has been developed to be the most time efficient panel on the market to install, and possesses the traditional Morley-IAS qualities of reliability, flexibility and value, with advanced features and intuitive functionality.’

Although beam detection was briefly considered for the installation, it was ultimately decided that single point smoke detection would be the most suitable option. So, besides the Morley-IAS DXc1 panels System Sensor S200 Advanced optical smoke sensors were selected. The S200A range’s detection chamber design is the result of years of research and design by System Sensor, and delivers the makers say responsiveness and reduced sensitivity to changes in environmental conditions. The devices are managed by embedded software running complex algorithms that further improve resilience to unwanted alarms and improve detection speed, it is claimed. With two integral tri-colour LEDs that provide 360 degree local visual indication of the device status, the S200A is programmable with static or blinking red, amber and green status indications available. All Series 200 Advanced detectors meet the Restriction of the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) requirements, thus helping English Heritage meet its corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives.

Rosse Systems had to maintain the integrity of the buildings and meet the strict requirements of the architect. Dave Thewlis says: ‘This aspect of the project meant that we had to try and keep the system discreetly sited to maintain the character of the interiors. At times this was much easier said than done, but thanks to our vast experience of carrying out work in all types of buildings, it was a challenge we relished.’

About the abbey

Christine Keld, English Heritage Area Manager for Yorkshire and the South Lakes, adds: ‘Rievaulx Abbey has always been a place of incredible inspiration and interest to people from all walks of life. Our investment in these new facilities means that more people than ever can have an informative, educational and enjoyable day out here.’ At its height Rievaulx Abbey was one of the wealthiest monasteries in Great Britain and supported around 140 monks and 500 lay brothers and servants. Such great wealth, and the monastic obedience to Rome, led Henry VIII to dissolve the monasteries and the building was suppressed in 1538 and left to decay. Over the years Rievaulx Abbey’s ruins have been an inspiration for poets, painters, and scholars, and was one of the first major ruins to be conserved by the Office of Works in 1917.



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