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In the Scottish Highlands city of Inverness, the Drummond School is purpose built for those with severe learning difficulties. With a capacity for over 90 pupils in 20 classes, it has provision for nursery, primary and secondary education.
A new main school building dating from 2008 features a swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool, and multi-sensory and soft play rooms. Safety is paramount at Drummond and for the last 12 years its fire detection system has been handled by Morley IAS distributor, local firm Bartec Fire and Security.
Gerry McAloon, Operations Manager at Bartec Fire and Security, says: ‘We operate across the entire Scottish Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Grampian from our headquarters in Inverness. We are now considered one of the most innovative solutions providers of life safety and security solutions in the country and have worked closely with the Drummond School on various aspects of its building services.’
The Equality Act includes the concept of ‘reasonable adjustments’ and this can be carried over into life safety. After a risk assessment, which looked at the ability and most effective way for pupils to evacuate the building in an emergency, a public address and voice alarm (PA/VA) system was seen as a suitable option during the construction of the main building.
Ben Fothergill, Morley-IAS Business Manager North and Scotland at Honeywell, says: ‘Studies have highlighted that a loud siren could cause confusion and panic amongst the pupils, particularly for those who might have physical or mental disabilities. PA/VA is therefore becoming increasingly popular in some schools as it can provide information on what to do in an emergency in a calm and reassuring way. Furthermore, the latest state-of-the-art intelligent systems incorporate a number of essential features that can prioritise which levels to evacuate first as part of a phased evacuation strategy.’
Having decided on replacing its PA/VA system, the Drummond School asked Bartec for its advice. Gerry McAloon recommended a Comprio D1 solution from Honeywell, which offers audio management with a flexible architecture in a compact design. He says: ‘It was important to have a system that could communicate a range of messages clearly, unambiguously, and could manage complicated evacuation strategies in the event of an emergency. Having installed many Honeywell Comprio D1 PA/VA systems previously, we knew it would be up to the job.’
To minimise disruption, the new system was installed during school holidays. The main task involved replacing the rack, as Bartec was able to re-use all the existing speakers and cabling on site. To meet the Drummond School’s specific requirements, a custom rack configuration houses the Comprio unit itself, as well as the digital output module (DOM), amplifier, visual control module (VCM), universal interface module (UIM) and system communication unit (SCU).
Mark Elvines, Headteacher at the Drummond School, says: ‘We take the issue of protection from the potentially devastating effects of fire and smoke very seriously. The use of a voice evacuation system means that clear directions can be provided to pupils and staff in the building in the case of an emergency and that prompt action is taken.’