Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
Maltese care home provider installs fire detection from Hochiki
Published:  27 June, 2011

The CareMalta Group is Malta's largest private care provider and operates six facilities across the island. The company employs a team of over 500 highly qualified personnel who are focused on providing quality care services and facilities management.

In 1993 CareMalta was the first private company in Malta to invest in developing a privately owned facility for the elderly and its latest development is Roseville, which has beautiful surroundings, state-of-the-art residential facilities, recreational areas and a peaceful garden designed to offer maximum comfort to its residents.

When carrying out renovation work at Roseville, CareMalta wanted the very best fire detection system to be installed in order to offer an unsurpassed level of protection for those working and living there.

Malta’s leading fire detection installation specialist, Firetech, was invited to tender for, and was subsequently awarded, the contract to install Roseville’s fire detection system by the project’s M&E contractor. The company was commissioned to install a BS5389 compliant category L1 addressable fire detection system and Firetech’s Managing Director, Brian Vassallo, had no hesitation in recommending the installation of Hochiki Europe’s products throughout.  He says: “Firetech has been an installer of Hochiki’s fire detection systems for 19 years and due to their extensive range, proven reliability and excellent support service, we knew that they would act as a one-stop-shop for all Roseville’s fire detection product requirements.”

Roseville is a four storey, early 20th century house and is one of Malta’s few Art Nouveau villas. This unique architectural gem, with floral sculpted windows surrounded by painted motifs is architecturally stunning. In order to maintain the aesthetic integrity of the building, the fire rated cables were installed in a way to make them as discreet as possible during the first fix. Firetech installed cables between the bricks and any other visible cables were hidden in stone coloured trunking. Where possible, false ceilings were also created which could house the cables and keep them out of sight.

To enhance the safety of the building Firetech integrated Roseville’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system into the control panel. Authorised staff can now control the closure of all fire doors and shut off the air conditioning system to reduce the spread of fire, should the need arise.

A wide variety of Hochiki products were installed including heat sensors, mains relay controllers, call points, sounders and sensor bases. Over 220 of Hochiki’s innovative ALG-EN optical smoke sensors were also installed which feature the company’s High Performance Chamber Technology. By redesigning the internal optical angle and chamber structure within the photoelectric smoke detector, Hochiki’s chamber design minimises the differences in sensitivity experienced in flaming and smouldering fires. The result is a high performance optical chamber that is equally responsive to all smoke types, helping to reduce the possibility of unwanted alarms.

All of the installed sounders are fitted with flashing beacons which are activated first in the event of an alarm condition. This gives staff a specified amount of time to investigate the alarm after which the beacons can be deactivated or the sounder activated to initiate an evacuation of the premises. The sounders themselves have been limited in order to ensure that the alarms are heard but do not cause unnecessary distress.

Unwanted alarms are a serious problem for any premises but for care homes they are particularly problematic because of the logistics involved in getting infirm and disabled people to safety. Brian Vassallo comments: “To minimise the possibility of an unwanted alarm we used Hochiki’s in-built product technology to reduce alarm sensitivity thresholds in certain areas of Roseville such as the corridors. We also programmed the system so that the different sensitivity conditions for day and night are taken into account.”

Firetech also had to make sure that the fire detection system met the requirements stipulated in The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which makes it unlawful for building owners and service providers to treat disabled people less favourably for a reason related to their disability. In practice, this means that Roseville’s call points can be easily reached and identified and that the fire detection system is able to guide residents of all abilities to safety.