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SOTERIA protects Ulster Bank’s Belfast HQ

07 July 2020

APOLLO FIRE Detectors’ SOTERIA range of detectors has been chosen to protect Ulster Bank’s headquarters in central Belfast. Owned by RBS, the Ulster Bank Group is a leading bank in Ireland with a branch network across both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Ulster Bank Group moved its headquarters to a development in Belfast’s Donegall Square East back in 2000. Recently, the building required a lifecycle replacement of its existing fire alarm system, which had been in service for 18-plus years, along with additional detection as necessary to validate L1 coverage.

The original development was created around the façade of an old Methodist church designed by Dublin architect Isaac Farrell and consists of a reinforced concrete frame with flat slab floor construction (including a double storey basement).

In order to cause the least amount of disruption for members of staff, the work was all carried out after normal working hours and at weekends across a 12-week period, all the while making sure the system was fully-functional and that all work areas were left clean and tidy for staff coming in the next day.

Integrated services supplier Aramark Ireland was selected by Ulster Bank to perform the role of main contractor for the works. Following a tender process, fire alarm specialist Ashdale Engineering Ltd was appointed to replace the existing closed protocol fire alarm system and PAVA system.

Aramark Ireland’s project manager Michael Hyland informed Fire Safety Matters: “We were pleased to be able to appoint Ashdale Engineering Ltd for the key role of fire alarm replacement. Having delivered a similar project with the business back in 2015 for the same client, we had total confidence in the company’s ability. Ashdale Engineering Ltd performed flawlessly and the project was delivered on time and within budget.”

Health and Safety management

In its role as principal contractor, Aramark Ireland was also responsible for all Health and Safety management relating to the project. Some of the work involved detection replacement in the 25 metre-high atrium, working at height over areas of plant, lift shafts and HV switch rooms.

Gary Henderson, Health and Safety manager for Aramark Ireland, said: “The project certainly had its challenges, but with planning, consultation and co-ordination involving Ashdale Engineering Ltd as well as other contractors, we were able to deliver the project safely and without incident.”

Devices from Apollo’s SOTERIA range were selected for this project. They include optical smoke detectors, heat detectors, multi-sensors, Manual Call Points and interfaces. Covering a range of areas from open plan offices through to the car park, plant rooms, kitchens and canteen, the SOTERIA solutions have met the customers’ expectations of enhanced detection to minimise the risk of false alarms and also realise a future-proof system that uses next generation technology.

A total of 645 optical detectors, 89 heat detectors, 24 multi-sensors, 83 Manual Call Points and 78 interfaces combine to provide the ideal solution for the Ulster Bank Group. All are controlled by a fire panel from Advanced.

David Moore, team leader at Ashdale Engineering Ltd, said: “The decision to select the SOTERIA range of device for this project was an easy one to make. Having used SOTERIA on a number of other projects recently, we knew the devices were easy to install and commission. They also provide an aesthetically pleasing look in a modern office environment.”

Colin Simms, operations director at Ashdale Engineering Ltd, informed Fire Safety Matters: “It was great to be able to continue our long-standing relationship with Apollo on this project. Ashdale Engineering Ltd has represented Apollo Fire Detectors for over 30 years in Northern Ireland. It’s great to see how fire detection technology has developed from the days of Series 90 to the highly advanced SOTERIA devices we have today. The open protocol and backward compatibly of the system design, which is also future-proof, continue to be key factors for us when we make our recommendations to clients for their fire detection solutions.”