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Apollo takes care of fire safety at The Harold Pinter Theatre

17 July 2023

ONE OF London’s most impressive Victorian-era theatres, namely The Harold Pinter Theatre on Panton Street in Westminster, is now protected by a cutting-edge fire system comprising upwards of 100 wireless devices from Apollo Fire Detectors’ REACH range.

Affectionately known as The Comedy Theatre until 2011, The Harold Pinter Theatre was opened in 1881 having been designed by Thomas Verity and constructed in just six months.

Despite a major reconstruction in 1955 and some subsequent changes elsewhere in the building, The Harold Pinter Theatre’s 796-seater horseshoe auditorium, which is fashioned on three levels, has been superbly preserved. The building was listed by English Heritage in 1972 and is now firmly established as one of the most atmospheric of London’s West End theatres.

“Balancing the preservation of a listed building with the challenges of installing a modern fire safety system was always going to be a challenging task,” explained Sam Robinson, project manager at contracted installer Barlows (UK) Ltd. “It’s fair to say that wireless fire devices have been a major game-changer.”

Robinson continued: “Working alongside members of the theatre’s management team and engineers from Apollo, we specified and then installed a system underpinned by 110 wireless devices connected to four hubs.”

The REACH range is supplied with a bespoke survey kit, so it then becomes a simple task to design a system that covers all key areas within a building “The 100-metre range makes it possible to cover the entire space with a small number of hubs,” asserted Robinson. “We had previously used the old Xpander range, which was excellent, but REACH takes wireless fire protection technology to the next level.”

Challenging installation scenarios

REACH Wireless is specifically designed to solve challenging installation scenarios for those structures – such as listed buildings, outbuildings and temporary structures – with restricted or otherwise complex access and installation conditions and where wired systems or any long site downtimes are not going to be possible.

With a battery life of up to five years, enhanced radiofrequency communications capability, compact casings and a full range of wireless devices, REACH Wireless can work as a stand-alone wireless system or as part of a hybrid network.

Craig Mole, product manager for wireless solutions at Apollo, commented: “The Harold Pinter Theatre is exactly the sort of building where wireless fire technology comes into its own. Not only is this technology simpler and quicker to install, but the amount of cabling required is reduced by up to 90%, which means less impact on the fabric of the building, a reduced necessity to seek permission for the works and less need to ‘make good’ once the installation is complete. Wireless technology also has its advantages in a working building like a theatre, where any significant closure is going to result in lost income.”

Barnaby Hallam, technical and building manager at The Harold Pinter Theatre, concluded: “We’re very proud of our building, which is a living and working piece of genuine Victoriana right in the heart of London. Naturally, we wanted a fire system that could protect our visitors and actors and exert a minimal impact on the fabric of the building. Working with the team at Apollo, we were able to tick all of the boxes. The finished system is doubly impressive, being both fit for purpose and also much less intrusive than the old wired network.”

*Further information is available online at www.apollo-fire.co.uk