In the healthcare sector, the smallest of fires can have far reaching and costly consequences. Even if vital medical equipment escapes fire damage, anything that has been exposed to the slightest risk of smoke contamination may have to be destroyed or at best subjected to highly expensive cleansing procedures. In addition, facilities that house the equipment will have to be restored to the levels of hygiene required in order to return to customary operation. And of course, many patients have special needs that can make them especially vulnerable in a fire emergency, a factor which potentially increases the risk of fire-casualties.

Effective and reliable fire protection is therefore not only desirable but essential for all businesses operating within the healthcare environment. So when ARJ Construction needed specialist advice on how best to achieve fire protection for the facility they were constructing on behalf of Lyca Medical in Orpington, they immediately turned to Nobel Fire Systems.
There are special challenges associated with achieving effective fire suppression in critical areas such as MRI rooms, Scanner rooms and X-ray monitor rooms and while this aspect of fire protection formed an integral part of Nobel’s brief, ARJ also stressed the importance of any system not detracting from the overall ambience of the facility which is designed to provide an uplifting experience for both patients and staff.

The initial part of the project consisted of designing and installing a fire suppression system that would provide complete protection for the facility’s stand alone server room. After carrying out a complete site survey the Nobel technical team advised that a Stat-X condensed aerosol system be installed.

Stat-X is a self-contained, environmentally friendly fire suppression system that requires no pipework or nozzles and each unit is capable of being sized for volume protection. The units are extremely compact, intensely efficient and cost effective to install. On activation the aerosol remains in suspension for up to an hour, providing extended post fire security against potential re-ignition and in this case, also catering for the potential special needs of patients in the case of any emergency evacuation. Nobel recommended Stat-X on the grounds of cost effectiveness, speed of installation and also for the fact that in this type of working building, the installation process is far less intrusive.

The next stage of the project was far more challenging because of the nature of the areas being protected. They consisted of an MRI room, RT scanner room and X-Ray monitor room. Given the conditions and taking into account that the rooms will have constant patient/staff usage, IG55 was chosen over other potential systems. It was considered to present the best option for this particular risk given all of the safety, environmental and physical onsite restraints. IG55 also provided a totally cost-effective solution and kept the project within the available budget parameters.
Dedicated pipework was required for each risk area together with directional or selector valves for the four IG55 cylinders in use. Determining where the cylinders should be positioned in relation to the protected areas and the optimum route for the piping added to the challenge for Nobel’s engineers as they developed a selector valve resolution.

The MRI room has an RF cage or shield around it to prevent interference from external RF signals All pipework or cables going in and out of the MRI room pass through a Penetration Panel which contains waveguides and filters required to provide communication between the inside and outside of the scanner room. Nobel’s installation engineers worked closely with the client to ensure compliance in this highly critical area of the process.

Another challenge was that of Venting and a specialist Air Pressure Consultant was called in by Nobel to provide specific advice. While the basic principle behind pressure venting for a gaseous system is straightforward enough – the vent should be proportioned to meet the needs of the weakest part of the structure, Nobel and ARJ Construction wanted to ensure that the installation met all aesthetic requirements, it was important that the look of the rooms matched the overall ambiance of the facility. To this end and working very closely with the air pressure consultant Nobel was able to install the most suitable sized vents while maintaining maximum system efficiency.

Lyca Medical now has a reliable and practical fire suppression system in place to protect its latest healthcare facility. Build time for the system was just 10 weeks and Nobel’s team of experts delivered on time, in full and to the agreed budget.

Commenting on the project, Ben Parker, Nobel’s Commercial Director said;
“Working on prestigious but extremely challenging projects such as this is always stimulating and satisfying. There’s no doubt that any fire damage to the Lyca Medical building would have far reaching and lasting consequences. That’s why choosing the right provider of a fire protection system cannot be based on anything less than absolute trust, confidence and track record. We’ve worked with ARJ Construction in the past and this latest work is an excellent example of how teamwork can be used to achieve remarkable results”