Located in the historic Scottish city of Inverness, the Drummond School is a purpose built educational facility for those with severe learning difficulties and complex needs. With a capacity for over 90 pupils in 20 classes, it has provision for nursery, primary and secondary education and aims to provide its pupils with an educational experience that promotes their independence and heightens their quality of life.
A new main school building was completed in 2008 and features a range of state-of-the-art facilities including a swimming pool, a hydrotherapy pool, as well as multi-sensory and soft play rooms. The classrooms are light and airy with facilities for hoisting and for pupils to enjoy their downtime. Safety is of paramount importance at the Drummond School and for the last 12 years its fire detection system has been taken care of by Morley IAS distributor, Bartec Fire and Security.
Risk assessment and life safety
“We operate across the entire Scottish Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Grampian from our headquarters in Inverness,” explains Gerry McAloon, Operations Manager at Bartec Fire and Security. “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 carrying out a full risk assessment, which considered 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 considered a suitable option during the construction of the main building.
"PA/VA is becoming increasingly popular in some schools as it can provide information on what to do in an emergency in a calm and reassuring way"
Benefits of a PA/VA system
Asked about the benefits of these systems, Ben Fothergill, Morley-IAS Business Manager North & Scotland at Honeywell, replies, “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 that it would like to replace its existing PA/VA system, the Drummond School asked Bartec Fire and Security for its advice. Gerry McAloon had no hesitation in recommending a Comprio D1 solution from Honeywell, which combines advanced 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.”
Implementing voice evacuation system
To minimise disruption, the new system was installed during the school holidays. The main task involved replacing the rack, as Bartec Fire and Security was able to re-use all the existing speakers and cabling that was already present on site. In order to meet the Drummond School’s specific requirements, a custom rack configuration was implemented to house 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, Head teacher at the Drummond School, is confident that the new Comprio D1 PA/VA system offers pupils, staff and visitors the best possible protection. He concludes, “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.”