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Shopping centre sets great store by Honeywell’s life safety technology

Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre is one of the largest and most popular retail environments in the UK, and fire system technology from Honeywell is being installed throughout as part of a £60m upgrade project.

Founded in 1967, Milton Keynes is famous for its grid based layout. It is also widely renowned for its stimulating and bustling retail facilities, with the 121,000m2 Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre now one of the UK’s most popular destinations.

The Centre: MK – which is home to over 240 stores, restaurants and cafés and attracts around 30 million visits a year – is currently undergoing a £60m revamp. Phase 1 of the project included the £10m renovation of Sunset Walk and Phase 2 will see the shopping centre undergo a complete overhaul, including its life safety infrastructure.

Taking care of this is Peterborough-based Jensen Security and Fire Systems. Asked to explain how it became involved, the company’s director, Ben Donovan, replies, “Having been in business since 1975, we have worked on many significant projects in the region and in November 2015 the main contractor for Phase 1 asked us to submit a tender. We knew from the outset that this was going to be a challenging and interesting project to work on and would require an innovative solution. Having worked with Honeywell for a number of years, we knew that its reliable, robust and cutting edge technology would meet the requirements.”

Sound decision

Based on its proposal, Jensen Security and Fire Systems won the contract and started working on Phase 1 in January 2016. Initial work involved carrying out validation on the existing public address and voice alarm (PA/VA) and fire detection systems to determine if they were compliant with current regulatory codes. As they were not, new systems were specified.

Explaining why PA/VA is suitable for shopping centre based environments, Andrew Cross, marketing manager at Honeywell, comments, ”Studies have highlighted that some people do not always react quickly to a traditional fire alarm. PA/VA is therefore becoming increasingly popular as it can inform occupants exactly what to do in an emergency and the correct action to take. Furthermore, the latest state-of-the-art intelligent systems incorporate a number of essential features that can prioritise which areas to evacuate first as part of a phased evacuation strategy.”

Component parts

A new Honeywell D1 PA/VA system was installed, which combines advanced audio management with a flexible architecture in a compact design. The system utilises a custom rack configuration that houses the control unit itself, as well as the digital output module (DOM), amplifier, view control module (VCM), universal interface module (UIM) and system communication unit (SCU).

Ben Donovan says, ”From previous experience we knew that D1 can communicate a range of messages clearly, unambiguously, and manage complicated evacuation strategies in the event of an emergency.

The PA/VA system is managed via a central control room and in the event of an alarm situation a member of The Centre: MK estates team will investigate and then take appropriate action, including calling the emergency services if necessary.”

Any other business

Jensen Security and Fire Systems is also responsible for upgrading the fire detection system and this will be carried out during the various phases of the four year project. The existing system comprises nine Morley-IAS control panels, which will be left in-situ, with the wiring being replaced along with new detectors from System Sensor.

As single point smoke detection is used throughout The Centre: MK, Jensen Security and Fire Systems is using optical smoke sensors from System Sensor’s Series 200 Advanced range. Ben Donovan comments, ”These have a unique detection chamber design, which delivers improved responsiveness and reduced sensitivity changes. The devices are managed by embedded software running complex algorithms that further improve resilience to unwanted alarms and improve detection speed. Furthermore, all Series 200 Advanced detectors meet the Restriction of the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) requirements, therefore helping The Centre: MK meet its corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives.”

On a project of this size and duration there are many different building services installations from multiple companies taking place concurrently, so organisation is key. Nicola Darby, centre manager at The Centre: MK, is thoroughly impressed with the progress and results so far and concludes, “Our life safety infrastructure is vitally important to us, therefore, an integrated, state-of-the-art fire detection and PA/VA system offers staff and visitors the best possible protection. I’m looking forward to working with Jensen Security and Fire Systems on the remaining phases of the project.”

For more information, go to www.honeywell.com

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