Prison protection

Prison protection

A Securiton aspirating smoke detection (ASD) system from Patol is protecting the inmates and staff at one of the UK’s largest prisons.

HMP Northumberland category C prison, with its capacity for 1,348 male offenders, is Britain’s seventh largest jail.  When Sodexo Justice Services – the private sector operator responsible for HMP Northumberland – decided to review the prison’s fire safety measures, they approached the Static Systems Group which recommended and installed the Securiton SecuriRAS ASD system, available in the UK from sole distributor Patol.

ASD is widely used in custodial applications given that they present a number of challenges in terms of fire safety, including an increased fire risk from factors such as the potential for prisoners to smoke cigarettes, intentional lighting of clothing, bedding or rubbish or faults with electronic equipment. Vandalism of/tampering with conventional point detectors can also be an issue, with ASD providing the opportunity to site the pipework out of reach of prison inmates but still allowing access to the detectors for ease of maintenance by authorised personnel.

Precision and reliability are key focuses in the SecuriRAS technology – again both important factors in a custodial environment where keeping false alarms to a minimum is a prime consideration.  Some eight detectors and the associated pipework were employed at HMP Northumberland, a mix of ASD 531 and ASD 532 detectors. The ASD 531 is a one-channel detector for monitoring smaller premises and the ASD 532 is also a one-channel detector featuring a smoke-level indicator which offers a compact solution for small to medium-sized applications.  Up to five alarm levels can be programmed within the detector sensitivity range of 0.002%/m to 10%/m and this, combined with the use of two detectors from the EN54-20 Class A, B & C approved range, enabled Static Systems to tailor the detection to the different environments within the facility, including the laundry which presented a particularly challenging environment, with its humidity and the chemicals used meaning that corrosion of the connections could prove an issue with point detectors and also the gym.

ASD provides early detection of fire which is a significant benefit in buildings where large numbers of people need to be evacuated – in a prison this allows a safe and orderly evacuation…Eradicating false alarms is also an issue as evacuations need to be confined to actual emergencies.  High reliability is a characteristic of the SecuriRAS range, and the detectors at HMP Northumberland also feature a pre-alarm stage, to enable a potential fire incident to be investigated before instigating a full-scale evacuation.