Schools, colleges and universities make many unique demands in terms of fire and, even more so, security systems requirements.
Multiple-building, campus sites are the norm, with a very diverse range of asset types contained within. And, along with staff, there is an annually-changing flow of students to safeguard and an array of visitors to regulate.
In recent years Choice has identified a number of trends in activity at education sites.
- The more formal creation of a secure physical perimeter to protect the campus – particular the student body during ‘work hours’ and the increasing amount of high value (primarily computing and IT) assets housed on-site.
- Addition of new buildings within a campus, to cope with growing student numbers. These must be integrated within a coordinated, centralised fire and security management function. At the extreme this has involved us in sites combining protected heritage buildings alongside new academy-style structures.
- Requirements for rapidly-installed, wireless Lockdown alarm systems for invacuation (as opposed to evacuation) to deal with security and other risks where students are best contained within the educational premises.
- Use of campus facilities (sports halls, swimming pools, meeting rooms, IT labs etc) out-of-hours to help generate revenue and meet community relations commitments.
Ideally, fire and security systems need to be comprehensive, adaptive, future-proofed and yet still meet conformance requirements in this changing and challenging environment. Choice has acquired significant experience in this area.
Perimeter gates and building main doors, for example, are increasingly required to remain in timed lockdown (controlled access only) apart from limited free access times (perhaps between 8.00-9.00/12.00-1.00/3.00-4.00).
A skilled surveyor can determine which aspects of existing systems can be taken forward as part of new configurations to protect education sites. Increasingly the addition of new systems, to meet changing risks, involves use of networked/IP solutions (for fire detection systems, pedestrian and vehicle access control and CCTV/video entry) which exploit the site’s existing network infrastructure. Wireless innovation in security technology (eg IP video entry phones) makes for faster implementation times and reduced installation costs.
There is clearly not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for the range of sites and uses made of those sites in the education sector. Our approach to budgets and investment in safety and security now also incorporates leasing options. The variety of fire and security systems available through Choice – at the very heart of our business approach – is a key reason for our success in education.