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Case Study - Special Design of Smoke Detection System in a Mental Health Facility in New Zealand

Schulz, J., Clarke, J. and Feeney, A., 2008. Case Study - Special Design of Smoke Detection System in a Mental Health Facility in New Zealand. Fire Safety Science 9: 1077-1087. doi:10.3801/IAFSS.FSS.9-1077


Specialized buildings such as mental health facilities present unique challenges for fire safety design, as occupants typically should not be evacuated, unless directly threatened by the effects of fire. The New Zealand ‘deemed to satisfy’ solutions address this with a mandatory minimum requirement for early warning smoke detection and sprinkler suppression systems in buildings with this occupancy, installed in accordance with New Zealand Standards. However, in some instances, the solutions in the Standards are in conflict with clinical requirements to protect patients from (self-) harm. One example is point-type smoke detectors, which should be installed below the ceiling to be compliant with the Standard, but must be located in a protected recess above the ceiling to meet clinical needs. This case study outlines the performance based design of an aspirated recessed point type smoke detection system in the bedrooms of a secure wing in a mental health facility, operated by one of the largest district health boards in New Zealand. The system was purpose designed to cater for the clinical requirements of the health board. The performance based solution combines the location identification ability of point type analogue addressable detection systems with the unobtrusive installation of aspirating systems. The system consists of fully recessed proprietary analogue addressable point type smoke detectors that are combined with a small aspirating system. The system was successfully tested in comparison with ceiling mounted point type smoke detectors and was accepted by all stakeholders as a specialized engineered solution giving performance equivalent to that of a Standard compliant system.

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