Making beautiful music together

1st October 2008

When the South Bank Centre needed a new fire safety system for the prestigious Royal Festival Hall development, it turned to Notifier by Honeywell and Advance Specialist Systems for a state of the art solution.

The Royal Festival Hall opened in 1951 and is one of the world's most prestigious concert venues. Today this forms the centerpiece of London's South Bank Centre (SBC) arts complex.

In addition to a 2,900 seat auditorium, which presents concerts by the world's finest orchestras as well as rock, jazz, dance and world music performers, the Royal Festival Hall foyers are open 364 days a year, providing daily free musical entertainment and attracting some 2.5 million visitors annually from around the world.

In 2005, a £70 million, two year refurbishment programme got underway, funded by the Arts Council England Lottery Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, as well as donations and private sources. Two years later, the Royal Festival Hall re-opened as planned with a series of spectacular ‘Signature' Concerts in June 2007.

As part of the renovation programme and following a full tender process, major contractor, ISG Interior Exterior selected leading Notifier by Honeywell Engineered Systems Distributor (ESD), Advance Specialist Systems to provide full fire safety protection for the Grade 1 listed building.

The contract, worth £700,000, includes the provision of comprehensive fire detection and public address/voice alarm equipment for the Royal Festival Hall and integrates with the new adjacent Extension Building, which houses both office staff and technical facilities.

The solution includes a network of five ID3000 fully addressable alarm panels with more than 1,000 detectors, together with a network based repeater, four large networked public address/ voice alarm racks and UniNet ID graphics based alarm reporting system.

Easy-to-use solution

The L1 solution, which forms part of the site's integrated fire safety and security solution, comprises a mixture of point detection and aspirating systems and brings together alarm and voice-based protection from a single supplier, for greater simplicity and control.
"We required a robust, technically advanced yet cost effective detection and audio solution from a proven stable for this high profile development," recalls Colin Restall, head of security and health and safety, SBC.
"Notifier and Advance Specialist Systems provided the ideal combination of leading edge technology and a track record of success to meet our demanding requirements, within the installation constraints of the Royal Festival Hall's listed status," he confirms.
For his part, Nigel Pollard, business manager, Notifier Fire Systems, believes that, "the ID3000 intelligent fire alarm panel is ideally matched to the Royal Festival Hall's needs, as its advanced, engineered system design not only offers a high level of functionality but is easy to install, programme and operate."
"Together with a full range of intelligent sensors, advanced detection products, input and output devices, repeaters, mimic drivers, printers and other peripherals, the ID 3000 offers the most complete and versatile fire alarm system currently available."
Notifier's ID3000 is third party certified to current EN54 standards and highly scalable, making it well-suited to a wide range of large facilities, from concert halls, hotels and schools to office buildings, hospitals and factories. Its modular design allows the user to tailor the panel to their precise needs and offers a ready-made expansion path as part of a highly future-proofed solution.


The ID 3000 is a fully-on-site programmable intelligent fire alarm panel, which may be programmed either from the panel keyboard or from a personal computer using the off-line configuration tool. An ‘auto learn' facility allows the user to install and commission a standard system with the minimum of effort and a virtual keyboard on the LCD allows the user to enter any text message or description form the panel.

However, in the case of the Royal Festival Hall, the wide range of facilities available across the site meant that the ID3000's additional ability to provide a more complex ‘cause and effect' matrix was especially important. Using powerful ‘Control by Event' (CBE) rules, the ID3000 can be programmed, either from the panel keypad or remote PC, to meet a wide range of site specific requirements. These may include plant shut down, fire door control smoke control, phased evacuation and point/zone isolation, all of which can be simply programmed and grouped for ease of control and monitoring.
"Supporting this, Notifier's UniNet ID intelligent digital delivery network system represents a major step forward in fire networking technology and sets new industry standards in the areas of speed, reliability, durability and flexibility," says Pollard.
UniNet ID's modular design incorporates advanced technology to monitor and control security, card access, CCTV and other facility information as well as fire detection over a proprietary LonWorksTM network. Importantly, this network supports a variety of topologies and media and is an industry standard, open architecture.
The UniNet ID PC workstation provides an easy to use and learn graphical user interface and its plug-in applications allow continued expansion of workstation and network functions. The operator is presented with a consistent look and operation for all monitored equipment: in addition, the workstation features customisablescreens and allows a wide variety of configuration options for any situation.
"In short," confirms Pollard, "not only does the Notifer system offer comprehensive fire protection, but its inherent intelligence enables Royal Festival Hall staff to rapidly pinpoint the source of a fire signal and remotely establish whether or not it is genuine, so minimisingthe number of false alarms."

Voice Alarm Protection

The development also includes full voice alarm protection for the public access areas. "Voice messaging has become an increasingly important as part of an efficient evacuation strategy," confirms Advance Specialist Systems.
For fire safety systems designed to protect larger sites -especially those which, as in the case of the Royal Festival Hall, attract significant numbers of occasional visitors not used to specific evacuation procedures in place - voice alarms play an important role in ensuring that buildings and other venues are vacated in a controlled, timely manner.
Specifically, the Notifier solution incorporates the recently developed ID PAVA (Public Address and Voice Alarm) system as part of a comprehensive fire detection and alarm solution. Unlike simple voice alarms, which use a set of pre-recorded messages, PAVA systems can bypass these, using a microphone to speak to individual areas or groups of people, as and when the need arises.

At the same time, the latest voice alarm systems typically incorporate public address system functionality, providing valuable multi-purpose usage for public buildings and arenas. In the case of the Royal Festival Hall therefore, the Notifier system will be used for other public announcements, such as advertising forthcoming concerts and other promotions.

Flexible response

Early on in the development, together with the Advance Specialist Systems team, SBC and ISG representatives were able to visit Honeywell's development centre at Burgess Hill to see a full demonstration of the planned solution. "In this way, from the outset we were able to confirm their confidence in both the breadth of functionality and the robustness of the Notifier equipment," says Pollard.

Installation began in early 2006 and was completed, on time and on budget, in March 2007. Yet in order for this to be achieved, Advance Specialist Systems had to address a number of issues resulting from the Royal Festival Hall's listed status.
On the one hand, the company has had to be especially flexible as regards the timing of each stage of the installation, as it had to integrate with the phased installation of other services and so respond to changes of schedule, often at short notice.
For example, the control room forms part of the new office complex, sited in the extension building immediately adjacent to the main concert hall and completed and occupied in summer 2006. As a result, much of Advanced Specialist Systems' work in the latter part of the installation had to take account of the restrictions of a fully working environment.

Equally, Advance Specialist Systems had to work within tight and complex installation constraints. In order to ensure that the building was restored to its original appearance, all the cabling for example had to be chased into the walls. At the same time, multiple alarm racks have been used tominimisethe total volume of cabling required in the main auditorium.


In March 2007, a two month commissioning period got underway, which included a series of ‘hard hat' concerts designed to test all of the newly installed equipment before the Hall was opened to the public for a First Night Gala Concert on 11 June.
This was a multi-phase process, involving close co-operation between the Notifier and Advanced Specialist Systems teams. The first step was for the distributor to create a written cause and effect solution, which was then tested remotely at Honeywell's Burgess Hill production facility in advance of any commissioning work at the Royal Festival Hall.

The next phase included detailed cable testing and then device testing, to prove visibility of each part of the equipment on the system. And finally, comprehensive cause and effect witness testing was undertaken on site, in conjunction with the main building commissioning team and the Local Authority district surveyor.
As throughout the main installation process, commissioning was both complex and not without its own difficulties. "Any project of this scale is inevitably problematic," says Honeywell's Pollard. "Making sure that all aspects of the Notifier system interface correctly with third party equipment, for example, is only possible if power is available and the other parts of the system have been installed correctly and on time."
"In delivering the project on time, at Advance Specialist Systems we have been able to call on 15 years' experience delivering engineered fire safety solutions in large, complex developments," the company confirms. "This has resulted in an enviable reputation for delivering bespoke responses tailored to individual client needs, on time and on budget."

Notifier and Advance Specialist Systems currently have another large, broadly based project underway near Kings Cross, which demands a similarly robust solution with highly innovative and dedicated technical support. This includes 850 strong student accommodation, together with a range of residential properties -including some social housing -and a number of retail units.

More than meets the eye

Following installation, staff at the Royal Festival Hall have also undergone detailed training, "a task which was made much easier as a result of Notifier'ssimple and intuitive feature set," says Pollard.
"As a result of the need to preserve the building's Grade 1 listed status, to the casual eye much of the original building when it reopens will look much as before," he concludes. "However, a significant -if unseen -benefit is that the public and staff alike will be protected by the very latest in life safety systems."