Baldwin Boxall designs residential tower emergency communication solution

Following the Grenfell Tower incident resulting in the tragic loss of life in 2017, and other events in residential towers, it has become clear that a method of informing residents of a situation is urgently needed.

Baldwin Boxall has addressed this problem by designing an ideal solution, which has been successfully installed in a residential tower. Fire officers, council personnel and landlords were consulted and have fully endorsed this ground breaking pilot scheme.

The specially designed, networked, enhanced public address system enables fire rescue services to broadcast speech and message announcements to single floors, multiple floors or the whole building in the event of an emergency situation. Installed as a secondary measure to the building’s fire detection and traditional sounders, the Baldwin Boxall system can be used to broadcast information and reassurance to the residents – including instruction as necessary.

Standards Compliance

As with all projects, particularly those that require a system that differs from the norm, Baldwin Boxall checked and reviewed the available British Standards which may have been partially applicable, this includes: EN54-16:2008, BS5839-8:2013, BS8629:2019 and BSEN50849:2017. It was found that, due to the application being purely residential, there are no current standards against which this system could be certified.

Protection & Coverage

The loudspeakers installed for the enhanced PA system are vandal resistant, rugged units, in addition, to reduce possible exposure to system damage, the end-of-line monitoring ability has been achieved by specially fitting monitoring PCBs within the loudspeaker units. (EOL monitoring is usually achieved via separate, wall mounted enclosures.)

The design of the system ensures that damage to a loudspeaker or cabling – or indeed should a line fault arise – the system will keep functioning thus ensuring the residents will still receive emergency broadcasts in their vicinity.

Monitoring ‘Pulse’

Like voice alarm, every part of the enhanced PA is monitored, and battery-backed to ensure it will function as needed during an emergency. To check the integrity of a monitored system, a ‘20kHz pulse’ is sent through each length of cable from one point to another (critical signal path) at regular intervals which can, on occasion, be detected by animals and those with exceptional hearing. In order to eliminate any possible effects on residents, or pets, a 20kHz filter has been specially added to each EOL monitoring PCB.

The System

The design includes a network of Eclipse4 units and surface mount touch screen microphone. The Eclipse4 has a slim profile and can be installed as a stand-alone PA/VA unit or with multiple units in a networked system. It is a fully integrated public address/voice evacuation system which takes up minimal floor space and is secured by bolting to a wall or suitable solid upright.

The surface mount touch screen microphone (BVRDTSMS) is housed in a robust and weather-proof enclosure. The unit has been designed specifically for the voice alarm market and will interface with any Baldwin Boxall VIGIL voice alarm system.