Dorset County Hospital


Dorset County Hospital is a Foundation Trust hospital based in the heart of Dorset, it is home to 18 wards, approximately 375 beds, and has over 3,300 staff working in and around the hospital.

In 2020, the decision was made to replace the whole existing fire alarm system due to the current system being end of life cycle. The existing system had become problematic, it had very limited expandability if any in some areas, limited coverage and in addition the systems protocols made it extremely limited regarding available service and maintenance contractors.

The priorities of the trust were to significantly improve on the existing level of building fire safety, provide a greater level of competition in the procurement of specialist maintenance providers, reduce impact from the testing regime on the day-to-day business and service of the hospital and of course the cost. We felt that the system selected would be accessible to as many contractors a possible, this also aligned with our social values with opportunity to the surrounding enterprises.

The Challenge

Not only did the hospital face installing the new system whilst still being operational 24 hours a day, but they had the added challenge of commissioning the installation during the height of the COVID pandemic, meaning they had to work around existing and added safety measures. This meant the installation time was longer. This was compounded by ongoing capital projects and changes to the estate whilst the first fix was being carried out.  Always having to manage risks around the existing system which was beyond life cycle. This all being carried out with minimal disruption, impact and obstruction to day-to-day services. All of course in accordance with IPC and health and safety concerns.

The Solution

A reputable installer was appointed to carry out the installation and commissioning of this project following a procurement process run by the Trust. The system that was put forward in the successful bid and subsequently installed was the Apollo Discovery range of detectors and an Advanced MX5 network.

Discovery is Apollo’s development on the proven XP95 protocol. The range of analogue addressable detectors offer a high degree of versatility for multiple complex environments, offering reliable fire detection and false alarm management, crucial for a hospital setting. The five modes of operations, which are all approved to EN54-23, gives the user the ability to adjust the sensitivity of the detector depending on what environment it is installed in.

Around 2700 Discovery Multisensors were installed into the hospital, with the ability to adjust the setting to a different EN54-23 approved mode, means that the hospital can have peace of mind that no matter where the detector is installed it is protecting patients, staff, and visitors from fire.

The installation of the new fire alarm was particularly challenging during the pandemic which consequently caused some delays. This has been a major project for the trust and could not have been delivered without the support of the staff and the estates team. We are convinced that our new fire alarm system provides greater versatility and flexibility that we need for the challenges we face in the coming years.

Roy Pinder Fire Safety Advisor for the Trust

Products used in this Case Study

The Discovery Multi-Sensor Detector consists of optical smoke and thermistor temperature sensors which give a combined signal for improved false alarm management.

The Discovery Optical Smoke Detector are high-specification devices using the light scatter principle to quickly detect fire while effectively managing false alarms.

The Discovery Heat Detector features a low air flow resistance case and a single thermistor to sense the air temperature around the detector.