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A record number of wireless fire detectors: a fast, disturbance-free hybrid solution for Vocational College Luovi’s student residence building

For its student residence building, Luovi Vocational College in Joensuu wanted a high-quality fire alarm system that could be quickly installed. The college chose the Prodex FIREscape hybrid solution, which uses wireless detectors. It was installed in a matter of days without disruptions to other goings-on at the college. An added bonus was that it could also be installed without making any marks on the building’s newly completed surfaces.

Luovi Vocational College in Joensuu, which provides vocational special needs education and training for young people, is based in the Karsikko district. The college’s new campus development project began in May 2022, but ran into delays as the contractor was forced into corporate debt restructuring.  

The six-floor student residence building and the college building, with learning space for around 200 students, were completed in the spring of 2024. Due to the debt restructuring, however, changes had to be made to how the remaining work was organised. One of the most urgent parts of this remaining work was the design and installation of a fire alarm system for the student residence building.

Luovi building
Owned by the Organisation for Respiratory Health in Finland, Luovi Vocational College provides vocational education and training for young people with special needs. Luovi Vocational College operates in more than 30 towns and municipalities in Finland. The new student residence building has six floors and 30 apartments.

An industry expert specialising in fire alarm installations, PIL Paloilmoitinliike Consulting, was chosen as the contractor. The client, the Organisation for Respiratory Health in Finland, wanted a high-quality system that would be fit for a student residence and would last for years. It also had to have clear and effective emergency lighting guidance. In addition, the installation phase had to involve minimise disturbance, using wireless fire detectors that required no visible cabling or protective mouldings.

A hybrid system

The decision on the right system was quickly made. Hedengren Security’s Prodex FIREscape fire emergency lighting system provided the most efficient and safest fire safety light guidance solution. Hedengren’s system could be installed in hybrid form, meaning that it consisted of both wireless and traditional fire detectors.

Mika Miettinen PIL
PIL Paloilmoitinliike Consulting installed the system using Hedengren Security devices. “With systems from a Finnish manufacturer, you can be sure the parts are durable and constantly developed, and security of supply is guaranteed”, says project manager Mika Miettinen.

“Hedengren Security is one of our largest clients, we have always worked very well together. Their systems are very high-quality and you can always count on their security of supply. When you order a system from a Finnish company, there’s always the added bonus of technical support being close by, with a contact person you can reach quickly,” says Paloilmoitinliike PIL Consulting project manager Mika Miettinen, who has been involved with projects with Hedengren Security for over 30 years.

Approximately 80 wireless fire detectors and five base stations were ordered from Hedengren Security. As this was the contractor’s first time installing and programming Hedengren Security’s wireless sensors, they decided to review the plans for programming and the locations of the base stations with Hedengren Security specialists beforehand.

Stylish detectors
The installation work was quick and there were no setbacks, taking only ten minutes per room. The stylish detectors fit in well with the interiors of the premises.  

Simple and straightforward installation

It took two technicians just two days to programme the system, install the wireless detectors and activate the whole system. The conventional, non-wireless detectors were installed by another party prior to this work, mostly in corridors, storage spaces, communal laundry rooms, and engineering and utility services rooms. In these locations, the technicians were able to hide the cables above suspended ceilings.

According to the project manager, Hedengren’s hybrid solution was straightforward and easy to install.

Commissioning base stations
During the commissioning of the base stations, the software showed all the detectors’ modes and signal strengths in one view, making it easy to find optimal locations for the stations. It was also easy to allocate detectors to their respective base stations.

“We have used other systems in the past, and I was surprised by how straightforward Hedengren’s hybrid system was.  The status and signal strength of every detector could be viewed at the base stations, so the technicians didn’t have to find and check every detector one by one. It was easy to find good locations for the base stations and to see if signals were blocked by any building structures”, Miettinen says.

Hedengren Security’s contact person for the project, Pekka Kukkola, says the contractor is also to thank for the smooth installation process.

“PIL Paloilmoitinliike is a long-term partner and knows the Prodex system well. They had also prepared the programming and installation plans meticulously. It was great to see how skilfully and quickly they were able to complete such a large-scale project,” Kukkola says.

Maria Mäkelä
The client was also satisfied with the results.“The new system is just what we wanted. The project ran smoothly and was completed on schedule. We’re very pleased with the outcome. PIL Paloilmoitinliike Consulting kept us well updated throughout the process, and communications as a whole went very well,” says Maria Mäkelä, real estate expert at the Organisation for Respiratory Health in Finland.

A cost-efficient solution

According to Kukkola, the use of wireless fire detectors used to be limited by their poor availability.

“Now that there are enough products on the market, I think hybrid solutions will very quickly become much more common. Wireless detectors have previously been used mainly in conserved buildings and sites with architecture that imposed a lot of demands.”

Wireless detectors
Nearly 80 wireless fire detectors were installed in the student residence building of Luovi Vocational College in Joensuu. Conventional detectors were used where their cabling could be hidden above suspended ceilings. Such locations included storage spaces, corridors and engineering and utility services rooms.

Kukkola considers wireless detectors especially convenient, since they allow for disturbance-free installation that conforms to the architecture of the site. The detectors also speed up commissioning and are cost-effective.  

“Even though wireless detectors are slightly pricier than conventional ones, the total project price is usually actually lower thanks to the substantial savings in installation and cabling material costs. And of course, the more complicated and laborious the cabling arrangements would have been, the greater the savings,” says Kukkola.

A good fit for renovations

The fact that wireless fire detectors are battery-powered often made buyers hesitant, but Kukkola says this is no longer a factor.

“Modern batteries last between 8 and 10 years, and the systems are self-diagnostic – they give a warning when the power is starting to run out. Each smart fire detector also has its own, unique address, which provides comprehensive data on the status of each detector and makes it easy to pinpoint the ones that need new batteries.”  

Mika Miettinen and Prodex FIREscape panel
Mika Miettinen finds Hedengren’s sustainable product development especially valuable, and this is also important to PIL and Luovi. “Hedengren Security’s systems are well suited for northern conditions, and their delivery is also eco-friendly. We also like the fact that the company takes its carbon footprint seriously,” Miettinen says.

Hedengren’s key account manager recommends wireless solutions especially for renovation projects and buildings where the installation must be carried out with either no disturbance to everyday activities or otherwise unobtrusively.

Kukkola also considers wireless solutions to be a good option for buildings with thick walls, as these can be hard to penetrate as needed for the installation or conventional systems. They are also a good alternative for large construction sites, as the detectors can be moved from one space to another as work progresses.

Prodex FIREscape: a hybrid solution

  • Prodex FIREscape is the world’s safest integrated fire safety lighting system, and can be installed with both wireless and traditional fire detectors.
  • With the status and signal levels of all the detectors in the system being visible in a single view, the system is easy to program and map out.  
  • Wireless detectors allow for fast, disturbance-free installation.
  • The hybrid system is often a more cost-effective solution, since wireless detectors reduce labour and material costs.
  • The hybrid model makes it possible to install the system without any harm to the building’s architecture. Conventional fire detectors can be used where there are suspended ceilings to conceal the cabling, whereas the more discreet wireless detectors are a better fit for other areas.
  • Wireless detectors have a very long battery life (between 8 and 10 years), and their self-diagnostic system alerts users in good time when the batteries must be changed.
  • Hybrid systems are the perfect fit for projects with a tight schedule and buildings that are in continuous use.
  • They are also good for renovations and protected buildings. The system also provides benefits for fireproofing of construction sites, where the wireless detectors can be moved as the work progresses, and buildings with thick walls, where it would be difficult to insert cabling.
  • Hedengren offers contractors continuous training and product support.
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