Project Description

First Port is the UK’s leading residential property service provider, caring for 310,000 homes
in England, Wales, and Scotland, across 5,600 developments. With over four decades of
experience and 4,000 employees, FirstPort works with developers, investors, freeholders, and over 1,300 Resident Management Companies.

This was a great project combining the best of each of our companies to achieve an excellent, ongoing, outcome. John Newman, Gemini.

The Challenges

As part of a modernization program, FirstPort was looking to upgrade its legacy fire system across four landmark high-rise buildings located in Tower Hamlets, London – the Elektron Tower, Neutron Tower, Proton Tower, and Switch Tower. The company was seeking
a cutting-edge system to provide comprehensive fire protection for tenants, whilst allowing
them to cease the existing and expensive Waking Watch solution.

With the upgrade required outside of the normal schedule of improvements, FirstPort preferred a system that could be installed quickly and easily, whilst having a minimal impact on the fabric of the four buildings.

The Solution

Following a competitive tender process, FirstPort chose to work alongside Gemini AMPM, who impressed the management team with its plans to efficiently install the innovative wireless system Taurus, supplied by Hyfire.

Taurus is a range of high-performance wireless detection, control, and alarm devices, which is fully certified to EN54 and fully compliant with BS5839 Part 1. The range includes all devices required to build a fully wireless commercial fire system, including optical, multi-criteria, and heat detectors, manual call points, wall sounders, sounder bases, and output/input modules.

Radio translators are installed along a wired loop to the addressable fire panel, from which wireless devices can be used on their own to build fully wireless systems of virtually any size. The platform – which is supported by its own dedicated software – is suitable for both small, medium, or large sites, handling up to 128 devices per wireless translator and 240 per hybrid loop, with 10-year battery life on input and five years on output devices.

Gemini AMPM, with the help of Hyfire, finalized a competitively priced design that was tailored to fit FirstPort’s exact requirements, covering all communal areas and each of the 497 apartments across the four towers. As the system is wireless, the design featured 90% less cable than would be required for a hard-wired system – preserving the fabric of the building.

The Instal

Gemini AMPM originally committed to a six-week program to install the Taurus system but was able to reduce this to just four weeks by pre-programming the devices offsite, ahead of the agreed start date in October 2021.

Across the four weeks, a team of eight engineers installed the 2,000 individual detectors, call points, sounders, and other wireless devices. They worked closely with the on-site property manager to ensure safe and efficient access to the different apartments. In addition, pre-programming the devices off-site dramatically reduced the time the engineers would spend in each apartment, helping to minimize disruption to tenants. The engineers wore full PPE, including face masks, to provide added peace of mind to tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Impact

The project was deemed a huge success after being completed on time and within budget. The newly installed Taurus system ensures that the tenants of each tower are now benefiting from comprehensive cutting-edge fire protection.

The fast turnaround of the installation meant that the Waking Watch could also be terminated, with estimated cost savings in excess of £2,500,000 per year.

Tony Ulasi, Development Manager, FirstPort, said: “Installing a new fire system across these four landmark towers is a huge operation. We needed to work closely with a trusted supplier that could provide a cost-effective solution, whilst going above and beyond to minimise disruption to our tenants during the pandemic. From the beginning of the project Gemini AMPM ticked all the boxes – from product selection, to design, to installation. As a result, we have been able to prioritise safety, whilst achieving considerable cost savings.” Jamie Dawson, Director at Gemini AMPM, said: “With the requirement to install the upgraded system in an occupied building, wireless was the obvious choice. Our installers worked seamlessly with the Hyfire team, who helped us to pinpoint the exact number of devices required and where they should be located. The onsite property managers from FirstPort helped facilitate us working across the four buildings and liaised with residents, ensuring we could gain access to 99% of apartments within the four-week schedule. It was a slick operation that has delivered huge benefits.”