Poole Hospital




2013 – ongoing
Upgrading and maintaining an end of life fire alarm system

Background & Brief

Poole Hospital is an acute general hospital in Dorset. Built in 1907, it has expanded from a basic 14-bed facility into a 789-bed NHS Foundation Trust hospital. It is also the trauma centre for east Dorset and provides specialist services such as cancer treatment for the entire county.

Drewlec has worked with local authorities for over 30 years and with this experience, was first approached by Poole Hospital in 2007. The hospitals existing fire system was outdated and required a complete upgrade to allow for it to connect with modern technologies and software. This was the initial brief that has led to an ongoing partnership between Drewlec and Poole Hospital.

Response & Solution

Our fire alarms team undertook a full review of the existing system and the hospital’s fire safety requirements to propose an upgrade and works methodology plan, outlining a recommended route to overhaul the hospitals end of life fire alarm systems.

We worked in partnership with the client to understand their specific requirements, including budgetary restraints, so that we could flex our work and plan to ensure it would be straightforward to run. We phased our recommendations over the course of five years. Being mindful of the hospital’s needs, we wanted to ensure that as we brought the fire alarm system up to modern standards, we also worked to prolong the life of the new technology.

The plan we proposed allowed the progressive upgrade of the existing system to a fully interactive system with complete flexibility. Our recommended upgrade pathway provided greater system operability, flexibility to the ever-changing demands of the healthcare sector and control using de-centralised control panels via the Autronica Autromaster 5000 Graphics monitoring and control system. These recommendations will add a further 20-25 year life span cycle to the hospital’s fire alarm and detection system.

The work proposed re-using all existing field cabling to ensure disruption around the hospital was kept to a minimum and that the upgrade programme was tailored to the clients operational or budgetary constraints.


Within the first year of the contract, the Drewlec team dedicated to this site, established a new, dedicated fire alarms network across the hospital’s main site. A total of 12 panels were upgraded and 12 network hubs installed. This established the foundation on which all future alterations and/or upgrades could be built across the whole hospital estate.

Over the initial agreed five-year period, we undertook several smaller, urgent projects on the Poole Hospital site, working efficiently as to not let the original plans fall behind schedule. At the end of the five-year period, nearly 90% of the initial contracted work had been completed, in addition to other services requiring more urgent attention.

Our team’s expertise and in-depth knowledge of the working environment and its system guaranteed zero down-time of the fire alarm system during every upgrade.

We also worked with Poole Hospital to adjust and renew its fire evacuation strategy. As a result of this important change, it was agreed in the fourth year of the initial project that Drewlec would continue working with Poole Hospital on an ongoing basis. This continued agreement allows us to maintain progress by updating the client’s fire alarm systems and ensure that all other systems, across all sites, consistently meet the required regulations.

Since initial installation and in response to layout changes and extensions within the hospital, the team has increased the client’s fire alarm system by 33%, meaning it now has more than 4,650 field devices, supporting the changing operational requirements of the hospital.

To ensure optimum use and fire protection, we installed additional control panels and automatic detectors in multiple locations around the hospital to aid the quick response to any fire alert. To aid this, we also installed three graphics systems across key locations on the large hospital side that allow the maintenance team, in-house fire marshal and other staff to quickly and fluidly manage the complex fire alarm system from their central location. The graphics system is imperative for hospital staff to quickly and efficiently respond to an emergency in any location across the sizeable site.

As a local business with relevant expertise and experience, we were able to advise Poole Hospital’s decision makers on the best solutions to their challenges and ensure that a major project to overhaul and upgrade their fire alarms system was carried out seamlessly in a working hospital. The initial work to overhaul and upgrade the fire alarms system has now been completed, however, Drewlec continue operations at Poole Hospital, as the Trust’s chosen fire alarms partner.

Our flexible, diligent and dedicated approach to supporting Poole Hospital in the implementation of its updated fire systems has ensured that since 2014, the hospital’s fire alarms have been maintained to high standards and operating to best suit the requirements of the busy hospital estates team.

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