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The Last Word with Quelfire

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Alec Purdie, Technical Manager, talks about Quelfire’s role in transforming fire safety at RUH’s Dyson Cancer Centre

Could you provide an overview of a recent project that Quelfire has been involved in?

One of our recent significant projects was the fire safety engagement for the Dyson Cancer Centre at the Royal United Hospitals Bath (RUH).

This new facility, which opened in October 2023, spans three storeys and brings together most of RUH’s cancer services into one state-of-the-art building.

As the selected manufacturer for firestopping solutions, we worked closely with the main contractor, Kier Construction, and the firestopping contractor, Optimum Drywall, to ensure a design that met rigorous fire safety standards and regulations.

What was the most significant challenge in this project, and how did your team overcome it?

The most significant challenge we faced was ensuring the required fire test evidence for the proposed supporting construction, especially with many walls using single-skin plasterboard.

Although we had suitable solutions for pipes and cables, there were no tested solutions for metal ducts and dampers in these walls.

This required a risk assessment led by BB7, the fire engineer, and a reassessment of previous projects and details from the damper manufacturer.

Additionally, we encountered issues with the use of pneumatic pipes, which are thinner than standard plastic pipes and had no prior tested applications.

We addressed these challenges by incorporating the proposed pneumatic pipes into our ongoing test programme, allowing us to provide the necessary test data and ensure compliance.

How has this project furthered Quelfire’s mission or goals?

This project exemplified our commitment to innovation and collaboration in fire safety.

By engaging early with all stakeholders, we could address potential issues at the design stage rather than during construction.

This approach ensured compliance with fire safety standards and highlighted the importance of early engagement in firestopping.

It reinforced our mission to provide reliable, tested firestopping solutions that protect people and property.

Can you share some key learnings from this project that will be used to inform future projects?

The critical importance of early engagement.

By involving all parties—contractors, fire engineers, and specialists—early in the process, we could identify and resolve potential issues before they became significant problems.

This project also taught us the value of flexibility in design and testing.

For example, when standard solutions were not available, we could adapt and conduct specific tests to meet the project’s needs.

This adaptability will be invaluable in future projects, particularly those with unique requirements or constraints.

What impact do you anticipate this project will have on Quelfire’s customers or the wider fire safety sector?

The success of the Dyson Cancer Centre project sets a new standard for fire safety in healthcare facilities.

Our approach demonstrated the benefits of thorough planning, testing, and collaboration, which can be applied to other sectors.

For our customers, it means they can expect even more reliable and tested solutions tailored to their specific needs.

For the wider fire safety sector, this project serves as a benchmark for integrating fire safety considerations early in the design process, ultimately leading to safer, more compliant buildings.

This article was originally published in the June 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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