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Egyptian Mummies And Polar Bears: No Task Too Tough For Apollo

Northern Ireland's award winning Ulster Museum has been equipped with a new Apollo-based fire detection system as part of a £17.5 million refurbishment programme. Eurotec Safety Services, who have been representing Apollo for more than 20 years, won the contract for the supply and commissioning of the fire system.

Ulster Museum is acknowledged as one of the UK's finest, having won the Art Fund Prize in 2010 for the museum within the UK that best recognises and stimulates originality and excellence. The museum is home to a number of collections that represent Northern Ireland's history, varying from fossils and archaeology to world cultures and art. Two of the museum's prize pieces are Takabuti, a seventh century BC Egyptian Mummy, and Peter the Polar Bear. Peter shot to fame when the museum's night watchman reported hearing unusual noises coming from the preserved and stuffed bear. The museum also houses the most complete real dinosaur fossil on display in Ireland in the form of the Edmontosaurus skeleton and some of the finest examples of Celtic design from the Iron Age period.

As part of the refurbishment, a new extension was added to the original museum, which is a listed building. The central feature of the new extension is a 23 metre high atrium area which houses the giant 'Window on our World' display tower. This state-of-the-art attraction rises up through the museum's four levels and houses the most iconic objects from across the museum's diverse collections. As well as containing many exhibits that are of high financial and sentimental value, the recently refurbished museum also boasts three new learning zones, 33 galleries and exhibition spaces and a restaurant.

There were a number of factors that had to be taken into account when designing the fire detection system. Given the diverse nature of the facilities, the client required a fire system that was reliable in a range of different environments. In addition there was a need to be able to protect a large number of visitors of all ages, many of whom would not know the building layout or fire evacuation drill. As well as being able to protect a large number of people in a challenging environment, a reliable voice controlled evacuation system was necessary in order to communicate with those who are unable to understand the traditional alarms, whether due to a disability or because of language barriers.

Approximately 500 Apollo analogue addressable XP95 detectors were specified to meet the main fire protection requirements, with the system based around a Kidde Vega panel that controls 24 zones. The specification required a large number of interfaces to be incorporated into the system, for example to control the display lighting, audio and visual display features and the museum lifts in the event of an emergency.

Geoff Dougan, of Eurotec Safety Services, said:

"Apollo's XP95 range gave us the product choice and flexibility to meet the specifications of this application. It is well proven in the field and the reliability of Apollo systems is one of the main reasons why we have been using their products for more than 20 years."

Within a year of re-opening following the refurbishment, Ulster Museum had welcomed 500,000 visitors, making it Northern Ireland's busiest visitor attraction.