One of the most spectacular structures in the whole of the UK, the Humber Bridge is a 2,220m single span suspension bridge which, when it opened in June 1981 was the longest in the world. Providing unrivalled views of the second largest coastal plain estuary in the country, it reaches 156m at its highest point and took eight years to build. It acts as a vital social and economic link between the East Riding of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, two previously remote and insular areas of England, improving communication and enabling the area to realise its potential in terms of commercial, industrial and tourist development.
A masterpiece of civil engineering, the Humber Bridge was developed out of a design used initially for the Severn Bridge near Bristol. Approval for the construction of a suspension bridge was granted in 1959 with the passing of the Humber Bridge Act and the creation of the Humber Bridge Board, although it was not until 1973 that work finally began. Officially opened in July 1981 by HM Queen, it operates a toll system to help fund the maintenance programmes and the infrastructure required for its operation.
The Humber Bridge contains a surprisingly complex infrastructure that is primarily housed in the two towers. Its Maintenance Manager, John Williams, explains, ‘These substations contain a plethora of mechanical and electrical plant and machinery, which are relied upon for the Humber Bridge’s operation.
Within these areas there is a need for fire detection and Beverley based Fire Protection Supplies has used its expertise to provide solutions to the Humber Bridge over a number of years. Trevor Campbell, the company’s Director, states: “We are well equipped to satisfy the most complex fire prevention situations and have completed many high profile installations across the north east and beyond. John contacted us to discuss upgrading the fire detection control panels and graphics system at the Humber Bridge, which involved installing industry leading ZX products and the innovative Visualeyez Graphics Workstation from Morley-IAS by Honeywell.”
Seven panels were replaced overall and these are sited in a variety of locations including the administration offices, where a central control room that contains all the servers and IT related technology is used to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Here the ZX5Se panels were installed, while at the other plant areas across the Humber Bridge saw a combination of ZX1Se and ZX2Se products used.
The panels have been configured to report back to a new Visualeyez Graphics Workstation. Explaining the benefits of this technology, Ben Fothergill, Business Manager North & Scotland at Morley-IAS by Honeywell, says: “In an emergency situation, information and control are both paramount. Without knowing what has occurred and where it happens, it is difficult to provide an effective resolution of the situation. Visualeyez is designed to present the information in a simple, clear and user-friendly way, allowing rapid comprehension of the situation.”
In addition to the basic function of displaying alarms at a central location, Visualeyez also offers the ability to record and analyse both alarms and non-alarm events. This provides the building’s engineers or management with the tools they need to analyse alarms, faults, review events, assess problems and plan their maintenance and false alarm prevention strategies.
“Visualeyez has provided the Humber Bridge with much more than just an alarm monitoring package,” comments Trevor Campbell. “We have configured it so that it operates as a building management system, so the plant rooms are monitored via I/O devices and can send alerts about any issues affecting the equipment. It also has an events page that can generate an automatic report about any situation and can also control, start and test the system remotely, as well as switching on cameras to provide images of a location where an alarm has been activated. To enhance security, access doors and hatches have been fitted with sensors, so if an engineer is on-site, every time a door is opened a security warning is generated that provides a full audit trail of his or her activities.”
It was decided that it would be beneficial to have two monitors within the central control room. To achieve this Fire Protection Supplies fitted a multimedia splitter over Category 5e twisted pair copper data cable, which now enables the two monitors to see the same Visualeyez system. To enable future expansion, the Visualeyez software supports 16 panels and can be upgraded to extend the software’s capabilities.
John Williams of the Humber Bridge is impressed with the results of the upgrade and concludes: “It is surprising how many people assume that the Humber Bridge operates with minimal human input. This is not the case at all and we rely heavily on a combination of technology and people to ensure that it operates as it should 24 hours a day. Having a state-of-the-art fire detection system is therefore a vital part of its infrastructure and thanks to the knowledge and expertise of Fire Protection Supplies and Morley-IAS, that’s exactly what we have.”