3 Centenary Square is a Grade II-listed building that was formerly the Birmingham Municipal Bank. When the bank was transformed into a multi-purpose building for leisure, events and meetings, the project managers contacted Fireworks for the design, installation and maintenance of watermist fire protection. Fireworks was able to provide a fast-acting, reliable fire safety solution that preserved the building’s architectural integrity.
The Birmingham Municipal Bank is a historical feature of Birmingham and one of the most important works by T. Cecil Howitt, a prominent 1930s architect. When the building fell into disrepair it was decided to transform it into a new multi-functional building for the University of Birmingham, with cafés, galleries and collaborative workspaces.
A fire protection design to preserve the building’s architecture
For 3 Centenary Square, Fireworks designed a watermist fire protection system compliant with the BS 8489 British Standard for Industrial and Commercial Watermist Systems.
The spaces to be protected included the bank vault rooms and safety deposit box rooms, located in the basement. These were to be converted in a café and recreational rooms while carefully preserving the building’s art-deco architecture. Other OH1 and OH3 fire hazard areas included a kitchen, storage rooms, laundry, a lobby and staff rooms.
The watermist system provided by Fireworks incorporates a compact, powerful watermist pump connected to watermist nozzles by very small diameter pipes. As the pipes leading to nozzles are only 12 to 15mm in diameter – and have been modelled to fit exactly into the contours of the building – they blend discreetly into the building’s architecture. All the system’s components, including pumps, water tanks, pipes and watermist nozzles are much smaller than those needed for traditional sprinkler systems. Special fittings were used for the nozzles in the vault room which mean that nozzles can be installed and removed without damaging the ceiling containment. Watermist nozzles can also be supplied in some colour variations.
Also important in preserving buildings of historical importance is the fact that watermist is extremely fast-acting and only uses very small amounts of water when activated.
Fast-acting fire protection that reduces the spread of smoke
The watermist nozzles have frangible elements which rupture upon the ambient heat in the area reaching a pre-set temperature – in this case 57°C. The pump is then automatically activated and watermist is emitted only through all the nozzles affected by the heat of a fire. Due to the unique qualities of watermist, fire and heat are quickly suppressed, using only very small amounts of water.
One of the major advantages of watermist, is its ability to rapidly reduce the spread of smoke. This provides a sustainable breathing environment for occupants and reduces the risk of smoke damage to the building.
Testing, commissioning and maintenance
Fireworks pressure-tested and commissioned the watermist system and is providing maintenance services.