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BILCO Raises The Roof On Science Building Safety

Access hatches and smoke vents supplied by Bilco ( have been installed at one of the largest centres of health science and medical research in Europe.

Three roof access hatches that will act as smoke ventilators in the event of a fire were delivered for roofing installation at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

A new building to house the molecular biology laboratory is being constructed on the Cambridge Bio-Medical Campus site and is due for completion in 2012. Managed by the University of Cambridge, the site is funded by organisations including Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

Suffolk-based Bilco supplied three REM units and associated equipment to roofing contractor T R Freeman, part of the Kershaw Group.

Neil Lyons, contracts manager at T R Freeman, said everything had gone to plan with each of the roofing installations.

“We were supplied with three access hatches that also double up in their application as smoke vents. We ordered them well in advance of when we actually needed them on site. All three products were brought in at the same time to save on delivery costs.

“They have been installed in three separate locations as there are three roofing areas for the molecular biology laboratory. We used tower cranes to install the hatches and ventilators over an area of 6,500 square metres.

“We were very satisfied with the delivery and the products themselves.”

Over 90 per cent of all fire-related deaths are due to smoke inhalation. With the automatic REM units in place on the laboratory roof, if fire breaks out they will automatically open to a full 140 degrees to rapidly disperse heat, smoke and noxious gases.

The REM units, each measuring 1,000mm x 1,500mm, were supplied with associated equipment including dedicated back-up control panels, fireman’s switches and smoke detectors.

When smoke is detected the REM vents automatically raise to the fire open position. The vents are operated by a fire control panel for opening and closing which is triggered by smoke detectors or the alarm being raised.

With Bilco REM hatch units the open area remains unobstructed which allows easy access to the roof for essential maintenance – meeting current legislation requirements EN12101-2 and BS5588.

Bilco also supplied T R Freeman with three LadderUp Safety Posts which provide safety ladder access through roof access hatches. A telescoping post attached to the top two rungs of a fixed ladder provides a secure hand-hold. This enables entry and exit from an opening in an upright and balanced position.

Bilco has established a reputation among architects, building engineers, specifiers and the construction trades for product and service excellence in providing the right access solution.

The company manufacturers and distributes a range of access doors and hatches, smoke vents and other safety-related products to meet specific customer requirements for construction and engineering industries across the world.

“We were delighted to supply a range of products for this important construction project at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology,” said James Fisher, Bilco UK/Europe general manager.

“We have wide-ranging experience over many years of working with clients to provide products to meet their specification, sometimes supplying bespoke models tailored to their specific requirements.”

The installation of smoke vents reflects the increasing emphasis being given to all aspects of design and safety by architects, specifiers, building owners and regulatory authorities.

“We are pleased the units have been well received and installed,” said James, “and that Bilco has met all the requirements for access hatches and smoke vents for the laboratory roofing.”

Work in the laboratory focuses on understanding biological processes at the molecular level. This knowledge is used to tackle specific issues and investigations into human health and disease.

The new building is being constructed by BAM Construction and replaces the existing laboratory after 50 years of use. The project is being partly paid for from royalties from antibody-related work at the laboratory.

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