The firefighting system conversion from manual to DIFFS was carried out by Bayards UP, a subsidiary of Bayards Aluminium Constructies BV, which specialises in helipad inspections, upgrades and maintenance services.
The instalment of the DIFFS was made possible by a generous donation of £574,023.95 by the HELP Appeal – a charity dedicated to funding hospital helipads. The donation funded the entire cost of the firefighting system and, in addition, the HELP Appeal has pledged to pay for the fire suppression system as soon as its installation is approved by the Civil Aviation Authority International (CAAi).
Robert Bertram, Chief Executive of the HELP Appeal, said: “The HELP Appeal aims to fund DIFFS on all hospital rooftop helipads across the country as this state-of-the-art technology ensures the highest level of protection. Bristol Royal Infirmary’s helipad will now be one of the safest in the country.”
Traditionally used on offshore oil rig helidecks, but becoming more and more common on onshore helipads as well, the DIFFS can extinguish a fire within 15 seconds by using a series of pop-up nozzles built into the helipad that spray a mixture of water and foam at the touch of a button. Compared to manual firefighting systems, DIFFS are a significantly safer option, as they have a much higher fire retardant capacity and eliminate further human intervention to fight a fire. In addition to increasing the safety, having a DIFFS installed also significantly reduces the staffing costs. With firefighting teams no longer required to fight a fire, a Deck Integrated Fire Fighting System saves the hospital approximately £250,000 per year, making it an upgrade that is not only easy to justify in terms of safety, but also in terms of cost-efficiency.
“Our helipad is vital to these services and, in the past, we’ve had to close the helipad due to staff availability. We now have much greater resilience with the new system, and this wouldn’t have been possible without the kind generosity of the HELP Appeal charity,” said Assistant Director of Estates Carly Palmer. She added that, with the money that the charity has donated, they are also working alongside the CAAi to trial a new lighting system for the helipad. In addition to firefighting system upgrades, Bayards UP also offers these helipad lighting system upgrades. “This is an incredibly exciting development, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the HELP Appeal,” she concluded.