Chiltern Vale Care Home: Testing Real-Life Scenarios

Chiltern Vale Integrated Health and Care Hub, located at the heart of Bedfordshire, is a 6,375 square metre Hub consisting of four storeys. This £43m new build project was designed to provide a space for care professionals to deliver health and wellbeing within the local community and offers a wide variety of services, including a community mental health and children’s service. The project’s scope also saw the construction of 98 homes for residents over 55, with a mixture of one- and two-bedroom apartments.

As the chosen manufacturer, we worked closely with Willmott Dixon, appointed by Central Bedfordshire Council to deliver this project, and the selected firestopping contractor, Fire Shield. The main objective was to design and build around suitably tested details, in line with industry regulations and best practices.

During the project, what was the main challenge?

After initial discussions, it became clear that the proposed wall systems did not have any sufficient test evidence for service penetrations. Therefore, the client’s main challenge was finding fire-tested solutions that met the requirements of the supporting construction types. What became more of a challenge was the proposed supporting construction types were fairly uncommon, for example, a Porotherm wall and a 60-minute single-skin plasterboard wall.

What solutions did we reach to resolve any issues?

This development was a prime example of industry best practices and how a project can progress if all parties are on the same page. Both Willmott Dixon and Fire Shield had implemented an early engagement approach to firestopping which ensured that any issues could be rectified as early as the design stage. And, ultimately, new solutions could be reached. Because of the effective cross-party communication at these early stages, we had sufficient time to fire test the proposed wall system to ensure there was primary test data. This allowed the project to proceed without the need to substitute the wall system. Alongside this, we helped to redesign other applications such as hollow core floors, and guided all parties through each process.

Another value-added service Fire Shield took advantage of was our toolbox talk training. This type of training ensures the installer understands the process of installing our firestopping products, what they look like correctly installed, and why they need to be installed as per the manufacturer’s guidance. This gave Fire Shield a broader understanding of our products and how to compliantly install them when they entered the build stage of the project.

What kind of success did the client enjoy with our services/ products?

By following a standardised process, the client successfully addressed various issues with minimal difficulty. In instances where a tested solution was unavailable for the application in question, the client explored the possibility of redesigning the services. This was not possible, but because an early engagement approach was adopted, this gave us the time and flexibility to test the application, recognising its frequent occurrence onsite.

Therefore, Fire Shield was able to proceed with the least amount of hassle and liability. With a thorough and compliant design to work to, this ensured the installation of the firestopping solutions was efficient. The training undertaken also ensured the products were installed compliantly with sufficient space and coordination.

Joshua Raper, Director at Fire Shield, said: “It was a breath of fresh air to work with Quelfire on this project. Their enthusiasm and drive to get it right the first time was apparent when engaging about tested details. Because of the early engagement approach we took, we had complete trust in the details.”

Chiltern Vale Integrated Health and Care Hub was designed and built around suitably tested products, ensuring the protection of both people and property.

Hayden Wills, Senior Building Manager at Willmott Dixon, said: “You served our team extremely well on this project. This was during the pre-construction and construction phase where we needed your services for liaison with the design team and fire engineers, and any site support during the project. You responded tremendously quickly to any queries we had on site with clear and concise information relating to your test data and other regulations. Considering the importance and the everchanging industry we work in with regards to fire, the service we got and continue to get is remarkable and one of the reasons we continue using Quelfire.”


Do you need more support when it comes to firestopping?

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