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Welcoming with open doors at Missionaries of Charity

“The sisters are happy because the fire officer is happy, so they can tick another task off the list!”

Missionaries of Charity is a religious congregation of nuns founded by Mother Teresa. It promises to give ‘wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor’.

The Edinburgh Missionaries of Charity convent is a five-storey building in a picturesque Georgian crescent. Five days a week the sisters and their volunteers provide meals to the homeless.

Between 50 and 65 homeless people are fed at each meal, with around 10 others serving and clearing away.

The dining room is located in the basement, with access doors from the corridor and to the commercial kitchen and store room.

With so many people in the basement at mealtimes, it’s a very busy area. To avoid the room feeling hot and stuffy and to keep foot traffic flowing, the doors were held open on hooks.

When the local fire inspector visited the premises he advised that the hooks on fire doors were not compliant with fire regulations and needed to be removed. A solution was needed to hold the fire doors open legally and safely, as keeping them closed all the time was not practical in such a bustling environment.

Colin Beer, owner of CJ Solutions was asked to find the answer. He spoke to Fireco, who sent an engineer to do a survey of the Missionaries of Charity building.

Colin said: “I looked at a number of different options with Andy, the Fireco engineer. For what was needed in the building, we decided that Dorgard Pro would work best.”

Dorgard Pro holds fire doors open, releasing them to close when the fire alarm sounds. It features a separate Transmitter that is directly wired into the fire alarm panel.

Colin said: “The Missionaries of Charity building has a hard-wired fire alarm system serving the whole building. Andy placed his demo Transmitter on top of fire alarm panel which is on the ground floor. We walked around all 18 doors that needed Dorgard Pro and the transmitter linked to all of them, whether they were in the basement, on the ground floor or the first floor. I was very impressed.”

 Magnet system too costly

“I had looked at a hardwired magnet system but the cost was phenomenal. As well as buying the magnets themselves, there’s the expense and disruption of raggling cables into the walls and then all the decorating costs on top of that.”

“Dorgard Pro was far and away the best option. I was new to the product but I easily installed it myself — it’s not rocket science! It really is a very good system.”

“As it’s such an old building, some of the floors were a little uneven. We just installed a floor plate in these cases, and the Dorgard Pro units worked perfectly.”

“Another plus with Dorgard Pro is that it is directly connected to the fire alarm panel and radio-activated. It only releases the doors in the event of a fire alarm. Other systems I’ve seen react to loud noises and close the doors when you don’t want them to which wouldn’t be suitable in the noisy environment of the dining room.”

Colin said: “Everything is working fine. We’ve tested them by setting off the fire alarm and Dorgard Pro released the doors automatically. The sisters are happy because the fire officer is happy, so they can tick another task off the list! Dorgard Pro does what it says on the tin. It’s very good.”

Fireco has solutions to hold fire doors open legally and safely

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