Bristol Royal Infirmary opens firefighting system on rooftop helipad

Bristol Royal Infirmary has announced that a new Deck Integrated Fire Fighting System (DIFFS) is now fully operational on its rooftop helipad and has received a check worth £574,023 (US$729,195) from the HELP Appeal — the only charity in the country dedicated to funding hospital helipads — to cover its entire cost. The HELP Appeal pledged it would pay for the fire suppression system, as soon as its installation was approved by the Civil Aviation Authority International (CAAi).

From left: Clive Jenkins, operations manager; Robert Bertram, chief executive of the HELP Appeal; Carly Palmer, assistant director of estates; Andy Lockyer, emergency department and helicopter emergency medical service consultant. Bristol Photo
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Typically used in offshore oil rigs, the DIFFS can extinguish a fire within 15 seconds by using a series of nozzles built into the helipad which spray water and foam at the touch of a button. It allows air ambulance crew to continue treating and transferring a critically ill patient to the emergency department as quickly as possible.

The DIFFS reduces the need for more traditional fire management measures on the helipad, which have a greater running cost over time.

Bristol Royal Infirmary’s helipad, which opened in 2014, is the fourth hospital helipad in the entire country to have the system in place.

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.”

Carly Palmer, assistant director of estates said:

The Deck Integrated Fire Fighting System (DIFFS) in action. Bristol Photo
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“The introduction of this state-of-the-art system will be hugely beneficial to the Trust, as we’re the major trauma centre for paediatrics in the South West, as well as a specialist center for adult cardiology.

“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.

“With the money the charity has donated, we’re also currently working with the CAAi and the helipad manufacturer to trial a new lighting system for the helipad. Once approved, we will be leading the way for the use of technology for on-shore helipads. This is an incredibly exciting development, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the HELP Appeal.”

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