The high-profile award-winning Weston Library is the new state-of-the-art reading, teaching and storage facility within Oxford University. Formerly known as The New Bodleian Library, The Weston Library is home to documents and treasures of national importance, this facility will be used by internationally-renowned academics, students and the public.

Its precious contents, staff and visitors need outstanding passive fire protection without compromise.

Scope of works

  • Automatic fire alarm system

  • Smoke and heat detection
  • Bespoke cause and effect programming
  • Disabled refuge
  • Air sampling
  • Fire shutters
  • Security device interface
  • Manual call points

  • Remote signalling

“Chris Lewis Fire & Security were a real asset to the project and proved that our decision to work with them was well founded. They worked hard
as part of a large construction team that delivered a fantastic project for the University
of Oxford. They continued
to develop the design of
the passive fire protection throughout the lifetime of the project and integrated their systems with both the active fire protection and security systems”

Keith Vance, Operations Director, Mace Group

Fire protection at the Weston LibraryProject Background

The impressive eight storey building has been developed to include facilities such as exhibition spaces, reading rooms and lecture halls. CLFS designed a passive fire solution that met the highest life- safety standards and of course all legal requirements. This passive fire prevention system works seamlessly to prevent or slow the spread of fire, limiting any damage and providing the best safety for the library’s contents and visitors.

This much-anticipated project required CLFS to modify the design as necessary during the course of the build, to accommodate ongoing changes in the architects’ plans (whilst always continuing to comply with rigorous University standards). Our flexible planning and design approach ensured these changes were accommodated and the system was delivered on time.                                                                            

The targets for this project included:

  • First-time working solution 

  • Ready on time for the opening by Her Majesty The Queen 

  • Zero avoidable false alarms 

  • BSI standards adherence 

The Solution

Chris Lewis Fire and Security are experienced in creating bespoke fire protection which enabled the creation of an adaptable design that meant we could meet the architects’ changes along the way. The design also cleared a number of regular and demanding external audits. 
Our passive fire solution provided:

  • Outstanding protection for staff and visitors 

  • Rapid-response management during and after the project 

  • Protection for disabled visitors during a fire 

  • Sustained maintenance of security control during an alarm 

westonInterface with active fire protection systems 
There is a very wide range of environments within the building each with different daily routines. By taking this into account we provided a solution that acknowledges the varied environment, time of day and other expected behaviours. 


When the building opened its doors to the public, the University was assured of a completely reliable, high-quality passive fire protection system. Our system gives outstanding protection to the visitors and staff of this great library. It allows them safe access to the lecture facilities, reading rooms and keeps all of its historic artefacts and treasures safe.

Our design takes advantage of the latest technologies available to ensure the fire and security systems work together seamlessly, whilst still providing flexibility and control.

Facts and Figures

Our innovative installation provided:

  • 36 highly-sensitive aspirating smoke-detection systems installed in key areas, with over 2,500m of sampling pipe at multiple heights 

  • Over 1,000 automatic smoke and heat detection devices plus 100 manual call-points programmed using an inter-relational cause-and-effect matrix for maximum protection 

  • Direct information-feed into the overall University Security Control Room for rapid response 

  • Strategic fire shutters installed to instantly compartmentalise the building to maintain fire integrity

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