What I specified for…RNLI Tower London 

Dan Hawkins RegAI at Door Controls Direct shares the specification on the RNLI Tower on the Thames

Dan Hawkins

The RNLI is a UK-based charity that saves lives at sea. Who wouldn’t want to support this cause, create, and cultivate a long-standing supportive working relationship with them? This, combined with the RNLI head office being so local to us in Poole, Dorset, they’ve always been a perfect partnership for Door Controls Direct. 

Floating challenge

With over 230 lifeboat stations, ancillary buildings, and storage spaces, there are always ironmongery requirements for the RNLI. With a wealth of buildings to manage in challenging locations facing the extremes of the UK weather, it’s not always an easy specification. All of that was blown out of the water (excuse the pun) by Studio Four Architects Ltd getting in touch about the latest lifeboat station – RNLI Tower.

The unique lifeboat station, floating on the Thames

What a project, what a journey! From receiving the initial plans through to the recent supply, it was a challenge for all involved, but one that saw the launch of an incredible life-saving floating station on the River Thames, London in June this year.

We have been supplying door hardware and locking systems to the RNLI for over three decades but this project was unique in its requirements. Staffed 24/7, there were some key differences in how physical access was managed compared to a regular RNLI station specification.

Hybrid ironmongery solution

Standard specification Hewi door furniture, hi-load hinges, and mechanical locking were suitable for some of the more usual areas of the station, floating or not, but we had to think outside of the box when it came to the external doors.

In a ‘shout’ situation, single action egress for RNLI staff and volunteers is required to facilitate a swift response to an emergency call, but doors need to remain secure to protect the premises. Mortice locks and cylinders were supplemented with a tailored access control system. This was the sticking point of sticking points with this specification.

Stainless steel hinges were order of the day

At Door Controls Direct, we’re no strangers to access control but the unique requirements of an emergency response charity, coupled with a floating structure, made us scratch our heads for a little while. However, working alongside the architect, client, joiner, and various contractors, we got it over the line and working as it needs to with no snags or teething issues. 

For all of our customers, we’re always here for aftersales support, project snagging, O&M documentation, and any on-going supply. With the RNLI though it’s always so much more than that. We continue to be a proud partner of theirs, with decades of history that we continue to build on, and helping them now to innovate their network of facilities to enable them to do the life-critical work they carry out on a daily basis. 

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