THE ABEL INTERFACE

Note - This website is currently being updated to take into account recent changes in the Church of England rules relating to the installation of ringing simulators in church towers.

If you are teaching ringing in your tower and wish to permanently install a simulator, then note that as from 1st April 2020 it is necessary to obtain permission to install a simulator in a Church of England church.

Installing a simulator does NOT require a full faculty, but it does require the approval of the Archdeacon.

The wording in List B of the Church Of England Faculty Rules relating to the installation of a ringing simulator is somewhat unclear. Different interpretations of the rules across different Dioceses have resulted, the main difficulty being with the formal classification of simulator’s wiring and who should undertake the installation.

I have since studied relevant published technical standards and have consulted qualified professional sources (many of whom are also ringers), and the Central Council’s Stewardship and Management Workgroup.

The consensus is that for fixed simulator installations, then a qualified electrician does not have to get involved with installation, however wiring does have to be done in such a way as to not compromise the integrity of the building or put the PCC at risk.

Safety aspects of BS7671 (the electrical installation regulations) must be followed. The regulations include choice of cable type to minimise the risks of shock, burns, explosion and fire, but these are clearly more relevant to mains installations and not for low voltage “data” cables such as used in a simulator. BS7671 does stipulate that ALL cables must be fixed in such a way as to avoid a premature collapse in the event of fire. The way this can be achieved will vary from tower tower, but would probably mean the use of metal or fire retardant clips to hold any cables in place.

Many Diocese are now using the Church of England on-line Faculty System, and are encouraging the use of this to record all work in towers, whether List A (items which do not need any permission ) or List B (items which need permission from the Archdeacon).

Here are some things to consider when applying for “List B” permission to install a simulator :-

-         Specify a suitable place to put the mains powered system components close to an existing mains socket in the ringing room (These are the computer, speakers and simulator power supply)

-         Keep the power and data wiring neat, tidy and unobtrusive, and bundle with any existing cables.

-         Cables must not cause additional safety issues, eg trip hazards, so routing them around walls where possible is advisable.

-         Ground floor ringing chambers which are in public areas of the church should remove the cables and computer when not in use.

-         Wireless systems are an alternative to the use of visible data cables. Note that WiFi routers are “List A”.

-         “AV” equipment such as the computer and speakers are also “List A” items.

-         It is very unlikely that simulator wiring will have any adverse impact on the effectiveness of lightning protection systems, however cables should be unplugged when not in use.

If you have any queries, then your Guild/Association may have somebody who can offer assistance, or there could even be an existing simulator system in your area which you can visit.

Once approval from the Archdeacon is obtained and the simulator has been installed, then the mains powered components of the system (including the computer and speakers) need to be adopted into the Church’s electrical equipment testing procedures, often known as PAT testing. This covers all appliances whether they are portable or not, for example the organ blower.

The above is not just my opinion on the matter. It has been seen by David Knight, Senior Church Buildings Officer at The Church of England and he agrees with my interpretation of the rules.

You can find out more on this new requirement *** HERE ***

While the new pages are under construction, then the previous page can be found *** HERE ***