MSA FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEM ACCESSORIES(3)
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The fire industry has made it absolutely clear, led by authorized bodies including the BAFE Fire Safety Register, that the current pandemic does not remove the need to comply with any fire safety requirements under the Building Regulations. As we now look beyond the lockdown period, John Allam, Operations Director at Amthal Fire and Security reviews the raft of new proposals demonstrating the Government and industry’s commitment to compliant fire safety and new immediate demands placed on responsible persons. Multi-Occupancy residential buildings Whilst the second phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has been put on hold until July at the earliest over coronavirus restrictions, the government has continued its quest to effect change and bring the Fire Safety Bill and Building Safety Bill into legislation. While the Building Safety Bill will ‘place new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products’, both bills aim to strengthen the ‘whole regulatory system’ for both building and fire safety. The Fire Safety Bill will apply to England and Wales, to amend the Fire Safety Order 2005 and seeks to clarify responsibility for reducing fire risk in multi-occupancy residential buildings. The details of the Fire Safety Bill, which has now had its second reading in the House of Commons, includes recommendations of regular inspections of lifts and sprinkler systems for buildings over 11m tall. Quarterly fire door inspections Building owners will now face ‘enforcement action’ from emergency services if they do not manage fire risk Significantly, it also introduces compulsory quarterly fire door inspections, which is a hugely significant development in its own right, to influence an industry where this is no specific legislation that requires fire doors to be checked. The Fire Safety Bill intends to ensure evacuation plans are reviewed, regularly updated and communicated to residents in a ‘form that they can be reasonably be expected to understand.’ And it highlights the importance of individual flat entrance doors, where the external walls of the building have unsafe cladding, comply with current standards. This will play a key part in increasing residents’ fire safety, whereby building owners will now face ‘enforcement action’ from emergency services if they do not manage fire risk in a building’s structure. Improving the fire safety of buildings In addition, the government is consulting with the National Fire Chiefs Council to begin testing evacuation alert systems for high-rise blocks of flats, which could support fire and rescue services’ operational response by alerting residents if they need to escape. The National Fire Chiefs Council to begin testing evacuation alert systems for high-rise blocks of flats The new program will be governed by a Building Safety Regulator (BSR) that will initially be led by Dame Judith Hackitt during the set up phase, who will be tasked with improving the fire safety of buildings. Launched by The RT Hon Robert Jenrick MP Secretary Of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, he cited the new program as taking, “Ambitious steps to further reform the building safety system with the biggest changes in a generation to ensure residents are safe in their homes.” He added: “This new regime will put residents’ safety at its heart, and follows the announcement of the unprecedented £1 billion fund for removing unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings in the budget.” Major regulatory decisions The BSR will be responsible for all major regulatory decisions made at key points during design, construction, occupation and refurbishment of buildings. And such decisions and obligations must be upheld and maintained throughout a development’s life. The new safety case regime will apply not only to new buildings, but also to buildings that are already in use" In Dame Judith’s own words: “When introduced by the new regulator, the new safety case regime will apply not only to new buildings, but also to buildings that are already in use and occupied. If those buildings were built to poor standards in the past, it will not be the case that you can simply say ‘well it complied with building regulations at the time’. The test will be different. The test will be ‘is this building safe to be occupied?’ and, if not, what are you going to do to improve it?’ … People will be asked to think about what they can do, what is reasonable and what is practicable to do in order to improve the safety of a given building.” Regulating the fire safety industry Both Hackitt and the Government want the BSR to be set up in shadow form before the Building Safety Bill becomes law. The plan is to put the bill before Parliament by the autumn, despite the challenges thrown by the Pandemic. The new legislation proposed by Government will undoubtedly ensure that buildings and those that live and work in them are maintained to be fire safe. In the words of BAFE CEO Stephen Adams: “The time is right to help better regulate the fire safety industry to change end user behavior and create a UK that's safer from the devastating effects of fire.” As BAFE further attests, as lockdown measures begin to be lifted, there will be a need for the competent maintenance of fire safety systems/provisions and fire risk assessment work. Fire doors and risk assessments Amthal is working closely with building owners and managers across the UK to deliver the benefits of safer environment This means for those who own or manage residential buildings, will soon be ‘held into account’ if they do not ensure fire safety in their buildings, and the requirements will impact further on costs and resource allocation, for investigating buildings and ensuring compliance. There is a definite sense to be proactive in acceptance of the new impending legislation. But the concern cited amongst building owners is the industry’s ability to undertake the volume of assessments required, given the lack of current lack of specific legislation on specific elements such as fire doors and risk assessments, together with the steep expectations for fire strategy and evacuation plans. Amthal is working closely with building owners and managers across the UK to deliver the benefits of safer environment within a holistic fire safety approach. Working in partnership, means taking the time to understand the implications of the Government’s Fire Safety Bill, alongside the implications of the Building Safety Bill and BSR program. This way, we can ensure responsible persons confidently achieve all operational requirements for the ultimate benefit of residents’ peace of mind.
New government legislation due to come into force in the United Kingdom on July 1st will require electrical installations in privately rented properties to be tested and inspected at least once every 5 years. The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector Regulations (2020) will require landlords to enlist qualified electricians to complete inspections and provide certification to tenants – or face fines of up to £30,000. While the risk of fire can never be entirely eliminated, the new legislation will introduce higher levels of safety and ensure that one of the primary causes of fire – electrical malfunctions – is regularly tested for. There are a number of procedures and regulations in place for when a fire has already started, but this new law will help to reduce the chances of it getting to that point. After all, prevention is the best form of protection. No safety procedure or response plan will ever fully prepare someone for the reality of a fire. However, a comprehensive prevention strategy and use of the latest technologies to quickly detect and respond to a fire can at least reduce the potential risk to both life and property. Defensive detection A fire can spring from many sources. Current standards do a good job of ensuring properties are well equipped to defend against fires created by overcurrent caused by overloads and short circuits. A comprehensive prevention strategy and use of the latest technologies to quickly detect and respond to a fire can at least reduce potential risk However, electrical fires can also result from mistakes made during the installation process, namely loose cabling or aging circuits that will not be detected by overcurrent protection. Indeed, a defective or worn insulation is the cause of 14% of all electrical fires in buildings. The danger of landlords only performing the bare minimum to protect their buildings is that, should a fire start from a source they haven’t accounted for, the loss and disruption to property could be devastating. For maximum protection, individuals need reliable, innovative products that excel beyond the minimum standards to prevent a fire from starting in the first place. The pending legislation will add to this safety from the start. It will require landlords to use qualified electricians when installing, repairing and maintaining systems, benefitting both landlords and tenants by mitigating electrical issues and instilling greater confidence. Protection against insulation faults The risk of cable insulation faults grows over time and the consequences can be severe. Low-intensity arc faults are more likely to occur in humid, dusty environments, causing injury and deadly fires if precautions aren’t taken. Protection against insulation faults within cables can be assured by residual current devices (RCD), which are triggered by earth leakage currents exceeding 300mA. For maximum protection, individuals need reliable, innovative products that excel beyond the minimum standards to prevent a fire from starting Additionally, final circuits in critical locations (as recommended in IEC 60364), should be protected by an arc fault detection device (AFDD). This is a circuit breaker that automatically cuts off the electricity supply when it detects an arc fault in the circuit. By immediately stopping the supply, AFDDs stop arc faults from reaching temperatures where fires can break out. As well as ensuring that private tenants feel more safe and secure, the new legislation represents an opportunity for electricians to secure more work and develop their skills. Going forward, as the demand for electricians in the private rented sector rises, we expect to see greater opportunity for electrical engineers to win long running contracts with landlords and property managers. Fire may be a risk, but it is not unavoidable. This new legislation promises greater peace of mind for private tenants by ensuring that electrical standards are met and hazards reduced. With expert knowledge and the correct approach to electrical fire prevention, a fire can be extinguished before any damage is done.
There have been challenges with completing fire safety maintenance and installation projects during the current Covid-19 crisis, most notably as a result of the difficulties for installers in safely accessing sites. Many construction projects halted for lockdown and this resulted in approximately 50% of the British installers we work with having to furlough staff. The challenges, however, are not just restricted to the UK. With Kentec panels sold in more than 90 countries across the world, we have seen varying challenges on a global scale. Throughout this crisis, fire safety continues to be paramount and as such key players, such as Kentec, are rightly considered essential businesses. We have continued manufacturing life safety systems throughout the current difficulties and it has been our mission to ensure that where new installations can take place, our panels are readily available to installers, as well as the expertise and technical support that goes with it for ongoing maintenance. Orders for spare parts have also, in fact, been consistently high during this period, as installers have been able to complete minor upgrades safely and end users have taken advantage of the period to do so. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines so that customers have not experienced any supply issues with any life safety systems or parts has been a major success. Critical Infrastructure We’ve personally seen an increase in sales for our industry-leading Sigma XT extinguishant panels during this crisis as it is widely used within critical infrastructure, in sectors such as telecommunications, data centres and healthcare. Adapting manufacturing processes to align with government guidelines has been a major success During lockdown, with a vast proportion of the population working from home and relying on the internet to conduct their business and virtual meetings, it has been more important than ever that there is no loss in service in broadband and telephone services. This means that highly reliable and robust fire extinguishing systems are essential to protect essential workers and vital equipment – not only from the risk of fire, but also from the catastrophic damage that false alarms and the release of extinguishant could have, for example, on server room equipment. Understandably, this has resulted in considerable investment in fire systems in these sectors. Glasgow’s Louisa Jordan NHS Facility The recent fire safety installation at the Louisa Jordan NHS Facility Glasgow – located at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) which provides more than 500 COVID-19 beds – is just one example of essential fire safety work being completed during lockdown. Vipond Fire Protection Ltd installed a total of seven Sigma XT gas suppression panels, and 32 detectors located within the electrical room that serves the 10,000m2 facility. The project was completed in what was an extremely tight seven-day turnaround, delivering proven reliability within a crucial healthcare facility. Kentec's Experience Operating Through Covid-19 We have learned that operating through this crisis and supporting installations that are going ahead is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration. For example, we’re supporting our distributors by shipping directly to their customers, when it is not safe or feasible to open their warehouses. Operating through this crisis is best achieved through detailed planning, communication and collaboration Our own workforce is also adapting to changing work patterns and demands. In the factory, at a practical level, this has meant implementing new shifts schedules starting from six o’clock in the morning to ten o’clock at night to ensure there are never too many people on site at one time. We have staggered arrival, leaving and break times to mitigate any risks involved at entrances, and we were lucky that space allowed us to make the canteen area bigger and increase the number of toilets from three to ten. We have moved work benches to ensure a safe distance between each employee, and where workflows make two-metre distancing impossible we have installed six- and eight-foot screens. Face masks have been provided to all staff and we are also trialling face shields for further comfort and protection. Our office staff have worked from home, and where going to the office has been necessary, they have similarly adhered to staggered arrival times. Internal communication has been essential and I’m immensely proud and extremely thankful for the positivity, proactivity and support that employees have shown through this process. We have also adapted our Kentec Installation Partner (KIP) scheme to be fully remote to ensure training and support is there when it is needed for our installers. We are hosting webinars as another forum to solve installer queries remotely, and our new range of Taktis panels have highly advanced networking capabilities and a vast suite of communication tools that support remote monitoring. It is therefore critical that our installers fully understand how to help end users realise the benefits such panels can deliver and to ensure their installations are completed successfully. Looking Ahead To The New Normal Remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis We feel that remote monitoring will become increasingly important beyond this crisis and the advanced communication capabilities of panels will be essential for both installers and end users alike. For installers it reduces the amount of time required on site, because they can access the system remotely to find out what equipment or parts they need to take with them. Similarly, for end users they can access systems remotely to check any alerts or queries off site if necessary. It remains to be seen how the rest of 2020 will pan out, but where projects have been necessarily put on hold, because of the essential nature of our industry we are confident that installers will be able to quickly and easily return to these projects when it is safe and feasible to do so. Communication, collaboration and support will continue to be essential in mitigating the challenges in our future ‘new normal.’
MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) provided 13 volunteer fire departments with needed personal protective equipment through MSA’s 2019 Globe Gear Giveaway. Each department received four sets of new, state-of-the-art turnout gear along with four helmets to better protect their members. This year marks over $1 million worth of gear that has been donated to volunteer fire departments in need since 2012. In total, 507 sets of turnout gear have been awarded to 108 departments. “Protecting firefighters is what we do at MSA,” said Eleni Lucido, vice president and general manager of MSA’s business in the U.S. and Canada. “For more than a century, we’ve been committed to providing workers all around the world with the equipment they need to help keep them safe. We’re proud to partner with the NVFC to provide state-of-the-art turnout gear to departments in need.” Struggle funding Resources “Volunteer fire departments often struggle to fund the resources and equipment necessary to do their jobs safely and effectively,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “We are grateful for the generosity of MSA, Globe, and DuPont in providing critical, lifesaving gear to the dedicated volunteers who serve their local communities. Through this incredible program, we have been able to increase the safety and protection for hundreds of firefighters throughout the U.S. and Canada.” 13 percent of departments do not have enough personal protective clothing for all of their emergency responders According to a needs assessment published by the National Fire Protection Association in 2016, 72 percent of fire departments reported that some of their personal protective clothing was at least 10 years old, and 13 percent of departments do not have enough personal protective clothing for all of their emergency responders. The data also shows that the need is greatest in small communities that are protected primarily by volunteer firefighters. In 2018, the NVFC began asking program applicants if their department had boots, gloves, helmets, and hoods for all of their firefighters. Nearly 50 percent of 2018 gear recipients indicated that they did not. To help address this issue, MSA donated four helmets to each winning department for the first time in 2019 and will continue to do so in 2020. Recipients of 2019 MSA Globe Gear Giveaway The recipients in the 2019 MSA Globe Gear Giveaway are: Aguila (AZ) Volunteer Fire Department Balsam-Willets-Ochre Hill Volunteer Fire Department (Sylva, NC) Canal Fulton (OH) Fire Department Fuego Volunteer Fire Company (Billings, MT) Harbour Grace (NL, Canada) Volunteer Fire Brigade Jacobstown (NJ) Fire Company Kenduskeag (ME) Fire Rescue Rocky Creek Volunteer Fire Department (Burton, TX) Rutland Volunteer Fire Company (Black River, NY) Salcha (AK) Fire & Rescue Stella Rural Fire Department (Rocky Comfort, MO) Utica (MS) Volunteer Fire Department Witt (IL) Volunteer Fire Department To be eligible for the 2019 Giveaway, departments had to be over 50 percent volunteer, serve a population of 25,000 or less, be located in the U.S. or Canada, be a member of the NVFC, and demonstrate significant need for new gear. MSA provided complimentary NVFC membership to the first 500 applicants to help departments meet the membership requirement. The application period for MSA’s 2020 Globe Gear Giveaway will open in February. Thirteen departments will each receive four new sets of turnout gear along with four helmets to increase firefighter safety.
MSA Safety Incorporated announced that its next generation G1 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) has received U.S. government approval from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and certification from the Safety Equipment Institute (SEI) as compliant to the 2018 Edition of the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 1981 performance standards. With this approval, the company can begin shipping the new NFPA-compliant SCBA immediately. Earlier this year, the SEI, in collaboration with the NIOSH, established a “Common Announcement Date” at which time all breathing apparatus manufacturers that successfully completed testing would receive SEI certification notification at the same time. Demand For New Breathing Apparatus Technology The Common Announcement Date, which was originally anticipated in the second half of August 2019, was postponed to October 9, 2019. Late last week, all breathing apparatus manufactures who had successfully passed required testing, which included MSA, were notified that the Common Announcement Date would be moved to September 30. “We are extremely pleased that the common announcement date was expedited,” said Jason Traynor, MSA's General Manager for Global Respiratory Protection and Fire Helmets. “The demand for new breathing apparatus technology in the U.S. Fire Service has been very solid, and today we’re excited to know that we can continue to help meet that demand without any further delays related to product approvals and certifications.” NFPA 1981 Is The Standard On SCBA As a matter of background, NFPA 1981 is the standard on SCBA for emergency services, establishing respiratory protection and functional requirements. The 2018 revisions in NFPA 1981 include changing the connection requirements for the SCBA regulator, now requiring two distinct actions (i.e., push and pull) to disconnect the regulator from the facepiece. Other changes include a modification to data logging requirements for breathing rate and cylinder pressure.
Many volunteer departments are forced to make do with an inadequate amount of turnout gear or with worn-out, non-compliant gear they can’t afford to replace. That’s why MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are working together again in 2019 to distribute new turnout gear to volunteer fire departments through MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway Program. This annual program began in 2012 to help departments in need properly outfit their crew. To date, the program has delivered 455 sets to 95 departments. NVFC Partners With MSA And DuPont “The NVFC is excited to partner with MSA and DuPont again this year on our annual giveaway,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “Proper turnouts are essential to ensure the safety of our boots on the ground, but many volunteer departments struggle to provide adequate protection to their firefighters. We are grateful to MSA and DuPont for their generosity in giving back to those who serve.” MSA is pleased to continue this longstanding partnership with DuPont and the NVFC to provide advanced turnout gear to volunteer fire departments in need" “MSA is pleased to continue this longstanding partnership with DuPont and the NVFC to provide advanced turnout gear to volunteer fire departments in need,” said chief operating officer of MSA’s Globe firefighter protective apparel Tom Vetras. “For more than 100 years we’ve been dedicated to protecting those who protect us, so when there are first responders in need – we’re proud to be able to help.” Firefighters’ Protection and Safety “With DuPont’s continued focus on protecting firefighters, we are proud and humbled to partner alongside MSA and the NVFC on this much needed gear giveaway program,” said John Richard, vice president and general manager, DuPont. “Ensuring that these brave men and women are protected as they selflessly serve their communities is paramount to DuPont, and we look forward to the kick-off of another successful Globe Gear Giveaway campaign.” The 2019 application period for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway is now open. 13 departments will each receive four sets of new gear, for a total of 52 sets. The first 500 applicants will also receive a one-year NVFC membership, courtesy of MSA. Departmental Criteria To be eligible to apply for MSA’s Globe Gear Giveaway, departments must meet the following criteria: Be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer (over 50 percent) Serve a population of 25,000 or less Be located in the U.S. or Canada and legally organized under state/province law Demonstrate a need for the gear Department or person applying must be a member of the NVFC. To help departments meet the membership criteria, MSA will provide a complimentary NVFC Membership to the first 500 applicants.