Fire Suppression System Accessories - Expert Commentary

Fire Safety & Building Safety Bills Not To be Overlooked During Pandemic
Fire Safety & Building Safety Bills Not To be Overlooked During Pandemic

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.

Safe As Houses: Using Technology To Reduce The Risk Of Fires
Safe As Houses: Using Technology To Reduce The Risk Of Fires

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.

Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic
Maintaining Fire Safety Through A Pandemic

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.’

Latest Gamewell-FCI news

Honeywell Announces Integrating VESDA-E Smoke Detection Technology With NOTIFIER And Gamewell-FCI Fire Systems
Honeywell Announces Integrating VESDA-E Smoke Detection Technology With NOTIFIER And Gamewell-FCI Fire Systems

The VESDA portfolio is the most widely used advanced smoke detection technology in telecommunications and data centre applications Honeywell, a pioneer in Connected Buildings, announced its advanced smoke detection technology – capable of detecting and reporting smoke at its inception, before a fire develops – can now integrate with some of the most widely used fire panels in commercial buildings without the need for additional hardware or wiring. Combining Intelligent VESDA-E detection technology with NOTIFIER and Gamewell-FCI fire systems allows owners and operators to easily upgrade Connected Buildings to improve occupant safety. “The true measure of innovative technology in this industry is the ability to keep people safe faster and smarter, and VESDA has proven itself in this area for decades,” said Samir Jain, general manager at Honeywell Fire Americas. “Combining this advanced detection technology with proven legacy brands like NOTIFIER and Gamewell-FCI shows exactly what a smart building fire detection system looks like.” Prior notification about potential fire The Intelligent VESDA-E detector resides on the Signaling Line Circuit (SLC) loop of a fire panel and directly communicates with NOTIFIER and Gamewell-FCI fire systems. Unlike traditional spot detectors, VESDA-E’s patented technology actively draws in air from the environment and can notify building staff to potential fires before they develop. The technology is ideal when very early warning of a potential fire is needed and for highly secure environments where routine maintenance and servicing would disrupt daily operations. The VESDA portfolio, which Honeywell acquired from Xtralis in 2016, is the most widely used advanced smoke detection technology in telecommunications and data centre applications. It also is increasingly used in the healthcare, education, retail, logistics and transportation industries. Improving safety of building occupants From advanced fire protection solutions to smarter security capabilities, Honeywell helps owners and operators leverage building connectivity to simplify management of increasingly complex building environments and improve occupants’ safety. Honeywell’s portfolio consists of the most-trusted and best-known brands in the security and fire safety industries; each designed to be easy to use, install and maintain – even in the most demanding and critical environments. Being among the most widely used fire panels in commercial buildings, NOTIFIER and Gamewell-FCI customers can now maximise their protection capabilities with Intelligent VESDA-E technology.

Honeywell’s Addressable Fire Detection Devices Improve Protection For Modern Buildings
Honeywell’s Addressable Fire Detection Devices Improve Protection For Modern Buildings

The new line of addressable detectors includes photo, photo/thermal, and heat detectors, along with bases and accessories Honeywell, a pioneer in Connected Buildings, is helping customers get ahead of upcoming building code changes and improve fire detection through a new line of addressable smoke and heat detection devices available across all Honeywell Fire brands. The devices improve detection of fires involving synthetic materials that are commonly used in modern buildings, and offer improved system reliability against false alarms. In addition, these devices have been designed to meet new industry requirements that go into effect in the United States in 2020 – the UL 268 7th Edition standards – ensuring a smooth transition to the new codes. “Honeywell’s newest fire detection devices step up to the challenge of modern construction methods and codes with the latest technology in fire safety,” said Samir Jain, general manager for Fire Americas, Honeywell Home and Building Technologies. “Serving customers in more than 10 million buildings around the world, we were able to redesign our devices with an unwavering focus on customers and end users. Our products across all of our fire brands are easy to install and use with a lower cost of ownership without sacrificing safety.” Photo/thermal and heat detectors Whether it’s a photoelectric detector or more advanced multi-criteria solution, the Honeywell devices provide advanced features for fire or life safety systems So-called ‘addressable’ detectors connect to a fire alarm control panel and are assigned an address so responders can more easily locate the source of an alarm. The new line of addressable detectors includes photo, photo/thermal, and heat detectors, along with bases and accessories. Additional specialty detectors, including higher-sensitivity and combined carbon monoxide detectors, will be available in the coming months. Each spot-type detector is designed for ease-of-use, simple installation, and project flexibility. With varying base sizes, an expanded colour offering and modern design, the new line supports contemporary aesthetic needs to fit any environment. Whether it’s a photoelectric detector or more advanced multi-criteria solution, the Honeywell devices provide advanced features for fire or life safety systems. Beneficial to the small and medium sized facilities            Honeywell addressable smoke detectors and accessories can be used in commercial building spaces across the country including offices, hotels, schools, airports, hospitals, high rise, retail, stadiums, military buildings and more. Small- to medium-sized facilities can benefit from photo and heat detectors in a contemporary white colour to meet popular design demands. Diverse commercial environments can integrate broader offerings, like remote test capabilities in the ducts, heat detectors in furnace rooms, photo detection across the main building, high sensitivity for a server closet, and the wider system connection. The new line of smoke detection devices will be available across Honeywell Fire brands: NOTIFIER, Honeywell Gamewell-FCI, Honeywell Farenhyt, Honeywell Silent Knight and Fire-Lite Alarms.

Gamewell-FCI Announces Promotion Of Robert Orozco To Regional Sales Manager
Gamewell-FCI Announces Promotion Of Robert Orozco To Regional Sales Manager

Robert supports the network of Gamewell-FCI engineered systems throughout Latin America and Caribbean Gamewell-FCI by Honeywell  announces the promotion of Roberto Orozco to Regional Sales Manager, hired to support the growing network of Gamewell-FCI Engineered Systems Distributors throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Orozco’s 15 years of experience as a Senior International Technical Training Specialist for Honeywell Fire Systems is an asset that will undoubtedly help him to support the fire alarm and mass notification systems work of Gamewell-FCI users in his territory. “I’ve worked in this industry for nearly 20 years, with the majority of that time traveling in this part of the world as a technical systems trainer for Gamewell-FCI,” says Orozco. “Now I can work more closely with our Distributors and their customers on systems specific to the needs of their particular facilities.” In addition to past roles as a fire alarm Technical Support Specialist and a Quality Assurance Technician, Orozco holds a NICET (National Institute for Certification of Engineering Technologies) Level II Fire Alarm Systems certification, as well as an IMSA (International Municipal Signal Association) Level II Fire Alarm Technician Instructor certification. For more information on Gamewell-FCI fire alarm and mass notification systems or to contact a local Regional Sales Manager, visit www.gamewell-fci.com.

vfd