12 Feb 2020

Editor Introduction

Welcome to our Expert Panel Roundtable, a new feature of TheBigRedGuide.com. We will be asking timely questions about the fire market and seeking out experts in the field to provide responses. Our goal is to promote a useful exchange of information on a variety of topics and to create a forum for discussion of important issues facing the fire service and market. For our first question, we look to the year ahead and ask our panelists: What trends are likely to change the fire market in 2020?

David Hindle ASSA ABLOY Ltd

Liability for fire safety breaches will be increasingly pushed down from building owners and occupiers to those that have been consulted, assessed and advised on the appropriate fire safety solutions for a site. Should products fail to perform as expected, then those professionals will be held accountable, and could potentially even be prosecuted. Therefore, properly certified hardware and training will become ever more critical. Architectural ironmongers, merchants, specifiers and consultants must have a comprehensive understanding of the legislation covering fire safety matters in and around buildings, such as Approved Document B, BS EN 1634 and/or BS 476, plus the relevant declaration of performance information. Accreditation schemes such as Warrington Certification’s FIRAS Installer Certification, BM TRADA’s Q-Mark Fire Door Installation and the Guild of Architectural Ironmongery’s diploma can be of assistance. Only by combining this specialist industry knowledge with recognised accreditation can professionals advise on and specify suitable fire safety products.

Chris Thain G3 Systems Limited

Fire safety in high-rise buildings and HMO's [multiple occupants] will be highlighted, following the Grenfell tragedy. A ban on combustible cladding will see renewed emphasis on fire safety audits, risk assessments and inspection. A critical review of enforcement powers may change the market. There will be pressure for sprinkler systems in homes, driving demand for cost-effective solutions. There will also be innovative ways to remove carcinogenic compounds of combustion from firefighters’ personal protective equipment (PPE), equipment and vehicles to improve firefighter health and wellbeing. More female firefighters will increase demand for PPE and kit designed with women in mind. Meanwhile, struggling fire and rescue service (FRS) commercial trading companies will close as local authorities fail to generate scalability and profitable income. And reports from HMICFRS [Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services] will condemn the culture of bullying and inefficiency within UK FRS, leading to opportunities for change management consultancies, organisational development and leadership. In the worst cases, 'privatisation' of local authority FRS may be the ultimate consequence.

Gambi Chiang Chubb Fire & Security

Worldwide awareness of fire safety has been heightened due to recent fire incidents at high profile buildings. In fact, Chubb has observed a mindset shift among our customers, where they are placing more value on building fire safety measures and fire alarm monitoring, rather than viewing these systems as something only required for compliance purposes. Chubb customers are scheduling more regular maintenance and ensuring complete fire risk assessments and staff training. This is a positive sign for the fire safety industry. In addition, there is a growing trend toward third-party fire alarm monitoring. This is particularly true in industrial, logistics and data centre buildings located in remote areas, which are 24/7 operations with minimal on-site staff. Businesses want to be informed immediately if there is an alarm. By connecting their fire alarm systems to a certified third-party monitoring centre, businesses can have peace of mind around their safety and security.

Ernie Ellis Sea-Fire Marine

In 2015, the European Union mandated a phase-down of HFC (hydrofluorocarbon)-based products, including fire suppression fluids that protect yachts, workboats, ships and naval vessels. Last year, our company took the proactive step to discontinue the distribution of such products prior to any deadlines. This step counters issues that are already affecting the industry in 2020. With shortages of HFC-based products happening, prices are escalating and the ability to service systems using these fluids is adversely affected. While similar mandates have not yet been implemented in the U.S., it's likely a matter of time before they are. 3M™ Novec™ 1230 fire suppression fluid is electrically non-conductive and non-corrosive, it has a negligible global warming potential. Sea-Fire Marine and Sea-Fire Europe knew when we made this hard decision that it had the potential to negatively affect the company, but we also knew it was the right thing to do. But even with the weakened marine economy due to depressed global oil prices, our international business saw an 11.5% growth last year, and we're looking forward to a robust 2020.

Editor Summary

Our Expert panelists point to issues such as liability surrounding fire safety breaches and new regulations and government scrutiny of fire organizations. They also mention a heightened awareness of the value of building fire safety measures and the phase-down of HFC-based products in fire suppression fluids. Interesting points to consider, but only a few among the issues facing the fire market in 2020. We look forward to discussing some of the other issues in our new feature at TheBigRedGuide.com. Please reach out if you want to participate.