British fire safety firms need to take ‘plan B action’ and start preparing for what Brexit could mean when it comes to selling products in Europe, according to one expert. Speaking at FIREX International 2019 event recently, Apollo’s Head of System Integration and Technical Support, Paul Pope, said, “Companies should be prepared to do “business as usual” and ensure supply chains are maintained. You cannot be prepared for Brexit if you secretly believe it won’t happen,” he told delegates. Brexit effect on British Fire Industry Mr. Pope was speaking about what Brexit will mean for the British fire safety industry Mr. Pope was speaking about what Brexit will mean for the British fire safety industry, which is due to take place by the end of 2019, although circumstances may change. He started by giving an introduction to the current EU Guidance around Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and how Brexit could affect manufacturers in the UK and abroad. Paul stated at the event, “EU CPR was first introduced in 1989 under the Construction Products Directive. It was then replaced by a higher compulsory marking standard, in particular for fire protection products in 2011, which places obligations on manufacturers, distributors and importers of construction products”. EU Guidance around Construction Products Regulation (CPR) “Everybody has a duty of responsibility in the chain. Non-compliance on the part of event one individual means the entire chain fails,” Mr. Pope told the event, adding “There are legal implications, and, in some cases, there are prison sentences.” The CPR regulations require products to be CE marked before they can be sold or resold anywhere in the EU. All certifications are issued by notified bodies, which are independent, non-governmental third parties recognized by the EU or EEA. Possibility of ‘no deal’ Brexit Mr Pope said at the FIREX International event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal for UK-based EU notified bodies to remain in that role, products that meet existing EU requirements can continue to be placed on the UK market for a limited period. A notified body is authorized to conduct assessments for products meeting harmonized EU standards" “A notified body is authorized to conduct assessments for products that meet the requirements of harmonized EU standards, or in the absence of normalized, a European technical assessment”, said Mr. Pope. He adds, “There are currently 189 EU notified bodies based in the UK, which employ 4,500 people”. Recertification by EU notified body “The government has already stated there will be a new UK CE mark, but we don’t know the details,” he explained, adding “Products that meet the requirements of a UK conformity mark can be placed on the UK market, as long as a third-party testing has been carried by a UK notified body. And that UK-based EU notified bodies will automatically become UK approved bodies and will be listed on a new database”. But products which were tested by a UK notified body will need to be retested or re-certified by an EU notified body before being sold on the continent. “Essentially on
Paul Pope, Head of System Integration and Technical Support at Apollo Fire Detectors, explains why sophisticated detection technology – coupled with better management of fire detection systems – is key to combatting false alarms. With reports suggesting that incidences of false alarms are reducing year on year, it’s clear that tighter regulation, enhanced detection systems and a more professional approach to systems management have helped to address this age-old challenge. However, these statistics are no excuse for the sector to rest on collective laurels. Irrespective of where they take place, repeated false alarms cause significant problems and, ultimately, can lead to occupants ignoring a genuine alarm, potentially resulting in a loss of life. Improving the management of fire detection systems by site owners and maintenance contractors is vital if we are to further reduce false alarm incidents. detection and response strategy requirements By routinely checking that systems are operating properly and addressing any subsequent maintenance issues, the risk of false alarm incidents can be reduced. Hand-in-hand with this is the crucial issue of replacing detectors and devices when they have reached the end of their manufacturer-recommended lifespan; this will undoubtedly increase a system’s reliability. System designers need to take into account the detection and response strategy requirements for buildings System designers also need to take into account the differing detection and response strategy requirements for both occupied and unoccupied buildings. Both have unique demands which means a ‘one size fits all’ approach simply won’t work. An occupied building has the potential for life to be endangered by real fires and, while it is more susceptible to false alarms caused by human actions, it also supposes the possibility that early warning (pre-alarm) conditions can be acted on. fire detection system Occupied buildings may also have personnel on-hand to make an assessment about the validity of an activation deal, with and/or assess an emergency and act on fault and maintenance conditions as they occur. An unoccupied building, on the other hand, does not risk human casualties directly and has potentially fewer false alarm phenomena, but may not include any on-site verification of abnormal conditions such as faults and fires; the main purpose of the fire system is the protection of property. These differing factors will, depending on the nature of the premises, impose different strategies when designing, specifying and installing a fire detection system. Having the correct verification/response strategy and detection system in place will lead to fewer false alarms by ensuring that a system is fit for purpose in regard to the appropriate detection sensitivity settings, correct detector type and detector siting. Advances in detection technology We believe that the best solution to combat false alarms is the use of innovative technology The design and manufacture of reliable, effective and innovative fire detection devices is critical to reducing false alarms. It is believed that the best solution to combat false alarms is the use of innovative technology to ‘design out’ the variety of issues that can cause them. There will always be contributing factors which will never be eradicated by any manufacturer, eg. malicious manual call point activations, but there are certainly recurring causes which can be addressed. Developing technology that addresses the main causes of false alarms is a core area of focus and investment for Apollo. A great example of this is the company’s SOTERIA fire detectors, which incorporate an optical sensing technology called PureLight. PureLight detects smoke particles entering its chambers. A cone sensing chamber allows light from the LED to be entirely absorbed, reducing reflections in the chamber. fine mesh barrier SOTERIA detectors also incorporate an advanced chip sensor which significantly improves the detection of smoke and enhances reliability of the detection process. The sleek low profile design of the detectors means that less dust penetrates the outer casing. They have also been designed to be less sensitive to any dust that accumulates over long periods of time. Finally, a fine mesh barrier provides protection from insects – another common cause of false alarms – making it harder for them to enter the device. Careful design of the optical chamber also ensures that any insect small enough to penetrate the mesh barrier has fewer opportunities to interrupt the operation of the smoke detector. activate unwanted alarms Earlier this year, SOTERIA detectors were specified for Canada Court, a purpose-built student and NHS key worker accommodation site located in Surrey, England, which has over 450 residences across 12 buildings. The site is operated by the housing association A2Dominion. Prior to installing the new detection system, between five and ten false alarms were taking place every week, which was clearly unacceptable for residents, maintenance teams and the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service. A recognized problem within HMOs is repeated false alarms caused by shower spray/steam Known as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), these premises require specialist attention when it comes to designing and specifying a fire detection system. A recognized problem within HMOs is repeated false alarms caused by shower spray/steam, hairspray/deodorant aerosols, candles, burnt food and steam from communal kitchens, and dust build-up. But not all false alarms are caused by tenant activities – insects, high humidity, water ingress and external smoke sources can also activate unwanted alarms. new fire detection system At Canada Court, false alarms were also being caused by contamination on the heads of the old detectors. Unsurprisingly, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service put the housing association on notice that the fire detection system needed to be replaced or the association would be charged for future call-outs. Millwood Servicing Ltd was appointed as the installer, service and maintenance contractor at the site for the installation of the new fire detection system. With many years of experience of Apollo products, Millwood Servicing recommended our SOTERIA range. As it was impracticable to move hundreds of tenants out of Canada Court for the duration of the installation, it was vital that the Apollo system was easy to install, with as little disruption to everyday life as possible. In just two weeks, 389 SOTERIA optical and heat multisensors and 63 SOTERIA heat detectors (for the kitchens) were installed, along with one Kentec 4 loop panel and eleven Kentec 1 loop panels. false alarm call-outs Zarja Elektronika is responsible for the ongoing maintenance across all of RTV's buildings Since the new SOTERIA system was installed earlier this year, there have been no false alarm call-outs of the emergency services. Eliminating the risk of false alarms was also a key requirement for a recent upgrade of the fire detection system at RTV Slovenia, Slovenia’s public broadcasting institution, which based in the capital city of Ljubljana. Panel partner and installer, Zarja Elektronika, is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the fire detection system across all of RTV's buildings, from studios to transmitter centers. As with many multi-faceted buildings, false alarms were a major problem for RTV, causing unnecessary interference with day-to-day activities and requiring the movement of large numbers of people. optical and heat detectors However, Zarja Elektronika was able to reassure RTV that the SOTERIA range would not only significantly reduce false alarm incidents, but also satisfy their requirements for absolute reliability and an aesthetically pleasing appearance. In the latest upgrade, 700 Apollo SOTERIA optical and heat detectors were installed, making a total replacement of around 2000 devices over five years. Zarja Elektronika also installed two addressable Zarja NJP-400A panels, each with four loops. The buildings where the system upgrade took place had to remain open and accessible at all times as RTV broadcasts around the clock. Although false alarms cannot be totally eradicated, as an industry, the installers of detection systems have a collective responsibility to work together and share best practice in those areas which can make a difference.