The National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA), the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week™ for 99 years, has announced “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety™” as the theme for Fire Prevention Week, October 3-9, 2021. From beeps to chirps, this year’s campaign works to better educate the public about the sounds smoke alarms make, what those sounds mean, and how to respond to them. “Smoke alarms have played a leading role in...
Potter announces the acquisition of three mainstay product lines in the fire alarm industry: Harrington Fire Alarm, Evax Systems, and CPG Signals. The acquisition of these three product lines will not only strengthen Potter’s position in life safety products, but will also broaden the range of products and services available to customers in order to meet all their fire protection needs. By incorporating the technologies of these products, Potter will expand its fire system and voice produ...
To help support the Fire Door Safety Week 2021 campaign, ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland has announced the launch of a new best practice guide - ‘Fire Doorsets’ guide, on how to specify, install, maintain and inspect fire-certified doorsets in residential and commercial buildings. ‘Fire Doorsets’ guide The ‘Fire Doorsets’ best practice guide has been compiled, based on the knowledge and expertise of ASSA ABLOY’s FDIS-trained inspectors, a...
Thermal imaging is an advantageous tool for firefighters on the frontline. As thermal cameras have become more compact and affordable, their availability has expanded, along with their usefulness. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: How does thermal imaging serve the needs of firefighters and how is it changing?
“Luckily, today fire safety is a topic not only experts and constructors, but also the end-consumer is interested in,” said Marc Husband, Purchasing Director at Leader Doors, one of the UK’s renowned door manufacturers and retailers. Over the last few years, there have been many changes in building regulations for flats, apartments and offices for fire safety. Any building with more than three floors needs to be equipped with FD30 rated 30-Minute-Fire-Doors, to ensure that in t...
Fires have devastating consequences, not just posing a threat to property, but also to human life. Fires can also have detrimental impacts on the environment, with one of the largest associated environmental issues being water runoff occurring from tackling the fire. What is Fire Water Runoff? - Water is widely used to extinguish fire, thanks to its accessibility and effectiveness. Typically, water isn’t hazardous and doesn’t pose any threats, however, it can easily become contamin...
Commercial properties left vacant or unattended throughout the pandemic are likely to have deteriorated over time, creating increasingly hazardous environments. As many businesses are now welcoming staff and visitors back into their facilities, safety has never been so important. Recent data has revealed that, despite a decline in fatal fire-related incidents since 2011, there has been an increase in incidents attended, proving that many properties still don’t have the correct fire safety measures in place. Commercial property fires saw an increase of 46% over lockdown, and whilst facilities are now likely occupied, experts say fire safety measures should continue to be enforced to mitigate risk. Here, experts MSL Property Care Services warn businesses of the top causes of fires and detail how to prepare properties to help reduce fire-related incidents. Top causes of commercial fires Electrical and lighting fixtures Issues, such as faulty fuses, loose connections, overloaded circuits, and defective wiring can all lead to fires breaking out within commercial properties. It’s important to have regular professional checks of wires and fixtures, especially if one suspects a hazard. Heating systems Heating systems can be at risk of faults, leading to overheating and consequently fires When used over prolonged periods or left unused, heating systems can be at risk of faults, leading to overheating and consequently fires. Systems must be regulated, switched off, or set to timers before leaving the premises along with ensuring that they are inspected regularly for any faults. Exposure to flammable materials Exposure to flammable sources, such as cladding, chemicals, spray paint, alcohols, and foil increases the risk of a fire outbreak. Whilst many facilities and businesses will consciously and carefully store flammable materials away, some materials cannot avoid exposure. Here, it’s important to assign a facilities management professional to assess materials, such as cladding and wood throughout the property. Cooking equipment Kitchen apparatus is the biggest cause of fire breakouts within commercial properties, with kitchen appliances equating to 41% of all fires on average. Whilst restaurants are most at risk, many businesses have cooking appliances on the premises, such as microwaves, toasters, and kettles therefore it’s important these are all tested for safety. How can one mitigate fires? Those responsible for fire safety and those people must be educated on fire safety for the premises ‘The Fire Regulatory Reform (2005), states that those responsible for fire safety, can include various personnel such as the property owner, landlord, employer, occupier, or facility manager, and those people must be educated on fire safety for the premises. The correct training and safety plans should be in place, and businesses should consult professionals were needed to ensure the safety of all occupants’, explains Jeremy Harrison, managing director of MSL Property Care Services. Remove fire hazards Invest in safeguarding inspections to ensure that any fire hazards are identified and mitigated. These checks should be routinely carried out and implementing them within the planned maintenance schedule will ensure this happens. Update fire safety plan Regularly evaluating the property, both internally and externally, is important so that the correct measures are put in place should a fire break out. It is also crucial that all staff and other facility users are aware of this plan. Implement training All regular facility users should have fire safety training before occupying the property. Should the safety plan change, the responsible person(s) should carry out this training again. Install or update the fire safety systems Installing fire safety systems, such as fire alarms, sprinklers, fire doors, and extinguishers is key Fires can spread at rapid rates, so installing fire safety systems, such as fire alarms, sprinklers, fire doors, and extinguishers is key. It is just as important to implement regular checks, which can be carried out by facility professionals to ensure these are working correctly. Without the correct fire safety measures, not only are facility users, the property itself, and surrounding areas in danger but those responsible may be at risk of serious fines and prison sentences. Experts urge businesses and landlords to pay extra attention to fire safety moving forward to decrease the trend of fire-related incidents on commercial properties.
Fire safety doesn’t happen by accident, it requires universal attention. With that, Karen Trigg of Allegion UK explores why the importance of working fire doors is often overlooked and why now is an opportune time to bridge the gap between fire safety education and action. Improving fire safety within UK buildings is a challenge we are all continuously facing. Irrelevant of the sector, it’s of the highest importance for any building type - from schools and hospitals to high-rise residential and industrial facilities. Because when it comes to fire, there are no exemptions. Most of us are only made aware of the danger of fire from headline disasters and yet, in the year ending March 2021, fire response teams attended 151,086 fires in the UK, of which the average total response time to primary fires in England was 8 minutes and 35 seconds. Fire doors Fire doors play a fundamental role in these scenarios and are rigorously constructed and tested to British Standards BS 476: Part 22 or BS EN 1634-1 to ensure they remain fire-resistant for a minimum of 30 minutes (FD30) or 60 minutes (FD60) - holding out long enough to cover response times and evacuation. Fire doors are the first line of defense in protecting people and property in the event of a fire Fire door hardware is also meticulously designed to comply with UK Construction Products Regulations and is tested under BS EN 1154, BS EN 1155, and BS EN 1634 standards and CE marked. After all, without functioning hardware, a fire door is rendered useless. Fire door safety is an area that should never be neglected. Often, fire doors are the first line of defense in protecting people and property in the event of a fire - but only when installed and maintained appropriately. Yet, as incident reports repeatedly highlight, the significance of working fire doors remains habitually overlooked. The latest in reformed guidelines hope to address this, with the introduction of this year’s Fire Safety Act 2021 and the Building Safety Bill highlighting the diligent detail in which all responsible parties must approach the subject. Missing knowledge Fire doors fall under what’s described as a building’s passive fire protection system. At their most basic and when closed, they form a barrier and enable a building to compartmentalize the spread of fire and smoke. When open, they provide an essential means of escape. Yet there’s nothing rudimentary about fire door safety. However, danger commonly lies where fire door safety is misunderstood. Especially when you consider that last year alone, for local authorities, a staggering 65% of 26,318 planned fire door maintenance and replacement phases did not progress as scheduled - leaving doors neglected and buildings vulnerable. And while some may dispute that 2020 fell to extenuating circumstances, there’s no argument that fire door safety has become too easy to neglect. Closing The Gap Evidently, the gap in fire door safety expertise is resulting in poor design choices, faltering standards and a general lack of knowledge. While it’s clear that expertise is lacking across various touchpoints - think product selection, installation, and maintenance - there is momentum to incite real change and the resources to improve awareness and education. There are several methods to gain an understanding of fire door safety and all from trusted sources In response, and leading by example, is the Architects Registration Board (ARB) which recently published guidance to suggest fire safety is taught under the architecture curriculum at universities. And while this shows positive steps are being made, the onus can’t solely be passed to the next generation of architectural professionals. All professional areas must commit and, in an age where information is almost instantaneous, there are several methods to gain a greater understanding of fire door safety - and all from trusted sources. Fire Door Safety Week In light of Fire Door Safety Week, the British Woodworking Federation Group shares regular advice and useful toolkits on fire door safety; including a five-step checklist that’s designed to support building owners in assessing their own fire doors (via certification, apertures, gaps, and seals, closers and operation). Information pools like this provide modern building managers with the know-how they need to monitor and act - making the decision to repair or replace fire doors where necessary. For those actively involved in the maintenance stage, further guidance on topics such as certification and door closer adjustments is available online and by manufacturer request - showing fire door safety doesn’t need to be tackled alone. Product datasheets and installation guides When it comes to product selection and installation, there’s also a wealth of information and walkthroughs available in the form of detailed product datasheets and installation guides. These can often be found online and allow for a greater understanding of the hardware that’s available, leading to better design decisions and more reliable installation. Allegion UK has resources to help undertake product selection, installation, and maintenance checks on fire doors Aside from product manuals, installers and contractors are commonly offered specialist site visits, training portals, and even hardware classification guides in a bid to assist with projects post-installation. With this, professionals can ensure that their standards don’t slip after time passes, by understanding more about the rounded process that fire door safety is and being ready for maintenance periods when they approach. The current associations, professional bodies, and manufacturers are on hand more than ever to assist specifiers, installers, and end-users throughout the process that is fire door safety. The support is there, and the resources are readily available and so, there’s now a real opportunity to improve fire safety awareness and education for the better. How Allegion UK can Help Allegion UK has a wealth of resources to help professionals undertake product selection, installation, and maintenance checks on fire doors and hardware. This simple toolkit provides information and tips on detecting potential faulty doors and poor installation, a guide to the EN classification system, and a safety checklist. There’s also an option to order a free door gap tester or download Allegion’s general guide to service and maintenance for free. For information on product selection and installation, please speak to the experts or head to the download center for technical fitting instructions.
Kentec Electronics, a manufacturer of life-critical fire control systems, has donated a quantity of fire control panels to The Focus Training Group, an independent training provider, based in the Southwest of England to support relevant and effective training and promote safety and professionalism in the trade. The donation includes three Syncro AS fire panels and two Sigma XT extinguishant control panels (one 2 zone and one 4 zone). Fire Crest, a Kentec Installation Partner (KIP), which is similarly in the Southwest, has also donated detection devices and ancillary equipment, which together with the panels, enable fire apprentices to construct a full fire safety system in the classroom before testing their skills on-site. Attracting young talent Lloyd Bond, Fire and Security Trainer Assessor at The Focus Training Group, says relevant training is essential: “With these new Kentec control panels, we are giving the apprentices an important opportunity to practice in a controlled environment, building familiarity with a panel that is widely used in the industry.” Young people bring a great deal to businesses, especially with their knowledge" Lloyd adds that such training measures help to attract young talent into the fire and security industry: “There is a skills gap in the profession, as people leaving school are often pushed towards the more general electrician route. Young people bring a great deal to businesses, especially with their knowledge and understanding of technology, and so it’s important we support a pipeline of talent.” Anthony Kent, Fire and Security Manager at Fire Crest, agrees it is vital to get young people into the industry: “The industry is an ageing one, and certainly in Cornwall, many are struggling to find new talent. That’s why it is important to support this initiative.” Development and training Kevin Swann, Managing Director of Kentec Electronics, says The Focus Training Group deserves to be supported for the work it is doing: “We are very pleased to help support such a commendable business and it is very much part of our business ethos to ensure training is at the forefront of everything we do." "From the training of our Installation Partners, (as part of our on-going agreement with them so that they can provide the best-in-class expertise and support to their customers), through to the development and training of our own employees at Kentec.” Addressable fire control panel Synchro AS combines compact and practical styling with the programming power and connectivity Syncro AS is an analog addressable fire control panel, available in either one or two detection loops. It combines compact and practical styling with the programming power and connectivity normally associated with much larger systems. It can be expanded and networked to become part of much larger systems if the need arises, therefore providing a future proof solution for any size of installation. Extinguishant releasing panel Sigma XT is the industry pioneering extinguishant releasing panel. It offers outstanding value and performance for all small to medium fixed firefighting installations. With three detection zones as standard, extinguishant release can be configured to activate from any combination of detection zones. Sigma XT panels are both robust and easy to install, having all electronics mounted on a single, easily removable, steel plate.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association is pleased to announce that Jason Williams, C.E.T., manager of ITM technical training, and Tom Noble, C.E.T., technical programs specialist, has been appointed to several 2017 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) technical committees. Jason Williams Jason Williams has been appointed to serve on the technical committee for NFPA 25, Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems. He has nearly 20 years of extensive hands-on industry experience. Williams manages all technical aspects of the AFSA Inspection, Testing and Maintenance (ITM) Inspector Development program, serving as the primary instructor for the live webinars and classes as well as maintaining existing program materials. Tom Noble Tom Noble has been appointed to five technical committees: NFPA 13D, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in One- and Two-Family Dwellings and Manufactured Homes; NFPA 13R, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies; NFPA 22, Standard for Water Tanks for Private Fire Protection; NFPA 24, Standard for the Installation of Private Fire Service Mains and Their Appurtenances; and NFPA 101, Life Safety Code® Residential Occupancies. Noble has 22 years of experience in the fire protection industry. He is tasked with preparing any and all material for the AFSA Beginning Fire Sprinkler System Planning School, as well as co-teaching the school. Noble also writes informal interpretations on technical questions. Role of technical committee members Technical committee members are volunteers who give their time and expertise to serve Technical committee members are volunteers who give of their time and expertise to serve. Some of their activities include participating in the work of the committee, contributing to the development of the assigned standard(s) that are revised every three to five years, and providing input on the committee standard(s) and on the ideas provided by others. Senior VP service to NFPA In addition to these new appointments, AFSA Senior Vice President, Engineering & Technical Services Roland J. Huggins, P.E., serves on: NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems Correlating Committee on Automatic Sprinkler Systems; NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems Discharge Criteria. NFPA 101, Life Safety Code® Industrial, Storage, and Miscellaneous Occupancies; NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code® Industrial, Storage, and Miscellaneous Occupancies; and NFPA 5000 Building Construction and Safety Code® Correlating Committee on Building Code. Senior Managers service to NFPA AFSA’s Senior Manager of Fire Protection Engineering Tom Wellen, P.E., currently serves on the following NFPA committees: NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems Hanging and Bracing of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems; NFPA 13, Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems Sprinkler System Installation Criteria. NFPA 14, Standard for the Installation of Standpipe and Hose Systems; NFPA 20, Standard for the Installation of Stationary Pumps for Fire Protection; NFPA 101, Life Safety Code® Assembly Occupancies; NFPA 170, Standard for Fire Safety and Emergency Symbols; and NFPA 5000, Building Construction and Safety Code® Assembly Occupancies. Authority comment "AFSA participates on 28 NFPA technical committees with the help of 32 member representatives and four AFSA staff members,” comments Huggins. “We invest so much effort for two reasons. One is to better understand the intent of the standards so we can provide accurate informal interpretations. The other reason is to attempt to improve the requirements driving our industry."
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) is pleased to announce a partnership with Homes For Our Troops (HFOT) as its exclusive fire sprinkler provider. In this role, AFSA along with its local partners will both donate the sprinkler systems as well as the installation services for HFOT homes. HFOT's mission is to build and donate specially adapted custom homes for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. Since its inception in 2004, HFOT has built 250 homes and currently has over 90 projects underway nationwide. Commitment to life safety "As we enter our 37th year, AFSA is proud to continue its work with charitable organizations who share our passion for and commitment to life safety," said AFSA Board of Director and Chair of the AFSA Public Education & Awareness Committee Jeff Phifer. "We are thrilled to be working together with Homes For Our Troops and our nationwide network of chapters in this joint effort to make the homes of our Veterans and their families safer." Donating and installing fire sprinkler systems Systems will be installed in any home where the future homeowner requests fire sprinklers As the exclusive fire sprinkler provider for HFOT, AFSA, and its local partners will team up to both donate and install the fire sprinkler systems. Systems will be installed in any home where required by law or in any home where the future homeowner requests fire sprinklers. This partnership will provide a robust safety addition to the already highly customized homes that HFOT provides to Veterans. Protecting Veterans Approximately 4,000 Americans die and 20,000 are injured in fires each year. The risk of death or injury from fire is even greater for people with physical, mental, or sensory disabilities. Through this partnership, AFSA hopes to protect these Veterans in their homes, where roughly 80 percent of all fire deaths occur, and decrease their risk of dying in a home fire by 81 percent by installing fire sprinklers. "HFOT relies on contributions from donors, supporters, and corporate partners for the building of each Veteran's home," said HFOT Executive Director Bill Ivey. "We are proud to partner with AFSA in an area that will truly make a positive impact in the lives of our Veterans and their families, and reduce our costs so we can build more homes to help our Veterans rebuild their lives." About HFOT HFOT is a privately funded 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post - 9/11 Veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. Most of these Veterans have sustained injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). These homes restore some of the freedom and independence to veterans who sacrificed while defending the country and enable them to focus on family, recovery and rebuilding their lives.
Kentec Electronics, a manufacturer of life-critical control systems, has welcomed Fortus Group Holdings (‘Fortus’) to its Kentec Authorized Distributor (KAD) scheme, providing the fire and security distributor with dedicated product training and support, enhancing its ability to provide comprehensive solutions to installers. The KAD scheme is a global network of specialists, experts and trained fire alarm distribution companies, that are recognized for their high levels of Kentec product knowledge and provide a full range of Kentec systems to suit all applications and building types. Ensuring fast delivery This exclusive network of distributors has been carefully selected to ensure installers and end-users receive expertly specified goods, and by holding stock locally ensure fast delivery and supply of products. Fortus recently doubled its size following the simultaneous acquisition of Enterprise Security Distributor, a UK based distributor, and RE:SURE Intelligence, a remote CCTV monitoring specialist, providing the business with an even wider range of expertise. Our goal is to make our distributors and installers’ lives easier through supporting their sales cycle" Sammy Steel, Head of UK Sales at Kentec, says with such a significant footprint across the UK and Ireland, Fortus is a business that is looking to grow: “Our goal is to make our distributors and installers’ lives easier through supporting their sales cycle, and the training and support delivered through the scheme achieves just that. We feel they are an important new addition to the scheme.” Security supply chain Mark Massie, Managing Director UK at Fortus, says becoming a KAD is further evidence of the business’ commitment to its customers: “Our KAD status shows our customers that we have the product knowledge and expertise to work with the most sophisticated Kentec systems, and that we value furthering professionalism in the industry through increased training.” Fortus is the largest privately owned B2B security supply chain company in the UK and Ireland, specializing in CCTV, intruder alarms and fire systems. Its expertise covers tailored solutions, project management and support for installation business of all sizes.
Fire safety doesn’t happen by accident; it requires universal attention. With that, Karen Trigg of Allegion UK explores why the importance of working fire doors is often overlooked and why now is an opportune time to bridge the gap between fire safety education and action. Improving fire safety within UK buildings is a challenge we are all continuously facing. Irrelevant of the sector, it’s of the highest importance for any building type - from schools and hospitals to high-rise residential and industrial facilities. Because when it comes to fire, there are no exemptions. Most of us are only made aware of the danger of fire from headline disasters and yet, in the year ending March 2021, fire response teams attended 151,086 fires in the UK, of which the average total response time to primary fires in England was 8 minutes and 35 seconds. Role of Fire doors Fire door hardware is tested under BS EN 1154, BS EN 1155, and BS EN 1634 standards and CE marked Fire doors play a fundamental role in these scenarios and are rigorously constructed and tested to British Standards BS 476: Part 22 or BS EN 1634-1 to ensure they remain fire-resistant for a minimum of 30 minutes (FD30) or 60 minutes (FD60) - holding out long enough to cover response times and evacuation. Fire door hardware is also meticulously designed to comply with UK Construction Products Regulations and is tested under BS EN 1154, BS EN 1155, and BS EN 1634 standards and CE marked. After all, without functioning hardware, a fire door is rendered useless. Fire door safety Fire door safety is an area that should never be neglected. Often, fire doors are the first line of defense in protecting people and property in the event of a fire - but only when installed and maintained appropriately. Yet, as incident reports repeatedly highlight, the significance of working fire doors remains habitually overlooked. The latest in reformed guidelines hope to address this, with the introduction of this year’s Fire Safety Act 2021 and the Building Safety Bill highlighting the diligent detail in which all responsible parties must approach the subject. Missing knowledge Fire doors fall under what’s described as a building’s passive fire protection system. At their most basic and when closed, they form a barrier and enable a building to compartmentalize the spread of fire and smoke. When open, they provide an essential means of escape. Yet there’s nothing rudimentary about fire door safety. However, danger commonly lies where fire door safety is misunderstood. Especially when you consider that last year alone, for local authorities, a staggering 65% of 26,318 planned fire door maintenance and replacement phases did not progress as scheduled - leaving doors neglected and buildings vulnerable. And while some may dispute that 2020 fell to extenuating circumstances, there’s no argument that fire door safety has become too easy to neglect. Closing The Gap The gap in fire door safety expertise is resulting in poor design choices, faltering standards Evidently, the gap in fire door safety expertise is resulting in poor design choices, faltering standards, and a general lack of knowledge. While it’s clear that expertise is lacking across various touchpoints - think product selection, installation, and maintenance - there is momentum to incite real change and the resources to improve awareness and education. In response, and leading by example, is the Architects Registration Board (ARB) which recently published guidance to suggest fire safety is taught under the architecture curriculum at universities. And while this shows positive steps are being made, the onus can’t solely be passed to the next generation of architectural professionals. All professional areas must commit and, in an age where information is almost instantaneous, there are several methods to gain a greater understanding of fire door safety - and all from trusted sources. Fire Door Safety Week In light of Fire Door Safety Week, the British Woodworking Federation Group shares regular advice and useful toolkits on fire door safety; including a five-step checklist that’s designed to support building owners in assessing their own fire doors (via certification, apertures, gaps, and seals, closers and operation). Information pools like this provide modern building managers with the know-how they need to monitor and act - deciding to repair or replace fire doors where necessary. For those actively involved in the maintenance stage, further guidance on topics such as certification and door closer adjustments is available online and by manufacturer request - showing fire door safety doesn’t need to be tackled alone. Fire safety awareness Professionals can ensure that their standards don’t slip after time passes, by understanding more about fire door safety When it comes to product selection and installation, there’s also a wealth of information and walkthroughs available in the form of detailed product datasheets and installation guides. These can often be found online and allow for a greater understanding of the hardware that’s available, leading to better design decisions and more reliable installation. Aside from product manuals, installers and contractors are commonly offered specialist site visits, training portals, and even hardware classification guides in a bid to assist with projects post-installation. With this, professionals can ensure that their standards don’t slip after time passes, by understanding more about the rounded process that fire door safety is and being ready for maintenance periods when they approach. Today’s associations, professional bodies, and manufacturers are on hand more than ever to assist specifiers, installers, and end-users throughout the process that is fire door safety. The support is there, and the resources are readily available and so, there’s now a real opportunity to improve fire safety awareness and education for the better. How Allegion UK can Help Allegion UK has a wealth of resources to help professionals undertake product selection, installation, and maintenance checks on fire doors and hardware. This simple toolkit provides information and tips on detecting potential faulty doors and poor installation, a guide to the EN classification system, and a safety checklist. There’s also an option to order a free door gap tester or download Allegion’s general guide to service and maintenance for free. For information on product selection and installation, please speak to the experts or head to the download center for technical fitting instructions.
It is the legal duty of the responsible person in any building to make the evacuation of disabled people equal to that for able-bodied people, as Anthony Smith, Managing Director of Vox Ignis, explains. When the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) was first introduced in 1995, it gave disabled people long overdue access to goods and services, education, employment, transport and accommodation. This was, subsequently, incorporated into the Equality Act in 2010. Evacuation of mobility impaired people Sadly, despite its many benefits in access to goods and services, one area the act failed to address was the evacuation of mobility impaired people, in the event of an incident, leading to the Government and Disability Rights Commission to publish a guide of supplementary information for the fire risk assessment for Disabled People in 2007. The guide highlighted that the Fire and Rescue Service’s role in fire evacuation is that of ensuring that the means of escape, in case of fire and associated fire safety measures provided for all people, who may be in a building, are both adequate and reasonable, taking into account the circumstances of each particular case. Fire risk assessment of buildings It is the responsibility of the person(s) having the responsibility for the building, to provide a fire safety risk assessment Under current fire safety legislation, it is the responsibility of the person(s) having the responsibility for the building, to provide a fire safety risk assessment that includes an emergency evacuation plan for all people likely to be in the premises, including disabled people and how that plan will be implemented. As a member of BSI FSH/12/5, which covers Voice Alarm and Emergency Voice Communication Systems, and as Managing Director of Vox Ignis, a manufacturer of disabled refuge and fire telephone systems, Anthony Smith has long lobbied for the amending of BS9991 and Building regulations approved document B1, to make it compulsory for dwellings above one floor to have disabled refuge areas, with an Emergency Voice Communications System (EVCS), as commercial buildings, ensuring residents can communicate with building management, in the event of an incident, such as fire. As a member of BSI FSH/12/5, Anthony Smith has long lobbied for the amending of BS9991 Clear and secure communications vital in emergencies In such emergencies, it is vital that communication is clear, secure, monitored and maintained. These systems can be the difference between life and death. In the wake of the Grenfell disaster, many in the industry, including Anthony Smith, believed it would only be a matter of time until such critical amends were made. However, four years on, it looks as though the industry, fire services and general public may finally be seeing their persistent rallying result in action, transforming this outdated mandate. Importance of refuge areas in buildings Lifts, escalators and platform lifts may have transformed the way that people with mobility issues access buildings While responsible building owners and there are some out there, are already establishing refuge areas in dwelling houses, the revision of BS9991 in the next year, could finally spell the end of such crucial health and safety measures being optional, and make it a requirement for residential buildings, but it will take a change to the Building Regulations Approved Document B1 to change the law. Lifts, escalators and platform lifts may have transformed the way that people with mobility issues access buildings. However, more often than not, they are completely redundant in an emergency, which is why refuge areas hold the key to ensuring the safe and orderly evacuation of people from buildings, in the event of a crisis. Key role in promoting disabled refuge areas Here at Vox Ignis, we’ve witnessed this first hand. Working with property developers across the globe, we’ve helped establish disabled refuge areas, in a wide range of developments, from skyscrapers to hotels and high-rise residential towers, and are starting to be involved in projects in this country with residential towers, notably in Croydon. Although, in both of those instances, the client wasn’t bound by law to include EVCS for the disabled refuge areas in their developments, it goes to show that many forward-thinking and responsible developers are already embracing the latest in evacuation and fire safety technology, however, as an industry and as a nation, we can ill afford to rest on our laurels. Of the 72 people who died in the tragic Grenfell fire disaster, more than half of the casualties were adults with limited mobility or children, according to evidence shared in the latest phase of the inquiry, and we can only hope that, if the proposed revisions to BS9991 are approved, and Approved Document B1 is amended, we can finally put the relevant measures in place, in order to make high-rise residential buildings safer for all, once and for all.
The greatest fire risk to waste and recycling businesses is, without doubt, battery waste. You can find batteries everywhere – in children’s toys, mobile phones and other general WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) that gets processed through waste streams, as well as in machinery and vehicles as part of the move towards more sustainable operations. And where there are batteries, there are fire risks. James Mountain, sales and marketing director, Fire Shield Systems, highlights the many risks that batteries present to waste and recycling companies and reveals how these issues can be overcome. What are the risks associated with battery waste? No matter their size, shape or form, the main concern with any battery is thermal runaway. This occurs when a fault in the battery cells (due to damage, overvoltage or mechanical failure) produces excess heat. In turn, this creates more heat which rapidly increases the battery’s temperature. In this state, if the battery isn’t controlled quickly it can self-propagate, creating its own oxygen source to propel the flames. This then spreads between cells, producing large fires, toxic gas emissions and in some cases, explosions. A battery in this state is extremely difficult to control or extinguish. Normally, after entering thermal runaway, the battery will be self-contained and left to burn out over time. As a result, machinery, equipment or any other valuable assets nearby will most likely be lost and there’ll be a lengthy period of operational downtime. The greatest fire risk to waste and recycling businesses is, without doubt, battery waste How are the risks arising? Waste and recycling sites are having to deal with a rising number of batteries in their waste streams due to our rapidly growing consumption of electronics. The risk is everywhere – even different types of metal have electrical components that must be removed first before they can be recycled. This is quickly becoming a big problem. It has been made evident over recent months, from the multitude of waste and recycling fires starting from batteries, that there’s often insufficient protection in place. For example, at waste sites that produce sustainable fuels, like RDF (refuse-derived fuel) and SRF (solid recovered fuel), waste streams are screened for batteries before they reach shredding. However, these screenings aren’t always successful. When a battery is missed – which can often occur – it inevitably becomes damaged by the shredder, triggering the first phase of thermal runaway. When the battery then becomes mixed in with the highly combustible RDF and SRF, it creates the perfect conditions for a fire. Similar problems occur at waste transfer stations. Fires frequently occur on sites that are transferring waste with undetected batteries in it. These batteries are highly susceptible to thermal runaway. They could be hit unknowingly by loading shovels, crushed by heavy machinery or they might become water damaged, for example. What’s the solution? The batteries themselves won’t be getting safer any time soon in regard to their manufacture. Industry guidance is in place to help control risks, with specific advice for waste companies. However, there are still no legal requirements regarding the management of battery fire risks for waste and recycling companies. The Environment Agency (EA) is encouraging sites to assess their individual risks and implement a fire prevention plan (FPP) to minimise them, in an attempt to improve safety standards for waste and recycling businesses. Prevention and suppression solutions Ultimately, the goal is to prevent the occurrence of thermal runaway by cooling and controlling potential battery fire risks, in order to minimise the risk to surrounding combustible materials. There are still no legal requirements regarding the management of battery fire risks for waste and recycling companies. However, waste processing moves rapidly and involves many different processes joined together, including bailing, sorting, conveyors and shredders, which creates many different risks that need to be addressed. This also makes it very challenging to identify battery fire risks with traditional detection systems. It’s evident after working with many companies in the sector that heat detection systems are best for waste businesses in terms of identifying and suppressing battery fires. Thermal imaging, liner heat detection and infra-red heat detection are systems that can work in combination with the waste processing stream. If these systems identify excess heat on the conveyor belts, they send a signal to shut down the whole process. Then, local applications, like cannons or deluge systems, can be used to suppress the risk, minimising any damage to surrounding assets whilst causing minimal disruption to the waste process. What will preventing battery fires do? The threat that batteries pose to waste businesses is real and rising. Preventing that risk with the appropriate fire protection: Ensures team safety Reduces downtime Prevents valuable assets from being lost. As our electrical consumption increases, so too does the amount of electrical equipment that we dispose of, which means that the fire risk is only going to rise. To learn more, or to book a free site risk assessment, visit Fire Shield Systems or call 0800 975 5767.
‘Fire weather’ is the combination of weather and environmental factors that determine the potential spread of a wildfire. Typically, the main concerns are wind, temperature, and moisture. Lightning is also critical as it is a semi-forecastable parameter. Typically, bigger fires need low moisture, high temperatures, and high winds. Too much moisture and fuels (grass and trees) won’t burn. If the winds are too weak, the fire becomes easily contained and unable to create spot fires, where embers ride the winds to more dry fuels. Hot temperatures help dry out the fuels, and fires have a difficult time starting in colder environments. Forecasting fire weather Predicting both the weather and wildfires depends on the scale of forecast. Both start by looking at the larger, background environment that is more easily predicted over a longer time. “As you get down to individual thunderstorms or individual fires, the forecasts drive towards hours or minutes and at much smaller distances,” says Renny Vandewege, DTN Vice President of Weather Operations. “The main difference is that with weather the environment and triggers are known. With wildfires, the triggers can be human influenced, which are not modeled as well.” Private company DTN has seen an increased desire for forecasting of ‘fire weather’ during the horrific wildfire season this summer. New technology specifically helps accurately forecast fire weather so utilities can be prepared for the possibility of fires and shut down to help save lives and property. Predicting both the weather and wildfires depends on the scale of forecast Driving business forward As a data, analytics and technology company, DTN delivers operational intelligence to organizations with complex supply chains around the world including the aviation, energy, offshore, shipping, transportation, and sports and safety markets. DTN’s more than 1,000 employees operate globally to ensure local understanding of the insights needed to drive business forward. Prolonged high heat is typically accompanied by exceedingly dry conditions Air temperature can help pre-heat the environment, making it more favorable for fires to start and spread, says Vandewege. Prolonged high heat is typically accompanied by exceedingly dry conditions. This heat dries out the fuels, making them more susceptible to catching an ember and becoming a fire. In July 2021, prolonged high heat across California and the Pacific Northwest aided in drying out fuels which, when sparked by lightning and driven by high winds, burned well over one million acres. Life-Threatening situations Fires feed back into the environment is several ways, says Vandewege. Fires can preheat the air around them, especially when being driven by the wind up a slope. This can create a situation where the fire spreads quicker into the hotter, drier area, rapidly expanding in coverage and creating life-threatening situations for misplaced crews. Further, winds can carry the embers of trees that are ablaze, thus creating spot fires beyond firebreaks or riverbeds. Controlled fires use up the fuels, preventing rapid and expansive fire growth, as well as stimulate new plant development. A ‘fire whirl’ forms when an intense fire heats up an area. This hot air rises quicky, and more air rushes in at the surface to replace that air and then it heats and rises. As more air is drawn in, it collides and begins to rotate, creating a fire whirl. There is also potential for pyro cumulus clouds to create some tornado-like activity Pyro cumulus clouds There is also potential for pyro cumulus clouds (the billowing clouds associated with high intensity wildfires) to create some tornado-like activity, sometimes referred to as a firenado (although the term is a misnomer). “There are currently lightning climatologies for weeks and months in a fire season but given that the fire season often lines up with the dry season, that information is not very useful,” says Vandewege. “We typically look for dry thunderstorm setups, where the instability is large (due to high heat), but the moisture is more in the middle and upper levels of the atmosphere. This way any rain that forms evaporates before hitting the surface, preventing fuels from becoming wet. Once meteorologists see that type of signal, it’s mostly a waiting game to see where the fire starts.”
Electric bikes and scooters are a newly popular way to travel through urban environments. However, the nifty devices come with a fire risk that could be deadly. In London, firefighters have responded to more than 25 fires, involving e-bikes or e-scooters in recent months, some of them significant incidents with serious injuries. Lithium-ion batteries pose fire risks The fire hazards of e-bikes and e-scooters stem from their use of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that can erupt into flames. Complicating the problem is use of unauthorized or third-party batteries that may not be safe. E-bike conversion kits are available to convert standard bikes into e-bikes, but they include only the motors and control gears. Batteries must be sourced separately, often over the internet and by cost-conscious buyers, who may not consider safety issues. Cheaper batteries may be faulty. Using trusted batteries and proper storage Firefighters urge residents to use only trusted batteries and to store them correctly Damaged batteries are also problematic. Spare batteries should not be knocked around, which can increase the likelihood of damage to the cells. Firefighters urge residents to use only trusted batteries and to store them correctly. In one recent incident, a first floor flat in Brixton in south London was badly damaged, after a fire was caused by a fault in the lithium-ion battery pack of a mountain bike that had been converted into an e-bike. In another incident, five people were taken to hospital, after a fire at a flat in Southwark in Central London, caused by the failure of a battery in an electric scooter on charge. In the United Kingdom, anyone over 14 years old can ride an ‘electrically assisted pedal cycle’ (EAPC) without a license and with no need to register, pay tax or ensure the bike. Parameters for e-bikes in the UK The bike must meet certain requirements, such as displaying the power output and motor manufacturer, showing either the battery voltage or the maximum speed of the bike, and having a maximum power output of 250 watts. The electric motor should not be able to propel the bike, when it’s traveling more than 15.5 mph. Assuming a bike (or vehicle with more than two wheels, such as a tricycle), meets the requirements, it is classified as a normal pedal bike and can be ridden on cycle paths, and anywhere else where pedal bikes are allowed. E-scooters for emission-free transport E-scooters are stand-up, electrically powered scooters that are becoming more popular in urban environments E-scooters are stand-up, electrically powered scooters that are becoming more popular in urban environments, providing individual and emission-free transport. In a city like London, e-bikes are a familiar sight. Riders may store and charge their e-bikes in communal areas or hallways, when they are home. This practice heightens the fire danger, because any fire that erupts is likely to block an escape route and trap occupants within the building. Avoiding unsafe mixing of batteries and chargers The London Fire Brigade’s Fire Investigation team has seen incidents involving multiple batteries and chargers for a number of bikes at one property, which has resulted in the unsafe mixing of batteries and chargers. Lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to failure, if charged incorrectly, which may be a contributing factor in some incidents. Batteries can get warm during use and should be allowed to cool down, before attempting to re-charge. They should also be charged on hard, flat surfaces, in order to allow heat to dissipate. Chargers and batteries should not be left unattended or while residents are asleep. Installation of smoke alarms is advisable in areas where e-bikes or e-scooters are being charged.
This year’s catastrophic wildfire season reminds us of the need for early detection of wildland fires before they escalate out of control. Historically, tools such as satellite imagery and localized video cameras have helped to identify fires at their origin and to alert authorities. However, delayed detection and low reliability have been a problem. Cloudy weather can also be an impediment, and the severity and frequency of wildfires worldwide suggest that new approaches are needed. A new high-tech approach involves ground-based sensors, drones and the Internet of Things (IoT). Wildfire detection solution Numerical analysis of the new technique suggests it can offer a faster and more reliable wildfire detection solution than current satellite imaging techniques. However, the system can only cover smaller areas when compared to satellite imaging. The system can only cover smaller areas when compared to satellite imaging Researchers in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Canada have proposed an early wildfire detection system based on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that pass over to collect data wirelessly, using the IoT, from low-cost sensors positioned throughout a wildland area. The sensors monitor the forest for any signs of smoke or heat. In a report published by the IEEE Internet of Things Journal, the researchers sought (1) to study the performance and reliability of UAV-IoT networks for wildfire detection and (2) to propose a guideline to optimize the network to improve fire detection probability within limited system cost budgets. monitoring larger area The research suggests a need for a delicate balance to optimize the density of sensor devices and the number of UAVs covering a forest area. The goal is to maximize the lower bound of wildfire detection probability within a limited time and low system cost. Research suggests that more sensors equate to better detection up to a point. The researchers demonstrated that the IoT/UAV network could detect fires in a shorter time Beyond that threshold, however, efficiency is lost because extra time is needed for the UAV to gather data in each location, which delays the ability to monitor the larger area. The researchers demonstrated that the IoT/UAV network could detect fires in a shorter time when compared to satellite imagery. This finding expands the capability to fight a fire before it spreads out of control. IoT sensor devices After a fire ignition, the IoT sensor devices within a limited distance from the fire can detect it and then report their measurements to nearby UAVs. The researchers used Discrete-Time Markov Chain (DTMC) analysis to compute the fire detection and false alarm probabilities. Markov Chains use statistical models for real-world processes. Inexpensive sensors, like the ones proposed for this application, do not have sufficient range to communicate with a distant fire control center. Therefore, the drones are used to fly over the area, capture the data wirelessly and then return to a base to report a fire. Lower-Cost drones The outlook for accelerating numbers of wildfires this year and in the future looks grim The researchers are Osama M. Bushnaq of the Autonomous Robotics Research Center of the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), Abu Dhabi, UAE; Anas Chaaban of the School of Engineering, the University of British Columbia, Canada; and Tareq T. Al-Naffouri of the Computer, Electrical and Mathematical Sciences and Engineering (CEMSE) Division of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Thuwai, Saudi Arabia. More than 95% of the Western United States is in drought, and there has been more than a month of above-normal temperatures. The outlook for accelerating numbers of wildfires this year and in the future looks grim. New technologies provide a tool to address the problem, even as global warming makes it worse. Connectivity of the Internet of Things provides new opportunities to leverage the power of sensors, software and other technologies to address the challenges, and lower-cost drones are providing an additional tool to collect data that will power decision-making during wildfire seasons of the future.
Premier Inn is the biggest chain of hotels in the UK, featuring in many towns and cities making up a network of over 800 hotels nationwide. With the continued popularity in air travel, Premier Inn decided to construct a hotel at Heathrow Airport Terminal 4. The construction of the hotel was an eight-storey, 613-bedroom hotel offering various size bedroom suites along with customer lounge and restaurant. Protec were employed to design, supply, install and commission both fire alarm and emergency voice communication systems (EVC). The fire alarm system would comply with BS5839 Part 1 recommendations along with holding a full BAFE SP203 approval as per the client’s requirement. Fire alarm system The system, when designed, would have to take into account the use of each room. As some rooms were accessible bedrooms, this would mean the Equality Act 2010 would also apply to the design of the system. An EVC system was required in the hotel, to assist with the safe evacuation of the building in an emergency scenario. The disabled refuge system also had to meet the current BS5839 Part 9 recommendations The disabled refuge system also had to meet the current BS5839 Part 9 recommendations. The system installed was a fully addressable Protec 6000PLUS series fire alarm system, offering a total of 22 detection loops across the hotel. The detection loops monitored a total of 1148 peripheral fire alarm devices such as multi-sensor detectors, manual call points, fire alarm interfaces and wall mounted sounders. Optical heat detectors The design of the system took into account the environmental conditions of the rooms. Factors such as shower steam and aerosol sprays are types of issues which can create false alarms in a hotel, so minimizing these conditions was paramount. Within the bedrooms, Protec utilized the 6000PLUS optical heat detectors to cut down false alarms. The multi-sensor technology is a tried and proven method for bringing down false alarms caused by that of shower steam or aerosol sprays. The multi-sensor technology works by using infra-red and thermal sensor, along with the Protec’s algorithm technology (Algo-Tec™) to differentiate between a fire and a non-fire scenario. It means environmental conditions such as shower steam or aerosol spray do not create a false alarm unlike a standard optical type of detector would. Emergency services teams The disabled refuge intercom points offer a safe temporary waiting area for the less abled person The hotel offered multiple accessible bedrooms which had to be equipped with Protec’s range of visual alarm devices (VADS). The high output LED devices are mounted to the wall or incorporated into the detector head. The bright LED head flashes to notify a person with hearing difficulties when there is a fire scenario. The EVC system is used in an evacuation scenario, assisting the emergency services teams with the safe evacuation of the building. The disabled refuge intercom points offer a safe temporary waiting area for the less abled person to wait and communicate to the emergency services in a building evacuation. The system across the hotel offered two-way voice communication between the outstations at the dedicated refuge points and the main disabled refuge control panel. Disabled refuge outstations Protec continues to work with Premier Inn as their approved supplier of fire alarm systems The fire services use the disabled refuge main control panels to communicate with the person waiting at the refuge area in an emergency scenario. Protec offered a fully compliant BS5839-9 system within the building and consisted of a 24-way main control panel and 21 disabled refuge outstations. Since completion of the Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 Premier Inn project, Protec continues to work with Premier Inn (Whitbread) as their approved supplier of fire alarm systems. Fitting out new projects and maintaining the network of existing hotels throughout the UK, Northern and Southern Ireland. Working closely with Whitbread the Primer Inn portfolio benefits from Protec’s fully comprehensive service and maintenance package offering a 24 hour a day, 365 days a year reactive call out service. With reporting, PPM and Reactive works allocation provided via Whitbread’s web-based Ostara Systems.
The construction of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, which is one of the UK’s super hospitals and at the time of creation was the largest project of its kind in the country outside of the Olympics development. The steel and glass towers of the hospital now dominate the city’s skyline. The facility has the largest single-floor critical care unit in the world, with 100 beds. Service personnel are treated in single rooms or four-bed bays in a 30-bed military section located in the trauma and orthopaedics ward. The ward has additional features for the use of service personnel only and caters to their specific requirements within a secure military environment. Fire alarm system Protec was set with the task to design-develop a full BS5839 and HTM05-03 compliant fire alarm system which would also work alongside a fire damper system which prevents the spread of fire. The system would need to offer a full graphical representation of the building for control/ integration of the fire alarm system an have a voice evacuation capability to reduce the risk of alarm and distress in a fire scenario. Protec was set with the task to design-develop a full BS5839 and HTM05-03 compliant fire alarm system A Protec Algo-Tec™ fire detection system was installed protecting the staff, patients, visitors and buildings from fire. The fire alarm system is monitored by several main fire alarm control panels, with a further 142 Protec Algo-Tec™ 6000 LCD loop driven panels located out in the field at specific nurse base stations throughout both the entire Acute and MHU buildings. Patented interface units The full network supports, the two main graphic stations which control the whole project with the remaining positions filtered for the MHU Building. There is a further stand-alone MHU Building located off-site about six miles down the road, completed as part of the overall project. In all, 237 kilometers of cable were used across the site, connecting over 25 thousand individual components such as manual control points, sounders, bases, panels, interfaces, beacons, etc. – all Protec 6000 series equipment. By utilizing specially designed and patented interface units, the system controls the hospital’s smoke damper systems. By doing this, it means that via the graphics on the PC, operators can see all areas and the dampers and can control them to prevent any smoke and toxic fumes from spreading, enabling any people in other areas to leave safely. Public address system The total number of smoke dampers used for the project was 1500 in the acute wing The fire detection and alarm systems offer state-of-the-art intelligent networks that pave the way for the next generation of designs, introducing technology that reduces cost by removing the need for duplication of wiring and power supplies. The total number of smoke dampers used for the project was 1500 in the acute wing, with a further 135 in the Mental Health Unit (MHU). The associated Protec smoke damper interfaces allow the control of these devices to utilize the fire detection and alarm loop and avoid the need for separate power supplies, distribution boards, and additional circuit protection. A voice evacuation public address system has also been linked to the fire detection system to make this a truly integrated network and further improve cost-saving efficiency. Smoke damper control Robert Cash, Protec Fire Detection plc Project Manager, said: “As a new build, we have been able to design and install the ideal network systems to make this a future-proof landmark development. Additionally, with the integration of smoke damper control, we have probably shaved around £100K from the overall project cost.” Since the completion of the project, Protec has continued to supply the hospital with fully comprehensive maintenance and service contract. Due to the size of the project, the hospital benefits from a site-based engineer to service and maintain the system and holds meetings with the FM Provider regularly. Also, Protec has secured multiple other buildings on-site which all integrate to the existing fire alarm network.
2020 saw the United Kingdom hit with a worldwide pandemic of a respiratory disease called COVID-19. It saw thousands of people hospitalized and cause a severe strain on the country’s NHS services. The UK government decided to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and assist the under-pressure NHS, by building seven new temporary hospitals, located around the United Kingdom. The seven hospitals were to re-purpose existing, multi-function public buildings, such as London’s ExCel, Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and Manchester’s Central Convention Complex. The buildings would become temporary hospitals, so as to treat patients suffering from COVID-19 infection. Manchester Central Convention Complex (MCCC) The Manchester Central Convention Complex (MCCC) was the chosen building to offer rehabilitation to patients in the North West region. The site was to become a 750-bed hospital complex, staffed by a vast range of consultants, nurses, clinical and non-clinical support workers, and administrators. The MCCC already had an existing fire alarm system. Due to time constraints, an extension of the current fire alarm system would be the most suitable option. However, the chosen building also carried a Grade II listing, making installation of services a complicated procedure. Bottleneck on supplies due to lockdown The UK government issued a nationwide lockdown, seeing the majority of industries close The United Kingdom was suffering from a worldwide pandemic. The UK government issued a nationwide lockdown, seeing the majority of industries close. It created a bottleneck on materials and supplies across multiple sectors, resulting in more exaggerated issues than usual. The companies involved needed dedicated labor and supply lines, in order to complete the project, without disrupting the project timeline. The proposed NHS Nightingale Manchester was the closet of the Nightingale hospitals to Protec’s production facility. Protec supplied fire detection equipment Protec manufactures all their detection devices and stocks a vast amount of equipment, at any given time. It meant Protec would supply the equipment, materials, and labor to carry out the work in the short timescale required making us the ideal fire alarm contractor for the project. The Manchester Central Convention Complex’s existing fire alarm system was not a Protec system. However, this wasn’t an issue. The current and new Protec fire alarm systems connect via dedicated fire alarm interfaces. Fire alarm system The new Protec fire alarm system offers detection to the newly created ward, shower room and morgue areas. Nightingale Manchester saw the existing open plan area split down into separate wards. These new wards benefited from automatic fire detection, visual alarm devices with manual call points located at nurse bases. Due to the Manchester Central Convention Complex (MCCC) still living its former life, as the Manchester Central Railway Station, built in 1880, it carries the typical architecture of that time. Its 64-meter wide by 168-meter long, arched roof means regular point detection is not the correct fire detection solution. At the highest point of the arch, the room height is more than 10 meters, which means that point detection would not be suitable, as this would be against BS5839 recommendations and challenging to maintain in the future. Beam detection, the ideal solution for the MCCC Beam detection benefits from short installation time over aspiration detection, while still offering ease of maintenance Only two alternative forms of detection would be suitable in this instance. The choice was between aspirating detection or beam detection. Both solutions would be ideal in this scenario. However, beam detection’s quick installation turnaround would be the perfect solution. Beam detection benefits from short installation time over aspiration detection, while still offering ease of maintenance. A total of 12 beam detectors covered the vast curved roof, over the new ward areas. detectors, sounders and call points installed In addition to the new ward areas, a series of smaller additional spaces were created. These included shower and morgue areas. Due to these areas’ pop-up nature, the quickest and most efficient fire system type for them would be a hybrid approach. The newly installed field devices consisted of detectors, sounders and manual call points, all wirelessly linking to Protec static translator modules. The translator modules introduce the wireless fire alarm devices to the newly installed Protec hard-wired addressable fire alarm system. NHS Nightingale Hospital North West NHS Nightingale Hospital North West assisted in the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, as it was initially intended and was successful. All building contractors, NHS and the Army, making up a 1000 strong team, came together to see the NHS Nightingale Northwest facility completed in a staggering thirteen days. Due to the project’s temporary nature, the system supplied included a 12-month service and maintenance contract, offering 24/7 service and support to the site. When the site is no longer needed, Protec will help decommission the fire alarm devices on the newly formed areas.
The Laurus Trust is a Multi-Academy Trust predominantly based within the Greater Manchester area. The trust consists of seven schools which are: Cheadle Hulme High School, Laurus Cheadle Hulme, Laurus Ryecroft, Didsbury High School, Hazel Grove High School, Gorsey Bank Primary School and Cheadle Hulme Primary School. In 2017, The Laurus Trust, along with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), selected BAM Construction Northwest, based in Salford, to deliver the Laurus Cheadle Hulme, Cheadle Hulme Primary School and Didsbury High School, with the contract valued circa £40 million. BAM also went on to secure the Laurus Ryecroft School, as part of the scheme, with the schools opening between September 2018 and March 2020. Protec’s full turkey solution The Laurus Trust’s group of schools set Protec the task to provide a full turnkey solution for the various life safety systems, installed at three of their schools. All the systems provided would have to meet current British Standard recommendations for the fire alarm and emergency voice communication (refuge alarm) systems, as well as take into account whether any value engineering solutions where possible, so as to ensure costs stayed within the contract budgets. BS5839-1 L2 compliant fire alarm system The scheme called for the installation of a BS5839-1 L2 compliant fire alarm system The scheme called for the installation of a BS5839-1 L2 compliant fire alarm system. The fire alarm systems of the 3 No. schools, all benefitted from the new 6500 main fire alarm panels, provided with ‘open protocol’ capabilities. The fully digital addressable panels would offer the display, control and monitoring of the 6000PLUS series fire alarm devices, fitted throughout the schools. The field devices were made up of digital addressable multi-sensors, heat sensors, beam detection, fire alarm interfaces, voice-enhanced sounders and visual alarm devices. At the tender stage, Protec identified multiple value engineering solutions, whereby a detailed up-front fire alarm system design could cut the overall installation costs. Solutions such as using the fire alarm system to indicate the intervals between classes, by adding a timer to the fire alarm system (i.e. Class Change). Protec 6000PLUS series Talking Sounders As the systems utilized the Protec 6000PLUS series Talking Sounders, this enabled the class change signal to use the ‘Bell Tone’ sound, within these devices, thus replicating the sound of a real bell, in a class change period. With Protec installing a fully digital addressable fire alarm system, this negated the need for providing remote indicator units, as the text on an addressable system shows the location of a fire or fault, on the main fire alarm control panel, for integration by the fire service, maintenance engineer or designated competent person. Lockdown Systems Lockdown Systems are becoming popular within the education sector. Sadly, this is due to the growing number of events that could impact on the safety of pupils and staff. The lockdown system is a means to alert staff of an incident, without causing undue distress to the pupils. In this case, Blue manual call points are installed within strategic locations in the schools, connected directly on the fire alarm detection loops. Upon activation of any blue manual call point, in a ‘lockdown’ event, this activates the coded message to alert all members of staff, so that they can implement the correct lockdown procedures. NACTSO guidelines for use of fire alarms Protec overcame the problem by using their Talking Sounder range of fire alarm devices The National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) guidelines state that the use of fire alarms should be avoided, so as to reduce incorrect response to an incident. This statement is down to fire alarm tones being confused with the tones that could be used for a lockdown scenario. Protec overcame the problem by using their Talking Sounder range of fire alarm devices. The system provided enables various messages to apply for each of the different types of scenarios, reducing the risk of confusion. Differentiating between fire and lockdown alarms For these projects, the fire alarm is via a warble preamble, followed by the announcement, ‘Attention please, attention please, fire has been reported in the building, please leave the building immediately, by the nearest exit.’ The lockdown scenario would be initiated via a pulse preamble, followed by the announcement, ‘May I have your attention please, an incident has been reported in the building, please listen for further instructions.’ And finally, the class change is via a ‘Bell’ tone, which is a recorded message that replicates the sound of a traditional type bell. By utilizing the fire alarm system infrastructure for providing the lockdown feature, the system installed has become part of a value-engineered solution for the client. The use of the fire alarm system with the additional devices would mean a dedicated system for the lockdown system would not need installing, thereby, saving costs for the client. Emergency Voice Communication (Disabled Refuge Alarm) Emergency Voice Communication (Disabled Refuge Alarm) is a system used in an evacuation scenario Emergency Voice Communication (Disabled Refuge Alarm) is a system used in an evacuation scenario, so as to assist building management and the emergency services, with the safe evacuation of the building. The refuge intercom system offers a secure temporary ‘refuge’ area for the pupils, staff and visitors, requiring assistance to evacuate to a ground-level via stairs, so that they are able to safely wait and communicate to the emergency services, during a building evacuation. Two-way voice communication The systems across the schools offered two-way voice communication between the outstations, at the dedicated refuge points and the main emergency voice communication control panels. The fire & rescue service would use the main emergency voice communication control panels, which are located at the main point of entry to the building, for ease of access in an emergency scenario. Protec offered a fully compliant BS5839-9 system, across the 3 No. sites, a total of 5 No. 16-way main control panels and 21 No. refuge outstations. Additionally, 20 No. accessible toilet alarms were installed in the accessible WC’s and linked into the refuge alarm system, across the 3 No. sites, as part of a value-engineered solution, to incorporate the toilet alarms and refuge alarm into one complete system. Protec aftercare and service By combining these two systems, this reduced the costs of having a dedicated system for each. Since completion of the 3 No. school sites within this scheme, the Laurus Trust has taken out a PPM service contract with Protec, to ensure that the systems stay correctly maintained and operational for years to come.
Licking County, Ohio was formed in 1808, with its county seat located in Newark, which is 33 miles northeast of Columbus, Ohio. At the center of town, sits the Licking County Courthouse. The courthouse was constructed in 1878, and remains one of the town’s most prized historical possessions. In recent years, it became evident that updates to the building’s fire security facilities were necessary. The previous system was an all-in-one fire and security system, which didn’t leave much to be desired, with regards to fire protection and safety capabilities. Licking County Courthouse’s fire protection system upgrade The contracted installer for the Licking County Courthouse’s fire protection system upgrade project was Advanced Business Communications. They recently chose to become a Potter Electric Signal Company (Potter) dealer, due to Potter’s high standard for quality, position in the marketplace, and easy to install equipment. It was because of these attributes that they felt confident, when placing the initial bid for the project. Advanced Business Communication’s decision to become a Potter Electric Signal Company dealer paid off Since, the Licking County Courthouse is a public agency, it was necessary that those in charge of choosing a new fire protection system for the building, receive quotes from multiple contractors. Advanced Business Communication’s decision to become a Potter Electric Signal Company dealer paid off, as they attribute a large part of their success, in getting the bid, to Potter’s straight-forward installation process. “It’s great to be able to offer our customers, a high quality and reliable system that you don’t need to be a genius to install and operate,” said Shawn Shumaker, the Vice President (VP) of Operations and Sales at Advanced Business Communications. Non-invasive installation process Shaun Shumaker went on to discuss the positive impact that Potter’s 5 year warranty had on gaining the bid, so as to begin work on the Licking County Courthouse at the earliest. He said, “No one else in the industry can offer such a long warranty on their products and that is always a huge selling point for all of our customers.” The wiring from the previous system was between 15 to 20 years old and needed to be replaced. Once the old wiring was removed, it was important that the installation process for the new system be very non-invasive, as to retain the historical integrity of the building. Potter’s fire protection system is easy to set up “We had to be strategic on how we installed everything, so it was very beneficial that Potter’s products were so easy to set up. When something is that simple to use, it takes away a lot of risks like drilling unnecessary holes, or having to rewire anything,” said Shaun Shumaker. He adds, “The installation process went off without a hitch, and now the Licking County Courthouse is updated with brand new Potter fire protection equipment.” Potter’s Facility Management Tool The FMT sends me supervisory updates, so I know if there is too much dust on a smoke detector" Potter Electric Signal Company’s Facility Management Tool (FMT) allows Licking County Safety Director, Michael Albanese, to monitor the panels in real time or to scroll through previous events, in order to understand, when and where an issue has occurred and why. It also helps Michael and his team to stay on top of opportunities, in order to perform effective preventative maintenance. He said, “The FMT sends me supervisory updates, so I know if there is too much dust on a smoke detector, or maybe some wiring connections have come loose.” Michael Albanese also notes how important e-mail updates have been, due to the fact that the courthouse is often closed for weeks, at a time. He adds, “There have been a lot of renovations going on with the court house. That combined with the times when court is out of session means there are often long stretches of time, where no one is allowed on the premises. It’s nice to be able to receive updates on any temperature changes or alarm conditions, during those periods.” Fire protection system installed for Licking County’s CSEA Michael Albanese and his team have decided to incorporate a Potter system into the Licking County’s Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) as well. He looks forward to the new system getting easily integrated through the use of Potter’s Facility Management Tool, Michael adds, “It will be nice, once we have the other building updated, to be able to have control over everything from one location.” Project highlights include: Facility Management Tool - A software package designed to provide service companies, property/facility managers and building owners, the tools and information, to more effectively manage up to 255 Potter PFC 6000 series fire alarm system installations, at a single location. Advanced Business Communications - With over a decade in the low voltage industry, Advanced Business Communications provides professional quality, sales, maintenance and service. They provide industrial and commercial telephone systems, fire alarms, security alarms, video surveillance, access control, fiber optics, networking, phone and data cabling solutions, all at very competitive prices. Potter Electric Signal Company - As an independent company, with a focus on tailored customer service, Potter Electric Signal Company earns its customer’s business, with superior innovation and continued dedication to life safety. They are known for designing and manufacturing high-quality life safety products for the market, in order to protect lives and property, while driving their corporate vision of excellence. They possess the confidence and competence to consistently exceed customers’ needs for every project, every time.
According to Henry Shuler, Owner and Consulting Engineer for Shuler Consulting Company, one of the biggest issues with the old station was its location, which was in a tiny city lot crammed into a corner between the road and a commercial business. In addition, the lift station was at limited capacity, as it only had four pumps. “When you have that much sewage going into a very small wet well, corrosion becomes an issue. Odor was also a problem,” said Shuler. “So beyond just the normal engineering side of it, you had some customer issues – so moving [the station] away from its current location was something very advantageous for the city.” Master lift station The new property the company ended up building on for the city of Natchitoches is several acres, and the new station is in the middle of it. On a piece of land four times larger than the old one, the new station gives the city the ability to operate a crane truck inside the building for pulling a pump, motor or other equipment. At one point, the city looked at a variety of pump configurations for the old station The lift station is also close enough to the previous property that the gravity lines were able to be easily rerouted without going a great distance. At one point, the city looked at a variety of pump configurations for the old station. But, there was really no easy way to maintain it, according to Shuler. The original master lift station had four 12” pumps. They were replaced with eight 10” pumps. Adjusting speed accordingly When it came to programming these pumps, the process was user-friendly. Equipment operators can monitor each pump based on flow into the wet well and adjust the speed accordingly. The pumps operate at minimum speeds that can be easily increased. The city also took advantage Gorman-Rupp’s Integrinex® advanced control technology. The manufacturer supplied a cellular modem for the SCADA system so the system can be monitored and adjusted as needed. The motor control center, according to the lift station operators, is unprecedented. The controls are all touch-screen and very easy to use. Operators can monitor run times, engine status and pump status. The new lift station’s average flow is about 2 million gallons a day (MGD) and 6 MGD during peak flow. Building new station The new lift station has two separate wet wells with the capability to isolate one in the future According to Matt Anderson, the Utility Director for the city of Natchitoches, the master station that was replaced was approximately 25 to 27 years old. Due to its age, the decision was made to replace rather than repair the station. “We made the decision that if we’re going to build this, let’s build it for the next 30 years’ worth of growth,” said Anderson. “So [there’s] quite a difference in our old master station and our new master lift station.” Instead of spending the necessary dollars in rehabbing and bypassing the station for months (which would mean taking the wet well out of service), investing the money in building a new station made more sense. The new lift station has two separate wet wells with the capability to isolate one in the future. Municipal sewer sales Each wet well contains four pumps – two in each well utilizing Gorman-Rupp’s AutoStart engine-driven emergency back-up technology. Anderson has worked with Gorman-Rupp for over 23 years and considers the company a valuable partner. Gorman-Rupp is probably our top company that we represent as far as sales" “We have many, many stations with Gorman-Rupp products, and we’ve always been satisfied with their parts availability,” he said. “Gorman-Rupp is probably our top company that we represent as far as sales,” said Trent McCoy, Municipal Sales Representative for Delta Process Equipment, the equipment distributor for this project. “Certainly my top manufacturer as far as municipal sewer sales. They make it really easy to sell. I think Gorman-Rupp kind of speaks for itself as far as quality and reliability.” Handling such events Tornadoes and hurricanes (as well as a recent winter storm) are typical in this region of Louisiana. The new lift station was specifically designed to handle such events. During Hurricane Laura, for instance, the station was completely out of power for almost 40 hours but remained in operation. “For 40 hours, during a heavy rain event, we had to rely on those backup engines to run those pumps, and they did a great job,” added Anderson. In terms of Gorman-Rupp’s service elements, they are always available to help. When a problem arose, Gorman-Rupp and Delta Process were able to provide quick service to mitigate any issues.
Round table discussion
New tools and technologies are emerging that augment the efforts of the fire market to prevent and fight fires. Modern firefighting is benefiting from an ongoing sea change in technological capabilities, spanning equipment, electronic components, greater connectivity and firefighter monitoring, to name just a few. We asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What technologies will have the greatest impact on the fire industry in 2021?
When a fire or other emergency occurs in a building or facility, first responders depend on every available resource to ensure a safe and orderly evacuation and response. One element in any response plan is the facility’s physical security systems, including access control, video surveillance and intrusion detection. How can these systems contribute to an orderly response to a chaotic situation? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the role of security systems in the event of a fire or other emergency evacuation?