Providing fire-detection systems for many facilities involves more than the best choice of products and services – it also requires best practices and a need to carefully consider the environment that it serves to keep safe.
In this article we consider the different premises specification requirements for fire-detection systems, along with the processes needed to ensure the right finish is achieved without compromising on style or compliance.
Google fire safety and the London Fire Brigade suggests: ‘We believe that the most effective firefighting technique is prevention.’ But for many, finding the right fire-detection system is the most difficult task and in a highly competitive market, there are many to choose from.
One point to consider is a system that has been designed to be flexible enough to adapt to its environment, to be able to support and understand the specific needs of a building’s purpose in terms of its function, design and use.
It is down to consideration of these elements and all who occupy the facilities to determine the best technology and installation of fire detection, all whilst ensuring compliance with the latest fire-standards legislation.
Fire safety by design
Above all else, fire detection is there to save lives, but the way in which systems are presented, will depend on their surroundings.
The style of a fire-detection system would be considered a priority for a hospitality environment, including hotel and restaurant facilities, to blend with the aesthetics and not impact on the ambience created.
In any leisure facilities such as a gym, it is essential fire-detection measures and systems are in place that will provide customers, employees and the premises itself with sufficient prevention against fire at all times. To keep up with demand, a system needs to be simple to install and operational as quickly as possible for the benefit of members and staff.
However, a manufacturing facility will require the latest fire-detection technology to ensure the safety of its building, its specialist products and all personnel who operate on site.
Speaking about this directly in relation to works at G&B (North West) Ltd, Paul McDonough, Operations Director Bell Lancaster added: ‘The fast pace nature of the manufacturing process at G&B (North West) Ltd meant that any fire detection system to extended buildings had to be installed quickly and efficiently to eliminate the threat of any downtime or business disruption.’
Fire safety is one of the highest pressures and most significant components of healthcare facility management.
Whilst by their very nature healthcare facilities are designed to be open and accessible to the public, there is also a need to provide a welcoming and calming environment that supports patients, staff and visitor health and well-being. Therefore any fire-safety technology must be strategically placed, unobtrusive and not affect the aesthetics of the building’s interior.
Within all of this, there is no room for error and facility managers must do everything in their power to keep patients safe. Attention to detail and routine safety checks can help to keep fires under control or prevent them altogether.
Taking this one step further, Comelit has recently been involved in specifying fire-detection systems for a number of care-home facilities. Care homes are at high risk of fire and their fire-safety procedures need to be more complex than in other residences.
For care-home residents, emergency evacuation is not as straightforward as ‘just head for the nearest fire exit’. Residents are often less mobile; they may use walking sticks or wheelchairs, or be unable to walk without assistance. It can be a struggle for many to move around easily.
Care-home residents could be bed bound, suffering from dementia or other mental health problems, hard of hearing, or unable to move without assistance. Vulnerable people may have a slower reaction time to fire alarms. Confusion and forgetfulness can lead to cigarettes not being extinguished properly.
Added to this is the distress that a loud fire alarm can cause. Plans must be in place to ensure no occupant is trapped in the case of a fire, and staff need to be well trained, with a full understanding of exactly what they need to do if a fire does break out.
Comelit has worked closely with Amicura Limited’s care homes, across its property portfolio, to understand these unique requirements and support the Estates Director and responsible agents to ensure correct fire-detection systems are fitted.
Its North Shields based Kingfisher Care Home is a new dementia specialist care home presenting a traditional purpose-built design, a selection of open-plan living areas and a stimulating lifestyle programme.
As part of the refurbishment programme, and to achieve latest fire regulations, KJ Fire Safety installed Comelit’s stylish addressable Atena touch-screen control panel on a four-loop solution to control fire-detection systems across the entire site. Installation works were completed whilst being sensitive to residents and their daily routines.
Says Ruth Field, Estates Director of Minster Care Group: ‘Having an effective fire alarm system is absolutely vital at a residential home, and dementia care specialist home, where evacuation can be extremely complex and literally every second matters.’
Nigel Thomas, Managing Director, KJ Fire Safety Ltd, who installed Comelit’s system on site added: ‘Care homes have some pretty unique requirements when it comes to fire safety. By their very nature they’re places where dependent and often very frail individuals live, and keeping them safe and secure is paramount.
‘As we demonstrated at Kingfisher Care Home, the starting point for keeping new residents safe was to carry out a fire-risk assessment, in line with latest legislation, checking all aspects of fire safety were fit for purpose. It was only on this understanding, we made recommendations on a new fire system.’
The importance of carrying out a fire-risk assessment on a regular basis is with a proper understanding of how fire can travel and develop. Returning to care homes as a key example, which are classified as being high risk, it is important that the person that carries out the fire-risk assessment has sufficient expertise in fire safety.
But for all businesses, it is essential to review fire-risk assessments and emergency planning when it comes to the protection of staff, residents and guests. And this is only likely to become more significant and a regular occurrence as the full impact and implications ‘post-Grenfell’ and the requirements of the report filter into everyday expectations for fire detection.
Comelit works in partnership with professional risk assessors, with its third-party accredited fire-detection products and services able to accommodate all property requirements; specifying bespoke solutions where necessary.
Our Fire product range includes conventional systems that are particularly suited to fire detection in smaller facilities and buildings with simple layouts.
Addressable panels can identify the precise location of a fire and are suitable for facilities of all types, residential and commercial. These panels include features such as 10,000-event log, 250 devices per loop, up to 32 panel networkable and touchscreen control.
Both Comelit’s ATENA and ERACLE solutions feature smoke, heat and multi-sensor detectors as well as IP-rated devices including sounders and call points.
We also offer ATEX systems that can be used in reference to zones where there is risk of explosion due to the nature of atmosphere and the elements it may contain. And each system comes with accessories to complete installations.
To support the installer, we have a full suite of calculation tools for our ATENA addressable systems for both loop loading and battery standby calculations that can help to identify possible issues prior to installation.
Comelit is a proud member of the Fire Industry Association (FIA) that insists on third-party certification as a clear sign of a company’s quality. This all demonstrates that we want to work in partnership with our customers to ensure manufacture, design and installation of stylish (often bespoke) fire-detection systems is a smooth operation for the benefit and peace of mind of businesses and facilities across the UK.
In summary, the message of prevention is better than cure is well received in fire safety, and this trend is only set to become more critical. It is why Comelit believes that the requirement for a fire-detection system should be considered as early as possible in any programme of works specification process.
And whether new build or part of a refurbishment programme, it is critical to fully understand the unique premises requirements and responsibilities.
From this basis, a bespoke, user-friendly fire-safety solution can be created, installed and maintained. Following this, with regular risk assessments carried out, we can together ensure peace of mind for all who work, live and visit any particular site.
For more information, go to www.comelitgroup.com