Leading manufacturers set for Fire Safety North

Fire Safety North will take place at EventCity in Manchester on 10-11 October and has the backing of leading manufacturers in the fire sector.

Leading brands such as Advanced, Apollo, C-Tec, Johnson Controls, BT Redcare, FirePro, Wagner, Evac+Chair, Safety Technology International, Patol, Fike, Gerda, Kingspan, EMS and more will be among the 30+ exhibitors showcasing their latest products at Fire Safety North.

The event is uniquely co-located with the long-established Health and Safety North and will see more than 2,000 delegates from every level of the buying chain, with a real focus on core markets including installers, engineers, fire safety officers, health and safety managers, facilities managers, risk assessors, insurers, consultants and local governments. 

C-TEC, one of the UK’s largest independent manufacturers of life safety electronic equipment, will be exhibiting at Fire Safety North after attending Fire Safety Scotland in May. C-TEC’s marketing manager Andy Green said: “We are delighted to be supporting Fire Safety North as it’s great to see an event so close to our Wigan base that will attract delegates from across the North of England. 

“We are a proud British manufacturer and are looking forward to showcasing our products to such a diverse audience. It’s great to see many of our fellow manufacturers supporting the event and we look forward to welcoming you to stand FS11 on 10-11 October.”

Fire Safety North is also being supported by key industry associations including the Institute of Fire Safety Managers (IFSM), Institution of Fire Engineers, British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, Association for Specialist Fire Protection, National Association of Healthcare Fire Officers and the Association of Insurance Surveyors (AiS). Both the AiS and IFSM will be hosting open meetings on 10 October.

Delegates will be treated to more than 14 hours of free educational content that is being split across two theatres – The Fire Safety Keynote Theatre (Sponsored by Advanced) and the Fire and Evacuation Theatre (Sponsored by Fire and Security Matters magazine). Sessions will include a mock trial under fire safety legislation, legal advice on the Fire Safety Order, panel debates on how to protect tall buildings from fire in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, a guide to passive fire protection, examining the role of the responsible person and a live chemical explosion demonstration.

For more information or to register to attend for FREE, visit www.firesafetyevents.com

Who is the ‘responsible person’?


Fire safety technology – such as smoke control systems – is designed to save lives and protect property in a fire. The Regulatory Reform (2005) Fire Order, often known as the RRO, governs the legal responsibility to ensure these systems are suitably maintained in order to do their job properly if and when called upon.

The RRO lays the obligation for ensuring this maintenance takes place at the feet of someone it describes as the ‘responsible person’ – someone who will end up heavily fined or even in jail if the legislation isn’t given its due regard.

But who is this ‘responsible person’? The chances are it isn’t your fire alarm provider or your health and safety contractor. If you’re a building owner or facilities manager, it could well be you…

In the RRO, “responsible person” is defined as:

  1. a) in relation to a workplace, the employer, if the workplace is to any extent under his/her control
  2. b) in relation to any premises not falling within paragraph (a):

the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with the carrying on by him/her of a trade, business or other undertaking (for profit or not); or

the owner, where the person in control of the premises does not have control in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking

To further confuse matters, there are other ways of defining the responsible person as laid out in, for example, the government’s own fire safety guidance:

  • an employer
  • the owner
  • the landlord
  • an occupier
  • anyone else with control of the premises, for example a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor. The Fire Safety Order also applies if you have paying guests, for example if you run a bed and breakfast, guesthouse or let a self-catering property.

So if you fit the descriptions above, you may actually be the ‘responsible person’. If there’s more than one responsible person, you have to work together to meet your responsibilities, but generally it’s important that the correct person is identified and his or her responsibilities laid out clearly.

In many cases, this translates to a building’s facilities manager. The duty of care to generate and operate fire risk assessments is all part of the modern FM’s remit and we find in many cases they appreciate the subtle difference between fire alarms, sprinkler systems and smoke control systems.

Government guidance goes on to state that as the responsible person you must:

  • carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly
  • tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified
  • put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures
  • plan for an emergency
  • provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training

You can see how vital all these duties are, which is why we’d always recommend subcontracting to a trusted, suitably-accredited supplier who will understand the technology and legislation, aiding you with that burden of responsibility as the ‘responsible person’. Unfortunately, we’ve seen plenty of instances of smoke control systems being compromised by maintenance undertaken or commissioned without proper technical or legislative understanding.


About Brakel Airvent

Brakel Airvent is the UK’s leading provider of whole-life service to smoke control systems.

The company – based in Cardiff, south Wales – specialises in planned preventative maintenance, emergency repairs and cost-effective refurbishment packages that are staged to minimise financial impact and disruption to building users. It has a national network of service engineers and in-house CFD and fire engineering expertise to ensure its solutions are up to the important task of saving lives and protecting property, in line with legislation such as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.


About smoke control

A legislative requirement, smoke control systems are activated when a fire breaks out in a large building. They remove hot, hazardous smoke or compartmentalise it to allow for clearer escape routes and easier fire fighter access.

Many systems have multiple purposes including natural cooling ventilation or fume management.


FIA qualifications launch at FIREX a huge success

The Fire Industry Association (FIA) officially launched their new qualifications in fire detection and alarms at FIREX (held at ExCel, London).

Three seminars were held on the topic of the new qualifications; one on each day of the three-day fire industry expo.  The seminars were given by VIP speaker, Martin Duggan, General Manager of the FIA, who delivered an insightful set of presentations about the different qualifications that are due to become available.

“The seminars were very well attended and it was a great opportunity to answer questions directly from visitors at the show.  These qualifications have taken years of development and we are really excited to share with the industry exactly what shape the qualifications will take,” said Martin Duggan.

“We’ve taken on new staff and had a small shake-up of the FIA team in preparation for the launch of the qualifications in order to answer all those initial questions and to ensure that the booking process goes smoothly.”

The new qualifications were met with an excellent response by visitors attending the fire industry expo, with a range of interest from across the sector – including a strong international interest.

“There are four new qualifications,” said Martin Duggan. “Designer, Installer, Maintainer, and Commissioner.  They are equivalent to a Level 3 in the UK, so that is the same as an A-Level, but in Europe it is the same as a Level 4 qualification on the European Qualifications Framework.”

Alongside the seminars, the FIA also had a fully decked out stand to look like a pub, serving up a range of snacks and drinks, which was a huge hit with visitors.  The stand had an information desk to meet with the FIA staff and pick up a prospectus for the new qualifications.

“The FIA Lounge was very successful,” said Kat Schabowska, Marketing Communications Executive of the FIA.  “We had back-to-back enquiries at the information desk and the bar area was full every day of the expo.  We are delighted to be able to say that this year’s footfall on our stand was even better than last year.”

An exciting development for the betterment of the industry, the new qualifications will contain a wide range of new topics and key information not seen in previous FIA training.  As a result, the courses will be longer due to the amount of new content and the rigorous exams at the end of each unit.

“We did a gap analysis of our current training and the new qualifications to discover how much more the new qualifications would offer.  The results show us that the courses will at least double in size,” explained Martin Duggan during his presentation.

“We’ve developed some units that are completely new, plus we added extra sections that industry stakeholders and employers have asked for.  Our members have very much guided us in this direction towards including more content and making the courses longer and more extensive, in order to stretch the learners’ knowledge further than before.”

“We recommend that if you’re interested in our new qualifications or courses that you sign up to our email newsletter to find out when our booking system will go live,” commented Kat Schabowska.

To sign up, click ‘Sign up to our enews’ from the FIA’s homepage, www.fia.uk.com.

The new qualifications prospectus is available to download for free from the FIA’s homepage, or a hard copy can be requested by emailing fia-team@fia.uk.com



Are your fire doors safe and legal?

Nick Goddard, Research and Development Manager at Geofire has been in the fire safety industry for over 20 years. Here he talks about the importance of fire doors and the technology available to hold open fire doors safely and legally.

Fire doors are designed to prevent the spread of smoke, flames and toxic gases throughout a building in the event of a fire. However, when a fire door is held open, fire can quickly pass through the building, blocking escape routes and endangering lives.

Legally, a building’s fire doors must therefore be self-closing to ensure the door closes to act as a barrier that stops the fire from spreading.

Due to the level of protection a fire door provides, the placement and weight of the doors is often restrictive for example in a care home setting for residents, or for pupils in a school.

It is recognised that in these cases it is necessary to hold fire doors open for practical reasons. In this instance the fire door must have a device installed to release the door, so that is will close upon activation of the fire alarm system.

Holding open fire doors legally

Making sure fire doors are closed when the fire alarm sounds is extremely important. The British Standard 7273-4:2015 Code of Practice for the operation of fire protection measures – Part 4: actuation of release mechanisms for doors gives guidance on the installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire door holding systems. The system/hardware used to hold the doors open must also be approved to EN1155 standard.

Fire door retainers, also known as fire door holders, use a magnet to hold open heavy fire doors that will release in the event of a fire. Stand-alone door retainers are suitable for doors that already have a closing device fitted, however fire door closers with a built in hold open function are also available.

Depending on the installation and level of protection required, there are a variety of fire door retainers readily available which react to different triggers, in the event of a fire.

Hard wired fire door retainers

Hard wired fire door retainers are used all over the world and are ideal for new buildings as they have a direct wire connection to the building’s fire detection system. In a normal condition, power (usually 24 V dc) is supplied to the door retainers so that they can hold the doors in an open position. When a fire is detected by the fire panel, power is cut releasing the doors so that they can close. A fault in the wiring or power supply to the door retainers will cause them to fail safe and release the doors. Hard-wired fire door retainers are available in many shapes, sizes and finishes to suit all applications.

Radio controlled fire door retainers

Radio controlled fire door retainers are triggered wirelessly by radio waves from a controller connected to the existing fire panel or interface unit. As minimal wiring is needed, these are often used for fitting into large, existing buildings but still offer high levels of protection. These systems are installed by an approved, trained professional as a site survey has to be carried out prior to installation.

Sound activated fire door retainers

Sound activated fire door retainers react to the noise of the fire alarm and some devices can learn the sound of the building’s specific fire alarm, so they will only release when the alarm sounds. This is a cost effective solution as there is no need for wiring to a fire panel.

Sound activated fire door retainers are battery powered and can be installed quickly and easily. They are wire-free, so installing them won’t affect a building’s infrastructure.

Innovators of fire technology

Geofire has been designing and manufacturing electromagnet fire door holders and closers for 45 years from its factory in County Durham. Established in 1972, the company is still continuing to invest in research and development to be able to offer cost effective and innovative fire technology.

Andy Collinson, CEO at Geofire, said: “What makes Geofire stand out from the rest is that we design and manufacture all of our products in the UK, and we are very proud to be able to say that.

“We have a solution available for all installations, whether it is a new build using our hard-wired products, a noisy environment where radio would be more suitable (Salamander) or, where an acoustic solution is required to close the fire doors upon hearing the sound of the fire alarm (Agrippa).”

www.geofire.co.uk Email: enquiries@geofire.co.uk Tel: 01388 770 360


Apollo awarded CPD accreditation for two training courses

Apollo Fire Detectors has reinforced its commitment to promoting best practice in industry training by achieving Continuing Professional Development (CPD) accreditation for two courses offered by the company.

Delivered at Apollo Fire Detectors’ Havant headquarters, the two courses aim to help boost the understanding of how different sensors, conventional systems and analogue addressable systems work, and provide information on the EN54-23 standard for the use and function of VADs.

By sharing its expertise and knowledge through its free training courses, Apollo demonstrates its support for CPD by helping fire sector professionals develop their abilities and ensure they remain effective and increasingly capable.

The newly-accredited courses, are:

Fire Detection and System Principles – Product Training Course A: This six-hour course is aimed at Consultants, Specifiers, Designers, Installers, Commissioning Engineers and Service Engineers.  It covers the principles of fire detectors, where they might be used and how they are maintained, as well as the operation and use of detectors and devices on non-addressable and addressable fire systems.

Introduction to EN54-23: This one-hour seminar, aimed at Specifiers and Integrators, provides information on the EN standard for the use and function of visual alarm devices within automatic fire alarm systems. It covers classes of device, specification formats, CoP0001, appropriate use of VADs and product selection.

Warren Moyle, Senior Product Support Engineer with Apollo Fire Detectors, takes the lead for the design and delivery of the company’s training courses.  Speaking about the two new accreditations, he says: “The fire detection industry is continually evolving, and it’s crucial that the many professionals working within our field stay up-to-date with all of the latest developments and legislation. We’re really pleased to have received accreditation for these two courses, which join our comprehensive range of CPD-approved training resources.”

For more information about the free training courses Apollo has to offer visit: http://www.apollo-fire.co.uk/training-support/cpd-seminars


New Fläkt Woods guide set to improve smoke control in enclosed car parks

Fläkt Woods, a leading manufacturer of ventilation and air movement technology, has published a guide on how to calculate the effect of jet fans on air and smoke flow rates in enclosed car parks. Entitled ‘A Practical Guide to Smoke Control for Enclosed Car Parks’, the technical white paper aims to help designers draw up the correct jet fan solution so that in the event of a fire, smoke can be efficiently removed, rather than accumulating in or spreading to other parts of a car park.

The guide’s author, James Allen, senior fire safety and CFD design engineer at Fläkt Woods, explained: “Many enclosed car parks throughout the world employ jet fans to help clear smoke in the event of a fire with good effect. However, current practice relies heavily on air change rates when designing such systems. Although this approach goes some way in assisting designers to meet the minimum ventilation requirements in car parks, it doesn’t provide all the answers to ensure that a proposed jet fan system will not cause smoke to spread.”

The white paper pulls together existing academic research and sets out formulae for how to calculate the rate of air flow according to the type and quantity of jet fans used, smoke flow rate from the fire origin, and how quickly the combination of smoke and air moves when pushed by jet fans. These calculations take into account the size of a fire to determine the extraction rate required at an exhaust point for removing smoke, and can be used in conjunction with CFD modelling. The guide also outlines the steps to consider when designing smoke control solutions.

“Currently, no single definitive guide exists to show how to calculate air and smoke flow rates when jet fans are in operation,” James Allen added. “As a company at the forefront of developing ventilation solutions for fire safety, we want to plug this knowledge gap and provide a foundation for further work and research to be carried out. This will in turn improve the design process and help designers to more accurately identify how much ventilation plant space a car park needs.”

Designers can download the ‘Practical Guide to Smoke Control for Enclosed Car Parks’ document free of charge from Fläkt Woods’ website: http://www.flaktwoods.co.uk/about-us/media/news/technical-paper/.

Fläkt Woods develops, manufactures and distributes ventilation and air climate products, as well as system solutions, for commercial and industrial applications. Its fire safety solutions include fire compartmentation, smoke extraction, pressurisation and car park systems. For more information on the complete range of fans and other ventilation products from Fläkt Woods, visit www.flaktwoods.co.uk.



Smoke control and the ‘Intelligent FM’

By Bob Gate, UK Business Development and Marketing Manager at Brakel Airvent.

I had the pleasure of attending the Building Services Summit at the British Library late last year, and it got me pondering.

It’s reassuring sometimes to have your own way of thinking reinforced by others in the industry, and the summit’s focus on attaining real value from buildings – rather than rueing their construction as a series of costly mistakes – is one that really resonates with the Brakel Airvent way of thinking, shared by all the smoke safety and ventilation specialists within our organisation.

For us, the facilities management professional is often our core customer, and they’re concerned not only with ticking legislative boxes and keeping things up and running, but also with improvements, with cost-saving opportunities and with a desire to ensure that the buildings they’re working on are inherently constructed correctly in the first place.

The summit highlighted the 10:80:10 ratio – that a building’s total cost is split between 10% construction, 10% demolition and 80% ongoing use, energy and maintenance costs. Investing more in getting things right at the start and doing everything possible to reduce the amount spent during a building’s lifetime will smooth out that equation and build a better, greener future not only for the construction industry but our whole country.

Smoke control

Brakel Airvent’s specific take on the world of facilities management is coloured by a focus on life safety, asset protection, the ongoing health of building occupants and, naturally, cost savings.

We specialise in smoke ventilation and control systems, utilising vents, fans, dampers, smoke curtains and control systems in tandem to create safe zones in the instance of a fire breaking out in a building.

It’s well-known that smoke spreads faster than flames in such situations, creating havoc with escape routes and fire fighter access and endangering lives as well as destroying assets. Our systems keep these escape routes and fire fighter access avenues clear by utilising either mechanical intervention or the natural buoyancy of hot smoke. They require all elements to work in tandem: blocking ductwork dampers to stop spread of smoke; dropping smoke curtains to compartmentalise smoke (keeping it warm and thus high above escape routes); activating fans to extract smoke; and opening AOV windows to allow fresh inlet air into the building.

Understandably, that means if even one element is poorly maintained, or if the pre-set cause and effect protocols in place in the control unit aren’t kept up to date with the building’s geometry, significant risks can emerge.

Finding intelligence

At a competent smoke control specialist, the people are all about innovation at every level of the business. To people like us the task is about so much more than fixing broken vents or testing system efficiency. It’s about working out ways to stop vents from breaking in the first place, or pioneering systems that are inherently focused on energy efficiency and the cost savings that go along with it. We understand that modern facilities managers take a rounded view of their responsibilities and want to work with partners and specialists who share this forward-thinking mindset.

It was mildly gratifying to know that the very building hosting this summit, the British Library, is itself under the watchful care of Brakel Airvent’s team as we are responsible for the smoke control systems and therefore both the building’s occupants and key works such as the Magna Carta or Leonardo da Vinci’s original notebooks.

Sustainability in the real world

For far too long sustainability has been considered a luxury in the built environment. Construction firms often consider it a box-ticking exercise and while it’s important that construction materials and methods are environmentally-friendly, not enough focus is given to the impact the building will have on the environment for the years and decades after it’s finished.

You need maintenance partners who can retrofit, refurbish, re-engineer and advise. Someone who can look at buildings with a pragmatic eye, to save FMs money and to lessen the carbon footprint of the structures for which they’re responsible.

FMs might not be able to influence the construction of individual new builds, but by improving those that they manage they set in motion an upward trend toward a safer, more sustainable future.


Agrippa now available at Screwfix

The Agrippa fire door holder and closer are now available to buy online from Screwfix.

Launched just three years ago by innovators of fire technology, Geofire, the wire-free devices release the fire door automatically to protect the building and its inhabitants in the event of a fire.

Unlike similar hold open devices, the Agrippa products use patented ‘listen and learn’ technology to record the sound of the building’s fire alarm. This ensures the fire door will only close upon hearing the sound of the fire alarm, significantly reducing false activations from loud noises such as vacuum cleaners.

The Agrippa products can be bought directly online at www.screwfix.com and can be fitted by anyone who is competent in DIY, as no electrical knowledge is required. Their wire-free design also means there is no need to disrupt the building’s infrastructure during installation. Full installation guides and step-by-step videos are available online.

Screwfix offers a straightforward and transparently-priced retail experience that enables busy tradespeople to shop for 27,000 products over the phone, online, via their mobile or from their local store.

Andy Collinson, CEO of Geofire, said: “We are delighted to have our Agrippa products in the Screwfix directory. We initially designed the Agrippa range to overcome the issues associated with wire-free devices, such as damage to furnishings or continuous false activations.

“It is very important that people aren’t using a wooden wedge to hold open their fire doors, as the door will not do its job and prevent the spread or smoke and flames.

“We truly believe in our products and are continuously investing in improving the technology we use to make our devices the best they can be. I am very proud that we can say that we manufacture all of our products from our factory in County Durham.”

The Agrippa fire door holder is a safe and legal solution that can be installed behind the door to hold the door open. Competitively priced and easy to install, the Agrippa holder is particularly useful in busy corridors to create free movement around the building. A chain keeper or floor mounted bracket can also be bought from Screwfix for non-standard installations.

The Agrippa fire door closer is a swing-free device allowing the fire door to be held open in any position. Installed at the top of the door, the closer makes the fire door feel light and easy to move.

Both products are supplied with two C-cell batteries and come in a range of finishes suitable for all installations.