Just a few weeks ago, we learnt from the Home Office, that a third of all buildings audited by regional fire crews across England were deemed to fall below current fire safety regulations on a number of levels.

The figures also showed that fire and rescue services in England were called out to over 576,000 incidents during the past year, 40% of which were fire false alarms, usually caused by a combination of poorly designed and maintained fire detection systems, carelessness within the premises causing a false alarm to be generated, and deliberate activation of the systems.

Sadly, these figures would indicate that there has been little or no improvement in false alarm levels during recent years, in spite of a number of very significant improvements in both the range and quality of fire detection systems and the technology employed.

From personal experience, I frequently see significant alterations being carried out to buildings with scant regard being paid to the appropriate redesign of the fire detection and protection systems, which is potentially very unhelpful from both a fire protection and systems reliability viewpoint.

Looking from a pure maintenance viewpoint, during the course of my working life, I walk into many shops, offices, restaurants and hotels throughout the year, and I would say, as many as 20% of the premises I visit are indicating a fault condition of one kind or another on their fire alarm panels. At the very least, this indicates poor maintenance and at worst, poor initial design, leading to system faults, failure and false alarms.

When it comes to fire prevention, having a robust strategy in place, that outlines all of the appropriate fire safety protocols, is vital. This needs to start with a proper and thorough risk assessment, carried out by an appropriately experienced and qualified individual. A thorough review of your premises, together with how they are used, will help to identify initial hazards and areas of concern.

A fire risk assessment is a legal requirement for anyone responsible for a building, and this should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure that the measures in place are appropriate to all current risk levels. The responsible person for a building needs to have a thorough understanding of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This is an unpleasant piece of legislation which places the legal responsibility for fire safety onto the ‘responsible person’ for the premises concerned. Very frequently, these individuals have insufficient knowledge and experience to determine the full extent of the risks involved, and the level of protection required. This places them in a potentially dangerous position, that in the worst case carries a prison sentence.

Consequently, it is essential to employ an appropriately qualified and experienced person to carry out the initial

risk assessment and to back this up by engaging with knowledgeable, accredited companies to design and implement the appropriate strategy of works. This will invariably include passive fire protection such as fire doors and fire partitions and active fire protection, including fire alarms, fire extinguishers and where appropriate, fire suppression systems.

Once the appropriate fire protection measures have been implemented, it is essential that a regular and effective testing and maintenance regime is implemented. There is very little point in spending the time and money implementing a structured fire protection system, if it is then left unmaintained. In any case, it is a legal requirement to ensure that regular and appropriate maintenance is undertaken in accordance with the appropriate British and European standards applicable to the equipment being maintained. This is where it is important to choose the right partner to maintain each of your fire protection disciplines. Rarely does a ‘one size fits all’ approach work, as each system requires an appropriately experienced and qualified company to carry out and certificate any works undertaken. This is ultimately your insurance policy.

These three elements – risk assessment, installation and maintenance – are integral to a strong fire prevention strategy, but neither one can exist in isolation. It is the need for a holistic approach to safety that led to the creation of Trigion’s new fire systems business earlier this year.

Headed-up by Neil Twigg, a highly respected professional with over 20years experience within the fire and safety industry, we are able to provide a total service, from initial advice to implementation of all necessary installation and remedial works, through to a comprehensive maintenance service, to ensure full compliance with all of the appropriate standards at all levels.

This includes the installation and maintenance of active fire protection systems, including fire detection systems, voice evacuation, emergency lighting, fire suppression systems and fire extinguishers. We also provide remedial maintenance and servicing of passive fire protection, including; fire doors, fire stopping, fire breaks and dry risers.

Trigion also provides a full fire consultancy service, which includes, fire safety training. It’s little use having all of the right measures in place, if no one knows how to use them. Our fire training services are all individually tailored to meet each customer’s requirements, and can include everything from fire warden training, to the correct identification and use of fire extinguishers.

With more than 50 years of experience in protecting people and property throughout Europe, we are firm believers in the importance of delivering a complete fire protection solution. By adopting a completely ‘joined-up approach’ to fire safety, we are able to provide our customers with an effective and cost-efficient long-term strategy. TOMORROW’S FM | 43

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