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Are you in control of the fire safety compliance for your property portfolio?

Are you in control of the fire safety compliance for your property portfolio?

Since Grenfell, fire safety in social housing has been in the spotlight. The standard of existing fire safety has been scrutinised and reviewed, with terms such as stay-put policy, EWS1 forms, The Hackitt Report, and ACM cladding all becoming household topics of discussion. Billions of pounds are being spent on Type 4 Fire Risk Assessments (FRA), cladding removal, door replacement programmes and waking watch. Housing groups are now putting more and more pressure on manufacturers and contractors to provide them with the assurance of compliance, with BIM and the Golden Thread becoming the expectation rather than the exception.

With the evolution of regulations and requirements, it may seem like there is a lot to keep on top of and checking all buildings efficiently can be more challenging. This raises the question: what can we do to keep on top of the ever-changing demands of a compliant and fire safe building?

Problem 1: Door closers are often damaged or stolen

An Inside Housing analysis of Grenfell survivors’ statements revealed that out of 81 flats, 46 of them described problems with fire doors – the main theme being missing self-closing devices. 4 years later, this issue is still unresolved.

In a recent conversation that Pete Davies, Fireco’s Business Development Manager, had with a local authority in the South East, he found out that out of 6000 general-purpose flat entrance doors, 1700 had closers disengaged or removed. In a conversation with another housing association customer, they explained that 40% of closers were missing from their general needs accommodation.

Problem 2: Keeping track of all the compliance information for the whole property portfolio

Within housing associations there can be anything from 500 to 80,000 properties in one portfolio. Keeping track of all of these properties can take a lot of time and coordination, however, this still needs to be done. The Golden Thread requires accurate and up-to-date records of all a building’s data through every stage, starting with the architects and then right through the chain of manufacturers, contractors and risk assessors.

The solution: How to keep track of fire safety in social housing

Fire safety compliance cannot be achieved overnight. There will be regulation updates, maintenance schedules to organise and expensive projects to plan, whilst a change of tenants can also act as variants as to whether your building is compliant. However, we can offer a way for you to take a bit more control of your property portfolio and help you keep track of what’s going on with parts of your building with live information.

A laptop on a table being used by someone. Th screen shows Fireco's product, InSite, compliance monitoring software.

Our new InSite software allows you to remotely monitor the status of all Fireco Pro door furniture located in your buildings from one device. If you are using our free-swing closer, Freedor Pro , for residents with mobility issues, you will be able to see instantly whether it has been tampered with or removed. You will also have the serial number, installation date, battery life, signal strength and current status. You can assign each device with the corresponding flat number and whether the resident is part of a PEEP, as well as the date due for the next inspection.

All our Pro Range door products are Cat A compliant meaning they can be installed in high-risk areas in accordance with your FRA. The Pro System is radio-controlled via ProHub which is hard-wired into your communal alarm panel, automatic opening vent (AOV) or sprinkler system.

With Fireco’s Pro Range & InSite Software, you can rest assured that one major part of your building compliance has been made easy.

If you need help with fire safety compliance in your buildings, call us on 01273 320650.

Keep your employees safe with COVID-19 rapid-result test kits

Keep your employees safe with COVID-19 rapid-result test kits

Throughout the pandemic, we have been ensuring that our office and manufacturing space is COVID-secure, to prevent the spread of the virus and keep our workforce safe. As a manufacturer, we can’t afford to stop altogether and due to the virus spreading so easily, we have constantly reviewed and updated our prevention methods.

As expected, some of our employees have contracted the virus, most likely outside of the workplace. Our Chief Commercial Officer even wrote about the experience of him and his family contracting the virus from his children attending school.

We have been able to use and even manufacture our own products to help us tackle the spread of the virus, giving us more control over the safety of our workplace. We haven’t had to rely on delivery times, finding and buying products from different suppliers or hoping that what we’ve chosen will work.

However, one element that we felt was missing from our hygiene strategy was actually testing our employees. We have reduced touchpoints, improved ventilation, installed hand sanitisers, provided face masks and shields, have a temperature check by the door and one-way system. But, as said in James’ blog, when his family contracted COVID-19 their beginning symptom was a headache – not a temperature. 

Due to this, we decided to introduce rapid-results test kits to employees. We wanted to offer peace of mind to those who need to come into work, that all people on-site had tested negative. This peace of mind is priceless during such a challenging time and has made our employees feel safe when coming to work.

We have already helped many businesses with their hygiene control measures. However, we want other companies to experience the same peace of mind that we have, which is why we now sell rapid-result COVID-19 test kits through our online shop

COVID-19 rapid-result test kit

Our online shop provides a complete hygiene control solution:

Dorgard, Dorgard SmartSound & Freedor SmartSound – Hold your doors open safely and legally, to reduce touchpoints and improve ventilation.

Germgard – Reduce cross-contamination in your building by promoting or enforcing the use of hand sanitiser.

Face Shields – To be worn with face masks for added protection.

COVID-19 Test Kits – Ensure that the workforce in your premises has a negative test result and provide peace of mind to employees.

If you need help with your COVID-secure strategy or your return to work strategy, call us on 01273 320650, or visit our online shop.

Monitor your sites remotely with Fireco’s new software

Monitor your sites remotely with Fireco’s new software

Fireco is excited to be starting the year off by introducing a new innovation to its product range! This product has been developed throughout 2020 with the aim of being able to help customers operate more efficiently, reduce costs and meet compliance requirements.

Introducing InSite, Fireco’s open and unified monitoring software and the newest addition to the Pro Range.

The InSite software is cloud-based, offering remote monitoring of Fireco’s Pro Range door devices, providing real-time information about the status, battery life and signal strength through the ProHub system controller.

This software is an excellent way for Installers and Maintenance Managers to keep track of their different sites, enabling them to plan visits efficiently around the device reports.

InSite is also ideal for Building Managers, Facility Managers or even the Responsible Person for fire safety, who want to be able to ensure their building is compliant without physically having to check.

“I’ve worked with installers for 10 years and I know they will find this software invaluable for remote monitoring, system checks on-site and even pre-empting when a service is required. Ensuring critical areas of a building are compliant is of great importance and has been a hot topic in the industry this past year. InSite makes keeping buildings safe easier than ever.” Alex Stone, Commercial Services Manager.

We are planning to exhibit at FIREX in July and The Fire Safety Event in September, where we will be showcasing InSite, along with other Pro Range devices. However, we are also carrying out online product demonstrations, so no one misses out.

For more information about InSite or to sign up to a demo visit www.fireco.uk or call Fireco on 01273 320650.

Fireco’s 2020 Journey

Fireco’s 2020 Journey

This time in 2019, none of us would have thought that we would experience a year quite like this one! Even the most comprehensive business plans wouldn’t have been able to prepare for a situation quite like the COVID-19 pandemic. What a year it has been, filled with a lot of uncertainty and concern, but equally full of hope and achievements.

Here’s what Fireco has achieved over the past year, pandemic and all…

Improving operations

We started off our year on a high! In January we moved from Hove to a new and much bigger premises in Southwick. We decorated the whole building in Fireco branding and our manufacturing facilities expanded massively, allowing us to meet customer demand. Just as we began settling in, the pandemic started to really kick-off and we got the notice to work from home where possible. 

With our new premises and with new working arrangements, we wanted to further improve and adapt our operations, with a big focus on quality management. Later in the year, we passed our ISO9001:2015 surveillance audit 1. Having ISO certification means that we are following procedures to continually improve our business operations and the services we offer. So, passing our ISO surveillance is an integral part of making compliance easy for customers as it ensures we are providing consistent and quality products and services. 

Pandemic Response

As soon as the virus came to England, we knew instantly we would be able to help our customers with germ control. Although we had always focussed on fire safety, we started promoting that our hold-open devices could help customers reduce cross-contamination on surfaces — by holding fire doors open, you minimise the need to touch door handles. Later on in the year as the weather got colder, the government advised that well-ventilated buildings could help minimise the spread of infection which is another great benefit of our hold-open devices.

As we approached the summer months with the hope that lockdown restrictions were easing and businesses were able to reopen, we realised that we could do even more to help our customers keep their buildings COVID-secure. We then designed and manufactured Germgard, the Smart Sanitising System. Germgard’s sensor detects when someone is approaching and will display a message on the screen advising the user to sanitise their hands before passing. We introduced three versions of Germgard so that it could be tailored to suit the needs of different businesses and risk levels. We’ve now helped hundreds of new and existing customers with germ control and fire safety. 

As expected all events and conferences were cancelled meaning that we had to find another way to connect with our customers. Many events moved online, and to date, we’ve taken part in the FIREX and IFSEC Tech Talks, The Care, Dementia and Nursing Home Winter Pressures Webisode and Sponsored the FPA’s Fire Sector Summit. 

Events weren’t the only thing that we’ve taken online this year. We’ve massively expanded our online services as we knew that’s where our customers would need us…

Fireco goes digital

Before the pandemic, we would take part in regular business meetings, host installer training at our HQ and present at shows. With all of this put on hold, we had to find new ways to interact with customers. We decided to start holding webinars and product demos through our website and due to high demand, we were organising weekly webinars with other companies which saw hundreds of attendees. Being able to carry on sharing knowledge about the industry and even enabling people to earn CPD points from our sessions has been such an honour and we’ve loved every minute of it.

One common theme we come across often in the fire industry is how difficult it can be to buy a fire door and specify all the right components for it whilst also ensuring it’s compliant to standards and regulations. So, we worked with one of our business partners, Safelincs, to create a fire door selector which gives you the ability to build your own doorset with all components available in one place. It prevents the need to buy everything from separate shops, having to check what products are compliant and coordinating different delivery dates.

Making compliance easy is our main goal here at Fireco and our Customer Support Team are an integral part of this. To make it even easier for our new or existing customers to contact us, we launched an online live chat service as another way to contact us aside from phone calls. We want our services to be accessible to everyone so this was an important addition to our services. 

Celebrating One Million

Even throughout a very challenging time, we had a reason for a big celebration! We sold One Million of our original product, Dorgard. Fireco was established in 1995 with Dorgard as the sole product and here we are today, still selling Dorgard along with our other innovative products that we’ve developed over the years. That was an amazing feeling and one that wouldn’t have been possible without our employees, distributors and customers!

What to expect from us in 2021

We have some big plans for 2021, with a range of new innovations launching which have a very different twist on what we currently offer. The new products we develop here at Fireco are based on what our customers have asked for, so you should all find our launches very exciting! We will also (hopefully) be attending a few big events, including, FIREX and The Fire Safety Event. We’re hoping to connect with you all in person again!

We want to end 2020 on a positive note, by saying a massive thank you to everyone who has supported our business this year and all the years previous. Whether you’ve liked our social posts, hosted a webinar, bought a Dorgard, downloaded our eBooks or joined us at an event, you’ve helped us get where we are today.

On that note, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year, from all of us at Fireco.

Do your employees feel safe at your premises?

Do your employees feel safe at your premises?

The impact of the virus on society

Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists from all over the world have been researching the symptoms, transmission and prevention methods to help us better understand the virus.

In the meantime, we have all been following the ‘Hands, Face, Space campaign promoted by the Government in order to help keep everyone safe. With the belief that the best way to reduce the spread of the virus is to keep your hands clean and sanitised, wear a face mask in public and maintain a safe distance between yourself and others.

This year, we have gained a much higher awareness of the things we touch, whether it’s a shopping trolley, money or a door handle. We have also learned to risk assess our everyday surroundings, and social distancing and wearing a mask has become a habit for many.

However, day-to-day life has and will continue to be impacted by the virus. Returning to work, mixing with crowds or even seeing friends can seem daunting for those who have spent most of the year isolating. This raises the question – are employers and other establishments doing enough to support their employees and customers?

Are employers doing enough to keep the work environment safe?

To help you make your business a safe environment for employees, The Governments Health & Safety Executive (HSE) devised a Coronavirus Risk Assessment which identifies potential safety problems arising due to the pandemic and how they can be overcome.

One point included is “Mental health and wellbeing affected through isolation or anxiety about coronavirus”. Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about going back to ‘normal’. Walking into a building after a few weeks or months and seeing nothing has changed can be very daunting for employees.

Before the first national lockdown ended, a study carried out by CIPD on 1000 working adults revealed that 44% of them were anxious about returning to work due to the potential risk of catching the virus.

Since then, a study carried out by Slater and Gordon, employment law specialists, uncovered that 46% of key workers have whistle blown on their employers for unsafe practices during the pandemic. With concerns ranging from lack of PPE, no social distancing measures in place or people being forced to return to work even if they are classed as vulnerable.

With the news that local councils will have the power to close businesses if they are not COVID-secure, it is vital to ensure your employees feel safe at work. These powers include an order for immediate action to be taken, closures for up to a week and fines if no action is taken.

What measures can be put in place to make a COVID-secure environment?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Fireco has been helping many businesses stay safe, reduce cross-contamination and improve hygiene with our simple germ control solutions.

Our Germgard Smart Sanitising Station is a portable hygiene stand that encourages the use of hand sanitiser to all building users. It uses an infrared sensor and digital signage to capture the attention of the passer-by and ask them to sanitise their hands, which in turn will reduce cross-contamination on surfaces.

The digital signage is customisable and can be used as a building management tool, for example, you can advise staff to use your one-way system or to take their temperature when signing in.

The Germgard station is a portable device, so you can move it to the location that best suits your building, all it needs is a plug socket nearby.

Germgard helps you provide visual evidence that your company is taking adequate measures to keep your premises COVID-secure and will reassure your employees that they are safe in their work environment.

For more information about Germgard or other ways we can help with your COVID-secure strategy, visit our website www.fireco.uk or call us on 01273 320650.

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