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.
In September 2020 we achieved our one-millionth Dorgard sale!
Over the past 25 years, Dorgard has been keeping buildings, businesses and people safe from the dangerous consequences of door wedging. Dorgard is an acoustically-activated door retainer that holds doors open and when the fire alarm sounds, will release and allow the door to close, preventing the spread of fire. Since its launch, two more versions have been introduced to the Fireco range, to help customers even further with their fire safety compliance.
Fireco started as a small business founded in Brighton and is now selling products worldwide. But, how did we come this far?
Focus on compliance
Dorgard was originally created with compliance and fire safety in mind and this has laid the foundations for everything else we have done since – even our motto becoming “compliance made easy”.
Over the years, we have worked with countless installers, fire safety consultants and associations, in order to ensure our products are suitable for all types of building scenarios. This led to the development of Dorgard SmartSound and Dorgard Pro. There are three different versions of Dorgard to meet different compliance requirements, Dorgard Pro being suitable for Cat A.
In more recent years, we have partnered with door manufacturers to carry out burns testing so that we can reassure customers, especially councils and housing associations, that Dorgard is safe to use and will not affect the fire rating of a fire door.
Meeting the needs of customers
Making fire safety easy is another big factor for us. Dorgard can be installed by almost anyone in under 5 minutes and its supporting documents are easy to understand. However, if preferred we do offer an installer service.
Fire safety is at the forefront of all product benefits, but this is not the only problem that we can help customers with. By installing a Dorgard, you can also improve ventilation and access throughout a building, both of which can be invaluable for the user.
Manufacturing a high-quality product that meets standards
When Dorgard was first introduced to the market, there was no guidance available for how and where acoustically actuated devices should be used. As is often the case, it took some time before relevant standards were updated. BS7273-4 now offers clear guidance which allows Dorgard and Dorgard SmartSound to be used as part of a Standard or Indirect installation.
One of the main reasons acoustic devices aren’t considered suitable for Critical Installations (i.e on fire doors on an emergency escape route) is because there is no direct connection between the device and the fire alarm panel, so if the alarm went into a ‘fault’ state, the retainers wouldn’t release to close the door.
This level of Critical compliance can now be achieved wirelessly, by using Dorgard Pro, utilising a hardwired radio transmitter which allows doors to close on either a ‘fire’ or ‘fault’ signal. This means that we can now offer a version of Dorgard based on the level of compliance needed for each door.
British Standards only give guidance on where a product can be used and how it should be actuated. For performance, we need to look at different guidance. All versions of Dorgard are tested to EN1155 which is the harmonized European Standard that gives the product it’s CE mark and classifies door closers using a 6 digit coding system, with each digit referring to a particular feature of the product measured against the standard’s performance requirements. This testing really looks at mechanical reliability, it looks at how many cycles the device can operate on before it starts having problems. 50,000 cycles are the open set close requirement – At Fireco, we actually put our products through 20% more testing than we’re required to.
As previously mentioned, we have completed EN1634-1 testing as part of a complete Doorset with several fire door manufacturers. This means that customers have the option of having a complete doorset fitted with a Dorgard already installed. This testing is vital in giving building managers the evidence they need to show that having our products installed to the door does not damage its integrity.
Ensuring that our products are compliant and meet the needs of our customers, we continually work on our manufacturing operations and product testing. If you have any questions about whether our products are suitable for your building, call us on 01273 320650.
Co-written by Sasha Brigden and Pete Davies.
What is the Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund?
Introduced in May 2020, initially worth £600 million, the fund was bought into action to help tackle the spread of the Coronavirus in care homes.
Now, due to its success, it has been extended to March 2021 with an additional £546 million, giving care providers further funding to help control the spread of the virus.
This funding is “specifically for supporting providers with the additional costs they will face in complying with the government guidance on infection prevention” and in particular for measures that restrict staff movement. The funding can also be used to buy necessary equipment which supports infection control measures and for ‘capital based alterations’ to allow safe visiting.
How do you receive funding?
This kind of funding you don’t need to apply for. Local authorities are given the money to automatically distribute to care providers based on the number of beds they have.
What about PPE?
This funding was not put in place to cover the costs of PPE. The Government has set up a PPE portal where a range of health and care providers can request free PPE to help meet extra demands due to the pandemic.
How can Fireco help care homes with germ control?
A recent study carried out in Australia found that the virus that causes COVID-19 can last on some surfaces for up to 28 days, making a clean and hygienic environment key to controlling the spread.
In order to improve germ control, the government has highlighted the importance of:
- Improving ventilation
- Keeping pinch points, such as doorways and corridors clear
- Social distancing
- Limiting touchpoints and sanitising them frequently
Fireco manufactures a range of products that can help with germ control throughout care homes whilst also keeping you compliant in other areas, such as fire safety. We have different versions of each product, offering different levels of compliance.
Dorgard, Dorgard SmartSound & Dorgard Pro
Dorgard is a fire door retainer. It allows you to hold doors open, closing them upon the sound of the alarm.
Freedor SmartSound & Freedor Pro
Freedor is a free-swing door closer which takes the weight out of heavy fire doors and allows you to place them open at any angle, closing upon activation of the fire alarm.
Holding fire doors open can help with ventilation, reduce the need to touch door handles and aid in social distancing by keeping pathways clear.
Germgard is a smart sanitiser that uses digital signage to promote the use of hand sanitiser. It is available as a portable station or a system that can be installed on the wall and integrated with other systems like access control. Integrating Germgard can allow you to make the use of hand sanitiser a requirement to gain entry, limiting the chances of cross-contamination.
For more information about the Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund, click here.
To find out how Fireco’s products can help your care home with germ control, call us on 01273 320650.
Fireco’s James Wheeler chats with James Moore, Editor at IFSEC Global, about what we’ve been up to this year – read the full interview below.
Best known for its Dorgard solution, Fireco has been working hard in 2020 to keep building occupants safe from fire and assist in germ control. IFSEC Global sat down with James Wheeler, Chief Commercial Officer at Fireco to find out more about how its products and webinars have provided the ideal solution for its customers.
IFSEC Global (IG): We hear you’re showing off your latest product, Germgard, at tomorrow’s IFSEC Tech Talks? Can you give us a little preview of how the solution works and why you launched it?
James: Germgard was created because we wanted to further assist our customers with germ control. Germgard is a smart sanitiser combined with digital signage, designed to promote awareness of the importance of hand sanitisation to all building users. It can also be tailored to suit individual business needs, helping as a building management tool. Some examples of potential messaging includes instructing users to follow your one-way system or putting on a mask before entering.
Our customers require visual, physical products as evidence in promoting their return to work strategy in their workforce. Germgard meets those requirements, ensuring best practice, encouraging occupants to self-police when moving around the building.
IG: And how else has Fireco responded to the COVID-19 pandemic? Have you been running any new initiatives to support the industry?
Since the beginning of the pandemic many people have been working from home so we decided to host webinars offering free education on fire safety, door compliance, evacuation strategies and legislation. We have had over 2000 sign ups and 16 guest speakers from the fire safety industry take part. We’re really pleased to have been able to keep all of our customers and suppliers up-to-date with the latest news from Fireco and from the industry in general.
We want to thank our amazing guest speakers for uniting our industry during lockdown, and keeping us all educated and focused – watch this space as we have more to come!
IG: Have you witnessed new benefits to your Dorgard solution with the onset of contactless solutions?
When COVID-19 hit our business we reacted quickly and recognised the huge importance of Dorgard, not only as a fire safety product but as a product that can assist with a premises germ control. And, due to our quick reaction to the needs of the market, we recently celebrated selling one million Dorgards!
Dorgard holds fire doors open safely and legally and closes when the fire alarm sounds. By allowing our customers to hold their doors open, they are limiting the need to touch door handles and reducing the risk of cross-contamination. Dorgard can also aid with reducing pinch-points in corridors and doorways and increase ventilation throughout a building.
IG: After the recent Fire Door Safety Week highlighted the importance of fire doors, what would be your advice to those specifying fire doors to ensure they remain compliant and protect the lives of building occupants?
Firstly, it’s worth noting the ever-increasing requirements for better and more comprehensive testing for doors and hardware. It’s important to use a reputable company that has tested the doors against an agreed British standard. A number of door manufacturers now have excellent methods of quality control and traceability using new methods.
Some advice that we’ve picked up through working with customers and suppliers are:
- Identify the correct door hardware at the specification stage
- Choose door closers suitable for the users of the door
- Correct fitting of all parts of the door and the hardware
- Keep fire doors maintained by getting them checked regularly by a trained professional
Quality installation of the doors is as key to resident safety, perhaps, as much as the doors themselves. Use accredited fire door installers that will fit the doors to a high standard.
I would also like to add, on the Fireco website we have a fire doorset configurator which allows you to select your door and all the hardware in one place, making it really straightforward for the user.
IG: Can you explain to us a little bit more about your role in FIMA, and how the organisation is looking to support the industry?
Fireco created FIMA and works closely with all its members. At Fireco, we work extremely hard to meet all legislative requirements for the safety of our products and have even gone as far as testing our products with other brands to help customers when making buying decisions. We wanted to create an alliance for manufacturers who want to unite and work together in achieving certification. We also thought it would provide a great opportunity for companies who wanted to integrate their products, whether that’s through hardware or software.
More often than not, installers and customers will need a variety of solutions for the fire safety and security in their building, which means it’s important for different products to work in unison. It makes it much easier for the end user when making decisions if they can see that products from different companies can work together, meet regulations and hold certifications. We wanted FIMA to provide customers with a selection of trusted companies all in one place.
We’d like to thank IFSEC for the Q&A and for allowing us to feature it on our website, as well as their own.
Over the coming weeks, Fireco will be taking part in the IFSEC & FIREX Tech Talks.
The Tech Talks are “a new digital initiative designed for security and fire safety professionals to discover new products and services and connect with potential suppliers.”
They are presented as live or pre-recorded sessions that you can watch from the safety and comfort of your own space. By taking part, you have the opportunity to hear from leaders in the industry, providing inspiration for new technologies and solutions to help with your fire safety and security needs.
We will be showcasing some of the products that we think will help benefit your business, improve environments and contribute to germ control.
Tuesday 6th October at 3.30pm – Germgard will be presented by Zac Sang
Tuesday 17th November at 11.30am – Digital Messaging Service will be presented by Pete Davies
After our product presentations, we will be hosting a live Q&A to answer any queries you may have surrounding how our products work or how they can specifically help you.
To hear more about the latest innovations from Fireco, click the link to sign up to these free events http://ifsec.co.uk/ifsectechtalkspartners