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Germgard: Opening your building to safer measures 

Germgard: Opening your building to safer measures 

On February 22nd 2021, Boris Johnson laid out his roadmap for getting England’s services and institutions back open. Within this, it was announced that schools would reopen on March 8th with non-essential shops and outdoor venues to follow on April 12th. 

Following on from this, Chancellor Rishi Sunak declared he was providing £408 million in a support package designed to aid the struggling cultural sector. As the likes of museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries also prepare to reopen over the coming weeks, this provides some much-needed funding to help look after customers in the post-lockdown landscape. 

The smart and safe welcome back to work

The chief concern for any return to an indoor venue is infection prevention, and there are many ways to improve the customer experience whilst ensuring safety measures are upheld. To enable a successful transition where we can all fully enjoy the experience of going out again, these simply can’t afford to be short-term measures. 

Hygiene control will include:

  • Ample ventilation with fresh air regularly replaced
  • A widespread reduction of touchpoints
  • Temperature checks
  • PPE for staff 
  • The adoption of social bubbles 
  • Sanitisation points.  

The initial welcome will be vital for reassuring customers that your establishment is safe. Proprietors need to send out the message from the outset that they’re serious about the well-being of their clientele. 

Our Germgard products meet these requirements to perfection. Available in 3 different formats, they provide a welcome reminder on arrival to sanitise your hands before entering.  

 

Germgard station helps businesses reopen safely

 

Leave hygiene worries at the door with Germgard 

Our portable Germgard Station is a smart sanitising station, perfect for reception areas and lobbies of hospitality establishments. Like a hygienic gatekeeper, it uses a Passive Infrared (PIR) Sensor which detects when someone is approaching the door. The connected screen will display a message to remind the user to sanitise their hands. When the user cleans their hands, a customised message will appear and then grant entry. There is also the option to personalise the messages and graphics that customers will see.

Germgard can be used as a stand-alone system or it can be integrated with electronic door locks, automatic doors, and access control systems.

For maintaining cleanliness when entering interior rooms such as canteens, meeting rooms and toilets, the smaller, wall-mounted Germgard Lite is the ideal solution. It’s a screenless access control system that also demands the use of hand sanitiser before gaining entry. Once a user has cleaned their hands with the Bluetooth unit, the door will open.

Going with the flow 

Once customers have entered the building, successful hygiene measures dictate that it’s imperative to have good ventilation throughout. As Sir Patrick Vallance explained for the Government on 22nd Feb when discussing a return to schools, “…ventilation is going to be important as children go back, good ventilation.” 

This is where Fireco products can successfully integrate to boost hygiene-control in buildings. After entering the main doors, all interior fire doors can be kept safely open with our Dorgard devices. As well as being an effective fire safety tool, these wireless retainers can increase the flow of ventilation throughout any establishment whilst also reducing touchpoints. Quick and easy to install, they’ll only close when hearing any fire alarm that lasts more than 14 seconds. Simple, unobtrusive and effective, it’s no wonder we’ve sold over a million units since their launch.  

Ultimately it’s about creating a new, safe and welcoming type of visitor experience that stands the test of time. It’s obvious that hygiene-control is an essential factor in the success of this.

Fireco can help you safely welcome back your customers with a comprehensive return to work hygiene strategy. Call us on 01273 320650. 

Fireco introduces Compliance as a Service

Fireco introduces Compliance as a Service

We are pleased to announce Compliance as a Service (CaaS). A new service option available for Digital Messaging Service and Dorgard SmartSound.

We understand that in some sectors such as education and care homes, it can be difficult to get approval on larger payments and raise capital expenditure. Although our products will improve the daily running of the business, they may not be considered as an ‘essential’. Compliance as a Service will make our fire safety systems more accessible to businesses that experience budget restraints.

CaaS is a service through subscription, your company will receive the product range with added benefits including surveys, installation, maintenance, technical support and product replacement in the event of accidental damage. The subscription allows payment to fall into your business’ operational budget.

“Finding even a relatively small amount of capital can be difficult in this current climate, many people I speak to on a daily basis find themselves with a requirement for our products but have their hands tied by being unable to pay for everything upfront. I’m really excited that we have launched CaaS as it gives people the ability to improve compliance in their building with more budget-friendly monthly payments.” 
Chris Russell- Education Sales Manager

If you would like more information about CaaS then please contact us on 01273 320650 or email us at contact@fireco.uk.

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Germgard: Opening your building to safer measures 

Germgard: Opening your building to safer measures 

After Boris Johnson laid out his roadmap for getting England’s services and institutions back open, Chancellor Rishi Sunak declared he was providing £408 million in a support package designed to aid the struggling cultural sector. As museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries prepare to reopen over the coming weeks, how can Germgard and other Fireco products help with their hygiene control strategy?

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Everything you need to know about hotel fire safety

Everything you need to know about hotel fire safety

Here are our top tips for complying with fire regulations if you work in a hotel:

1. Everything starts with a fire risk assessment

All hotels, whatever the size, must complete one. Regular checks of the building need to be made to ensure that fire doors are not damaged in any way. Fire doors must be kept closed and not wedged open. Hazards, such as frayed wiring or blocked escape routes, must be removed.

2. Risk assessments should be ongoing

All risks must be noted and dealt with as soon as possible, rather than a ‘tick-box’ exercise carried out once a year.

3. Staff training is vital to ensure hotel fire safety

All employees need to be able to identify and report fire risks, as well as knowing all escape routes, and what to do in an emergency. Try to spread out fire training across the year. This includes evacuation drills, how to use a fire blanket, fire extinguisher training and how to change the lint filters in tumble dryers.

4. Make sure that there is a clear evacuation route in case of emergency.

Watch out for the following hazards:

  • Wedged open fire doors. If a fire door is wedged open, fire and smoke can spread easily rather than being contained. This will make evacuation difficult as corridors will become full of smoke
  • Corridors cluttered with stored furniture will make escape difficult
  • Inaccessible stairwells because of a fire door rendered useless with a door wedge
  • Confusing signs

What does the law say?

The Fire Safety Order (FSO) is the current law in England and Wales. This states that one ‘responsible person’ (usually the owner or manager) is in charge of compliance. This ‘responsible person’ can nominate a ‘competent person’ to receive the fire training and ensure day-to-day compliance with regulations if they prefer.

Common breaches of fire regulations in hotels

Fire safety experts checked a group of 17 hotels in Liverpool, Sheffield, Birmingham and Manchester. They found issues which breached fire regulations in almost every one. What were the most common things they encountered?

  • Ill-fitting doors in frames
  • Damaged fire doors
  • Fire and smoke seals in poor condition
  • Fire doors wedged open

What are the penalties?

In England and Wales, a breach of fire regulations used to result in a fine of up to £5,000 in the Magistrates’ courts unlike the Crown Court where the penalty was an unlimited fine and/or prison.

Now, the penalty in the Magistrates’ Court is an unlimited fine and the person responsible for fire safety will be prosecuted as an individual, not as a company. This means that in future, less cases need to go to the Crown Court and fines can increase, especially if you have a significant turnover. On top of this, any enforcement action is published online for everyone to see.

Here are some of the heftiest recorded fines that the UK hotel industry has seen:

5. White Swan Hotel, Arundel, 2007
£25,000

When a fire broke out at the White Swan Hotel, 10 guests were left trapped in their bedrooms. The guests were rescued, but subsequent investigations found a list of serious fire safety breaches.

  • Fire doors were wedged open
  • Fire alarms weren’t tested correctly
  • Staff did not have adequate fire safety training
  • Fire alarm panel was switched to ‘silent’ mode.
  • No suitable emergency plan in case of a fire.

4. Tantons Hotel, Bideford, 2011
£40,000

Tantons Hotel was ordered to pay £40,000 in fines after being condemned for breaching fire safety regulations. 55 guests narrowly escaped serious injury or death after a fire broke out. At 4am:

  • The fire alarm failed
  • A guest was sent back to their room when fire was spreading through the building and
  • A fire exit was blocked by cans of cooking oil
  • An elderly guest was fearful for her life when she was trapped between a fire exit which failed to open and another door that had no handle. The judge commented that the hotel was a ‘death trap.’

3. The Belfry Hotel, Cheshire, 2008
£75,000

Firefighters carried out a routine visit to this luxury hotel and discovered their inadequate safety precautions were putting their guests at serious risk. They found:

  • No working fire alarms
  • Faulty smoke detectors
  • Poor fire exits
  • Lack of fire safety training for staff.
  • The hotel was immediately closed but re-opened after the issues were resolved and the required equipment fitted.

2. The Radnor Hotel, London, 2015
£200,000

The former owner of The Radnor Hotel was fined £200,000 — the biggest ever fine from the London Fire Brigade, after a routine inspection found several serious fire safety breaches.

  • Missing fire doors
  • No fire risk assessment
  • Inadequate fire detection systems and emergency lighting
  • Fire doors were tied open using string, extension cords and an extinguisher used as a wedge
  • The former owner was also given a four month prison sentence.

1. The Chumleigh Lodge Hotel, London, 2012
£210,000

The offences date back to 2008. The fire brigade were called when a fire spread rapidly from a first floor bedroom to the second floor. Three people escaped. After the fire, fire inspectors found 12 offences including:

  • Obstructed fire escape routes
  • No smoke alarms
  • Defective fire doors
  • Unsuitable fire risk assessment and no staff training
  • The case was a landmark hearing, as it was the first time a jury convicted a defendant rather than a judge or magistrate.

A fire has traumatic consequences if preventative measures aren’t in place. Fines, closure and loss of reputation can follow a fire, as well as the risk of someone dying.

Compliance doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult for you, we can help, with solutions that make compliance easy. And maybe you can avoid a situation like this one!

The easy guide to fire safety in hotels

Do you know what to do when there’s a fire?

Do you know what to do when there’s a fire?

The alarm sounds. A fire has broken out and your residents are asleep.

Do you know what to do?

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Not the best advice!

It only takes two lungfuls of smoke to kill you, so it’s vital to have an evacuation plan in place.

Fire spreads fast; so there is not much time to think about your next action.

So what can you do?

  • Act quickly. Alert everyone, get together and take your planned route out
  • Don’t waste time saving valuables
  • Test to see if a door is warm with the back of your hand before opening, fire may be on the other side
  • Don’t investigate the fire unless trained to do so
  • If there’s smoke, keep as low as possible
  • Close any open doors behind you
  • If you’re trapped in a fire, get behind a fire door and block the bottom of the door with a towel, sheets or clothing to prevent smoke getting through.
  • Call 999
  • Don’t go back into the building.

These were a few examples of ways to help make evacuation easier. In general, there are lots of simple things you can do to help provide a safer environment. However it’s worth bearing in mind that without an evacuation plan in place, these won’t work.

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25 years of fire safety compliance

25 years of fire safety compliance

Since the launch of Dorgard 25 years ago, we have introduced two more versions offering you different levels of fire safety compliance so you can ditch the door wedge!

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

Some Of Our Door Closers Are Missing

For those of us that know our RRFSO’s from our BS7273-4’s, there’s no question that fire doors save lives and that the weight associated with operating a fire door is a necessary evil, a symptom of those innocuous-looking closers that ensure doors can shut safely. But when we think about who uses those doors on a daily basis, are we expecting too much from industry outsiders?

Most confusing fire signs

Most confusing fire signs

Do you know where the fire exit is?

Fire exit signs form an important part of your emergency escape plan. They should be clearly visible and provide the quickest route to exit the premises. They save lives in an emergency.

But what if fire signs aren’t clear? Let’s take a look at four of the most confusing examples we’ve come across.

1. Isn’t leaving what you want to do when there’s a fire?

2. Open? Closed? Just in case you’re wondering, fire doors are meant to be closed to stop the spread of fire.

3. When a fire breaks out, the clock is ticking. It’s understandable to look at these and think ‘Which way?!’ What this sign actually means is that you can escape both ways to safety. 

4. Here’s a similar example. These are actually both fire exits. So even though the signage is accurate, it could still be confusing during an evacuation.

Recent statistics shows that only half of guests notice where the fire exit is when they check into a hotel.

Signs like this could turn a simple and calm evacuation into panic, hysteria and desperation. With this in mind, it’s vital that fire signs are clearly visible and easy to understand. This will help make for a speedier evacuation and prevent your guests coming to harm.

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

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With the evolution of regulations and requirements for fire safety in social housing, 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?

When is a fire alarm not a fire alarm?

When is a fire alarm not a fire alarm?

There are 11 million deaf and hearing impaired people in the UK. Take a moment to digest that sentence.

Eleven. Million.

That’s a huge amount of people that struggle to recognise a fire alarm. Whose needs, frankly, are left wanting. But why?

Here are some genuine responses I’ve had talking to customers about what provisions they have for deaf people:

“Oh, we’ll wait until the fire brigade come and evacuate anyone with a hearing impairment” one Building Manager told me. Anyone familiar with fire legislation will know that it’s not the brigade’s responsibility to evacuate people from the building.

“We have REALLY loud fire alarms” said the Estates Manager at a London attraction. Whilst it’s reassuring to know that the fire alarms on site are exceptionally loud, it’s not going to benefit people with profound deafness.

“We ask deaf guests to leave their bedroom doors open at night in case we need to evacuate them” came the response from reception at one hotel. This left me speechless which I promise, doesn’t happen often.  

What’s the point in waiting until a wheelchair user wants to use your hotel before adding wheelchair ramps? Why does the local college wait until an injury before installing autodoors? The prospective customer/student will just take their business elsewhere.

Considering people with hearing impairments outnumber wheelchair users in the UK by 12 to 1, why do we focus more on mobility than sensory impairment?

One Fire Officer laughed me off the phone at the mention of using an electronic means of alarm notification because ”Deaf people can still see.” People with hearing impairments often require positive reinforcement in an emergency situation. Asking them to rely just on what they can see going on around them can have deadly results.

The buddy system is only as reliable as the buddy, what happens if they call in sick or are not in the vicinity? PEEPs* help to solve part of this problem, giving the deaf or hearing impaired person clear instructions on how to leave the building in an emergency. But it doesn’t help when it comes to actually notifying that person that the alarm has been triggered.

There is also a misconception around induction loops. For many hearing impaired people they’re a real lifeline. However, out of ten million people, only 1.4 million actually use a hearing aid. That leaves 8.6 million people that get no benefit from induction loops. At all. Not a wholly reliable way of notifying deaf and hearing impaired people that a fire alarm is sounding.

Maybe you use a sweep and clear practice to help evacuate people, but do your staff know how to communicate in British Sign Language, the first language of a majority of deaf people in the UK? If not, your well rehearsed, well planned manned evacuation might not be that effective.

 

Methods of notification

That’s evacuation, don’t forget you have to actually notify deaf people that the alarm has been triggered, common methods are;

Visual Alert Devices (VADs) or ‘beacons’ have been in play for years but are often used incorrectly. These devices should be installed throughout the entire premises for maximum impact. Deaf people don’t just linger in ‘key areas’ waiting for an alarm to go off. A VAD installed only in the toilet is a wasted VAD (Well. Not wasted. Just a bit lonely).

Then there are pagers. Pagers are great. They’re robust and reliable. With the right signal boosters and site support, they can be installed into any location. But with this, comes a high price tag. Often prohibitively high. Pagers are often lost, out of battery or simply left at home.

There are other devices too, like vibrating pillow pads to wake sleepers and SMS devices which send an alert to your phone.

In fairness, there are no ‘perfect’ provisions for fire notification for the deaf. There is a risk with all fire safety precautions, with so many pitfalls, it’s no wonder people get confused and sometimes simply ignore it.

By not achieving compliance with the Equality Act 2010 or fire legislation you close your business to the £25bn annual spending power that the deaf community brings. Deaf and hard of hearing customers always go back to services that cater for their needs.

Businesses have a corporate responsibility to ensure anyone using their building is safe. It’s the individuals responsible for fire safety that would be prosecuted should there be failure to comply. Not the company.

Enforcement action is published online for all to see which could have an unhealthy effect on your business’s reputation. And if you didn’t know, fines are now completely uncapped with turnover and profit taken into account prior to sentencing.

Complacency isn’t worth the trouble it brings. Don’t let fire safety fall on deaf ears.

*Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan

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