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The NHS improves infection control with Fireco

The NHS improves infection control with Fireco

At the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, hospitals were prepared for maximum capacity and steps were taken to ensure infection control. Alongside this, new hospitals were built in 10 days for the specific treatment of those who had caught the virus and the country was put into lockdown.

Whilst we usually focus on how our products will help with fire safety compliance, we knew that our products could contribute towards helping NHS sites with their infection control efforts.

Map showing locations of NHS sites Fireco has helped

Here’s how we’ve helped the NHS remain COVID-secure:

  • Dorgard SmartSounds were installed in 3 of the temporary Nightingale Hospitals in order to reduce touchpoints. Dorgard SmartSound holds the fire doors open safely meaning that door handles don’t need to be touched in order to gain access.
  • Freedor SmartSounds have been installed in NHS general hospitals in order to reduce touchpoints and improve access by reducing the need to touch door handles.
  • Freedor SmartSound was installed in a COVID-19 test lab. The staff were struggling with the doors and found that they were less efficient, as every time they entered or exited they needed to replace the gloves they were wearing and wash their hands. Since having Freedor SmartSound, they have been able to move freely.
  • Over 200 Dorgards were installed at an NHS warehouse. They hold the doors open meaning that employees don’t need to touch the door handles, reducing cross-contamination.
  • Germgard is being installed in an NHS office base to ensure the use of hand sanitiser by all staff before entering the workplace. This is being installed to align with their Coronavirus Risk Assessment in relation to germ control.

From the start of the pandemic, our products have helped many different establishments with their germ control efforts, including the NHS, schools, offices and more.

If you’d like to know how Fireco can assist with germ control in your building. Contact us today, on 01273 320650.

How can Fireco help the NHS?

Back to school safely with Fireco

Back to school safely with Fireco

The Government has made the decision that all schools will be reopening for the new term in September. Preparations and precautions will have already been put in place when the children of key workers were still attending school. However, with all students, staff and visitors returning in September a new risk assessment will need to be carried out to ensure everyone is in a safe environment

Places of education have a duty of care to students and will already use the Governments advice on Health and Safety. However, it is important that a specific Coronavirus Risk Assessment is completed. By doing this, Coronavirus hazards can be identified, measured and controlled.

There are different resources available for Coronavirus Risk Assessments, however, The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has created this template which can be used by all industries.

Fireco’s products have already been helping many businesses, hospitals and schools with their germ-control. Here are some of the hazards identified by HSE that Fireco can help with.

Ventilation

Buildings should have good ventilation and fresh air circulating throughout. Our hold-open devices allow you to legally and safely hold your doors open which will improve airflow. When the fire alarm is activated, the doors will automatically close. With colder weather approaching, it’s important to have other methods in place to ensure good ventilation throughout your school, as keeping the windows open won’t always be a suitable option.

Pinch points

High traffic areas in the school such as Reception, hallways, doorways, toilets, lifts, changing rooms, canteens, break rooms etc are going to need to be monitored. Our hold-open devices will allow you to keep your doors open, reducing the need to touch door handles, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. Our Smart Sanitising System, Germgard, can be installed by entry and exit points, which will promote the use of hand sanitiser before passing through.

Anxiety around Coronavirus

Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about returning to normal activities such as attending school. Many students and staff members will need assurances and physical evidence that there are practices in place to maintain hygiene. Germgard is a clear and visual way to encourage good hygiene. A sensor will detect someone approaching and a screen with digital signage will prompt them to use hand sanitiser before entering. This system could be ideal for a reception area, break room, or delivery bay as staff and visitors passing through will use hand sanitiser before being allowed entry. Our hold-open devices can create a more open atmosphere and reduce the need to touch door handles, this could also be encouraging for people who are concerned about contaminated surfaces.

Inadequate hygiene

If people on the school premises are not keeping up good personal hygiene, they could easily cross-contaminate items they touch. Germgard is designed to promote good hygiene practices to building users through the use of hand sanitiser. It can also be integrated with access control and other systems to further reinforce sanitisation by only allowing entry once the sanitiser has been used.

Fireco can help keep schools fire-safe and COVID-secure. If you would like to know how we can help your school, contact us today on 01273 320650.

Fireco gains test evidence with fire door manufacturers

Fireco gains test evidence with fire door manufacturers

We are pleased to announce that we have been working with fire door manufacturers in order to gain Primary Test Certification on a range of Fireco products.

Fire safety has been at the forefront of discussion in social housing circles, with much of the focus being on the compartmentation of a building. 

Compartmentation is creating fire-safe compartments throughout a building that can prevent the spread of fire. This can be achieved through building materials, smoke and fire dampers, and fire doors.

The most common types of fire doors are FD30 or FD60, meaning the fire door can withhold fire for a minimum of 30 or 60 minutes. Since Grenfell, the compliance of fire doors has been under major scrutiny. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government makes the following points in Advice Note 16: 

“Landlords or building owners should reference the manufacturer’s test evidence/certification and documentation for existing or proposed fire doorsets.”

“Small differences in detail (such as glazing apertures, intumescent strips, door frames and ironmongery etc.) may significantly affect the rating.”

“Flat entrance fire doors should have test evidence demonstrating they meet the performance requirements in the Building Regulations guidance for fire resistance and smoke control from both sides.”

Primary test evidence is when a door and all its component parts (e.g. spyholes, letterboxes, overhead closers) are installed as a complete door set and put through EN1634 testing. For composite fire doors, testing is required on both sides of the doors as the materials vary throughout the core.

With the pressures that the fire industry is facing since the Grenfell tragedy, more and more housing groups are insisting on primary test evidence over global assessments for surface mounted closers on new door sets. 

We are seeing a significant increase in housing groups using our products to tackle the issue of residents damaging overhead door closers on flat entrance doors due to struggling with the weight.

 

Fireco is dedicated to meeting the needs of the customer and ensuring that our products meet fire safety regulations.

We currently hold EN1634 Certification on the following FD30 fire doors, with Freedor SmartSound and Freedor Pro being tested on the exposed and unexposed sides:  

Gerda – Contemporary Range, Steel insulated doorsets

Bridgman IBC – Timber Flax Core

New West Port Corporation – Timber and glazed doors.

If you have any questions about our burns test certification, please contact us on 01273 320650.

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Back to school safely with Fireco

Back to school safely with Fireco

Schools will be welcoming back all staff and students for the new term in September. Is your school COVID-secure? Fireco can help with your Coronavirus risk assessment.

read more
Why is compartmentation so important?

Why is compartmentation so important?

It takes seconds for a fire to spread through a hole the size of a pen nib. Compartmentation is a way to keep a fire contained in one place, preventing fire and smoke from spreading quickly and taking over the building. By creating these fire-resistant compartments, fire can be suppressed for around 30 minutes (time can vary depending on the building structure).

There are different elements to creating a fire safe compartment and there are many things that can reduce the effectiveness.

Fire doors

  • Self closing
  • certified door and frame
  • No gaps around the doors when closed
  • Intumescent seal (swells with heat)

If fire doors are wedged open, the whole building will be exposed to the risk of fire. Even if the rest of the building has perfect measures in place, when fire doors are wedged open the fire will be able to spread anyway. This is why it is against regulations to wedge open fire doors. All fire doors need to be checked regularly to ensure that they are up to a good standard. For more information about how to check your fire doors, click here.

Building structure

  • Floors and walls made from fire resistant materials: bricks, concrete, stucco, gypsum board.
  • Cavity barriers in roof voids (closes gaps in concealed spaces to block fire and smoke)

Compartmentalising a fire will only work if the building is kept in a good condition. There needs to be special attention if any work is done on the walls or floors that change the integrity e.g. drilling. If there is any damage it must be repaired, and any gaps or holes need to be filled.

Smoke and fire dampers

  • Mechanical: pivot system (like window blinds) or curtain system.
  • Intumescent: will react to heat and swell up, blocking all openings.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will all have a type of fire damper.They must be installed in order to close off any gaps in the room and maintain compartmentation in the event of a fire. Fire and smoke dampers need to be regularly checked and serviced. How often, will depend on the environment they are in and what type is in place. However, it is recommended by British Standards to test them every 1-2 years.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, there have been many investigations into how the fire got out of hand so quickly. The fire started on the 4th floor and in just 12 minutes had spread up 19 floors. The external cladding was the first breach of compartmentation on the tower block. It is said to be the reason for the fire being able to spread up the whole building and therefore entering other flats, which otherwise could have been unaffected.

Another breach of compartmentation that contributed to the spread of fire is said to be that the front doors to the flats did not meet fire resistant standards. The doors didn’t last the regulatory minimum of 30 minutes and some of them also had broken self-closers meaning that they were open during the time of the fire.

This devastating case has highlighted the importance of compartmentation.

Effective compartmentation can save lives if a fire breaks out. It allows for the fire service to tackle the fire and the “Stay Put Policy” to be an effective way to keep residents safe. Compartmentation is especially important for escape routes, so that anyone in the building can safely evacuate.

If you are unsure about the compartmentation in your building, contact a fire safety provider who can carry out a survey.

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Why sheltered housing residents are damaging fire door closers

Why sheltered housing residents are damaging fire door closers

Visiting customers over the past few weeks, something that has come up in conversation is the problem of residents damaging or disabling fire door closers. This is not only a safety issue, it invalidates insurance and can lead to big fines for non-compliance with fire regulations.

In sheltered housing, many front doors are fire doors and therefore fitted with door closers. This ensures the door will be closed in the event of a fire, and the spread of fire and smoke will be prevented. Residents will then have more time to evacuate safely, or can remain in a fire safe compartment until the emergency services arrive.

This is particularly important in sheltered accommodation as older residents may have slower reaction times when the fire alarm sounds. Those that have mobility issues will take longer to evacuate.

However self-closing fire doors are heavy and difficult to open. Residents may find it difficult to get in and out of their flats.

The frustration of struggling to open their front door has led some residents to break or disengage door closers. Though understandable, this is dangerous and against fire regulations. If a fire does break out, an open fire door will cause fire and smoke to spread rapidly, putting residents at risk.

To solve this problem, councils often install unnecessary, expensive automatic door operators for these residents to use. A much cheaper option is Freedor.

Residents of Adlington House improved safety and access in their apartment block with Freedor. Click here to find out more

Freedor is a free-swing door closer that takes the weight and closing force out of fire doors. It has built-in technology to automatically close the door when the fire alarm sounds. It’s fully compliant with fire regulations and solves the problem of residents disabling door closers.

As Freedor has removed the weight and closing force of the fire door, all the stress of dealing with fire doors has been removed, and residents can come and go as they please.

Freedor is wireless, so can quickly and easily be fitted to existing sheltered housing units. A key advantage with the wireless systems is the lack of disruption. Freedor can be fitted with residents still in their flats, with minimal restorative works to walls and doors required.

Freedor also safely and legally holds fire doors open at any angle, so if a resident wishes to have their door open, they can.

It’s important that sheltered housing residents do not have their quality of life impeded by the need for fire safety. Fitting Freedor offers them the freedom to live their lives as they wish, without worry.

Main image courtesy of Fire Door Inspectors @firedoorguy

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Silent evacuation of a care home

Silent evacuation of a care home

Evacuating a care home has its own unique challenges. Elderly residents could be bedbound, suffering from dementia, hard of hearing, or unable to move without assistance. Added to this is the distress that a loud fire alarm can cause to vulnerable residents. Plans must be in place to ensure no occupant is trapped in the case of a fire, and staff need to be well trained.

A loud and startling fire alarm could cause physical or mental distress for frailer residents, particularly if they need to wait for help from a member of staff. Even if the noise does not cause panic, different alarms sound frequently in care homes, so it may be difficult to work out exactly what the alarm is for.

“When you work in a care home alarms can be quite confusing for residents, as they might not know what the alarm means — whether it’s a smoke alarm from burnt toast, or an alarm to call for assistance,” says Barbara James, a care home manager specialising in providing care for dementia patients. “This means when a fire alarm goes off, we need to work out the best way to let our elderly residents know without causing upset.”

In Europe, a silent evacuation system is often used. In this scenario, when an alarm is activated, staff are alerted with a pre-alarm notification system — either warning lights, or a messaging system that goes directly to phones. Staff then have three to five minutes to check the building for fire. If it is a false alarm, the alarm is reset and no one is disturbed. If a fire is found, an evacuation button is pressed and staff can move occupants to safety if required, or lead a full evacuation. As no loud alarm is necessary, it minimises upset and panic.

Dorgard Pro connects directly to the fire alarm panel, so can be used as part of a silent evacuation system. Click here to find out more.

One of the benefits of a silent evacuation, is the reduction in false alarms. As residents are not initially aware of an alarm, staff can quickly assess whether or not there is a fire without residents being disturbed.

With the different challenges involved in care home fire safety, a full evacuation is not always possible. In these circumstances it is vital that the fire is contained where possible. The European Confederation of Fire Protection Associations states in its guidelines for fire safety in care homes for the elderly: “If the resident or patient is not able to exit the apartment or treatment room quickly enough and that rescue by others in time is not possible, conditions must be prevented from becoming life-threatening by fitting a system to contain the spread of fire.” Fire doors are extremely valuable here.
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Nothing is more important in a care home than the safety and well-being of its residents. Silent evacuation is a highly effective way of keeping occupants safe and calm in the event of a fire.

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How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

Older people are often more vulnerable when it comes to accidents and emergencies which places huge importance on fire safety in care homes. Fire doors are essential for fire safety, but in the daily lives of care home residents, they can be problematic.

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