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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.

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.

25 years of fire safety compliance

25 years of fire safety compliance

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.

Keep your care home safe with the Infection Control Fund

Keep your care home safe with the Infection Control Fund

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

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.

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