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How to reopen safely: a guide to hygiene control and ventilation

How to reopen safely: a guide to hygiene control and ventilation

With the end of lockdown 3.0 in sight, people are starting to reopen their businesses, children have returned to school and ‘normal’ life is resuming. Some people are booking haircuts, planning their next getaway and scheduling catch-ups with friends. 

On the other hand, some are hesitant at the prospect of going back to normal. We are just coming out of our third lockdown and could enter another if the R rate increases again. And, with the knowledge that around 40% of people are asymptomatic, being around others can create feelings of anxiety. You could spend time with someone who seems fine but could still have the virus and pass it on. 

This raises the question – how can we create an environment that not only keeps people safe but makes them feel safe? 

Things to consider when reopening your business

Some elements of creating a Covid-secure environment are easier said than done. Plus, many hygiene measures are open to human error. 

One of the main methods we’ve followed is the Government’s “Hands, Face, Space” campaign. We know about hand washing and sanitising, wearing masks and creating a 2-metre distance between ourselves and others. But how do we apply this when putting together a reopening strategy?

What are touchpoints?

Touchpoints are items or places throughout a building that are used by lots of people. These can include water machines, access control buttons, photocopiers or door handles. Such high-traffic objects can be cause for concern as they can allow for cross-contamination. 

Research shows that the virus can survive on surfaces from a few hours up to days. Making hand hygiene and reducing touchpoints a vital part of controlling the spread of the virus.

People aren’t using hand sanitiser units

As previously mentioned, human error can result in even the most robust hygiene measures becoming redundant. People may simply not notice the sanitiser units available or the signs on display. 

Stephen Peppercorn, Facilities Officer at Monmouthshire County Council found that even after implementing hygiene measures around his building in line with government advice, they weren’t being used. Stephen explained, “Hand sanitiser units had been installed throughout the buildings and in both reception areas with A5 printed signage above the units. Unfortunately, this did not draw attention to the units.”

How to increase the use of hand sanitiser and reduce touchpoints 

Stephen installed our Germgard Station, a portable stand that uses a sensor and digital signage to attract the attention of passers-by, prompting them to use the hand sanitiser before they move through the building.

Stephen says, “It has improved hand sanitisation and Covid safety because of increased use. It has also enhanced the Council’s reputation with the unit making a statement that we take Covid safety seriously and are encouraging all building attendees to undertake hand sanitisation.”

Having clear Covid-safe measures in place is an important way of making employees and visitors feel safe whilst also encouraging good hygiene practices. 

Why is ventilation so important?

Ventilation is the newest addition to COVID safety measures, recently mentioned by Sir Patrick Vallance when discussing the reopening of schools. Professor Cath Noakes, who studies the transmission of diseases, also recently discussed in an interview how good ventilation throughout a building can reduce the risk of pathogen inhalation by 70%.

Diagram showing how to improve ventilation by creating fresh air inlets and exhausts for old air.

The best way to improve ventilation is by opening your windows and doors in a way that creates an inlet for fresh air and an exhaust for the old air. Opening windows is an easy step to increasing fresh air. However, many buildings have fire doors fitted and it’s dangerous to wedge these open. 

How can I hold my fire doors open legally?

Fire doors are in place to prevent the spread of smoke and flames when a fire breaks out. They can save lives and property. If fire doors are wedged open, fire can take over a whole building within minutes. 

Specialist door retainers and closers, like our Dorgard or Freedor, are made to hold fire doors open safely and legally.  They release the door to close upon fire alarm activation, allowing the door to prevent the spread of fire. 

Holding fire doors open encourages airflow throughout your building. Open doors also minimise the need to touch door handles, reducing touchpoints.

Implementing clear hygiene measures in your building will help you welcome back staff, customers and visitors and make them feel instantly at ease. Placing Germgard at the entrance to your building will ensure that everyone who enters has sanitised their hands, reducing cross-contamination. By installing Dorgard and Freedor, you’re opening up the building, people can see others approaching and stay 2-metres apart, and you’re reducing touchpoints whilst encouraging airflow. 

Do you need help with your return strategy or to reopen your business safely? Our simple solutions provide an easy way for you to keep your building COVID-secure and fire safe. Call us on 01273 320650 for more information or visit our online shop to order your hygiene products.

Win a Dorgard!

Win a Dorgard!

We want to help our customers reopen their businesses safely and keep their premises COVID-secure!

With the lockdown roadmap in place and restrictions being gradually lifted, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! However, it is still vital to keep hygiene measures in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a consistent emphasis on hand hygiene, mask-wearing and a 2-metre distance. Later on down the line, ventilation was also recommended by the government, including Sir Patrick Vallance, as an important way to fight the spread of the virus. 

Win a Dorgard and reopen safely

We have been assisting our customers to keep their premises COVID-secure and fire safe, with our simple and easy solutions. We have had a lot of feedback about how much our products have helped and we want to be able to help even further with businesses reopening safely after what we hope is the last lockdown!

What is Dorgard?

Dorgard is a fire door retainer that allows you to hold your internal fire doors open. Upon the sound of the fire alarm, Dorgard will close the door, preventing the spread of smoke and fire. By holding your doors open you are reducing touchpoints on door handles and improving ventilation throughout your building.

How to enter

We are running our competition across all of our social media platforms. All you need to do is follow the social account, like the competition post and share it to your profile – tag us so we’re notified when you’ve shared it.

Facebook

Twitter

LinkedIn

Instagram

Terms and conditions

The competition launches 15th April and ends on the 6th May at 5pm. The winner will be picked at random and announced Monday 10th May. UK entries only, you must be over 18 to join in, no resellers. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are not affiliated with our competition in any way.

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.

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