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Fire safety - the wireless revolution

Pete Davies from Fireco talks to us about the constraints and common problems that facilities teams face

Posted by Stephanie Broad | May 19, 2016 | Security & safety

Q. What have you found to be the most common problems that university facilities face?

A. We see many injuries caused by heavy fire doors; broken limbs, sprains, crushed fingers. Fire doors are bullies. They’re responsible for 65% of injuries sustained in the workplace. In some cases, people have lost their lives after being struck by fire doors.

And they’re not always the easiest things to use. I’ve heard of students with ‘temporary disabilities’ such as a broken leg unable to leave halls because they can’t open heavy fire doors. 

Kitchen fires in halls of residence are a big problem not just for universities but also for independent accommodation providers. 

There’s also a massive issue with hearing impaired students not disclosing their condition. You can’t plan for people if you don’t know they’re in your buildings. 

Q. Why do these problems occur and why are they so common?

A. Some students choose to keep hearing impairments to themselves for fear of social stigma that can be associated with hearing loss. It’s 2016; we should be able to manage these things without discrimination.

Fire door-related injuries happen when door closers don’t do anything to take weight away from the door or the force at which they close. Fire doors have to have weight to them in order to their job. That shouldn’t mean that your students have to take the brunt of their furious rage. 

Statistics show that students are seven times more likely to have a fire. A huge percentage of students staying in halls openly admit to taking risks like ‘drink frying’ or drying clothes over electric heaters.

A majority of solutions to these problems can be prohibitively expensive. Occasionally we see some resistance to using wireless equipment because of outdated internal policies favouring hard-wired solutions.

Q. How is Fireco helping resolve these problems? 

A. By making compliance easy. Fire doors minimise damage, protecting people and property in the event of a fire. We understand they have to be closed, but we also understand it’s not practical to have all your doors closed all the time. We make cost-effective devices that allow you to LEGALLY hold open doors, ensuring that they close when they need to.

In the middle of a wireless revolution, there are many places still scared of wireless devices. We help to remove this barrier by supplying wireless products that ensure compliance, safety and access which are easy to use and relatively inexpensive to buy. The feedback we get from our customers shows that the painless installation process saves so much time and money. By the time we leave site, those initial fears are long gone.

We also assist with Equality Act requirements. One in six people have a hearing impairment so there’s a need for dedicated solutions for notification of a fire alarm. By offering an SMS notification system we can notify those with a hearing impairment as well as key staff members.

Q. There is a significant growth in wireless solutions compared to hard-wired. Why do you think more facilities are choosing wireless?

A. Customers are getting bored of the same old problems – expensive and messy installations, devices that give no warning they’re about to close, warped doors caused by hardwired magnets and residual magnetism preventing doors from closing. 

There are mains powered devices releasing doors during power outages and poorly installed wiring causing major problems. Both sound relatively innocuous. Both have been responsible for the loss of life. 

Once you see how much easier to install and maintain wireless products are, just how much time and money can be saved, you realise that no wires equals no worries.

Q. Tell us about some of the projects that Fireco have worked on in the higher education sector

A. Keble College in Oxford recently installed over 200 Freedor wireless free-swing closers. The site was undergoing a major redevelopment and they had nothing on the fire doors that complied with regulations. The maintenance team came to us as we had the only product that suited their requirements; an easy retro-fit device giving doors a full range of movement, taking away a majority of the weight. The college now complies with safety regulations, and has dramatically reduced the risk of injury and improved access for all students.

We’ve also helped the University of Sussex, amongst others, roll out our DMS service across their Falmer campus. 

The site was reviewing life safety precautions including alarm notification for deaf and hard of hearing students. Pagers had been in use for years but were causing headaches. We were approached for a more simple solution. DMS is in 44 buildings across the campus offering a modern, cost-effective means of alarm notification for anyone that needs it. 

You can keep up to date with Pete’s projects by following him on Twitter @Uni_Fire_Guy


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