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Change of use fire safety concerns

by Andy Clutton

© Matthias BuehnerRecent research by Hochiki Europe reveals over half (56 per cent) of European businesses are risking the safety of building occupants by failing to adjust security systems in accordance with change in use of space.

With demand for Grade A office space outstripping supply in many major cities, organisations are investing in fit outs and refurbishments to accommodate evolving needs but neglecting to alter fire and lighting safety systems to support this.

The study of installers also found that 55 per cent feel their customers are more concerned with initial expenditure than Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which could compromise performance long-term.

Simon Massey, Section Leader Technical Support/Training at Hochiki Europe, explained: “While the construction industry works to meet a surge in demand for Grade A space in European cities such as London and Milan, businesses are understandably working with what they’ve got to accommodate their growth.

“However, fire and lighting safety solutions are installed with the current use of space in mind so to disregard this when altering layout or function is a potentially fatal oversight.”

The study also highlighted maintenance spend as an area for concern. A fifth (22%) of installers surveyed think building managers view maintenance as an unnecessary expense. While almost three quarters (74%) believe that they view maintenance as simply a ‘tick-box’ exercise.

When asked about the issues they most commonly encounter, installers said many were due to poor installation choices and poor maintenance practices. For example, when looking at fire systems, almost half (48%) of installers found businesses had the wrong system installed for the environment, while 51% found detectors that they needed cleaning. For emergency lighting systems, the situation was similar, 57% found batteries in the units were not charged, while over two fifths (44%) had inadequate lux levels.

Massey commented on the findings: “With European GDP set to rise by 1.7 per cent this year alone, it’s likely that many businesses will be forced to continue adapting with what they have but this shouldn’t be to the detriment of overall safety.

Read the full story in the November 2015 edition of PSI magazine

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