Construction industry puts the fire safety supply chain in the spotlight

  • 7 Nov 2014

Fire safety tech in demand

A recent Market Conditions Review by the Fire Industry Association suggests that orders for fire safety technology, particularly from the construction sector, have risen again over the last few months – indicative of the industry’s increased workloads. The report also shows that, while the fire safety sector is growing, competition for tendering has intensified, which suggests construction professionals have more choice than ever before when it comes to fire safety solutions for their developments. 

All this is very good news for both industries, but it does put the spotlight back on the way fire safety manufacturers serve their construction customers to make sure they receive equipment that is compliant with relevant regulations and meets a project’s requirements. It is clearer now than ever before that the key to ensuring builders and specifiers are provided with the best technologies is to look at the supply chains behind the solutions under consideration.  

Understandably, the fire and lighting safety sector is known for having complex supply chains that can alter frequently to meet evolving international and local regulations. As such, it can be challenging for construction professionals to keep track of where the technology they have selected, and the components within it, have come from.

Understanding fire or emergency lighting systems

Nevertheless, it is crucial that builders have an in-depth understanding of how their fire or emergency lighting systems have been designed and built, as well as how they have been delivered.

Issues, such as the reliability of suppliers, quality of materials and suitability to a specific business need can all have an impact on the performance of the finished fire safety system. If builders don’t take them all into account, the building’s owners may well find themselves exposed to high cost servicing, expensive repairs and at risk of not complying with legal requirements relevant for their particular property.

This is precisely why safety product and system manufacturers need to make the entire supply chain as transparent as possible. Doing this, they can play a vital role in helping construction professionals understand the value of the technologies they intend to select, both for their project and for the eventual owners of the finished building.

5 key questions to ask

At the same time, though, there are a number of questions that construction professionals can ask their suppliers to gauge the reliability and robustness of their fire safety solutions themselves. The most important of these are:

  1. How does the product benefit the building I am working on?
  2. How has the product been tested, and does it exceed expectations?
  3. What safety standards does it need to meet for the building I am specifying for?
  4. What steps have been taken to minimise aftercare for the building’s owners?
  5. How is the supply chain audited to improve my experience and that of the building’s owners?

With so much choice available to them at the moment, it’s easy for sector professionals to see fire safety and lighting equipment as a just another commodity designed to relieve them of health and safety worries. However, it is important to take all the factors above into consideration when selecting a technology to make sure it is the best fit for the development’s specific needs.

By better understanding the supply chain of the technologies chosen, the construction industry can ensure it continues to provide customers with fire and lighting safety equipment that offers maximum benefit to both the property’s owner, and the people using it day-to-day.

Article for BUILDINGTALK contributed by Ray Turner, general manager of operations at Hochiki Europe


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