The installation of fire detection and suppression systems is often regarded as a grudge buy by companies and is, therefore, regarded as a costly expense in the ‘unlikely’ event of a fire, JSE-listed security firm Jasco Security Solutions fire solutions division sales engineer Indran Govender tells Engineering News.
“Although the installation of a fire prevention and protection system is high on the agendas of all qualified safety, health, environment and quality (Sheq) professionals, companies often invest in solutions and assume that these solutions are sufficient for many years to come,” he states.
Govender adds that, as with any type of equipment, maintenance and regular operational checks are necessary to ensure that the equipment is in good working order to prevent potential losses should future fire occur.
He says that many of these operational functionality system checks need to be scheduled and conducted on a yearly basis; however, fire checks should be conducted on a quarterly basis.
Govender stresses that, unless a dedicated official in the company is driving the system monitoring process, it is likely to go unchecked.
“The system maintenance process must be given the highest priority, as it is not only the equipment that is at risk of loss and damage but people’s lives are also at stake,” he emphasises.
Further, Govender highlights that evacuation tests need to be conducted regularly to create a smooth process, as “it is a proven fact that the more often evacuation and fire drills are conducted, the smoother the process,
with less panic or hysteria in the event of a real fire”.
Moreover, he notes that many of the fire safety regulatory bodies in South Africa provide support for the fire industry and its clients, but often lack the capability to enforce standards, policies and regulations.
Govender says that, to become Fire Detection Installers Association- (FDIA-) certified, a supplier and installer of fire prevention and suppression equipment requires only three reference sites to be submitted for assessment.
“Three of the best projects are chosen by the installer, but there could be many projects where the workmanship and solutions are not up to standard. Installations should be checked by an industry body, which independently signs off the project. This will ensure that installers’ quality levels never fluctuate, thus providing the end-user with peace of mind,” he states.
Govender would like to see associations, such as FDIA, the South African Qualification and Certification Committee for the Fire Industry, the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority and the Construction Industry Development Board, overseeing the tender and quotation process for fire prevention and protection certification.
He believes this is necessary so that companies can adhere to specific rules and regulations, creating a benchmark for the industry.
“Standards and industry bodies are essential to ensure that companies adhere to the highest levels of workmanship. Training forms an important component of the agendas of these bodies, including ongoing training and providing end-user customers with the best possible service levels. These bodies should also be instrumental in providing customers with recourse, after the installation has taken place, through follow-up inspections,” he concludes.