CDS teams up with NUS during Student Fire Safety Week to help save lives

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has teamed up with the National Union of Students during Student Fire Safety Week in October to raise awareness of the most common causes of potentially fatal blazes.

It has produced an eye-catching downloadable poster which can be displayed in communal areas of halls of residence and student accommodation across the UK during the week, which runs from October 25.

The posters offer fire safety tips to remind students of the hazards presented by fire – which are all too easily forgotten amidst the excitement of meeting new friends and enjoying university life.

They will be distributed via the NUS to all its members and shared on its social media platforms for maximum impact.

The brains behind the campaign, CDS national sales manager Sophie Kelly, says the posters could save lives.

“Most students spend more weeks a year at their university address than their family home. We want them to have fun in a safe environment and know what to do if they’re faced with a fire. One fact that stands out to me is that you are seven times more likely to experience a fire if you live in shared accommodation.”

In London alone the capital’s fire brigade attends around 60 fires a year in student accommodation. Over the past three years there were 3,200 false alarms from student accommodation – wasting valuable 999 resources which could have been deployed elsewhere.

CDS has been installing, maintaining and servicing fire safety systems at universities across the country for more than 30 years.

CDS MD Simon Abley said: “Obviously it’s very important that students understand how to play their part in staying safe in their new home.  But, as these figures from the London Fire Brigade suggest, it is also the responsibility of the landlords to ensure that their fire safety systems are fully functioning and compliant.

“False alarms are a big frustration within student accommodation for residents and the onsite management teams, often leading to these being ignored or reacted to too late by students. At CDS we have installed monitoring software which notifies the onsite teams via their mobile phones of all fire alarm activations.

“When implemented alongside their fire risk strategy this allows a period of investigation ahead of a full evacuation. This has been proven to reduce callouts to a false alarm and ensures blue light services are available to deal with a genuine emergency.”







CDS appoints new colleagues to key positions following year of phenomenal growth

CDS has enjoyed phenomenal growth over the past year – and the expansion has prompted the appointment of a raft of new colleagues.

Mike Pegg, who has a 16-year track record in the fire safety industry, joins as project manager and will be travelling all over the UK to supervise complex installations.

Jonathan Green joins as design and estimating manager. He too has extensive industry expertise, as well as a background in health and safety and telecoms and has designed fire safety systems for the likes of River Island, Ocado and Debenhams.

He is an expert at designing aspirating, intruder alarm, CCTV and access control systems and has experience of all the main life and fire safety systems manufacturers including Hochiki, Apollo, C Tec and CDS’ main tech platformsHoneywell Gent.

Sophie Kelly, who joins as national sales manager, will be specialising in complex multi-site systems across the expanding student accommodation sector and the logistics industry – both areas where CDS has a demonstrable record in improving life safety systems.

Sophie has worked with CDS MD and chairman Simon Abley and Simon Cashmore for many years in a previous business. The trio previously worked together at outdoor services specialist TCL Group, which grew 14-fold under the Simons’ ownership before they sold it in 2019.

CDS MD Simon Abley said: “This year has seen phenomenal growth for CDS. We have seen growth in all areas of our business, supported by exceptional retention rates. The bulk of the growth has come through increasing the services we sell to our existing customer base and new customers – both in installation and maintenance. We are delighted to have appointed some key new members to our incredible team and look forward to continued growth over the coming 12 months.”

CDS has also grown over the past year through the acquisition of fire safety specialists Tann Synchronome in Wales and Middlesex-based Powerpoint Fire Systems (Powerpoint). The acquisitions are a key part of CDS’ buy and build strategy to increase its service scope and geographical coverage.

  •  CDS MD Simon Abley welcomes project manager Mike Pegg, national sales manager Sophie Kelly and design and estimating manager Jonathan Green after a year of phenomenal growth.

During Customer Service Week we spend a day in the life of our customer service desk

It’s National Customer Service Week this week and every day on Linked In and Twitter we’ll be celebrating some of the ways our brilliant team has been helping our customers.

We’re starting by having a deep dive into what our specialised customer service desk does – and we spoke to service supervisor Matt Peet, who’s been at the helm for more than a decade, to meet the team and find out what goes on in the average day.

Our dedicated customer service desk operates 24/7 and ensures our customers always have a voice at the end of the phone. Not all life safety system providers have a dedicated resource of this nature, instead relying on their engineers to handle the customer service side of the business.

Matt’s customer service team of Faye, Shannai, Katie, Charlotte and Andy are on hand Monday to Friday to look after more than 650 customers across the UK.

“We always look to provide a tailored personal customer experience,” explained Matt.  “We want to exceed customer expectations. We have exciting plans which will see us developing our systems to give our customers a best in class customer experience.”

The team divides its tasks into four areas – service and maintenance, callouts, small works and warranty issues.

“We’re constantly looking at ways to improve our service, and a new and improved customer portal will be launched over the coming months. This year we have worked with customers to install remote fire alarm monitoring to give us the visibility in the office of their fire alarm panels. Our focus is to ensure that the system not only complies to standard but that its health is optimal,” said Matt.

“Our coordinators all complete external fire alarm training to help give them a better understanding of issues faced when a fire alarm goes into fault. A typical issue could be an emergency callout where a fire alarm shows a fault indicating it has a split loop, which could mean part of the alarm isn’t working. In this case, we need to get someone to site quickly to ensure it’s not left in a compromised state.

“Our team is designed to find solutions. If we don’t immediately know the answer, then we find and ask the right people and ensure we respond to the customer.”

A typical day

Matt gives an example of a typical day on the customer services desk – although of course every day is different!

  • Client calls in with issue/query
  • Service desks listens and looks to provide an answer. This could be an engineer response.
  • If an engineer is required, we will log this in our system and get our engineer to call the customer or attend site
  • Should the query not be for an engineer and the team is unable to respond then this is escalated to me or another manager
  • We talk the situation through with the team member and look for a solution. This could be me handling the situation, the admin or coordinator
  • Once a solution is found we call the client to advise and look to action it
  • If an engineer has attended site, once the work report comes back to the office, our admin teams will check these for any recommendations or variations to any standards. We get the information back to the office once the engineer has completed the work report on his or her mobile. This is pretty instant. Any recommendations or variation will be highlighted to the customer. In some instances, a quote will be provided to the customer and the service desk will ensure the responsible person is provided with a copy of any highlighted issues
  • When an engineer attends we always look to provide a first time fix where possible
  • Once the client is happy we will look to action any highlighted issues to resolve any problems on site
  • Time for a cup of tea
  • Rinse and repeat the process the next day – usually with a twist!














CDS celebrates its amazing team during National Customer Service Week

This week marks a daily roll call of CDS customer service brilliance!

Every day during the week we’re celebrating, on Linked In and Twitter, some of our amazing team and the positive impact they’ve had on our customers.

Here’s what student accommodation provider UPP’s maintenace supervisor Brian Taylor told us about one of our engineers. “Daniel Lopez is outstanding. His communication, manner is spot on. From the day he arrived an absolute pleasure.”

Engineer Lee Smart has come in for equally fulcome praise. This is what a customer said while he was working on a complex site which had 43 km of aspirating pipe – in fact it was the biggest project CDS has ever undertaken!

“He’s a very likeable man, very helpful, super informative and an extremely knowledgeable engineer.”

CDS MD Simon Abley said: “CDS handled this project from design through to commissioning. Lee did a fantastic job, and in his usual modest way he admitted he couldn’t have got this over the line without the support of his colleagues Adam, Dan, Steve and his apprentice Riley.

“Lee also singled out one of our service engineers Jack who, on a Sunday morning, dropped everything to help Lee get the final stages of this project completed. It was a great team effort, that ensured we met the customer expectations.”

And we finish National Customer Service Week by thanking our director of service delivery, Keith Helstrip, for the brilliant job he does day in day out to ensure we deliver for our customers. Keith finds solutions to fix customers problems when faced with very challenging situations. Some of the feedback from our larger clients this year has been ‘fantastic, supportive, always ready to help, quick to respond to issues.’