Client trust levels super high thanks to enhanced DBS checks and police vetting

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has been working with Leicestershire Police for the past four years – looking after more than 20 of its buildings scattered across the county, including its HQ at Enderby.

But such a project requires far more than the technical ability to assess the force’s needs and supply and service its fire safety equipment. It also requires a high level of absolute trust in the integrity of the staff carrying out the work.

Which is why every member of the CDS team involved in the contract has not only been DBS checked to an enhanced level, but has also been through a stringent police vetting process.

The procedure is obligatory for all police officers and for the constabulary’s outsourced service providers.

This not only means the force can be confident that those entering their premises are squeaky clean, it also means CDS customers from other industry areas, such as healthcare and education, can be confident that the people with whom they come into contact are honest and trustworthy.

Martin Iliffe, a director of CDS and co-founder of the company 33 years ago, says trust is paramount when it comes to dealing with all its clients, with sectors such as policing having even greater sensitivities to manage.

“As a service provider to Leicestershire Police Authority, our engineers are required to work in a variety of different police premises that might including sensitive locations such as custody suites where people may be experiencing difficult, challenging situations. It is essential that our personnel respect and observe the highest levels of confidentiality in the course of their work,” he said.

A Leicestershire Police representative said: “As a police force, the public expects to have absolute trust in what we do and how we carry it out. We also want to reassure the people of Leicestershire that all our service providers are equally trustworthy. We have forged a strong relationship with CDS and value the service that they provide for us – not only in making sure our staff, public and premises are safe in terms of fire prevention and detection, but in ensuring that confidentiality is maintained at all times.”

CDS managing director Simon Abley added: “The stringent police vetting process requires all CDS engineers to submit details about their homes, family and lifestyle. Anyone failing to attain the highest level of integrity would not be considered for a position in our service team.”

In addition, every single staff member is DBS checked to an enhanced level – a requirement for anyone working with potentially vulnerable people or children. With much of the firm’s work in hospitals, clinics, care homes, nurseries, schools and universities, approval is essential.

The Leicestershire Police contract, the latest in a number CDS has carried out for the force over the past two decades, saw the team supply and install Honeywell Gent fire alarm and detection systems in all its premises. This includes a networked system at HQ’s ten separate buildings which enables reception staff to see what’s going on anywhere on site from a fire safety viewpoint without leaving their desk. The CDS team provides ongoing service, maintenance and training.

CDS plans hybrid and all-electric vehicle fleet as part of broader green initiative

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS is aiming to embrace electric and hybrid technology for its entire fleet of staff cars over the next three years.

Just over 20 per cent of the vehicles driven by its engineers are currently hybrid, but as fleet contracts become eligible for renewal the cars will be replaced with either electric or plug in hybrid alternatives wherever possible.

The move fits in with the firm’s overall aim to become greener in all areas of its business and it is working with customers and suppliers to ensure all the equipment parts it supplies and maintains are replaced or recycled wherever possible.

New CDS MD Simon Abley is pioneering the initiative, in partnership with director Martin Iliffe and service manager Keith Helstrip.

Simon explained: “We are aiming to make changes to our working practices which will be as beneficial as possible to the environment, while ensuring we maintain the high standards of service our customers have come to expect over the past 30 plus years.  With transport generating around 30 per cent of the UK’s CO2 emissions, this is just one area we thought would be worth looking at, with further initiatives to follow.”

Models likely to be on the CDS greener shopping list include the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the world’s first a plug-in hybrid SUV. It can manage 28 miles on its electric capacity before the traditional engine kicks in.

Another hybrid plug-in from the BMWX5 range is an alternative option. It can manage 54 miles on its electric-only element.

And for electric car purists the BMW i3 can run for up to 188 miles before needing to be recharged. Added to that, BMW boasts other green credentials including using recycled plastic bottles in parts of the seats and doors and the fact that it is manufactured at a car plant powered entirely by the wind!

CDS directors welcome new MD and chairman with plans to develop the business

CDS is looking forward to an even more successful future – thanks to further investment and a new chairman and MD at the helm.

Co-founders Martin Iliffe and Tony Mikunda are remaining firmly on the board as shareholding directors, alongside the firm’s existing, highly qualified team of engineers and sales people.

So, while all the expertise and passion for fire detection and life safety, and the pedigree the company has built up over 33 years, remain the same, it will be able to offer its services to more organisations over the coming months and years.

CDS has an impressive track record in the education, healthcare, logistics, leisure, airport, industrial property and housing sectors – all areas it is planning to expand.

Investors and new MD Simon Abley and chairman Simon Cashmore were the movers and shakers behind outdoor services specialist TCL Group, growing the business 14-fold over 12 years before selling it in 2019.

Its expansion was achieved through strategic acquisition of complementary companies with the aim of broadening both its geographical reach and service offerings. It was named one of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Europe in 2017 by the London Stock Exchange.

New MD Simon Abley explained: “This is an exciting time for CDS and I look forward to working with the team to continue to build the business, both organically and by further acquisitions over the years to come. The fire detection and life safety systems market, indeed the compliance service sector generally, is deeply fragmented and we anticipate will provide a strong ‘buy and build’ opportunity for CDS.”

Fire Door Safety Week raises awareness of vital role they play in saving lives

Sept 21st – 27th was Fire Door Safety Week – an annual prod to alert landlords, business owners, employers and hoteliers to the importance of ensuring their fire safety systems are fit for purpose.

Created by the Fire Door Alliance, the week was launched in 2013 with the aim of raising awareness of the important role fire safety doors play in saving lives.

Its focus is on ensuring that they are fully compliant and installed and maintained correctly – whether in hospitals and care homes, schools and universities, high rise blocks of flats, public buildings, hotels or social housing.

Property owners are legally responsible for the fire safety of their staff, tenants and customers under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) in England and Wales, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

Failure to fulfil their responsibilities, which include ensuring correct installation and maintenance of fire doors, can lead to criminal prosecution.

The FDSW website offers plenty of advice to property owners on how to ensure their doors tick all the safety and compliance boxes, including a five-step check which covers certification, gap sizes, seals, hinges and closeability.

It offers best practice guides and explains how to ensure only the best quality doors are fitted.

It also suggests that, while fire risk assessments can be carried out by the property owners, appointing a professional could be beneficial, particularly in complex or large buildings.

CDS has more than 30 years’ experience of providing such assessments to an extensive client base including universities, schools, hospitals, care homes, councils, police authorities, social housing providers, hotel chains, warehouses, distribution centres, factories and airports.

For more information on ensuring fire door safety compliance as part of a wider fire risk assessment contact CDS at 0116 275 0177 or via

CDS is behind one of the largest networked Gent Vigilon fire safety systems in the UK 

Life safety systems specialist CDS is responsible for one of the largest Gent Vigilon networked fire safety systems in the UK – designed to protect the lives of tens of thousands of students, staff and visitors across more than 60 buildings and three campuses.

The company has been working with Nottingham Trent University for more than 30 years. In  fact, it was a polytechnic when CDS began  its journey with NTU, switching to university status in 1992.

The scope of the work has grown enormously over the decades and CDS now exclusively oversees the fire safety strategy throughout all three of its campuses. Each has numerous Gent Vigilon analogue addressable systems which are networked together and then ‘globally networked’ between each of the three sites – Clifton, City and Brackenhurst.

The project, which saw CDS install an integrated visual fire alarm and detection system using ‘Text and Graphics’ (WINMAG) software, was implemented throughout the university’s estate a few years ago. It can be managed via PC, tablet or mobile device, making it the ultimate in system control and end user management.

CDS’ latest project was to supply more than 500 ‘Dorgard Fire Door Retainers’ as part of the university’s COVID-19 Secure policy. This provides an easy, safe and legal way to hold fire doors open and reduce the use of touch surfaces such as door handles and door plates.

This urgent response to an evolving situation is just one example of the varied disciplines CDS can offer to support its wider life safety systems.

CDS director Tony Mikunda acknowledged the early work of a now retired director, Clive Johnson, for the foundations laid during the early years of the relationship between the university and CDS.

“This gave the university confidence in our ability to provide a reliable service and 24-hour, seven-day emergency breakdown support,” he explained.

The fact that the buildings are heavily populated puts it into a high-risk category as far as BS5839 pt. 1: 2017 safety standards are concerned, necessitating category L2 protection – the second highest level specifiable.

The CDS-specified Honeywell Gent fire alarm system is installed and maintained in all non-residential buildings across the trio of campuses – the central city site as well as its satellite location, Clifton, five miles away and its agricultural, equestrian and horticultural division Brackenhurst, 15 miles in the opposite direction.

CDS also specifies and maintains disabled refuge systems which provide a safe haven in the case of fire for those with mobility issues.

The company is now busy helping the university review its entire building stock – a process whose scale means the project will take several months to compete.

Global student and build-to-rent accommodation specialist chooses CDS

An expanding build-to-rent and high-end student accommodation market in London has seen a rise in demand for the services of fire detection and life safety specialist CDS.

Global property management company Greystar, which has a multi-billion-pound portfolio of large-scale rental properties, has appointed CDS to maintain and repair fire alarm systems in more than a dozen of its developments across the capital.

The relationship between the two organisations began 18 months ago when Greystar took over a student development in Shoreditch whose fire safety system was being maintained by CDS.

The standard of work so impressed the building’s new owners that it agreed a contract to look after another 11 multi-storey student sites and a build-to-let property – with capacity expected to double over the next three years.

The contract sees CDS look after the safety of around 3,000 students and 1,500 private rental tenants in Highbury, Islington, Lewisham, Notting Hill, Southwark, White City, Shoreditch, Spitalfields, Harrow and Canary Wharf.

A 44-storey building in Croydon and a complex in Greenford Quay are on the horizon for later in the year.

The role involves maintaining and repairing all the properties’ fire alarms, emergency lighting systems, automatic opening vents, sprinklers, dry and wet risers, fire hydrants and disabled refuges.

CDS service manager Keith Helstrip explained: “As well as being very pleased with the standard of work we provided at the Shoreditch premises, Greystar trialled us on its sites at Islington, Highbury and Kings Cross. As we look after all life safety systems using a network of approved sub-contractors, we are a one stop shop. And the experience of the management team was very influential in its decision to choose us as its main supplier.

“These buildings are many storeys high and have several lifts. One has 32 floors. The fire safety requirements are highly complex and obviously of paramount importance and the systems in place have to be rigorously maintained and with a fast, effective, responsive repair system.”

As well as each building accommodating hundreds of tenants, all contain a wide variety of communal spaces such as gyms, games areas, cinemas, private dining spaces, laundries, studies and even karaoke rooms.

Laura Bryant, Greystar’s director of operational risk management and health and safety in  Europe, said: “Looking after multi-family units of this scale is an incredibly complex responsibility. When tendering for the fire safety element of our maintenance contract the track record of those bidding for it was vitally important. CDS has an impressive pedigree going back more than 30 years. It has looked after a great many very large, complex sites such as universities, hospitals, industrial premises and council buildings, all of which require a high level of expertise. So its profile was perfect for our purposes.”

Greystar, which looks after around 400,000 units of rental accommodation globally, expanded into the UK in 2013 to address its undersupply of housing and purpose-built rental accommodation. It has invested £2.8 billion buying existing luxury student housing and is in the process of developing 15,000 units of build-to-rent, private rented sector homes.




CDS rebrands and launches new look logo, website, uniform and vehicle livery

Autumn is often a time for exciting new beginnings. Think back to your schooldays and the thrill of a new pencil case and unscuffed shoes!

We have a similar buzz of excitement here at CDS as we unveil our new look.

Our rebrand has been designed to reflect the combination of our longstanding pedigree and outstanding customer service and our use of forward looking, state-of-the-art technology.

We’ve retained a similar colour palette, but refreshed the font and style to create a contemporary logo, which will be used on our new website, staff uniforms, company vehicles and sales material.

The fact that we have been established for more than 30 years means the depth and breadth of our expertise is much sought after by industry, local authorities, police forces, hospitals, housing providers and universities across the UK.

With new investment into the business, we will be extending both the services we offer and our sector reach over the coming months and years.

New MD Simon Abley explained: “The rebrand reflects our focus on how connectivity, compliance, service excellence and best-in-class technology provide safe and secure environments to protect our clients’ people, premises and businesses.”

Leicester City Council chooses CDS for major project at magnificent town hall

Working out of hours to avoid disrupting staff and visitors is something of a speciality for fire detection and life safety specialist CDS.

And its ability to operate in a seamless, hassle-free way with in-depth knowledge of how client companies work is one of the reasons so many local authorities and public sector organisations choose CDS to undertake complex installations and maintenance programmes.

Leicester City Council is one such organisation, which chose CDS to undertake a major installation project at its magnificent Victorian town hall just before Christmas.

The council’s previous fire alarm system had become obsolete and needed to be removed and completed replaced.

But the important role the town hall plays in the community meant it couldn’t be closed. As well as needing to remain open for members of the public to sort out various civic issues, it also houses the coroner’s court where external noise would have disturbed sensitive proceedings.

CDS sales manager Paul Flude explained: “The building had to remain up and running during the day, so we agreed that we would carry out the work, for the same price, out of hours. It was quite an involved process, which we managed to complete in just six weeks – ahead of schedule.”

The town hall fire safety programme is one of a number of Leicester City Council projects CDS has undertaken over the past few years. It operated a similar out of hours schedule for a school to which engineers moved in at around 4pm every day, staying until the evening. And it has just completed work at Glebelands Primary School, ready for the start of the autumn term.

In fact, schools and councils are enthusiastic fans of the CDS approach.

“Word gets around among local authorities that we’re good at what we do. They trust us and like our approach. They have one point of contact and they know we’re very knowledgeable. I have an engineering background and so can talk factually and technically.

“And then there are some areas which sound obvious, but which make a difference – like we clean up after ourselves every day so when the staff or public go in in the morning they can just pick up where they left off. This is particularly welcome in the case of Leicester town hall as it’s the Lord Mayor’s residence. And Lord Mayors aren’t known for their love of mess!”