CDS issues ‘stay safe this Christmas’ message – with advice on fairy lights and trees

The season to be jolly can also be a time for fire hazards – and while not wanting to pour cold water on anyone’s Christmas, CDS is playing the part of a wise Santa and offering a few seasonal safety tips in the run up to the big day.

Its technical team has been talking to fire services across the country to find out what they identify as the biggest seasonal no-nos to ensure householders avoid the issues most likely to cause a domestic blaze.

Top of the list comes the traditional pine-scented real Christmas tree. A dry tree is a hazard and can fill a home with fire and toxic gases with alarming speed if not properly cared for.

When buying a tree, they recommend carrying out two important checks – on the needles and the trunk. On a freshly cut tree, the needles should be hard to pull back from the branches and shouldn’t break. If they do, it has probably been cut down too long ago and dried out – making it a fire hazard.

The trunk should be sticky to the touch. If it’s not, then it’s too old.

They advise not putting the tree up too early or leaving it up for longer than two weeks as it will become overly dry and could catch fire. And it’s absolutely vital to keep it watered at all times. A six-foot tree can devour as much as a gallon of water every other day – so check it frequently. The water isn’t just to keep the tree looking nice – it’s to stop it becoming a perfect combustible material.

Lighting is another potential fire hazard.

LED fairy lights are safer than the traditional alternative because they are cool to the touch and less likely to set fire to flammable Christmas tree decorations. But while the bulbs themselves are safer, the transformer element does get very hot and should never be covered, hidden behind curtains or come into contact with presents piled around the tree.

Missing bulbs on traditional strings of lights actually cause the remaining bulbs to burn hotter,  increasing the risk of fire if they touch a nearby decoration or dried out branch – so they must be replaced. And old flickering lights should be disposed of, however much they remind you of your childhood Christmases.

Fairy lights should be switched off when no-one is around and when the hosuehold goes to bed as an unexpected power surge could see the tree catching fire.

Delicate paper, cardboard or fabric decorations hanging on the tree can also be a hazard if they come into contact with a hot bulb. The same goes for present,s whose wrapping paper represents an easy source of fuel.

Non-tree decorations are another cause for concern. While draping garlands around the fireplace or near candles may look pretty, the risks are evident.

And all fire services offer their year-round reminder that sockets shouldn’t be overloaded and that cooking and drinking alcohol never mix – however much fun it may seem at the time.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has even created its own ‘12 days of Christmas’ fire safety campaign. Daily activities include checking your Christmas lights conform to British Standard BS EN 60598, switching and unplugging your fairy lights off when going out or retiring for the night, and not attaching Christmas decorations to lights or heaters.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “We don’t want to say ‘bah humbug’ this Christmas, but these sensible precautions should help minimise the fire risk. Of course, it’s also important to check your smoke and fire alarms and fire extinguishers – so that if the worst should happen you and your family have time to escape.”

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CDS adds water and energy compliance to its offerings

Fire detection and life safety systems specialist CDS has made its first foray into offering other compliance streams by acquiring a company which specialises in water and energy consultancy.

Harrogate-based Genex joins the broadening CDS stable this week – and offers specialist services such as legionella control, swimming pool management, closed circuit water analysis and treatment, energy audits and Energy Performance Certificates.

The company, which has worked with business and public sector bodies across the UK for 12 years, shares customers and sector expertise with CDS – enabling the new expanded business to offer a one stop shop to customers needing a variety of compliance services.

The university and student accommodation markets are two areas in which both excel, with CDS seeing a growing number of higher education institutions choosing its expertise in an increasingly complex industry.

Genex MD Carl Cressey will remain in post, ensuring continuation of his valuable expertise to the existing client base and offering support to CDS customers wanting to add water and energy to their compliance portfolio,

CDS chairman Simon Cashmore said: “We’re delighted to have added another string to the CDS bow. Our buy and build strategy has thus far seen us acquire other fire safety companies in different areas of the UK to enable us to expand our geographical reach.

“Our investment into Genex is our first step into broadening the compliance streams we offer. We aim to make it easier for facilities managers who need to purchase compliance consultancy in a variety of disciplines. Instead of sourcing fire safety from one company, water quality from another and so on, they can use one expert organisation to provide a number of services.”

Genex MD Carl Cressey added: “It’s very exciting to be joining the burgeoning CDS business. We share so many customers across similar sectors and between us have so much we can offer.”

The latest acquisition follows the purchase earlier this year of Monmouthshire-based Tann Synchronome and Powerpoint Fire Systems (Powerpoint) in Middlesex.

Simon Cashmore and CDS managing director Simon Abley, who acquired CDS last year, were the team behind outdoor services specialist TCL Group. They grew the business 14-fold over 12 years before selling it in 2019. Its expansion was achieved in a similar way – through strategic acquisition of complementary companies to broaden both its geographical reach and service offerings. TCL was named one of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Europe in 2017 by the London Stock Exchange.

  • CDS chairman Simon Cashmore and MD Simon Abley welcome Genex MD Carl Cressey, John Blears and their company to the CDS fold. The acquisition means CDS can now offer water and energy compliance services as well as fire detection and life safety systems expertise.

Electrical Fire Safety Week – CDS reminds residents and landlords of appliance dangers during

With an alarming 4,000 domestic fires every year in the UK caused by faulty electrics, CDS is using Electrical Fire Safety Week to remind residents and landlords of the importance of ensuring their homes are safe.

The week, a joint initiative by the government’s Fire Kills campaign and national electrical safety charity, Electrical Safety First, runs from November 22 to 28.

It highlights the dangers posed by using faulty electrical appliances and overloading sockets.

Home office figures show that more than nine out of ten electrical fires are caused by electrical products and that more than half of all accidental house fires have an electrical cause at their root. It adds that people are eight times more likely to die in a fire if they don’t have a correctly positioned working smoke alarm.

A fire fighter from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue offers some insight into which seemingly innocuous activities could have devastating consequences.

“Using counterfeit cables and leaving items charging overnight are key culprits,” she said.

“There are so many little things you can do to prevent fires happening. Some of the main advice really may seem like common sense. When drying your washing it is important not to place clothes directly over electric heaters.

“Take care to remove electricals from standby if not necessary.  Unplug phone chargers and try not to charge things overnight. And most importantly, always use the correct charging cables that the manufacturer recommends, as ‘knock off’ chargers and other devices can be incredibly dangerous. Using too many plugs in one socket can also start a fire.”

CDS managing director Simon Abley added: “While Electrical Fire Safety week concentrates on giving residents personal responsibility for protecting themselves, it’s also vital, and a legal requirement, that residential landlords ensure they have an up-to-date fire risk assessment. It is their responsibility to ensure, where the fire risk assessment dictates, an appropriate level of fire detection is installed and maintained to British Standards.”

The fire risk assessment may also suggest additional protection measures such as sprinklers and remote 4G and 3G early warning monitoring systems – all of which can be specified, installed and maintained by CDS.

Electrical Safety First has created a number of online tools aimed at helping householders avoid devastating fires in their homes – such as a socket calculator, a product recall checker and a ‘Check It Out‘ plug-in, which enables buyers to identify whether products are being sold by third parties rather than legitimate suppliers.

CDS has been providing expert fire safety advice – from fire risk assessments, to specifying, monitoring and maintaining all aspects of a fire safety system – for more than 30 years to social housing providers, councils, police authorities, hospitals, care homes, universities, factories, warehouses and airports.

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.’

CDS poised to celebrate National Customer Service Week

The CDS team is warming up to mark National Customer Service Week next week, by highlighting some of the fantastic achievements not only of the team on the customer service desk, but also some of the ‘above and beyond’ moments of some of its colleagues.

The week is organised by The Institute of Customer Service whose purpose is, not surprisingly, to improve not only the performance of individual businesses across the UK, but of the wider economy, by focusing on offering excellent customer service.

The Institute says its research shows a sustained improvement in customer satisfaction will provide a £33bn per year productivity boost to the UK economy.

CDS MD Simon Abley said: “Customer service is extremely important to us. As well as giving everyone a warm fuzzy feeling, it offers a real business benefit. We want the relationship with our customers to go on for many years. As well as specifying and installing systems in the first place we want to be retained to maintain, service and eventually update them as regulations change. If we were to ignore the needs of our customers, they would go elsewhere.

“While our customer service desk is the first port of call for any client needing advice or help, everyone at CDS is an ambassador for the company. We’ve had many wonderful comments from our customers about our installation and service engineers for example.”

Every day during the week, which runs from Monday October 4 until Friday 8, focuses on a different aspect of customer service.

Monday looks at the changing world of work and the balance between human and technological responses to working with customers.

Tuesday concentrates on ensuring respect for customer services teams, some of whom can be the target of abuse.

Wednesday looks at the skills required to ensure excellent service.

Thursday emphasises that customer service needs to be dealt with at boardroom level, with good customer service being reflected in year-end balance sheets.

And Friday asks companies to celebrate their customer service ‘heroes.’

CDS offers high tech solution as fire brigade condemns number of unsafe buildings

With the commissioner of the London Fire Brigade calling this month for urgent action as the number of tower blocks in London with fire safety failings passed an “unacceptable milestone” of 1,000, CDS reports a growing order book as building managers call on its services to install high tech evacuation systems.

London Fire Brigade commissioner Andy Roe said that while more than 700 of the 1,006 tall buildings he identified as unsafe are at risk because of cladding issues, the remainder have other fire safety defects.

And it is 18m plus buildings of this nature whose managers are calling on CDS to help ensure they are protecting residents and complying with fire safety regulations. Additionally having such systems can prevent false alarm callouts – for which London Fire Brigade sometimes imposes heavy fines.

Andy Roe said: “We’re calling on all building owners and managers to take urgent action to remediate their buildings if there are serious fire safety failings. It is completely unacceptable for residents to be burdened with the knowledge, and the fear that can bring, that their building may not be safe in the event of a fire.”

He added that pressure is being put on officers who have to inspect or re-inspect buildings that have changed their evacuation strategy.

CDS has been heavily involved in designing, supplying, installing and maintaining complex fire safety detection systems in multi-storey residential blocks, many with numerous lifts, for several decades.

These include buildings for student, private rental and housing association tenants across the UK.

The addition of a new piece of technology to the CDS arsenal is providing even greater confidence to high rise dwellers.

The new C-TEC EVAC-ALERT system, which helps the fire and rescue service evacuate all or part of a building in an emergency, complies with the new BS 8629:2019 standard which gives guidance on the type of evacuation system installed in high rise blocks.

Housed in a vandal-resistant locked cabinet for use only by the fire and rescue service, the control panel features an intuitive interface, bright LED indicators and easy-to-operate toggle switches for each evacuation zone.

Global property management company Greystar, which has a multi-billion-pound portfolio of large-scale rental properties, is among the landlords choosing CDS to maintain and repair its fire alarm systems.

The contract sees CDS look after the safety of around 3,000 students and 1,500 private rental tenants in more than a dozen of its developments across the capital.

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: ““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.”

CDS has created a mini video highlighting how remote monitoring systems can help protect buildings and their occupants while also preventing costly false alarms.

CDS sees rise in demand from global brands as UK warehouse investment doubles

With investment in warehouse space in the UK in the first half of 2021 double that of the same period last year, fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has seen a sharp rise in demand for its services from global brands over the past few months.

It has installed complex fire safety systems in warehouse sites and distribution centres owned by some of the biggest names in retail and logistics over the past few years – with a busy order book well into 2022.

Among the highly sophisticated projects CDS has carried out for huge worldwide players is the maintenance and service of an extensive fire safety network at one of the largest single warehouses in the whole of Europe – two million square feet of logistics space employing 1,200 staff in Yorkshire.

Property consultancy Knight Frank says £6bn was invested in UK warehouses in the first half of 2021, more than double the £2.7bn recorded in the same period last year, and 54% higher than the previous record in 2018.

Its research shows 37m sq ft of warehouse space is likely to have been built by the end of 2021, up from 23m sq ft last year and 21m in 2019.

The rise in e-commerce and an increasing number of data centres are key factors behind the expansion, with the M25 now home to the second biggest data hub in the world.

John Lewis signed the lease this month on a one million sq ft warehouse in Milton Keynes to enable it to process online purchases, which have risen from 40% in the pre-pandemic era to 60% of overall sales.

And Amazon signed 18 letting deals in the first half of 2021, according to estate agency Savills, just one fewer than it agreed in the whole of 2020, with its latest signing a 20-year, £97m, lease on a 700,000 sq ft site at Magna Park in Leicestershire.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “For more than 30 years we’ve been working with some of the biggest names in the worlds of warehousing, distribution and logistics.

“With the growth of online shopping and the emergence of data centres our work in this sector has expanded. As well as protecting lives, property and stock, our systems ensure the occupiers tick all the compliance boxes.

“Our sophisticated systems can be remotely monitored, enable complex services to be consolidated under one supplier, and help save money by reducing downtime. And they safely and cost effectively manage false alarms. In a fast-moving and highly profitable industry every minute wasted is very expensive indeed.”

“Warehouse” by KOMUnews is licensed under CC BY 2.0