CDS service engineer celebrates Apprentice of the Year nomination

CDS fire alarm service engineer Grace McDonald hopes her recent nomination as Apprentice of the Year at a national awards ceremony will inspire more women to join the industry.

She was cheered on by colleagues at the glittering British Security Awards event at the Marriott Hotel in London’s Grosvenor Square this week after being shortlisted for the prestigious title.

The British Security Awards, run by the British Security Industry Association, recognise security officers and companies working to keep people, property and places professionally protected.

CDS executive chairman Simon Cashmore said: “This is a brilliant achievement and we are all incredibly proud of Grace. This is such well deserved recognition for the amazing job she does.”

National sales manager Sophie Kelly said: “It’s great to celebrate female apprentices. Grace is fantastic and such an inspiration for women in the industry.”

CDS national service manager Micael Pegg added: “Grace’s work ethic, enthusiasm and commitment to this industry is outstanding. She is a joy to work with, and all at CDS are proud to have her as a valued member of the team.”

Grace is passionate about her work, an advocate for more women to join the industry and keen for the education system to encourage girls to look into a variety of careers from an early age.

“I think all trades – be it fire alarm engineering, plumbing, heating, electrical or bricklaying – should be presented to girls throughout school so they can make an informed decision about whether that’s something for them or not. When I was at school, the trades were never presented to the girls as an option,” said Grace.

“I was really fortunate to have stumbled across the fire alarm industry while unhappy in an office job, and just found the industry clicked with me and presented a career path I was really eager to follow.

“This awards ceremony gave us all a great opportunity to celebrate women in the fire industry and to see other apprentices being recognised for their dedication and commitment to an industry I truly enjoy being a part of.

“It was a lovely day out, with the CDS team cheering me on.”







CDS technical expertise enables it to create system for ‘small town’

Designing, installing, commissioning and maintaining a multi-panel networked fire safety system across a sprawling, multi-building organisation is a complex challenge – but one at which CDS has been succeeding for more than a third of a century.

It is proud of its long-term relationships with clients who appreciate the technical and logistical expertise required to undertake such a task.

CDS has recently completed a large tranche of work for one of its long-standing higher education facility clients – the refurbishment of part of a Gent Vigilon multiple networked system which protects a total of around 80 buildings across many hectares of the institution.

As well as the size and extent of the buildings presenting a challenge, the CDS team needed to be mindful of the diversity of architectural styles into which the equipment was to be installed, with buildings ranging from massive uber-modern edifices to historical listed structures.

“It’s just like looking after a small town full of shops, houses and hospitals,” said CDS regional director Derek Stacey. “But in this case it’s classrooms, conference facilties and student accommodation.

“We’re a Gent Elite Technology Centre which means our engineers are highly skilled and qualified to be able to cope with demanding situations and complex needs. We haven’t just designed, installed and commissioned the system. We’re looking after it too, for its entire life cycle.

“The mixture of building styles, the size of the organisation and the different uses for which the buildings have been created present many challenges, all of which we at CDS are able to overcome from a design point of view. There are so many different criteria to take into account.

“We want to ensure that our future scientists, researchers, politicians and artists are all kept safe, whether they’re sleeping in their student accommodation, studying in a lab, or relaxing at the bar. If there is a fault or a fire incident we’re able to act swiftly.”

CDS has been working with many large educational establishments – from schools to universities and specialist research institutes – for more than 30 years.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

CDS installs technical fire safety system at scientific research institute

A scientific research institute carrying out sensitive work at a British university appointed CDS to design, supply, install and maintain a highly technical fire safety system suitable for use in a clinically sterile environment.

The centre’s specialised activities, which take place in a ‘clean room’ – a controlled environment with a low level of pollutants such as dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, and chemical vapours – meant it needed the niche expertise offered by only a handful of fire compliance organisations.

The department, which carries out confidential and ground-breaking research, needed to ensure the safety of its staff, property and equipment with a system which didn’t compromise the sterility of the room and its occupants and wouldn’t cause any contamination when safety checks and maintenance were carried out.

It also needed a very specialised system which could detect fire in a room with the high volume of air flow created by frequent air changes, something beyond the scope of a standard fire safety detection arrangement.

CDS’ 30 plus years’ of expertise in supplying systems for highly sensitive scientific environments meant it was ideally placed to design, supply and install a specialised solution, which it will maintain over its lifetime.

The system needed to comply with BS6266 and BS5839 and have special requirements to allow all services to be tested without having to enter the clean room area.

The CDS team specified a Xtralis Vesda Aspiration, monitored via a Gent Network Fire Alarm, system which samples air though a series of concealed pipes, offering a very early fire detection warning.

The specialised BS6266 element in particular is not offered by many fire detection companies, with the technical elements of being able to offer an early warning, cope with rapid air flow changes and the ability to test the devices without needing to enter the room making the system so technically special.

The department was opened this spring by a well-known space hero.

The new system will help protect the lives of the 300 or so scientists and students who work in the centre.

Clean rooms are used in many industries in which small particles can adversely affect the manufacturing process, such as semiconductor manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical device and life sciences, aerospace, optics, energy and defence.

Staff working in these environments enter and exit the clean room through airlocks, air showers or gowning rooms, and must wear special clothing designed to trap contaminants which are naturally generated by the body.



CDS renews football team sponsorship deal following league victory

A Leicestershire football team, which has been sponsored by fire detection and life safety specialist CDS for the past two years, is celebrating winning the league championship.

And as well as the glory of lifting the Leicestershire Foxes Sunday League trophy, the team has been rewarded with a further two-year sponsorship deal with CDS to help it repeat its success in the coming couple of seasons.

Members of Fleckney Athletic under 12s have been sporting stylish shirts emblazoned with the CDS logo since 2020 – and the young footballers are looking forward to continuing the relationship until 2024.

The deal will also see CDS continue to fund equipment such as balls and cones, as well as annual player awards, camps and tournaments.

The inspiration for the sponsorship came from CDS sales manager Paul Flude, whose sons play for two of the Fleckney Athletic teams – one in the under 13s and one in the under 10s.

Paul is also a coach for the under 10s team and has completed his level 1 coaching with Harborough Town FC, which also includes first aid training and safeguarding for children.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “Here at CDS, we’re all about making sure people are safe. While our professional role is protecting them from fire, we also believe in investing in the local community and helping our neighbours stay safe and healthy. So we hope our small contribution will play a part in helping the dedicated Fleckney Athletic team achieve this goal.”

Other recent CDS community contributions have included raising funds for Leicester Royal Infirmary, the city’s general hospital and Lutterworth food bank.

CDS has been helping protect lives and property for social housing providers, councils, police authorities, hospitals, care homes, universities, factories, warehouses and airports for more than 30 years.

CDS achieves RISQS status – offering assurance to rail and transport providers

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has achieved nationally-recognised Rail Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme status – which qualifies the company to work with rail and transport providers across the UK.

CDS joins around 4,000 other specialist suppliers whose capabilities, processes and quality have been verified by a team of rail industry specialists.

Holding an RISQS certificate means rail and transport providers are assured of the supplier’s quality, ability and commitment to health and safety, and it also mean supply chain risk is reduced.

Assessors for the scheme, whose buyers include Network Rail and Transport for London, scored CDS against 20 criteria covering the supply, design, installation, maintenance and overhaul of fire detection and extinguisher systems.

CDS’ certification follows the signing of a significant rail fire alarm service contract.

CDS bid manager Nigel Smith said: “Having RISQS status showcases our ability and commitment to health and safety while working on rail sites, and the quality of work that we deliver.

“Having become a verified member means that we will now be able to deploy engineers to our customers’ rail sites to supply, install, commission and service their fire and life safety systems. And it opens the door for us to work with other rail and transport providers all over the UK.”

Consider human and financial cost of fire during National Sprinkler Week

Facilities managers at commercial, educational and public sector premises are being reminded of the essential role of sprinklers in saving lives and protecting property during National Sprinkler Week this week.

The week, which kicks off on May 16, is one of a number of awareness campaigns promoted by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of ensuring such systems are in place, compliant and regularly maintained.

Figures show that commercial fires cost the UK economy around £2 billion a year, with the Department for Communities and Local Government putting the cost of a fire fatality at around £1.65 million.

Research carried out by the NFCC and the National Fire Sprinkler Network (NFSN), shows sprinklers extinguish or contain 99 per cent of fire outbreaks.

CDS has been designing, installing, commissioning and maintaining sprinklers, usually as part of a wider fire safety system, for more than 30 years for commercial, public sector, health, education and large-scale residential organisations.

While sprinklers are a legal requirement for some large commercial premises, they are not obligatory in many cases, including schools.

The NFCC, which says around 1,500 fires a year break out in schools across the UK, has been calling for legislation to make them obligatory in new and refurbished schools for several years.

It says the rate of schools being fitted with sprinklers may have fallen from 70% to as low as 15% of new builds, with the Association of British Insurers saying the most expensive school fires cost around £2.8 million to rectify.

CDS MD Simon Abley suggests sprinkler systems are ideally used in tandem with other fire safety measures.

‘We are concerned by the number of schools who either do not have monitoring in place or have monitoring in place that doesn’t comply with regulations. With arson attacks predominantly taking place when the school is closed those without an early warning system will not know the building is on fire until often hours after the blaze starts and the alarm is raised by a member of the public who sees it out of their window in the middle of the night,” he said.

“We are now seeing some schools choosing the latest technology which means fire alarms can be monitored away from the premises and in accordance with British Standards. Such products use 4G networks or the internet, with the signals transmitted to a remote monitoring centre.”

CDS installs multi-panel fire safety system at category C prison

Installing a fire safety system in a live prison environment requires not only the technical expertise to carry out work with minimum disruption under strict security protocols, but also absolute trust in every single engineer involved.

CDS’ long history of working in highly sensitive environments such as police stations and prisons is one reason it was selected to install a multi-panel Gent Vigilon network system at one of 55 category C prisons in England.

The networked system, which reports back to a central control room, means the sprawling prison’s 400 inmates, along with visitors and staff, are now protected in the case of a fire outbreak anywhere in the buildings.

CDS assisted with the technical design, supplied, installed and commissioned the system which offers the security team a total overview of the site, enabling them to identify the precise location of any alarm activated.

CDS’ other law and order clients include Leicestershire Police, a contract which requires every member of the team involved to be DBS checked to an enhanced level, and go through a stringent police vetting process, which is obligatory for all police officers and for the constabulary’s outsourced service providers.

As well as giving the force confidence that those entering their premises are squeaky clean, it means CDS customers from other industry areas, such as healthcare and education, can be reassured that the people with whom they come into contact are honest and trustworthy.

CDS managing director Simon Abley 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.

“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.”


CDS opens Durham office to grow business across the North

CDS is continuing its expansion across the UK – with the opening of an office in the North East and the appointment of a new team to develop business in the region.

The Durham office is being run by newly appointed regional manager Brian Frampton who brings with him more than 20 years’ experience in the fire detection and life safety industry. He has extensive expertise in Honeywell Gent, CDS’ main tech platform, as well as Advanced, Kentec, Morley, Hochiki, Vesda and Airsense.

Brian and his colleagues plan to expand the sales and engineering team in the coming months.

The office is the second to open in the North of England, less than a year after the launch of its Manchester branch with the arrival of CDS regional director Derek Stacey. Both will enable CDS to manage growth in the region.

The Durham office has already won some new clients, including some in the local authority sector, and will offer its expertise to social housing providers, councils, police authorities, hospitals, care homes, universities, factories, warehouses and airports across Northern England and into the Scottish borders.

Brian, who has carried out technical and managerial roles across the North of England since the early 2000s, explained his decision to join CDS. “The team and I were looking for a new challenge and a company which would support us and allow us to grow. I have known Derek Stacey for a long time and trust his judgement, so the transition to CDS was an easy process.”

CDS managing director Simon Abley added: “The wealth of expertise brought by Brian, Dan and Lisa will be a tremendous boost to the CDS family. Their appointment and the establishment of our latest office support our plan to expand CDS via a ‘buy and build’ strategy over the coming months and years.

“Part of this growth plan involves broadening our geographical coverage via organic expansion, as in this case, and by acquiring companies and bringing them into the CDS fold.   We are looking forward to further growth and acquisitions across the north of England.

“The team have plenty of experience and excellent knowledge of our main tech platform, Honeywell Gent, and are familiar with working on complex life safety systems in large, multi-location organisations which is the main focus of our work.”

  • Projects and commissioning engineer Dan Hill, senior admin Lisa Errington and regional manager Brian Frampton celebrate the opening of the North East office.

Tower blocks swap waking watch for cost-effective hybrid wireless solution

Costly waking watch patrols, deployed at half a dozen high-rise potentially flammable exterior-cladding-covered apartment blocks in the home counties, are no longer needed thanks to the installation of a hybrid wireless fire alarm extension system specified and commissioned by Tann Synchronome, part of CDS.

The six 11- and 17-storey blocks, a mixture of local authority and privately owned flats, are among the hundreds of multi-storey buildings across the UK whose management has employed round-the-clock in-person patrols to ensure residents can sleep soundly at night without fear of fire breaking out.

Tann Synchronome technical sales manager Grant Wheeler explained: “The management company had been paying a fortune for a waking watch to patrol the buildings floor by floor every night. It proceeded with a programme to install sprinkler systems throughout the flats to negate the need for the patrols. However, there was a resistance from the private owners not wanting ugly sprinkler pipework through their flats.”

The management company’s struggle to find a safe, cost-effective and aesthetically suitable solution to the problem saw it turn to electrical contractor James Ferguson Ceejay Electrical and Tann Synchronome for an alternative to sprinklers in the private dwellings.

“My solution was to extend the existing hard-wired systems with radio heat detection in the flats into the rooms with windows above the cladding. The communal analogue addressable fire alarm systems which are in all the blocks were originally designed solely to protect the escape routes and are made up of Kentec Synchro control equipment employing either the Apollo or Hochiki protocols,” said Grant.

“Another option would have been to install a completely separate wireless system which would have involved far more extensive radio communication infrastructure, as well as being more costly and disruptive to install.

“Extending the existing systems means that as they are already remotely monitored no further remote connection is required to summon the fire brigade in the event of an activation.”

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.

CDS backs Women in Fire Safety’s mission to address the industry gender gap

CDS is to sponsor a national award aimed at celebrating the achievements of women working in the fire safety industry.

The training provider of the year award is just one of several categories to be celebrated at this autumn’s Women in Fire Safety Awards event.

Other prizes will include celebrating the most inspirational woman in the industry and recognising the best contractors and recruiters.

Women in Fire Safety, which aims to encourage more women to choose a career in the industry, was set up by two women who met when they worked together at a fire alarm manufacturer.

The organisation also focuses on recognising women’s achievements in the industry, educating younger people about career opportunities and helping the sector become more progressive.

CDS national sales manager Sophie Kelly, who moved from a career in outdoor services to one in fire safety last year, said she has found discovering a group of like-minded professionals incredibly supportive.

And she hopes her own experience is echoed not only by women currently working in the industry, but also by those who haven’t yet chosen to make it their career.

Sophie said: “The organisation’s co-founders Kate Blake and Chloe Vickery are inspirational. They had a vision to bring highly skilled and successful women together and they made it happen. The WIFS has allowed me to find a community, somewhere where I can develop my knowledge and grow my contacts within the fire industry.

“They immediately provided the support I was looking for. Kate totally knocked my socks off when she invited me to attend the group’s annual awards event last year as a guest. It was a lovely evening celebrating women in the fire industry and allowed me, someone who was totally new to the industry, to mix with some very important people and to gain knowledge, information and contacts.”

Women in Fire Safety, which has created an educational video about roles available in the industry, aims to see fire safety careers discussed in educational settings and would like girls and boys to have equal opportunities to experience the industry from a young age.

CDS managing director Simon Abley added: “We are delighted to support the Women in Fire Safety Awards and the organisation as whole. A recent Gender Gap Index report stated that it would take 108 years for society to close the global gender gap. As with construction and other traditionally male-dominated industries, we must do what we can to encourage and welcome women and show both the old guard and our young people that the outdated idea of ‘pink jobs’ and ‘blue jobs’ belongs in the past.”

A number of entries have already been received for the 2022 awards, which will take place in November.