CDS helps ensure leisure and hospitality venues are fire-safe and compliant before July 19 reopening

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has been working with businesses in the hospitality and leisure industry to make sure they are safe and compliant before reopening or expanding their capacity on July 19.

This has involved carrying out fire risk assessments for hotels, galleries and stately homes which have had to reconfigure their layouts to facilitate social distancing.

As well as ensuring they comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO), CDS has been designing, installing and maintaining life safety systems for its leisure clients.

The relaxation of the Covid rules on July 19 means these organisations can revert to their previous layouts, necessitating a further fire risk assessment, as a new one needs to be carried out every time changes are made to the building.

Nightclubs have also benefitted from CDS’ expertise, as have theatres, museums and wedding venues.

CDS managing director Simon Abley is also reminding venues of the need to check that their fire alarms and extinguishers have been tested and are compliant with British Standards – a service which CDS has also been providing for its clients.

“From a business point of view, the leisure and hospitality sector has perhaps had more hoops to jump through in the last year and a half than any other,” he said.

“There will be further massive changes in the coming weeks as pubs and bars increase indoor capacity, theatres and cinemas can perform to full houses and wedding venues can welcome a full complement of guests. We are also likely to see more people using airports if the plan to allow the double jabbed to travel on holiday without the need for quarantine is agreed.

“We have been working for more than 30 years with a huge raft of businesses in the leisure and hospitality sector. This year we have been even busier because we have needed to ensure they are safe and compliant as they adapt to comply with every Covid regulation change.”

Wedding venues are among the leisure and hospitality businesses benefitting from compliance and fire safety help from CDS (“group” by sarchi is licensed under CC BY 2.0)




CDS celebrates its own Euro 2020 victory, with projects in England, Scotland and Wales

The CDS team has been gripped by Euro 2020 fever. Not only are many of its colleagues glued to their TV screens (when not at work of course), they have also created their own version of the tournament wallchart – and have already conquered all three home nations.

Since the first kick off on June 11, the team has carried out projects in England, Scotland and Wales, demonstrating CDS’ truly national coverage as the company expands to offer its services to every corner of mainland Britain.

The Welsh projects follow both the recent acquisition of Monmouthshire-based Tann Synchronome and the opening earlier this year of an office in Manchester.

The appointments of CDS northern regional director Derek Stacey and sales manager Steve Hughes have also enabled CDS to extend its reach into North Wales and Scotland. The company has undertaken new projects for local authorities, universities and student accommodation providers in Edinburgh and across the county of Gwynedd.

And the appointment of regional sales manager Ross O’Connell to cover the South West and Wales has led to CDS significantly raising its profile in the region and increasing its ability to support the M & E sector in South Wales.

CDS has been well-known and respected for its operations in England for more than 30 years, and its new ‘buy and build’ strategy, introduced following its acquisition last year by MD Simon Abley and chairman Simon Cashmore,has been behind its successes in the other two home nations. The policy aims to see CDS expand geographically as well as adding new services to its offering.

Simon Abley said: “We thought it would be fun to have a focus on carrying out projects in all three home nations during the Euros.

“As you can see, we’ve been pretty successful. And we have other new projects which should be in the bag – or maybe the back of the net – before the final on July 11.”

  • CDS supports the home nations during Euro 2020 

(credit) “Official Euro 2020 ball, green background” by wuestenigel is licensed under CC BY 2.0


CDS installs wire-free carbon monoxide monitoring system in home with open fires

CDS has just finished installing a wireless carbon monoxide detection system in a large property with the sole purpose of monitoring potential harmful gases released from open fires.

One of the key requirements of the client was that no cabling should disturb the aesthetic appeal of the building which contains several rooms with open fires.

The existing analogue/addressable fire alarm system posed no problem for CDS, which has more than three decades of experience in carrying out complex, multi-faceted projects. But as the need for CO detection was highlighted after carrying out the fire risk assessment, the second half of the commission was potentially more challenging.

Incorporating CO detection presented a potential problem, as the design of the rooms meant there was no way any cabling could be concealed.

The solution was to install battery operated CO sensors, and CDS chose the Ei208 models manufactured and distributed by AICO limited. The devices are capable of wireless transmission to a receiver which, in turn, is interfaced onto the existing main fire alarm system detection loop.

The installation team located an electrical switch cupboard which already had a smoke sensor installed and were able to install both the AICO receiver units and loop-powered system interfaces within the space, thus providing detection with no apparent effect on the internal décor.

In addition to the CO monitoring, CDS specified, installed, and commissioned an advanced addressable fire alarm system incorporating Apollo smoke sensors, which enables immediate identification of the precise location of any fire outbreak, and carried out all related refurbishment work.

CDS has been installing carbon monoxide monitors as part of its all-encompassing life safety system work for many years, but until now they have always been wired into existing wired fire detection loops. This has never been an issue, as the structure of the buildings has either enabled installers to hide the cabling, or, in the case of some commercial premises, hasn’t had the aesthetic impact such a procedure would have on centuries-old interior design.

Having successfully pioneered the use of this battery-operated system CDS is ow looking forward to offering the product to other similar clients and properties.

Other attractive older buildings on which CDS has carried out major installation projects include Leicester City Council’s magnificent Victorian town hall. As the property needed to remain up and running during the day, the CDS team carried out the work overnight over a few weeks to ensure a seamless transition from its previous system.

CDS has an impressive 33-year track record in the education, healthcare, logistics, leisure, airport, industrial property and housing sectors.

CDS expands its sales team into the South West, Wales and the North West

CDS is expanding its sales capacity with the appointment of two new regional sales managers to support the growth of the business in the South West, Wales and the North West.

Ross O’Connell will oversee developing the business in the South West and Wales, while Steve Hughes will drive sales in the North West.

Ross, who is looking forward to getting the CDS brand into areas of Britain where it is not yet a household name, says he was attracted to the company because of its forward-thinking approach and determination to build a high quality service business operating right across the UK.

“I got a good feeling when I spoke to Simon Cashmore and Simon Abley and, listening to what they had done with other companies, decided I wanted to be on the journey with them,” he said.

A former pole vaulter for the Welsh national team, who came second in the British championships in his late teens, Ross moved into selling fire safety systems around a decade ago after spending a few years as a PE teacher.

His background in selling Honeywell Gent systems fits neatly with CDS’ longstanding Honeywell pedigree.  AHoneywell Gent Elite Technology Centre, the company is one of the longest-serving Gent System Integrators, having been appointed in 2000.

Ross takes part in less high adrenaline sports now, preferring to keep fit by running and going to the gym while, wearing his ex-PE teacher’s hat, coaching the rugby and football teams to which two of his three young sons belong.

Meanwhile, Steve Hughes is planning to help CDS become known in the North and North West as the business is in other parts of the country.

Steve has been working in the fire safety and security industry since the late 1990s – both in sales and mechanical and electrical (M&E) contracting.

“Because I have extensive experience of the M&E sector I know what the contractors like and how they work, which is very helpful in a sales role,” he said.

He was attracted to CDS by its ‘progressive vision’ to expand its geographical reach, its service offering and its client base.

When not on the road specifying fire safety systems he’s out in the countryside – driving Land Rovers off road to enjoy the magnificent countryside around his home near Saddleworth Moor.

“I drive on unadopted roads and byways where vehicles don’t usually go. It’s an easy way to see beautiful countryside and greenery which would otherwise be inaccessible for older people or those who are less fit,” he said.

CDS chairman Simon Cashmore said: “Ross and Steve have impressive track records and bring their expertise to the CDS fold, along with the energy and passion to help us expand using their sector understanding and established regional relationships.”

South West and Wales regional sales manager Ross O’Connell with CDS managing director Simon Abley

CDS continues its ‘buy and build’ mission by acquiring Welsh business

The latest stage in CDS’ ‘buy and build’ strategy has seen it acquire a fire alarm systems business in Wales.

Monmouthshire-based Tann Synchronome, once the second largest fire alarm manufacturer in the UK, offers its services along the M4 and M5 corridor – from Wales and the West Country to London and into the Midlands.

The business began life in the 19th century, with a somewhat different focus. Its parent companies Synchronome of London and John Tann made clocks and safes. It branched into fire alarm systems nearly 60 years ago and in the 1980s produced the first British analogue addressable fire alarm system, the Vigilant.

Tann Synchronome designs, supplies, installs, commissions and maintains fire alarm systems created by manufacturers including Hochiki and Apollo. This in addition to a strong reputation as a leading supplier of security, access control and emergency lighting systems and support. 

The rollcall of equipment manufacturers complements CDS’ expertise as a longstanding partner of Honeywell. CDS is a Honeywell Gent Elite Technology Centre and one of the longest-serving Gent System Integrators, having been appointed in 2000. It can also specify, install and maintain Honeywell Notifier systems through group company, Powerpoint Fire Systems. 

Tann Synchronome customers include Proctor and Gamble UK, Foxtons and many of the UK’s leading schools and academy trusts. 

The acquisition follows the purchase earlier this year of Middlesex-based Powerpoint Fire Systems (Powerpoint), a Honeywell Notifier engineered systems distributor whose high-profile clients have included the All-England Tennis Club, home of Wimbledon.

CDS chairman Simon Cashmore said: “Our buy and build strategy has a three-pronged approach. We aim to broaden our geographical reach, add service capability and expand our services in the compliance sector. Acquiring Tann Synchronome enables us to impact all three of these. It has an established reputation in the sector and gives us access to adjacent services and to new clients across the UK.”

Tann Synchronome managing director Will Jones, who has 30 years’ experience in the fire safety business and will remain with the business added: “I am very pleased that the company will become part of the wider, dynamic and energetic CDS offering. Our combined clout and expertise should be of massive benefit to so many companies, schools, universities, office complexes and commercial operations.”

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.

  • Simon Abley, Tann Synchronome managing director Will Jones, Simon Cashmore and Tann Synchronome finance director Will Heavens celebrate the latest CDS acquisition.

Covid security mustn’t compromise fire safety as students return to face-to-face teaching

As students return to face-to-face teaching after months of learning online, CDS is reminding universities that reconfiguring the layout of their public spaces and lecture theatres to ensure Covid security may mean their fire risk assessments are out of date.

And it suggests that, if they haven’t already done so, these need to be renewed as a matter of urgency – not only to ensure compliance, but to protect the lives of students and staff.

A number of practical measures can help marry the seemingly conflicting needs of Covid security with fire safety. For example, while increasing ventilation can help minimise the spread of the virus, it can also increase the spread of fire.

Fire door retainers provide an easy, safe and legal way to hold fire doors open, increase ventilation and reduce the use of touch surfaces such as door handles and door plates. The plunger devices deactivate on hearing a fire alarm, shutting the doors.

As part of a much wider fire safety strategy carried out for Nottingham Trent University across 60 buildings on three campuses, CDS supplied more than 500 such devices.

Fire risk assessments are a legal requirement for all non-domestic premises under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) in England and Wales, as well as for the communal areas of residential buildings such as student accommodation.

A new one needs to be carried out every time changes are made to the building – which includes measures universities may have made to ensure their public spaces are safe from a Covid viewpoint. These may include changes such as altering desk layouts, installing partitioning, amending exit routes and moving fire meeting points.

As well as overseeing the fire safety strategy, designing, installing and maintaining life safety systems for universities, CDS works with major student accommodation providers.

These include global property management company Greystar, which has a multi-billion-pound portfolio of large-scale rental properties across London.

CDS, which has a 33-year track record in the commercial and public sectors, can carry out a fire risk assessment and specify, supply and fit equipment which will ensure that COVID-19 compliance doesn’t compromise fire safety.

Director retires after 30 years and CDS welcomes new group financial controller

CDS waves a fond farewell to one of its directors this month, while welcoming a new group financial controller whose role will include helping the business expand over the coming years.

Lynne Sulley, who worked her way up through the ranks from cleaner to director, is retiring after enjoying ‘every single minute’ of more than 30 years with the company.

“I arrived at CDS wearing a pair of yellow marigolds,” she said. She soon ditched the rubber gloves and over the years worked as office clerk, administration manager, bookkeeper and accounts manager and was appointed a director in 2005.

“When I look back at the last 30 years I’ve loved every minute of my time at CDS.  I’d like to think that, together with Martin and Tony, I played a small part in helping to build the foundation of what is becoming an exciting, energetic and thriving company,” she said.

Before joining CDS, Lynne worked in the careers department at Nottinghamshire Police, with her claim to fame helping to recruit ice skating legend Christopher Dean to the force.

Lynne, a passionate traveller and cook, has visited more than 40 countries and eaten at 60 plus Michelin starred restaurants in pursuit of culinary tips! In a post pandemic world, she hopes to resume her globe-trotting adventures and visit family in the States.

With an accountancy and finance degree and ACA qualifications, Ben Robbins will step into Lynne’s day-to-day finance shoes as well as helping with strategy and expansion plans for the group.

When his head isn’t in a spreadsheet Ben loves playing football and cricket, is training for the London Marathon and has been teaching himself guitar during lockdown. By his own admission he has progressed from ’terrible’ to ‘below average.’

“I’m looking forward to working at CDS, a long-established business with a good reputation, and building strong relationships with stakeholders,” he said.

“I’m also excited to be working for Simon Cashmore and Simon Abley who have got an exceptional track record in business. I feel I will learn great amounts from this experience and that will help me to progress and develop as a business and finance leader. The journey with CDS is going to be extremely interesting and I am really excited to be part of it.”

Fire risk assessments more important as property owners face fines for non-compliance

With building owners facing unlimited fines for fire safety breaches under the Building Safety Bill currently going through parliament, the need to ensure fire risk assessments are kept up to date is becoming even more important, says CDS.

Stronger enforcement action for those responsible for fire safety in commercial and multi-occupancy residential buildings was one of the measures announced by the government in its response to the Fire Safety Consultation, which will come into force as part of the Building Safety Bill.

The current Fire Safety Order will be amended and will include a requirement for fire risk assessments to be recorded for each building and improve how fire safety information is handed over throughout its lifetime.

The new measures will also make it easier to identify who is responsible for fire safety, with anyone impersonating or obstructing a fire inspector facing unlimited fines.

When the Bill comes into force, maybe later this year, the ‘responsible persons’ will need to ensure that their fire risk assessments include the fire safety risks and, where appropriate, any general fire precautions.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “Carrying out a fire risk assessment is already a complex process, and these regulatory changes will make it more so. While there is currently no legal requirement for them to be carried out by an expert, the likelihood of missing something crucial, and now the added threat of fines, suggests it would make sense to instruct an independent, appropriately qualified specialist.

Fire risk assessments are a legal requirement for all non-domestic premises, as well as for the communal areas of residential buildings such as blocks of flats and sheltered housing complexes.

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.

CDS joins government’s Disability Confident scheme

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has joined a government scheme aimed at encouraging employers to recruit and retain disabled people and those with health conditions.

Around 18,000 UK businesses are already signed up to Disability Confident, which is run by the Department for Work and Pensions.

Business leaders from some of the country’s most high-profile companies, including Channel 4, BT, GlaxoSmithKline, Network Rail and Sainsbury’s are working alongside the DWP to ensure it meets the needs of businesses and disabled people.

CDS has joined fellow scheme members in signing up to five ‘commitments’ which include ensuring an inclusive recruitment process; offering interviews to disabled people who meet the minimum job criteria; providing ‘reasonable adjustments’ and supporting existing colleagues who acquires a disability or long-term health condition.

CDS managing director Simon Abley said: “We’re very pleased to be part of the Disability Confident scheme and to committing to remove barriers which might prevent disabled people and those with long term health conditions from working with us.

“The scheme is mutually beneficial.  As well as ensuring equality of opportunity for disabled people, it means we have access to a wider pool of talent and can hold onto valuable skills and experience. It also improves staff morale by showing we’re committed to treating all employees fairly. We look forward to playing our part in positively changing attitudes, behaviours and cultures in the world at large.”

CDS and fellow Disability Confident members are entitled to attend webinars and conferences led by business leaders and experts on key disability employment topics and will be offered information, support and guidance on disability-related issues.

Joining the scheme means CDS can use the Disability Confident badge on all its communication materials to demonstrate its commitment to equal opportunities.

CDS warns of importance of specialist help when undertaking ‘hot work’

With ‘hot work’ causing around a fifth of fires on construction sites, ensuring foolproof fire safety systems are in place before conducting any operation which could cause a spark is essential, warns fire detection and life safety specialist CDS.

Figures reported by the UK’s national fire safety organisation The Fire Protection Association, show that 20% of fires taking place on construction sites in England between 2018 and 2019 were caused by hot work.

And insurance company Zurich reports that 15% of all the fire claims it processed between 2016 and 2018 are also caused by such activity. The insurance giant says many of these fires could have been avoided if certain simple and cost-effective controls had been followed.

CDS has been working with many huge industrial operations over the past 30 plus years, where ‘hot work’ plays a key role in the day-to-day activities of the site. While hot work can be direct – by using equipment which emits a flame, it can also be indirect, for example using disc cutters which create sparks.

Managing Director Simon Abley explained: “While live construction sites are perhaps the most obvious source of hot work fires, industrial sites also carry a high risk of fire breaking out and spreading with alarming speed. The fires can be exacerbated by proximity to highly flammable materials and chemicals present additional hazards.”

Warehouses, waste management specialists and factories are among the businesses to which CDS provides fire safety expertise – from fire risk assessments, to specifying, monitoring and maintaining all aspects of a fire safety system.

One recent project saw CDS supply and install fixed extinguishant systems to a number of high risk programmable logic controller (PLC) cabinets used on a factory production line. Extinguishant will automatically be released into the individual cabinet in case of fire or overheating and alert the security team to the precise location of the outbreak.

The highly specialised PLCs are also protected by an air sampling system which provides early warning of the potential for fire, offering a belt and braces solution for added peace of mind.

The new system means only the area identified as being at risk needs to shut down while production can continue safely.

All commercial premises are legally obliged to carry out fire risk assessments, regardless of whether or not hot work is carried out on the premises, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) in England and Wales.

While these can be carried out by the property owners, appointing a professional is advisable, particularly in complex or large buildings – and those in which hot work is carried out.

Photo: Creative Commons