CDS strengthens its team with two regional sales manager appointments

CDS’ commitment to grow its business has taken a step forward this week with the appointment of two new regional sales managers.

London-based Simon Gregory, who has worked on projects with big names such as Facebook, Apple and the Royal Academy of Arts during his 30-year career in life safety systems, takes on the role in the South East.

His extensive pedigree includes stints with global heavyweights such as ADT and security services specialist G4S. He has huge technical experience in the design and implementation of fire alarms, security, CCTV and access control systems.

Zubair Gheewala will fulfil the same role in the South Midlands. A fellow veteran of global security systems giant ADT he has been working in the life safety systems arena for the past decade.

He has worked on projects for a wide range of high-profile customers and sectors, including social housing, hospitals, large industrial projects and numerous retail organisations.

MD Simon Abley explained: “Simon and Zubair both have impressive track records for expanding business for their previous employers, exceeding their sales targets and bringing in new customers. They both have the essential skills of all good sales managers – an ability to understand the detailed technical requirements of this very complex area and an understanding that, for example, industrial sites have totally different needs from healthcare settings. CDS has a 33-year track record of working with companies in these sectors as well as education, logistics, housing and the public sector.”

CDS’ clients include global property management company Greystar, which has a multi-billion-pound portfolio of large-scale rental properties, Nottingham Trent University, Leicestershire Police and numerous local authorities.

Zubair Gheewala is one of two new regional sales managers to join CDS

CDS helps families in need with Christmas food bank donation

Colleagues at life safety systems specialist CDS have been collecting food and toiletries to help families in need this Christmas.

Their contributions will help make the festive season a little less challenging for a number of households in Lutterworth and the surrounding villages.

Rotary Club member and CDS director Martin Iliffe said he and his fellow Rotarians already supported the Lutterworth Food Bank, and when colleagues debated how they could help the community this Christmas it seemed an obvious choice.

The Leicestershire centre is one of around 1,200 such facilities nationwide overseen by the Trussell Trust, a charity whose longer-term aim is to end the need for food banks in the UK.

Martin explained: “This year food banks across the whole nation have been struggling to keep pace with demand. Market towns like Lutterworth seem relatively affluent on the surface, but there is an undercurrent of families who are struggling, particularly this year, and the demands on the food bank are greater than ever.”

Individual CDS employees brought in grocery contributions themselves and the wider company donated products, using the proceeds of the sale of some of their office equipment to boost their donations.

“The bulk of what we’ve provided is not actually edible produce, as what the food bank says it’s really short of is things like shower gel and shampoo. We’ve majored on toiletries and, because of the time of year, biscuits and more frivolous luxury items like chocolate and that sort of thing. People tend not to supply these. Food banks are overwhelmed with things like baked beans.”

The CDS contributions will be parcelled up into hampers which will be distributed by food bank volunteers into household size parcels for distribution over the next few days.

Last year the Trussell Trust distributed 1.9 million food parcels to some of the 14 million people living in poverty in the UK, 4.5 million of whom are children.

As well as supporting food banks UK-wide, the Trust’s five-year plan to end the need for such centres includes addressing the underlying reasons why people need such facilities, tackling the causes of poverty and creating a compassionate society.

CDS plans to continue to support the food bank during 2021.

  • John Keenan from CDS’ stores and logistics department loads up supplies donated to the Lutterworth Food Bank

Specialist door openers ensure fire safety in a COVID-19-secure workplace, says CDS

While people are still being advised to work from home where possible, many, for whom it is not practical, are returning to the office in the new year, perhaps after months cocooned in their own space.

And for some companies, striking the balance between ensuring a COVID-19-secure workplace while complying with fire regulations can seem an impossible conundrum.

Reducing touchpoints and improving ventilation are two areas which workplaces need to address – but the solutions to both of those could mean leaving fire doors open, which is not only illegal but also potentially lethal.

CDS is able to help companies ensure they are fire safety compliant and recently oversaw a project which addressed this very dichotomy as part of a wider programme of fire safety measures at Nottingham Trent University.

It supplied more than 500 fire door retainers which provide 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. The plunger devices deactivate on hearing a fire alarm, shutting the doors.

As well as reducing touchpoints, the door openers have the added benefit of improving ventilation, another important factor in heling reduce transmission of the virus in indoor spaces.

Using door retaining devices may even have the knock-on effect of boosting mental wellbeing by enabling people who have been isolated for a long time to feel part of the wider workplace community. By keeping the doors open between departments colleagues can see each other at a safe distance and not feel they are, yet again, forced into an enclosed space.

CDS, which has a 33-year track record in the commercial and public sectors, can carry out a fire risk assessment to ensure workplaces comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and specify, supply and fit equipment which will ensure that COVID-19 compliance doesn’t compromise fire safety.

Bradford blaze serves as a reminder of the importance of tailored solutions for industrial sites

A huge blaze which closed schools and disrupted transport systems for several days in Bradford last month illustrates the far-reaching impact of a fire which goes undetected until it is too late – and serves as reminder of the need for tailored solutions at industrial sites, says fire detection and life safety systems specialist CDS.

Around 20 schools were forced to close, rail services were cancelled, and roads diverted while residents were warned to keep their windows shut because of concerns about smoke pollution.

At its height, 100 firefighters and 15 fire engines were needed to tackle the flames pouring from around 8,000 tyres at the former go-kart track.

MD at CDS, Simon Abley, explained: “Obviously investigations are under way into this particular incident, but the massive knock-on effect serves as a reminder of how challenging industrial sites can be. Conventional fire alarm systems are not always the best solution.”

CDS has been protecting major industrial sites and commercial premises for more than 30 years and has worked with them to build site specific solutions which meet their needs. This means using a multitude of fire detection devices including beam detection and thermal imaging cameras.

“Carrying out risk assessments is one of the many services we provide and for sites with complex operations we highly recommend this. It enables our team to design a bespoke fire detection solution that provides the best possible detection of fire without affecting the operational activities of the customer.

“As we have witnessed in this case, the impact of a fire can goes way beyond the destruction of the premises and its contents. It can have devastating consequences on the surrounding area.”

Image by Dominic’s pics is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Accountancy firm Cooper Parry praises entrepreneurial spirit of CDS’ new directors

Rebel accountancy firm Cooper Parry has published a glowing testimonial to the entrepreneurial spirit of the directors who took over at the helm of CDS in the summer.

Simon Cashmore and Simon Abley have brought to their previous business ventures is anything to go by, the future of CDS looks very rosy indeed!

He and Simon Abley grew their last business, outdoor services specialist TCL Group, 14-fold in the 12 years between acquiring it and selling it to European giant idverde last year.

In an article written for the self-styled ‘disruptive, mould breaking’ accountancy company as part of its series on entrepreneurs, its relationship partner Peter Sterling heaps praise on CDS’ new chairman Simon Cashmore.

“I saw straight away that the entrepreneurial spirit lay deep within his DNA,” said Peter, who met Simon C initially in 2006.

“We’ve always loved working with Simon and his long-time business colleague Simon Abley. They have been all-round ‘good guys’ to work with!”

He describes Simon Cashmore as a demanding leader with great attention to detail and a passion for driving change.

“Even in 2008 when the financial crash brought the housing market to a grinding halt, Simon and his management team at TCL never lost belief in the business. It came back strongly, and Simon led a number of carefully researched acquisitions to broaden not only the geographical spread of the company but the ranges of services it offered.

“It says a lot for Simon that in many cases the vendors of the businesses acquired remained with the group post-acquisition,” he said.

And this model is continuing with CDS, whose co-founders Martin Iliffe and Tony Mikunda remain firmly on the board as shareholding directors, alongside the firm’s existing, highly qualified team of engineers and salespeople.

The two Simons are replicating the successful ‘buy and build’ model they used at TCL Group at CDS. They aim to grow the business organically and buy companies within the wider compliance sector over the next few years to offer a broader range of services to existing customers and expand their geographical reach.

“The recession in 2008 taught us that having a business heavily aligned to a specific sector wasn’t sensible. So we set out to find a broader range of clients operating in different markets. We rapidly diversified by buying other complementary services. We became good at buying businesses and dramatically improving their profitability,” explained Simon Cashmore.

“We hit on our own little model. We found businesses we thought were doing a genuinely good job for their customers. We then spent a lot of time with the owners to make sure that we were buying businesses with similar values to us so they would integrate well. Then we cross-sold a broad range of services to these new customers,” he added.

Having got their feet well and truly under the CDS table the tireless Simons are now proactively looking into ways to augment the service offering there and interested in talking to other owner-managed companies in the fire compliance sector looking for their next move.

Electrical Fire Safety Week raises awareness of role appliances play in lethal blazes

It’s Electrical Fire Safety Week from November 23 and residential landlords and business owners are being reminded of the importance of carrying out fire risk assessments and ensuring they have compliant up-to-date fire monitoring systems in place.

A joint initiative by the Home Office’s Fire Kills campaign and national electrical safety charity, Electrical Safety First, the week highlights the dangers posed by using faulty electrical appliances and overloading sockets.

Around 4,000 blazes every year are caused by electrical issues, according to the Home Office, with 215 people dying in house fires between June 2018 and June 2019.

Electrical Safety First, the campaigning name for the Electrical Safety Council, says more than half of all accidental house fires have an electrical cause at their root, with nine out of ten electrical fires caused by appliances.

It 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 enabling buyers to identify whether products are being sold by third parties rather than legitimate suppliers.

As well as ensuring the fires don’t happen in the first place, fire detection and life safety specialist CDS stresses the importance of installing and maintaining fire monitoring technology such as smoke alarms, sprinklers and remote 4G and 3G early warning monitoring systems.

The government’s Fire Kills campaign says householders are more than eight times more likely to die in a fire if they don’t have a correctly positioned, working smoke alarm.

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.

Young footballers proudly display their new CDS sponsored kit

A team of young Leicestershire footballers will be proudly displaying their new kit this autumn – thanks to a sponsorship deal with fire detection and life safety specialist CDS.

The Fleckney Athletic under 11s’ nifty footwork is sure to be enhanced by the new shirts which are emblazoned with the CDS logo.

The stylish tops are part of a two-year deal with the Narborough-based business which has been helping staff and visitors to councils, 999 services, universities, schools, hospitals and health centres across the East Midlands stay safe for more than 30 years.

The agreement also sees CDS fund new equipment such as balls, cones and annual player awards, and helps pay for 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 11s. Indeed, Paul himself is now a coach for the under 9s team and has completed his level 1 coaching with Harborough Town FC, which also includes first aid training and safeguarding for children.

“My boys have been playing with Fleckney Athletic since they were six. That’s when I decided I’d love to get involved. I used to play rugby but I’ve now broadened my experience and took an FA coaching course. As well as helping my sons I hope I’ve been useful in enabling plenty of other children to hone their skills on the football field.

“I wanted to do more to help the team – and thought that encouraging CDS to sponsor their new kit was a practical way of encouraging the youngsters. In these days of so many children spending huge amounts of time playing on computers and watching TV it’s great to encourage some good old-fashioned physical activity. This not only gets them moving, but also gets them into the great outdoors. It’s good for their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. And that’s something we definitely want to encourage.

“The club has been amazing for the children. Both my kids have been flag bearers for Leicester City Football Club and the whole under 9s team walked out with the LCFC squad. These are great memories for the team.

“The nature of our company is to keep people safe. Well, safety doesn’t just mean protecting people from bad things, like fires. It also means taking positive, proactive steps towards ensuring people are as fit and well as they can be. So we hope our small contribution will play a part in helping achieve this goal.”

CDS supports Student Fire Safety Week – and says accommodation providers have an important role to play

Students across the UK are having far more to contend with than they planned this year – with hundreds being confined to their accommodation after Covid outbreaks and everyone having to socially distance and avoid big parties.

Among the new responsibilities to take on board are the messages shared by fire brigades across the country during Student Fire Safety Week, which takes place from October 26 until November 1.

CDS, which has been installing, maintaining and servicing fire safety systems at universities across the country for more than 30 years, supports the advice being issued by the fire service to young people for whom fire safety may not even be on the agenda.

Students are being issued with a ten-point checklist to help them reduce fire risks in their accommodation, which includes warning against propping open fire doors and covering smoke alarms.

In London alone the capital’s fire brigade attends around 60 fires a year in student accommodation. In some cases – 19 over the past five years – no fire or smoke alarm was activated.

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 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.

“This means ensuring all early detection systems such as alarms and sprinklers are not only installed but maintained and monitored. Some send a remote signal to a central control panel, meaning that false alarms can be checked before they get as far as the fire brigade. An unnecessary callout to a false alarm could mean the blue light services aren’t available to deal with a genuine emergency.

“We are seeing more and more organisations coming to us for the latest British Standard compliant technology which uses 4G or the internet to monitor fire alarms away from the premises.

“It is also the responsibility of the landlord to have an emergency plan in place and this includes conveying it to the occupants of the building. If the student doesn’t know that a correctly installed and maintained fire door can give a vital extra 30 minutes before it spreads, then propping one open won’t seem like a big deal.

“It’s vital to use a competent, accredited supplier to install, maintain and service an alarm system. It’s also a good idea, for peace of mind and to ensure compliance for that organisation to carry out the risk assessment and emergency plan.”



CDS backs 999 call to install sprinklers in schools after two devastating fires

A call by the National Fire Chiefs Council for all schools to have sprinklers fitted, following the destruction of two schools in Derbyshire this month has been backed by fire detection and life safety specialist CDS.

Neither of the schools which were destroyed, in Mickleover and Darley Abbey, had such systems in place – and the devastation has prompted the fire service to renew its plea for English schools to be afforded the same level of protection as those in Scotland and Wales.

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

It says the rate of schools being fitted with sprinklers may have fallen from 70% to as low as 15% of new builds.

NFCC chair Roy Wilsher said: “We have a responsibility to ensure buildings are safer; sprinklers in schools is clearly a move in the right direction. Children across the UK have had their education severely disrupted this year due to the pandemic; a fire in a school will only make this worse, putting additional pressure on the education service and parents.”

Chief fire officer of Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service and NFCC’s lead for sprinklers, Gavin Tomlinson, added: “It is devastating to see the impact of these two fires. The current guidance allows a number of interpretations to the fitting of sprinklers which must be rectified. There are a number of loopholes which should be looked at, which allows designers to take alternative approaches to fire safety. This guidance needs to be re-examined and changes made to protect our schools.

“Sprinklers are one of a range of fire safety measures that would not only protect our schools from fire and prevent injuries, but they would also protect against costly rebuilds and of course, protect against the stress and anxiety caused to the children who need their education.”

The Association of British Insurers says the most expensive school fires cost around £2.8 million to rectify.

CDS has been working with schools across the UK for more than 20 years to supply fire detection and life safety systems.

Its MD Simon Abley explained: “We agree totally with the advice from the NFCC about the clear benefit to schools of installing sprinkler systems. But there is more schools could be doing immediately.

‘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.

“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.”

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.