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

CDS installs specialised detection systems at £65m aviation technology centre

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS has installed specialised smoke and flame detection systems at a £65 million centre which will spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology.

The Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire – DARTeC – will have its own experimental airport terminal and a ‘hangar of the future.’

The centre will research challenges facing the aviation industry, such as integrating drones into civilian airspace, increasing airport efficiency through technology, creating safe shared airspace through secure data communication infrastructures and increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft through self-sensing, self-aware technologies.

As well as commissioning a Gent by Honeywell fire alarm system, disabled refuge and WC alarms, CDS designed and installed numerous different specialised smoke and flame detection systems – vital in an area containing jet fuel.

CDS project manager Michael Barkham explained: “We installed flame detection within the external aircraft canopy to monitor the area where a small plane will be sitting. This is constantly looking for infrared and ultraviolet lights which flames can emit. These are especially suited to these areas as jet fuel is clear burning, which mean the flames aren’t always visible to the naked eye.”

CDS also installed an air sampling Aspiration smoke detection system along with an optical beam detection system.

“The air sampling system constantly draws air in from the area it is protecting via a pipe and then samples the air at the controller to check whether there is any smoke within it. It can also monitor for different levels of smoke if early warning alarm is required. The beam detection system is an optical infrared transmitter and receiver which checks for obscuration of the IR beam by any smoke should there be a fire,” explained Michael.

This is the second major project CDS has carried out for the specialist postgraduate university in recent years on behalf of Precision Electrical. It worked on its global agricultural engineering and precision farming hub in 2019. The Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI) was designed to be a world-leading centre for excellence in livestock, arable, aquaculture and horticulture.

“Following the successful completion of Agri-EPI, Precision Electrical was impressed with our services and wanted to work with us on this project,” said Michael.

CDS works with a number of universities across the UK and provides specialist services for university buildings and halls of residence.

CDS opens Manchester office and appoints new regional director for the North

Fire detection and life safety specialist CDS is expanding into the North of England and has set up an office in Manchester from which to manage its growth in the region.

New regional director Derek Stacey has more than 30 years’ expertise in the fire safety industry – and has worked with Honeywell Gent, CDS’ main tech platform, for most of his career.

Derek is already building a team of engineers and salespeople who will offer CDS’ services to social housing providers, councils, police authorities, hospitals, care homes, universities, factories, warehouses and airports across Northern England and into the Scottish borders.

CDS Managing Director Simon Abley explained: “Derek will be a tremendous asset to CDS. He has lots of experience and a long and entrenched relationship with the Honeywell Gent platform and is fully conversant with the system. He also has a wealth of experience of working with organisations with complex life safety and fire protection requirements across this region of the country which are very similar to the existing CDS customer base.”

CDS Chairman Simon Cashmore commented: “The appointment supports our plan to expand CDS via a ‘buy and build’ strategy over the coming months and years, broadening our geographic coverage via acquisition and organic expansion and increasing service capability within the compliance sector. CDS is now in a much stronger position to be able to seek further opportunities to acquire and consolidate businesses in the North of England under Derek’s leadership.”

Derek, who began his career in fire safety systems in 1989 and has held several directorial roles across the North of England, is excited to be joining the CDS fold.

“CDS is a forward-thinking company which has a good feel about it. It has a real sense of team spirit that I’ve not seen for a long time. Everyone wants to crack on and make this a big success and I’m excited to be joining the business at this time. This role offers an opportunity to work in a different way and expand into different disciplines within the compliance industry.”

Away from work Derek plays the drums and enjoys sea kayaking and paddle boarding off the North Wales coast.

Contact Derek at

CDS acquires fire safety specialist in the South East with Wimbledon pedigree

CDS has acquired a fire alarm systems company in the South East of England–the first of a number of businesses it is buying as part of its ‘buy and build’ strategy.


Middlesex-based Powerpoint Fire Systems (Powerpoint), a Honeywell Notifier engineered systems distributor, has supplied a number of high-profile organisations with complex multi-panel systems over the years, with the All-England Tennis Club, home of Wimbledon, perhaps its best-known customer.

In addition to helping protect some of world’s most famous tennis players, it has worked with many other household names including Prudential Insurance, Galliford Try, Land Securities and FPD Savills.

Powerpoint specialises in large multi-panel systems, with clients ranging from hospitals to shopping centres, with services from concept design to installation, development and maintenance of systems.

The acquisition means CDS not only gains a foothold in the South East, but will also, through Powerpoint, be able to specify, install and maintain Honeywell Notifier systems. The acquisition complements CDS, a Honeywell Gent Elite Technology Centre and one of the longest serving Gent System Integrators, having been appointed in 2000.

Powerpoint’s co-founder and current Managing Director, Jan Poliszewski will continue to support CDS following the acquisition, offering his many years of expertise both with the Notifier system and his home counties client base.

CDS chairman Simon Cashmore said: “We aim to grow CDS in three ways – by broadening our geographical coverage, adding service capability and expanding our services in the compliance sector. The acquisition of Powerpoint allows us to both further broaden our geographic reach into the South East and enhance the group’s technical capability. Jan brings vast expertise in this very complex sector and an intimate knowledge of the fire safety requirements of some of the largest organisations in the region.”

Jan Poliszewski added: “I am delighted that Powerpoint is becoming part of the expanding CDS stable. Simon Cashmore and Simon Abley have an excellent track record in growing companies and I’m excited to be able to play a part in developing Powerpoint and building scale for CDS across the South East region.”

Simon Cashmore and Simon Abley, who acquired CDS in the summer of 2020, were the team behind outdoor services specialist TCL Group, growing the business 14-fold over 12 years before selling it in 2019. Its expansion was achieved through strategic acquisition of complementary companies with the aim of broadening both its geographical reach and service offerings. It was named one of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Europe in 2017 by the London Stock Exchange.

Photo: “File:Centre Court Wimbledon 1.jpg” by Spiralz from England is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Waking Watch Relief Fund claimants could benefit from CDS evacuation technology

The launch of the government’s £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund will take the financial sting out of fire safety for tens of thousands of residents of high-rise apartment blocks across England.

And fire detection and life safety specialist CDS is already seeing a growth in calls for its expertise following January’s announcement that the government could foot the bill.

The fund will pay for technology to replace current foot patrols in eligible apartment blocks of more than 18 metres high while potentially unsafe cladding is replaced.

At the moment hundreds of such buildings are paying for round-the-clock in-person patrols to ensure residents can sleep soundly at night without fear of fire breaking out.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government-funded scheme will direct £22 million towards cities with the most high-rise buildings with unsafe cladding – London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol, Newcastle and Sheffield.

The remaining £8 million will be distributed elsewhere across England.

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 Waking Watch Relief Fund’s launch now means those not yet protected with technologically advanced fire alarm systems may be able to dispense with costly foot patrols in favour of a safer state-of-the-art alternative.

The addition of a new piece of technology to the CDS arsenal will provide 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.

For more information on fire safety systems which could be funded under the government’s new £30 million Waking Watch Relief Fund contact CDS at or on 0116 275 0177.

Commercial property owners urged not to forget fire safety amidst Covid security focus

Commercial property fires have risen alarmingly since the start of the first coronavirus lockdown, according to insurance companies which have seen an increase in claims since March 2020.

PIB Insurance Brokers, which handles the insurance for fire detection and life safety specialist CDS, fears so much focus has been put on making premises Covid-secure that business owners have taken their eye off the fire safety ball.

It is reminding commercial operations of the importance of ensuring their fire risk assessments are up-to-date as they alter the layout of their buildings to facilitate Covid-safer working practices.

Russell Hatton from PIB Risk Management said: “Fire remains potentially the most dangerous and disruptive event that any business has to face. A significant amount of businesses simply never recover from the effects of a large fire. Under current regulations, most workplaces, premises and installations have a legal responsibility to carry out fire risk assessments.”

NFU Mutual, which reported a 46% rise between the start of the first lockdown and the end of July 2020, suggests that with so many other factors to be considered under the current pandemic, not least being staying afloat, fire safety may have taken a back seat.

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 blocks of flats and sheltered housing complexes.

And while there is no specified time interval between FRAs, a new one does need to be carried out every time changes are made to the building. This includes measures many companies are making to ensure their working spaces are safe from a Covid viewpoint – such as altering desk layouts, installing partitioning, amending exit routes and moving fire meeting points.

Owners and facilities managers at premises containing a number of companies are being urged to contact tenants to see whether the changes they have made to their own units will impact the overall fire safety of the buildings they occupy.

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

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

For more information on PIB Risk Management contact Russell Hatton at




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