V-FIRE: COMMON
FIRE ALARM

Save 84% compared
to the cost of waking
watch fire marshals.

Common fire alarms are recommended by the National Fire Chiefs Council as the best way to reduce the cost of expensive waking watch fire marshals in buildings with flammable cladding and fire safety issues.

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V-FIRE: COMMON
FIRE ALARM

Following the 2017 Grenfell Tower tragedy, it came to light that many high-rise residential buildings contained materials which did not offer the levels of fire compartmentalisation that they were supposed to, rendering the buildings dangerous in the event of a fire and their existing fire safety procedures ineffective.

Properties affected by this fire safety issue were forced to change their evacuation policy from a ‘stay-put’ to a ‘simultaneous evacuation strategy, meaning any alarm system already installed in the building was suddenly not fit for purpose. Two solutions were identified:

Waking Watch Fire Marshals

A Waking Watch service is a fire safety measure that involves 24/7 surveillance of a building by trained fire marshals. A Waking Watch can be rapidly deployed to deliver immediate protection for residents but with an average of one fire marshal required for every two floors, it is an expensive solution.

Common Fire Alarm

A fire alarm system which, in the event of a fire, notifies every single resident in the building so they can evacuate immediately. Common fire alarms negate the need for expensive Waking Watch Fire Marshals. Installing hard-wired alarm systems into an already constructed property is extremely costly and time-consuming, and the existing alarms in these residences were designed to operate differently, rendering them unsuitable.

What is the recommended solution, a Common Fire Alarm or a Waking Watch?

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), in conjunction with multiple industry partners, has released several versions of its ‘Guidance to Support a Temporary Change to a Simultaneous Evacuation Strategy in Purpose-built Blocks of Flats’, with the current advice in the fourth edition, stating:

“A waking watch is an immediate solution to reduce the risk in a building and allow for continued occupation where, without them, the risk of fire may lead a Responsible Person to determine occupation is no longer appropriate or lead an FRS to serve a prohibition notice. A waking watch should only be used in the immediate or transitional term, and, where significant risk of fire spreading in a building has been confirmed, to allow time for a more sustainable plan to be made without the need for residents to leave their homes. In all cases, an automatic fire detection and alarm system is the most suitable mitigating measure if there is any expected delay in remediation.”

This means that common fire alarm systems are the preferred option as they are more efficient and, since the release of wireless common fire alarms, can be installed easily. As common fire alarms cannot be deployed as quickly as waking watch fire marshals, the recommended solution is to immediately establish a waking watch to protect residents until a common fire alarm can be installed.

A waking watch will suffice if cladding or other materials can be remediated quickly but, if flammable materials cannot be replaced quickly enough, it is advised that a wireless common fire alarm be installed as it is cheaper and more effective than a waking watch.

Waking Watch vs Common Fire Alarm

We know that the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) recommend moving from a waking watch to a common fire alarm as soon as possible if the fire safety problems the property is suffering from cannot be remediated quickly, but why is this?

You can read the NFCC report in full here, or we’ve put together a handy video to explain. Please bear in mind that this video was created before recent wage rises, and so the savings delivered by our V-Fire common fire alarm systems, compared to a waking watch, are now 84% as opposed to the 82% featured in the video.

Play Video

In summary, or if you can’t be bothered to watch the video, the two main benefits of choosing a V-Fire system over waking watch are:

Finance – A V-fire system will save residents an average of 82% in comparison with a costly waking watch service.

Efficiency – With a waking watch in place, fire marshals will have to manually alert all residents to a fire, a much slower and less efficient process than the instant alerts offered by a common fire alarm.

Why Choose V-Fire?

Not only is a common fire alarm the preferred solution, Prime Secure’s V-Fire is rented and not bought, which means property owners and managers pay a low monthly fee per apartment only for as long as the system is required.

This rental model makes V-Fire cheaper than alternative, bought-outright systems, and we can pre-configure the alarm units to allow fast and easy installation, minimising the length of time that an expensive waking watch needs to be paid for.

In addition, once cladding has been remediated and the building returned to a stay-put evacuation policy, V-Fire can be quickly and cheaply converted from a common fire alarm system to a stay-put evacuation alert system which allows the Fire & Rescue Service to attend in the event of a fire and choose which floors must be evacuated, if any.

Stay-put evacuation alert systems have recently been made a legal requirement in all new buildings, and it is widely expected that the same legislation will follow for buildings that have already been constructed. Once this happens, stay-put evacuation alert systems will be mandatory, further increasing the appeal of our V-Fire system.

Finally, Prime Secure will donate £5 for each residence fitted with a V-Fire common fire alarm to charities of your choice.

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For further information on our V-Fire Common Fire Alarm, or to arrange a Waking Watch as an interim measure, contact us today on 0345 88 88 333 or click the button below to send us a message and our team will be in touch.

V-FIRE: WHAT'S INCLUDED

Control panel

The V-Fire’s nerve centre. This high-tech piece of kit is capable of monitoring and controlling up to 240 heat detectors. BS EN54 certified.

   

Heat detectors with alarm

Combined wireless heat detector and sounder audio alarm. Fully compliant with the relevant sections of BS 5839, and BS EN54 Parts 3, 5 and 25 compliant.

 

Heat detectors

Wireless heat detectors. Fully compliant with the relevant sections of BS 5839, and BS EN54 Parts 5 and 25 compliant.

 

V-FIRE: MORE INFO

Save 84% compared to Waking Watch

Average saving when compared to our real world Waking Watch deployments charged at £15 per hour and based, on average, on one fire marshal for every two floors, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

British Standard compliant

System is BS EN54 certified, and compliant with BS 5839, and BS EN54 Parts 3, 5 and 25 compliant.

Quick & easy installation

Pre-configured, wireless units install quickly and easily, with no effect on existing fire compartmentalisation.

Future-proof your building's fire safety

Stay-put evacuation alert systems have recently been made a legal requirement in all new buildings, and it is widely expected that the same legislation will follow for buildings that have already been constructed.

Waking Watch Relief Fund

The Government’s January 2022 addition of £27 million to the existing £35 million Waking Watch Relief Fund makes £62 million of financial support available for the installation of common fire alarms. Read more and find out the current state of the fund here.

Common fire alarm vs stay-put Evacuation Systee

Our V-Fire Common Fire Alarm can be easily converted to a Simultaneous Evacuation System once cladding has been remediated. Stay-put evacuation alert systems have recently been made a legal requirement in all new buildings, and it is widely expected that the same legislation will follow for buildings that have already been constructed. Once this happens, stay-put evacuation alert systems will be mandatory, further increasing the appeal of our V-Fire system. The systems are similar, and the terminology can be confusing, so we thought we’d explain the difference between the systems.
 

Common Fire Alarm
A Common Area Fire Alarm is essentially a Simultaneous Evacuation System combined with heat-detecting fire alarms to create a single system capable of protecting buildings found to contain flammable cladding. It immediately triggers all alarms in the building if a fire is detected, allowing residents of a building to evacuate immediately. It is used in properties with flammable cladding where it is not safe to adopt a stay-put policy in the event of a fire.
 
Stay-Put Evacuation System
A Stay-Put Evacuation System is used exclusively by the Fire & Rescue Service in buildings where cladding has been remediated, and a stay-put policy is in place. Fire alarms in each residence alert the emergency services who use the Stay-Put Evacuation System to evacuate any properties they need to based on the situation, without evacuating the entire building because, for example, an alarm is falsely triggered by a faulty toaster.

V-Fire pre-installation

Prior to installation, the building where the system is to be installed must be surveyed to ensure that each device to be fitted has a good radio communication path to the control or booster panel. This is done with the V-Fire survey kit. When installing devices, they must be positioned as per the survey. Installing a device even a few inches from the surveyed position can affect the signal strength significantly, especially if any metalwork is contained in the ceiling above the new position (e.g. air-conditioning ducting).

V-Fire installation

Once the building has been surveyed, the floor plan should be marked up with the locations of the Main Panel, Repeater Panels and all Heat Detectors & Detector / Sounders. The detectors should be labelled by the name of the flat plus the type and number of the detector e.g. 3/1 H1; (Floor 3 – Flat 1 Heat Detector 1).

This allows the fire brigade to quickly identify where a detector has been triggered. From a maintenance point of view, if there is a component fault, the exact location of the faulty component will also be identified on the main panel or by text/email.

The primary system and repeater panels should be installed by a qualified electrician with fire experience. The detectors and sounders can then be installed by a competent person, as and when each dwelling can / will allow. As each detector is installed, it will automatically come into service, meaning that the system does not have to be fully installed before it becomes operational.

ETHICAL
FIRE SAFETY

Through our Fiver Initiative charity arm, we donate £5 for each residence fitted with a V-Fire common fire alarm to charities of your choice.

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