Every building is safe from fire until you put people in it.
Due to several family members serving in the Fire Service, from a young age my chosen path was to follow them, the thought of saving lives has motivated me to work harder, innovate faster and build better, to keep more and more people and properties safe.
After being medically retired from the Fire Service through injury, I founded my first Fire Safety business in 1995. Today I’m proud to say, FCS-live Ltd is thriving, fulfilling essential Fire Risk Assessments, Fire Training, L8 Legionella Assessments, Health & Safety Audits and Fire Engineering Consultancy along with Fire Safety Plans etc, but when I started out in business, I didn’t realise it would be the start of something much bigger.
Speaking from experience.
It was one particular tragedy that inspired me to find a new way to help protect people from fire and prevent more lives being lost.
Using my experience in Fire Safety, I provided pro-bono support to John Hughes and his family in the lead up to the coroner’s inquest and subsequent crown court hearing. John had tragically lost his mother and brother in The Penhallow Hotel fire, that also claimed one other life. The owner of the hotel pleaded guilty and took the plea deal on offer: paying just fines – with no prison time.
Because of this travesty, I am passionate that people need not die in fires because, a) they are mostly avoidable, and b) when they do strike, they should be manageable.
Sadly, lessons are still not being learnt. Another recent example graphicly displayed the loss of 72 lives in the fire at Grenfell Tower, London. A fire that started within a kitchen, that could have been contained by fire suppression. As a Fire Engineer, I believe that if sprinklers had been installed properly the world would never have known the name Grenfell Tower.
Leading by example.
In 2014, whilst working as a Fire Consultant on a design team, for the conversion of an office block to a residential development, a conflict erupted because I had advised that the optimum installation solution was to protect the new, open-plan housing development and its future residents by installing fire sprinklers to provide fire suppression.
The interior designers wanted to prioritise elegant lighting for their minimalistic aesthetics over the installation of an essential – but unsightly – fire sprinkler system, that would save lives but clutter the ceilings. Fortunately the interior design had to be compromised – safety should always, always, always come first.
That lightbulb moment
This meeting led me to think that the future of open-plan design needed a new, open-minded solution and Lumi-Plugin was invented. I wanted to create standout technology that could be designed to be discreet. By integrating essential ceiling fixtures with state-of-the-art downlights, we could streamline interiors, install beautiful lighting – and save lives.
Sprinklers were one of the first innovative Plugins from our range to be launched, closely followed by Fire Alarms engineered to give property developers and homeowners fire protection and peace of mind. We say it’s like having a fire fighter in every room.
I am often asked what happens when all the sprinklers go off and flood the house out. Thankfully, this is a Hollywood myth – only the fire suppression heads directly affected by the fire will operate, and as a retired fire fighter this creates a lot less mess than a fire.
Bob’s final thought:
For less than the price of quality carpet you can protect lives from fire. When building your next development and specifying your Fire Safety systems please remember to ask yourself, ‘What is the true cost of a life?’
We look forward to sharing more insights in future Team Talks – let us know if there is a specific area you would like to know more about.