Novus Blog

Fire Sprinkler Systems, Misting Systems and Retrofitting into Residential Properties

FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS, MISTING SYSTEMS AND RETROFITTING INTO RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES

  23 OCTOBER, 2018      INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Fire safety is a topic which all businesses should be considering and always needs to be revisited to ensure that the latest fire safety practices are being taken into account. Within the following article, we discuss the different types of Automatic Water Suppression System (AWSS) that can be implemented and whether retrofitting should be considered for residential properties, including residential care and social housing. The Benefits of AWSS In the 2017/18 financial year, the Fire and Rescue Service attended 167,150 fires in the UK, which accounts to about 3214 fires attended a week*. When looking at the statistics of AWSS one key point stands out. In fires where sprinkler systems have been implemented no-one has ever died*. Sprinkler systems will also help in protecting a building’s assets as they will only activate in the vicinity of the fire, ensuring that the spread of fire is limited, which will limit the damage caused to the property. Water damage from a fire is also reduced when using a sprinkler system, as manned fire services often use 15 times more water from hoses, to do the same job as a sprinkler. According to data from the Home Office, the difference in time taken to extinguish a fire with an AWSS is around 60 seconds, in comparison to the 7 minutes and 41 seconds average response time of the fire service in England for dwellings*. The video below shows the dramatic difference this time can make: Different Types of Fire Sprinkler System Installation While having a sprinkler system has proven to save lives and reduce water and smoke damage to properties, there are differing options when it comes to fire sprinkler system installations. There are three main installations which all have their individual benefits and drawbacks: Mains Pressure Systems A mains pressure system works using the water provided by the mains supply. This system benefits from having lower capital installation costs and no need to store water; as water is taken from the utility supplied mains. The drawback to a mains pressure system is that there will never be a guarantee of water pressure, or flows supplied by the mains. Equally pipework size may require a noticeable profile of ‘boxing in’ (the process of adding a larger plastic cover, that to some would look unsightly within a room). Boosted Mains Systems Similar to the mains pressure system but boosted, via a pump, these systems use an overhead piping array inside the building, avoiding issues around pressures and flow compared to mains pressure supplied systems. Again, these systems don’t require a storage tank and less investment is also needed. While these systems don’t overcome all of the issues of the mains pressure system, it is more expensive and also intrudes into internal spaces, which can be unsightly and require extensive decorative work to hide unsightly pipework. Storage Tank Systems The main benefit of the storage tank system is that the water must be held on site. Storage tank systems have a number of benefits such as knowing that there will be a guaranteed pressure and flow of water at all times. The system’s pumps also perform automatic weekly tests, giving further reassurance of the system. This is also the most comprehensive sprinkler system for a similar cost to the boosted mains system. The main drawback of this system is that the tank would have to be stored somewhere so would require either loft, or basement space.   Fire Sprinkler Systems vs Misting Systems The three options above all operate the tried and tested sprinkler system, which has been a proven technology for over 100 years. One criticism of the traditional sprinkler system is that they use too much water, leading to unnecessary water damage. One option that has solved this problem is the high-pressure misting systems, which can target fires much more specifically and use much less water. Using only one-tenth of the water of a sprinkler system, misting systems are proving that water damage can be avoided while still providing effective fire protection. Though fire misting systems offer some real positives, they are currently an un-adopted standard. They also haven’t had the same 100 years of rigorous testing that sprinkler systems have endured. Cost is another factor, with misting systems being a new technology and at the cutting edge of fire safety, they are currently more expensive to install, than retrofitting sprinklers. Retrofitting AWSS Whilst the regulations on fire safety in the UK differ between England, Scotland and Wales. Within Wales all domestic new builds require sprinklers in: new houses and flats, care homes, rooms for residential purposes and sheltered housing. Scotland requires sprinklers in new build care homes and high-rise buildings, whereas England only require new build high rise buildings over 30m to have sprinklers. However, while regulations are focussed on new builds, retrofitting sprinkler or misting systems is something every property owner should be considering. The safety benefits that the system presents and the peace of mind for occupiers is something that people are beginning to believe outweighs the initial financial cost. Since many people are now considering it, retrofitting AWSS presents its own challenges when comparing to fitting systems in new buildings, this is where a company like Novus Property Solutions can really help. Retrofitting means working in occupied homes and ensuring as little disruption as possible. Therefore, having a proven track record of being able to work with residents in an efficient and trustworthy manner is essential.
Dani Chose Novus

DANI CHOSE NOVUS

  16 OCTOBER, 2018      CAREERS , CORE VALUES
Dani Robert Wrights tells us why she joined Novus when she was looking for progression… I had previously worked for a larger corporate business, where I felt like a number. My line manager manged so many people you wouldn’t have been surprised if they didn’t recognise you when they saw you. At the end of my time at my previous employment I did some training towards becoming a site supervisor however when I left I didn’t have the experience to go for this role straight away. I came to Novus looking for progression in February 2017. I wanted a business to invest time and effort into me. I’m not a job hopper so wanted to make sure this move was the right one. As soon as I met the team I knew things would be different at Novus. Since joining Novus I’ve developed much faster than I expected to. Joining Novus as a Contract Liaison Officer (CLO) I joined Novus as a Contract Liaison Officer (CLO) where my role was to keep communications flowing between site teams, clients and office colleagues. A big part of the role was customer communication – lettering procedures, satisfaction surveys, pre-entry information, and engagement sessions to ensure that all of our customers were kept informed throughout the work. Refurbishment and Decoration Work The majority of my work was with residents of housing associations, councils and care homes where we were carrying out cyclical decoration or kitchen and bathroom refurbs.  My role meant I came into contact with lots of different people and no two days were ever the same – I could spend days in the office or equally I could have been visiting three different sites in a day.  I liked the variety the job gave me, and it definitely kept me busy! Social Value Projects Part of Contract Liaison Officer role was to head up social value projects.  I’ve organised a wide variety of events from refurbishing community spaces, to teaching people with learning difficulties painting skills whilst decorating an internal space for them to making donations.   In my new role as Site Supervisor I have had the exciting challenge of supervising the Big 5 Project in Birmingham but from a different perspective. Now I am responsible for co-ordinating the works, making sure we stick to programme and stay within the budget, as well as ensuring my colleagues health and safety remains at the forefront of everything we do. The Novus Difference What makes Novus different is the close working relationships.  The directors visit and they know you by name, which makes you feel like a valued part of the team. I also have a strong support network of colleagues around me.  There’s always someone you can direct questions to. It’s no surprise to me that when people come, they stay. If you are looking for a company where you can progress, like Dani was, why not look through our current vacancies.  
BITC Education Symposium

BITC EDUCATION SYMPOSIUM

  04 OCTOBER, 2018      CORE VALUES , CSR , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Our Marketing Manager, Sophie Seddon discloses her top tips for businesses and schools to work together successfully. “I was invited to speak at the Education Symposium hosted by Goldman Sachs on Wednesday 26th September.  This was organised by Business in The Community to encourage and advise other schools and businesses to partner as the benefits are outstanding.” The History of Novus’ Partnership with BITC 5 years ago, we were approached by BITC and The Business Class to partner with a school in Stoke–on-Trent who were going into special measures.  With no hesitation we agreed to work with them to help them through a very difficult time.  We saw an opportunity to get closer to the community we work in, but more importantly we identified an opportunity to work with potential future employees. After 5 years of working with Thistley Hough we have carried out over 100 projects including CV workshops, mentoring, a scholarship programme, donated bespoke school books, built allotments, created a school bank and set up a bank account for every child, and the list goes on.  You can read more about our partnership here. Top Tips for Sustainable Relationships between Schools and Businesses After a very successful partnership these are my top tips for schools and businesses to create a sustainable relationship that really works: Set clear, simple objectives that are easy for everyone to understand including the pupils, parents, teachers and employees. Empower employees to design and own projects and give them the authority to see them through. Be open and honest.  If something isn’t working speak up and move on. Innovate.  Create innovative projects that are interesting for everyone to be involved in. Don’t make excuses!  We are all very busy people and have our day jobs but take accountability and get the job done! Have fun!  It has been a fantastic 5 years for us all and we have had so much fun along the way, so enjoy it!
How Eagle-eyed Contractors Can Help Landlords

HOW EAGLE-EYED CONTRACTORS CAN HELP LANDLORDS

  13 JULY, 2018      CSR , INDUSTRY INSIGHTS
Kevin Rhone, head of social value at Novus, explains why housing associations can glean new insights from contractors working in their communities and use them for more than completing building works. The social housing sector faces unending challenges. Not only are they tasked with regenerating communities, pressured to provide high quality homes and services, and challenged to increase their build rates, they’re also looked to as a key stakeholder in ensuring the safety and security of people in their communities. Having eyes and ears on the ground in these communities to make sure customers are safe and well is a bank-breaking investment, however. This is particularly true of national organisations borne of the spate of M&A activity in recent years. Monitoring communities more deeply than they’re obligated to do is almost impossible over their geographic footprints. Particularly since, for these organisations, huge amounts of capital have to be spent solely on maintaining stock. However, many RPs are missing an opportunity. They’re not using contractors’ insights, yet these businesses can offer a wealth of understanding about local communities. Construction and Maintenance Teams’ Positive Impact Of course, customer care officers can’t be everywhere at once. Construction and maintenance teams interact with housing associations’ customers every day. They see it all first hand and can be friendly faces on estates while also helping associations to identify solutions to regular issues. Many on-site professionals are keen to engage. They aren’t simply there to fix and repair homes, they build relationships with communities and in some cases, can be vulnerable people’s most frequent visitor while they’re around. They will regularly help elderly residents with their shopping and can be the first to discover if they’ve had an injury. Housing associations can also ask these teams to be vigilant for signs of violence and abuse and can ask them to keep their eyes open in areas where there are suspicions of drug use. While, yes, any responsible person would report illegal activity, contractors can help further by identifying trends too – how or why certain issues may be cropping up frequently. Using them in this way can help housing associations think up new ideas of how they might be better addressed. CSR Programmes It’s not just about pointing out the problems too. Many contractors have CSR programmes and housing associations could also use these to proactively address challenges in their communities. We run a national CSR programme called Changing Lives. So far, we’ve changed over 33,000 lives since 2015 through community projects that provide work opportunities or skills development or regenerate certain areas to help improve aspirations. One of our projects in the last year saw us work with a national housing association to provide temporary accommodation for homeless young families in Sheffield, for example. Advice for Landlords Landlords can do this by opening the channels of communication. Contractors and their on-site teams can provide regular updates or join team meetings to discuss issues on estates. They can also work in conjunction with customer care teams during their day-to-day work too, offering opinions, advice and useful context before officers contact residents. Contractors are a resource often under-used in this respect. However, landlords could not only get a better understanding of the real issues in their estates, but get the insight needed to help them solve them, by involving the people who are in their communities every day.
PRESS OFFICE
Sophie Seddon-Hall
Telephone: 07973 345873
Email: sophie.seddon@novussolutions.co.uk
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