C-TEC previews FIREX 2019: Upgrading Hush-Pro, investing in the IoT and becoming a full systems provider

Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
June 13, 2019

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We spoke to Andy Green, marketing manager for fire systems innovator C-TEC with FIREX 2019 just a few days away.

C-TEC is exhibiting at FIREX International 2019, Europe’s leading fire safety event, taking place 18-20 June 2019 at ExCeL London (stand FX810). Book your free ticket now.

IFSEC Global: Hi, Andy. You’re well known in the market but could you give us a brief introduction to C-TEC for those unfamiliar with the brand?

Andy Green: C-TEC is a proud independent UK manufacturer of life safety electronic products. Whereas a lot of companies in the fire industry have merged in recent years, we are still independent and still design and manufacture all of our products in the UK. We also continue to invest heavily in new products.

For many years we’ve been associated with making fire alarm panels, but we now manufacture full fire alarm systems including detectors, sounders and visual alarm devices under our ActiV conventional fire system brand and our CAST addressable fire system brand.

IG: What implications does becoming a full systems provider have for your business model?

AG: We’ve always prided ourselves on the quality of our technical support but as we now sell full systems we have to support the full system. With this in mind we’ve invested heavily in our technical support department in the past two years which has nearly doubled in size.

IG: What new products can FIREX visitors expect to see and learn about on your stand?

AG: We’ve been beta testing our own digital fire alarm system protocol CAST for about four years and it’s now ready for release. A full working demonstration of it will be on our stand at FIREX.

We’ve also invested heavily in what people are calling “the internet of things” and our new fire alarm remote access and data management software will be at FIREX which we’re all really excited about.

Also on show will be our Hush-Pro Grade C domestic fire alarm system, which we launched at last year’s FIREX. We sponsored the Tall Buildings Conference last year, and a lot of people from the conference came to our stand to see Hush-Pro in action. The system helps make Stay Put and Defend in Place policies safer by allowing the integration of domestic systems with landlord systems in a very straightforward way whilst at the same time eliminating false alarms.

“More people now think domestic systems should connect to some kind of communal system that can send data off site”

 

IG: Have potential customers been more engaged post-Grenfell?

AG: We actually started our Hush-Pro project before Grenfell, but in the wake of Grenfell, we certainly noticed the industry becoming more interested in what we were doing. Complacency had set in in some areas so people have certainly been more prepared to engage.

More people now think domestic systems should connect to some kind of landlord or communal system that can send data off site – verifiable data that proves the system is working. Although system integration isn’t necessarily required by the standards, people started telling us they wanted to do so as they could see the life safety benefits. I guess they also wanted to prove they were doing their jobs properly.

We’ve engaged massively with the industry on this aspect of fire protection – end users, architects, specifiers, fire engineering companies, fire officers and more – to produce the finished version of Hush-Pro, which will be on our FIREX stand again.

IG: So how does the latest version of Hush-Pro differ from previous incarnations?

AG: It’s got more features. We’ve introduced the concept of fire level 1 and fire level 2. One issue with domestic dwellings is there can be a lot of unwanted alarms – for instance because of burnt toast – when you don’t really want the whole building to be evacuated.

With Hush-Pro, Fire level 1 is a condition that is likely to be a false alarm. It’s reported locally in the dwelling. Fire level 2 is a condition that is almost always a real alarm. For example it might be generated by a heat detector triggering near the entrance door. Fire level 2 alarms can be programmed to indicate elsewhere in the building using the landlord system’s cause and effects in line with the building’s fire safety strategy.

In a nutshell, it’s designed to make ‘stay put’ safer and more effective. If the fire service can see the fire spreading, they can evacuate dwellings at the turn of a keyswitch. That’s gone down really well with the fire and rescue service.

‘Stay put’ has its place. Although people have criticised it, a lot of data backs up the fact that when the building is intact with proper compartmentalisation, it works. Hush-Pro provides another level of protection should things fall down and a lot of people agree that such a solution has been missing.

IG: Tell us about your internet of things & remote access products…

We’ve been producing Cloud based remote access and data management solutions for about 12 months now. We have one for our nurse call system, Quantec, that is proving very popular.

Every piece of activity on the Quantec call system is logged and Surveyor2, which is the name of the software, allows care facilities to produce reports on things like response times that they can show to the Care Quality Commission to show they are doing their jobs properly.

“The Hush-Pro landlord system has a TCP/IP connection to the C-TEC Cloud which allows dwellings to be remotely monitored”

On the fire side of our business, if we take Hush-Pro as an example, the landlord system has a TCP/IP connection to the C-TEC Cloud which allows dwellings to be remotely monitored.

It will remotely notify you if there’s a fire level 1 or a fire level 2 and you can monitor how things develop in real time by looking at a graphical representation of the building. It will also flag faults remotely. So in an apartment block, because it’s a grade C system, which requires monitoring, a fault in the apartment system is reported off site so people who manage that building would know when the system has potentially been compromised. They can also get data on whether the system has been tested by occupants.

So it’s all about data and verifying data.

There’s also a phone app, which an engineer can use on site to help with one-man walk tests and things like that. So there’s functions for end users and building managers, but also for engineers to simplify installations.

IG: Any other innovations to flag?

AG: We have a new range of EN-54 power supplies: our re-designed, re-certified 5 Series. They have protective covers, which helps protect the installer in line with the very latest safety directives, and you can programme the PSUs to suit different applications.

We won’t just have fire products on display at FIREX. C-TEC also does call systems and disabled refuge systems.

We’ve got a new controller for our SigTEL disabled refuge system that can handle up to 16 lines instead of eight. So that gives a bit more flexibility. Plus you now have the option to connect desk controllers as well as wall-mounted controllers which makes communication from a control room a little easier on big systems.

IG: Will you be showcasing all your products at FIREX? And how interactive will it be?

AG: Our full range of products will be there. We always have working demo rigs of our equipment so people can see our products working and get their hands on them.

And if there’s anything they want advice on we can provide it.

IG: Your products are deployable in most sectors, but what sectors or industry professionals do you expect to take the keenest interest at FIREX?

AG: It’s great that FIREX has things like the Tall Buildings Conference running alongside it. Some of its delegates are people who ultimately advise on what products go into buildings. And FIREX takes place in London, which has a lot of tall buildings.

It’s great to see installers and engineers, but also building managers and housing associations will also benefit from things like our new data management and remote access solutions. It would be great if they came along to see how our new technology can give them reassurance that their systems are working and evidence that they’re doing their job properly.

IG: You will be one of many fire systems suppliers at FIREX. Are there any other reasons attendees should make a beeline to your stand?

AG: The array of life safety products we offer – we’re almost a one-stop shop.

As well as our fire products there’s nursecall and hearing loop products too. Sometimes an installer will come across other opportunities when they’re installing a fire alarm system. For instance, most public buildings will need an accessible toilet alarm and a hearing assistance system for their reception area. We manufacture those.

But more than anything, we’ve invested heavily in our own protocol and fire alarm system. And it’s been designed to be not just ready for now, but the future too.

Our commitment to continually bringing new products to market means anyone visiting our stand is likely to go away with a number of ideas on how they can expand their business and turnover over the coming months.

C-TEC is exhibiting at FIREX International 2019, Europe’s leading fire safety event, taking place 18-20 June 2019 at ExCeL London (stand FX810). Book your free ticket now.

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