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March 7, 2022

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FIREX 2022

“We want to create an environment where customers can feel assured that they’re coming into a place where competency and approvals are guaranteed”

Ahead of FIREX International 2022, IFSEC Global and SHP Assistant Editor Chrissie Joslin, spoke to Event Director Gerry Dunphy, to look at how the fire sector has changed over the last three years and discuss what is in store for the event in May. Read or listen to the interview, here…

FIREX International is taking place from 17-19 May 2022 at London’s ExCeL. The event is co-located with Safety & Health Expo, Facilities Show, Intelligent Building Europe and IFSEC International, registration is open now.

Chrissie Joslin (CJ): What can visitors expect from the show this year after three years away?

Gerry Dunphy (GD): “We haven’t actually been able to host a show since 2019, so it’s great to be back. In terms of what’s available, we’ve already got over 100 companies who have committed, including leading players, people such as C-Tec, Kentec, Aico, Hochiki Europe, Nittan and STI Europe, alongside plenty of wireless and connected solutions. So, on the tech side the attendees can expect to see a rich range of suppliers with loads of new products- many of which haven’t been seen in public because of the Covid restrictions.

“This year we’re introducing on-site training into the mix, so customers can attend four-to-six-hour sessions, provided by the likes of the FIA, Tavcom Training and Skills for Security. These will be CPD rated courses, where they can catch up on things that they may have missed out on during the pandemic, or new areas they are looking to move into.

“We really want to make sure that the networking, coming together and entertainment side is fully communicated to the audience – we want the show to have a festival feel! We know people are desperate to get back together again and see each other in this sort of context. So, we’re going to make sure that exhibitors and stakeholders share any events that they are running, so that we can build a schedule of what’s going on and communicate that back to the audience.

“We’re also welcoming back the Tall Building Fire Safety Conference, which takes place away from the exhibition floor in the gallery suites and we’re in regular contact with the Conference organiser Russ Timpson, and the programme he’s put together looks absolutely outstanding- it’s a great compliment to the show.”

(CJ): What are some of the key changes to occur the fire sector over the last few years and how will these changes be explored at FIREX?

(GD): “We host our free to attend seminar sessions in the Expertise & Guidance Theatre and we’ll be looking to explain the impacts of things like the Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Act, but also the influences that technology, culture change and additional legislation is influencing the approach to life safety measures and practices.

“We’ll have a range of experts available from the Fire Industry Association (FIA), the Association of Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP), the Fire Protection Association (FPA), Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the Fire Sector Federation Sector Federation. It’s three days where expertise and guidance is a constant theme running throughout the show. The post-Grenfell environment is creating a culture where life safety is incredibly high on the national agenda, leading to significant changes in approaches to building safety and levels of competency and how construction products and methods ae evaluated. The fire industry has always had these themes close to his heart, so it’s important that the building control sector at government is now taking it seriously and, more importantly, listening and acting.

“With regards to technology, there’s been some rapid advances in connected devices, and it’s produced a huge number of opportunities for manufacturers and installers to provide integrated solutions for customers. With this opportunity, there is great responsibility and we’ll be exploring the world of IoT devices within fire safety for the first time. The FIA has created an FIA IoT Forum, which will create an objective discussion around this subject. We’ve seen how the impact of connected devices creates certain challenges, which needs to be properly addressed. So, we’ll approach this with our partners at the FIA to provide rigorous assessment and education opportunities at FIREX.”

(CJ): FIREX International has taken the decision this year to fully commit to supporting and promoting third-party approvals. Why was that such a crucial move for FIREX and what factors contributed to that decision being made?

(GD): “There’s been a noticeable progression towards improvements in competency and specification of approved building materials and this will be the overriding theme of FIREX moving forward. We’ve taken this decision in consultation with our partners at the FIA as well as guidance from the ASFP to insist that all the exhibiting companies now have a recognised third-party approval across their products and services. Both the FIA and the ASFP have third-party accreditation as a condition of membership, so it was relatively straightforward for us to align with their requirements.

“As we’ve seen post-Grenfell, in terms of developments, there will be a focus on building materials and life safety systems. For example, the introduction of the Building Safety Regulator is key to this. We’ve designed the event with this important progression in mind because we fully concur that life safety isn’t something you can compromise. So, it’s a minimum requirement to make sure the products on offer perform to the levels expected and against the correct standards and we really want to create an environment where the customers can feel assured that they’re coming into a place where competency and approvals are guaranteed.”

You can find out more about FIREX International’s 3rd party approval pledge, here.

(CJ): Industry partnerships are obviously extremely important at events like this, and you’ve mentioned quite a few already, how important is FIREX’s partnership with the Fire Industry Association?

(GD): “It’s very important. We’ve been partners with FIA for over 25 years and they’re an incredibly important endorsement and approval for the show because they’ve got an ever-growing membership of manufacturers and installers. It’s important because the FIA’s voice is very loud and clear across a huge range of areas, and they help us design and create the overall proposition for the show.

“The relationship provides us with access to the industry, which is obviously important for us as organisers, and we continually meet with them to understand where they’re going and provide incentives and updates about FIREX, which effectively means FIREX is almost owned by the industry. It’s been their show for a number of years and we just curate it for them.

“The FIA is on hand to provide us with insight and endorsement for the directions we take. We continually support the FIA, we were pleased to invest in their research and training programmes, so it’s been a very effective and symbiotic relationship. Ian Moore and the team have become really good friends of the show and we both strive to grow and develop as organisations, because we’re got a common goal to promote best practice competency and approvals in life safety. So, we’re very excited to be working with them on things like the IoT Forum, which is going to be game changing, particularly for this industry, and we’re happy to provide them with a platform to address the wider audience and help spread the findings across this new area.”

(CJ): Finally, what are you most looking forward to seeing at FIREX International 2022?

(GD): “It’s really just being back at ExCeL. We love seeing the boulevard full at eight o’clock in the morning, because people are planning to come into the shows at 10. We love to see the bars and restaurants full in the evenings. We see the show as 24/7 gatherings of like-minded professionals.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming everyone back from 17-19 May, because it really has been far too long.”

 

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