Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

James Moore is the Editor of IFSEC Global, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry. James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Global, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
May 21, 2021

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Integration

Why hybrid working will require enhanced integration of fire and security systems

As hybrid working practices continue and buildings are partly occupied, integrating access monitoring systems with fire detection and evacuation procedures will be crucial to ensuring occupant safety, says Chubb Fire and Security’s Frederic Peyrot.

IFSEC Global (IG): How has the coronavirus impacted the ability to effectively manage fire safety?

Frederic Peyrot (FP): The COVID-19 crisis has created an environment where buildings are largely unoccupied, and employees are adjusting to hybrid working practices. This means two significant considerations for business decisionmakers – the evolution of evacuation procedures and the need to upgrade existing monitoring systems.

In the new normal it is often uncertain how many people are actually in the office or another workplace and the designated ‘leader’ for evacuation might not be present either. It is also becoming increasingly important to be able to monitor and detect fire risks remotely when the office is unoccupied.

“It is also becoming increasingly important to recognise that, in the age of hybrid working, fire and security systems are not mutually exclusive.”

IG: What does this mean for decisionmakers and facilities managers?

FP: It is essential that buildings and facilities managers look at the potential problem now before an emergency occurs, as it is not always the first consideration when a building is partly occupied. The health of employees is always top of mind. In these times, we find ourselves helping our existing and prospective customers recognise how they can anticipate any potential problem in monitoring and detecting fire risks and identify the correct systems they should employ.

Conducting a proper assessment of the changes that are enforced by the fluid nature of who will be in the office and the subsequent impact on fire safety processes will allow businesses to better manage an emergency. This can be as simple as making sure that there are sufficient “leaders” in place on any given day to help evacuate the building and having monitoring in place on days when the office is unoccupied. It is also essential that there are trained individuals who can take the proper first actions to combat a fire, including knowledge of the fire panel and training on extinguisher management.

It is also becoming increasingly important to recognise that, in the age of hybrid working, fire and security systems are not mutually exclusive.

IG: How can Chubb help to mitigate these risks?

FP: We believe that, in order to protect lives and maintain continuity, it is essential for building managers to integrate their people counting and access control solutions with the evacuation procedure to ensure safety in the event of a fire, utilising Chubb’s expertise in tailoring both fire and security solutions.

Chubb-FireSecurity-21

We have also observed growth in the monitoring part of our fire business as customers seek to protect other key assets, which can be offered remotely. As is often the case in the fire industry, regulation will respond to catastrophe, but we are urging customers to consider options as soon as possible, as buildings will likely be only partly occupied for the foreseeable future.

In addition, to address the changing numbers of people in the office, we are working on a mobile app which provides open, direct and interactive communication with employees onsite at the same time as the traditional loudspeaker alert or fire bell which, when combined with an access control system, should be an effective way to ensure evacuation.

IG: How do integrated fire and security solutions help combat fire risks?

FP: For a solutions provider like Chubb, encouraging customers to adopt this type of system also allows us to provide more insight and advice on account of the significantly broader sources of data. Every building and customer brings slightly different challenges. By connecting fire and security solutions we can bring significant value to systems, increase efficiencies and improve peace of mind to keep employees and assets safe in a hybrid working environment.

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