Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
Excellence Award for SIV Fire Protection
Published:  06 March, 2015

PROMOTIONAL FEATURE: In November 2014 London-based SIV Fire Protection received a coveted IFSEC Fire & Security Excellence Award for Passive Fire Protection Project of the Year. Jose Sanchez spoke with MD Stan Ivanchev to find out more about a company whose list of prestigious projects includes railway and underground stations, hospitals, embassies, shopping centres, and schools – and the company has ambitions for international expansion. 

Can you tell us a bit more about the passive fire protection project you won the award for?

The project was for Barratt Homes Developments, and it involved approximately 70 occupied residential developments around 15-20 years old. We were engaged to undertake passive fire protection surveys, identify areas that required fire compartmentalisation, and install passive fire protection systems.

What were the main challenges?

There were two main challenges. Firstly, the fact that each building was different – ranging from 15 floors to 5 floors, some with carpets, others with fresh paint to ceilings and walls. Next, the time scales. We had only four months to carry out the work, which included the design, supply and installation of fire protection systems such as fire stopping and fire sealing to mechanical and electrical services penetrating fire compartment floors and walls, steel/timber fire doors, roof void cavity fire barriers, and linear gap fire seals. It involved over 15,000 openings on walls and ceilings. And if that wasn’t enough, the properties were occupied, so we had to work around the residents.

Any surprises?

The fire risk assessor was particularly concerned about the fire stopping work that had been carried out previously in the service riser cupboards. We checked several buildings and noted that there was no fire protection to other areas. We also found quite a bit of evidence that installers do not always work to standards.

What can companies do to prevent installations not being carried out to standard?

We are a third party accredited contractor. FIRAS is voluntary, third party certification for installation contractors of both passive and active fire protection systems, operated by Warrington Certification, and accredited by UKAS to EN45011. All our supervisors and operatives are trained and their competence assessed by a FIRAS inspector. There are 10 different disciplines for passive fire installations and we are accredited to all of them. In 2013 we had to spray cementitious fire protection to structural steel work for the first time, and we notified FIRAS in advance, who then came to the site to inspect the work along with the manufacturer. That is how we can be sure that all applications are carried out correctly.

Everyone who is involved in taking decisions related to passive fire should be aware of this type of accreditation – however, we have seen work done by accredited people that hasn’t been carried out very well, so I don’t know what to say!

What do you think would improve fire safety standards?

Improving the knowledge of Building Control inspectors about passive fire protection would help tremendously. I also find it bizarre that an inspector can approve a building in terms of passive fire safety after all the plasterboard ceilings are in place, when it is impossible to physically verify whether the fire stopping work has been done correctly or it has been carried out at all. I think that the solution is for the inspection of all fire stopping work to be carried out before the installation of all ceilings. This must be carried out in the presence of the fire stopping specialist contractor and the client.

What sets you apart from the competition?

Quality – and the work we did in 2014 is clear proof. We only started trading in 2011, and in 2013 reached the fire industry awards finals twice, and won outright in 2014. That is quite an achievement in three years of trading. Furthermore, in 2014 the Best Passive Fire Protection Project Award was opened to manufacturers as well as installers, so the competition was even stronger! I personally believe what sets us apart is that our way of doing business is different to our competitors. If a project is unfeasible in the time frame, or if we don’t physically have the manpower, then I would rather not take it on than employ inexperienced operatives. We prefer to expand step by step, ensuring we have the right people with the right experience.

What next for SIV Fire Protection?

There are 50 of us at the moment, and we are looking to expand the team. In the next three years I would like to open another office in Europe, as well as one in the States.


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