When LPC-Flameshield set out to make its own fire-resistant ducting, its aim was to improve its service to clients and provide a better quality product. Four years on and the company is proud of a reputation for exceeding standards
FLAMESHIELD Fireduct has been working extensively during the past few years to ensure development of its Flameshield Fire Duct Systems stays ahead of regulations.
The private company has been trading for nine years, with John Smith as its managing director since 2005. During this period, it has built a sound reputation as an installer and provider of Flameshield fire-rated products.
Smith says the venture into fire-rated ductwork under the name of Flameshield started when the business decided to diversify from just offering galvanised ductwork.
'In the past, we had always bought fire-rated ductwork from other manufacturers. This meant we lost control of deliveries and commitments to our clients because of the long turnaround times of product and failures in ownership on the part of our suppliers,' he says. 'We decided to break down what our fire-rated ductwork manufacturers were offering and investigate the regulations to see the possibility of making our own.
'The main brief was to offer something totally different, which would allow quick turnaround, comply with all the regulations, remain highly competitive but, above all, be of the highest standard.'
In 2003 Flameshield successfully tested its own fire-rated ductwork, at the country's leading testing facility.
Above and beyond
Now, the company manufactures a non-coated fire-rated ducting and installs fully compliant systems, which carry Loss Prevention Certification Board approval under the Flameshield banner. Smith says most legislation is retrospective and normally guidelines follow once a major incident has occurred.
But Smith adds the company prides itself on staying ahead of these with constant testing and assessments.
Often when Flameshield tenders for a project, the fire strategy requires extensive work where it needs to ensure that, under its duty of care, the project team is advised of any issues.
The company's tender policy is to proceed in accordance with the drawings, specification and any other information issued.
But the duty-of-care approach demands that any potential non-compliance in the fire strategy/life safety system is confirmed with client/consultant.
When tenders are received on solely fit-out projects, these are often taken on by a different client to the main shell-and-core
This requires a greater interface from Flameshield to ensure the buildings systems comply throughout the building, as opposed to an insular installation under the fit out project.
Flameshield frequently assists with the strategies for clients in relation to smoke extract, kitchen extract, general ventilation, and stair pressurisation, ensuring there is no compromise to the life safety systems.
This assistance has allowed the company to build its relationships with clients, consultants, and local authorities.
Getting into training
Smith found there was a need to provide a continuous professional development course for the industry, which the company's consultant, Tom Ellerbeck, attends to assist with people's knowledge of Flameshield Life Safety systems.
'We continually visit offices, and the course takes approximately an hour while Ellerbeck works through the regulations and the Flameshield product,' says Smith.
'The Flameshield product offers the client loads of advantages over other products on the market, and remains the only non-coated fire-rated duct system to achieve LPCB approval with manufacture time halved, less environmental impact, market value and health and safety in relation to factory conditions and also on site.
'As a business we decided that although the product had achieved the correct accreditation to BS476 Part 24 (approval process regulations), we would seek the highest accolade of LPCB to add even further credibility to Flameshield's success, allowing our clients and end users to receive reduced rates on their insurance premiums because of the external auditing system, ensuring that all manufacture and installations are of the highest standard.
'There is a long-standing perception in the trade that an enhanced DW144 specification will achieve various levels of fire protection, which is not supported by Part 24 testing regime.'
Smith adds: 'We often find more and more that a fire-rated ductwork system is offered without any ownership from the manufacturer and the contractor.
'Ductwork companies will use a system where they manufacture against a vague specification and claim what they are delivering is compliant, without any knowledge of stability and integrity.
'We ask, in the case of a fire, who is responsible as these systems being offered do not carry the auditing systems, and have too many interfaces between manufacturer, contractor and specification of the ductwork which, in turn, leaves the client at risk.'
Some 35 staff now work for Flameshield in manufacturing and installation and are all fully compliant with its standards to maintain LPCB.
Flameshield: 01277 352202