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05/02/2019 / Graham Lowe



Fire and life safety within Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) is a topic that is being discussed more now than ever before. With a number of high-profile events casting a spotlight on the importance of the subject, leaders from a multitude of sectors and industries are working together to better protect these properties and their occupants.

Leading manufacturer of life safety solutions, Hochiki Europe, is one such organisation working to enhance fire and life safety in HMOs. In conjunction with the Fire Industry Association (FIA), the manufacturer recently hosted an expert roundtable to explore some of the key issues on the topic. Hosted at the FIA’s training facility in Hampton, the roundtable featured a panel of leading representatives from across the life safety manufacturing, specification and installation sectors to gather insights from every cross-section of the industry. The panellists were:

  • Paul Adams, Marketing Manager, Hochiki Europe (Chair)
  • Richard Wharram, Regional Sales Manager, Hochiki Europe
  • Ian Watts, Emergency Lighting Manager, Hochiki Europe
  • Will Lloyd, Technical Manager, Fire Industry Association
  • David Thewlis, Director, Rosse Systems
  • Neil Wright, Consulting Engineer


Defining HMOs

The starting point for the discussion was the confusion around the definition of an HMO, a confusion that extends well-beyond the life safety industry. According to the UK Government’s own definition: “An HMO contains at least three tenants, all in one three-story household, and there is shared toilet, bathroom and kitchen facilities.” As panellists pointed out, the definition does not address a number of factors, and is therefore open to a number of ‘grey areas’. In a sense, the descriptor is in fact ill-defined, as suggested by Consulting Engineer, Neil Wright.

Whether it is commercial, residential, mixed-use or anything else in between, a building’s purpose must be clearly defined so it can be designed and built with compliance and legislation in mind. If this purpose is not 100% clear from the first instance, the task becomes more difficult and there is an increased risk of issues occurring. By the same sentiment, the confusion surrounding the definition of an HMO also makes the task of meeting regulation more challenging.

Further confusion arises around the issue of self-contained flats in high-rise buildings and whether they are, or should be, legally considered HMOs. Will Lloyd, Technical Manager for the FIA, argued that self-contained flats and student accommodation should not be regarded as HMOs as they fail the standard test under the Housing Act.

In light of this discussion, the panel concluded that there are a number of areas of contention around the definition of an HMO. As such, there is an industry-wide need to clarify the definition and limit margins for confusion, but as HMOs are so different in shape, size and structure, this is no easy task.


Roles and responsibilities

When it comes to the design and build of any premises, there are a number of different parties involved. While the exact roles and responsibilities can vary from project to project, it is important that anyone who plays a role in product specification has a solid understanding of how to meet fire and life safety requirements.

Dave Thewlis, Director at Rosse Systems, questioned whether such understanding is in place across the industry as a whole. In many instances, product specification does not lie with a representative from the life safety industry, unless additional consultation is provided. While the person responsible for product specification will have some level of awareness when it comes to fire and life safety, there are concerns as to whether that is enough. This, coupled with the inadequate and confusing definition of an HMO, is a cause for concern.

One way that this could be addressed, according to the panellists, would be to create benchmark documents set against HMOs, and introduce more guidance on the topic so developers have a greater awareness. A recent whitepaper on the use of Part 1 v Part 6 devices in HMOs, created by Hochiki Europe, is one example of what this type of supportive literature could look like.

Another way to better support developers when it comes to life safety in HMOs would be the introduction of one fully engineered solution for the market. The solution would encompass all elements of life safety, such as emergency lighting and wayfinding, and would be aligned to the specific requirements of an HMO. However, the group agreed that one of the biggest hurdles to this is the fact that this is an area where people simply do not want to spend money.

Developers are not the sole party involved in product specification, especially in an HMO. Local authorities also have a role to play in the process, and hold a degree of accountability for ensuring fire and life safety requirements are met. This lead panellists to question whether these local authorities needed to be more involved in reinforcing safety processes in HMOs. Currently, the biggest regulations in play are Local Authority Licensing and the RRFSO (The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005), both of which are enforced by the Fire Brigade, especially in larger HMOs.

When considering possible barriers local authorities may have in meeting fire and life safety requirements, Regional Sales Manager at Hochiki Europe, Richard Wharram, questioned whether there was enough awareness of what precautions must be followed, passive or otherwise. It then became apparent that it isn’t just the vague definition of an HMO that creates confusion.

According to Will Lloyd, these precautions vary: “so much per local authority. We often get enquiries asking for advice and there is often confusion over whether a property is a licensed HMO or not. We will then advise them to speak to their local authorities. It varies especially in the London boroughs.” Ian Watts, Emergency Lighting Manager at Hochiki Europe, added: “This variation in awareness may be driven by local authorities having different insurance criteria.”

With the above in mind, there needs to be an increase in awareness of the legislative requirements that effect every person involved in the supply, installation or monitoring of life safety in an HMO must adhere to. Fundamentally, however, this is only possible if there is more clarity on the definition of an HMO.


Life safety considerations

There are a number of factors to consider when installing fire and life safety systems in an HMO, or any other type of property for that matter. In HMOs specifically, false alarm reduction is one of the most pressing concerns for duty holders.

This requirement can be met in a number of ways, but it raises a wider question. Specifically, should building owners install BS 5839 Part 1 (Code of practice for design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of systems in non-domestic premises) devices in the whole HMO building, or just in communal areas, with BS 5839 Part 6 (Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises) devices in the actual living accommodation?

One of the main arguments against Part 1 connected devices in HMOs is the hypothetical situation in which a tenant burns toast, inadvertently triggering a full building evacuation. That being said, there are many solutions to counter this, such as having a button within a tenant’s property that can indicate the alarm is false, or sophisticated fire control panel programming.

Another school of thought recognises that having self-contained Part 6 domestic detection devices and connected audio/visual devices in individual flats or rooms can help avoid total building evacuation in the event of a non-life-threatening incident.

It is important to note that duty holders can only do so much in this area, and some of the possible solutions to false alarm reduction come with additional challenges. When it comes to Part 6 systems, for example, tenants can sabotage their own devices by disconnecting them or removing the batteries, and this isn’t something that duty holders can easily control.

Cost is another consideration that must be taken into account. Often, this is the most critical factor for duty holders, and sometimes this comes at the detriment to safety. This is without doubt a cause for considerable concern, and as such there is a need to create systems that balance cost-efficiency with unrivalled performance.


Making the most of new technology

The use of smarter systems such as Hochiki Europe’s range of multi-sensors is one way that duty holders can address their life safety considerations. These multi-sensors, and other newer systems and software, can differentiate between heat and smoke throughout a block of flats. In the case of smoke, the latest multi-sensors will initially trigger an audible alarm within the apartment and give a message to a larger system, regarding an ‘event’. If the smoke meets the fire threshold for a full five minutes, this will then trigger a full fire alarm, and subsequent processes, including an evacuation and investigation. If the smoke clears, the panel will reset itself.

Using dynamic systems that feature a combination of emergency lighting, detection equipment and mapping technology is another way to optimise life safety in HMOs. The use of such systems has already been widely adopted across the rest of Europe with great success. The systems can be programmed and interfaced into building management systems or dedicated fire alarm panels. In practice, if smoke is detected and evacuation is required, the system will adjust emergency lighting signage to note which is safe to use, displaying red crosses where applicable. There are products available to installers which operate using this type cause and effect programming, allowing people to exit buildings as safely as possible.

Using mixed systems, such as a combination of Part 1 and Part 6 devices, is another potential solution that helps duty holders meet cost considerations, without compromising quality or performance.



The use of more advanced systems has the potential to transform fire and life safety in HMOs. However, these advances in technology must be met with enhanced education, for specifiers, installers and duty holders alike. It cannot be assumed that an electrician working on an installation in an HMO will know how Part 1 and Part 6 devices can interact with one another, or when and where you should use each. Enhanced regulations and promoting minimum qualifications for life safety professionals are just two ways that this could be countered.


Key considerations

From a clearer definition of an HMO to greater awareness of legislation, there are a number of challenges to enhancing life safety in this area of the built environment. In addition, there is a need to recognise that it is not just the life safety industry that has a role to play in addressing these issues.

Therefore, leaders from across industries like manufacturing, construction, specification and more, must come together to find ways to move forward. Education is at the crux of this, be it in the form of roundtables, whitepapers or CPD schemes. Hochiki Europe is already leading the way in this area and encouraging more companies to follow suit and join the conversation.

For more information about Hochiki Europe, and its “Part 1 vs Part 6” whitepaper visit: For more information about the FIA, visit


16/11/2018 / Graham Lowe

Understanding the Capabilities of a Module

Module-GroupModules, also known as interfaces, are powerful devices designed to connect fire detection systems with other fire safety devices and/ or third-party equipment. For example, if there is a fire in a factory, you may wish to release magnetic locks on fire doors, send signals to access controls and automatically shut down plant machinery; all of which can be done through the capabilities of a module. The problem is, with so many modules available, how do you know which one you need?

Each manufacturer offers slightly different interfaces, therefore unlike most of our blogs, this one is very specific to Hochiki products. It has been written as a basic guide to help you understand when and where you might use each of our modules, however full technical information and accessories can be found on our website.


Powered Output Module

Hochiki’s CHQ-POM is designed to supply 24 Vdc at various, user-selectable current levels, from 2 to 32 mA (in increments of 2mA). This means that, by using a CHQ-POM, you can not only interface with conventional equipment, you can also power it. Typically, a CHQ-POM might be used to interface equipment such as Hochiki’s IFD-E flame detector or even the LDM-519-LP Linear heat Controller.


Single Input Module

Hochiki’s CHQ-SIM has been designed to allow a single monitored input to be connected to the ESP loop. For example, it is a cost-effective way of interfacing and monitoring a conventional fire alarm panel.


Single Output Module

Hochiki’s CHQ-SOM allows a single relay output to be connected to the ESP loop. The unit incorporates a volt-free relay contact that can be configured as normally open or normally closed, therefore allowing you to programme outputs such as; breaking the DC supply to Maglocks, or sending a signal to a lift controller.


Dual Input Module

The CHQ-DIM2(SCI) is similar to the single input module, but with 2 independent inputs for connecting volt free contacts. The CHQ-DIM2 is therefore a cost-effective solution if you want to receive inputs from two pieces of third-party equipment, for example receiving input from a sprinkler flow switch and a door contact in the same area.


Dual Relay Module

You may have already guessed, but the CHQ-DRC2(SCI) is similar to the single output module, but with two general purpose outputs that can be controlled separately. As the product name suggests, it also has an integrated short circuit isolator. The CHQ-DRC2(SCI) is therefore ideal for interfacing the fire system with two pieces of third-party equipment, for example, breaking the DC supply to both a door magnet and an access control.


4 Inputs and 4 Outputs

The CHQ-PCM(SCI) is that little bit more flexible, allowing you to sub address up to 4 inputs and 4 outputs. The 4 inputs are provided for local fire and fault monitoring and these are fully monitored for open and short circuit, which if required, can be enabled or disabled in pairs using a two-way DIL switch. Again, the outputs can be used to interface with any third-party equipment, including dampers, air-conditioning units, roller shutters or plant equipment etc.


Single Zone Monitor

Hochiki’s CHQ-SZM2(SCI) is a single zone monitor; allowing you to interface up to 6 conventional devices with an addressable system. As the name suggests, it treats the 6 conventional devices as a single zone. This is ideal for shopping centres which require an addressable system throughout the main centre, but need to interface with conventional devices in each store. Each store would be seen as a separate zone, allowing the centre to identify which store had the fire or fault.


Dual Zone Monitor

The CHQ-DZM(SCI) is a more powerful version of the CHQ-SZM2(SCI); it has two zones and each can accommodate up to 30 devices (60 in total)! As you may expect, a unit as powerful as this does require an external PSU, however it is really useful if you have an existing conventional system, and you require more intelligent monitoring, but you don’t quite have the budget to upgrade it to a full addressable system.


Mains Relay Controller

The CHQ-MRC2(SCI) has a single relay contact rated at 250Vdc at 5A or 48 Vdc at 2A (resistive load only in both instances), which gives you the flexibility to interface directly with mains powered equipment. For example, to shut down plant equipment or to break the supply to a gas solenoid.


Dual Sounder Controller

Hochiki’s CHQ-DSC2(SCI) is designed specifically to provide two conventional sounder outputs rated at 1A; each can be controlled separately and has full fault monitoring. Please note, the CHQ-DSC2(SCI) does require an 24v power supply.


Intrinsically Safe Compatible Sounder Module

When installing intrinsically safe sounders in a hazardous areas, the CHQ-ISM must sit between the CHQ-DSC2(SCI) and the barrier. The modules are designed to interface with the addressable ESP system, whilst the barrier is designed to reduce the current. Remember, both the barrier and the modules must sit in the safe area, not the hazardous area.

That was our simple guide to Hochiki modules! Please note, some of these features may be subject to control panel compatibility.

For more technical information, please click on the links within this blog.

11/10/2018 / Graham Lowe

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer


What is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon Monoxide is a highly toxic gas which is difficult detect without a CO detector. It is known as ‘the silent killer’, because it is colourless, odourless, tasteless, yet deadly. It is produced by the incomplete burning of various fuels, including; coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane and natural gases.

Toxic poisoning isn’t just confined to domestic properties; there have been many cases in which care homes, schools and commercial premises have experienced gas leaks. Faulty boilers, generators and plant machinery, are often the main causes of CO exposure.


So, why is CO so Dangerous?

When CO enters the blood stream it attaches to our haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the red protein responsible for carrying oxygen around our body, however CO has a much stronger bond with haemoglobin, thereby reducing the amount of oxygen that can be carried around the body. This bond between haemoglobin and CO is called Carboxyhaemoglobin (COHb). When our brain becomes deprived of oxygen we begin to experience headaches, dizziness, nausea and breathlessness. Eventually we will collapse and lose consciousness. At this point, we are probably experiencing substantial brain damage, and if the exposure continues, we will die.


How Great is the Risk?

A report by The Carbon Monoxide and Gas Safety Society, found that there are in the region of 40 UK deaths each year due to CO poisoning and a further 300 CO related injuries. However, the report highlights that when a person dies, there is no automatic testing for CO poisoning, and the study claims that a number of the 3,500 UK deaths recorded as ‘unexplained’ are probably due to CO poisoning. As such, the Gas Safety Trust is funding a petition to test all dead bodies for CO.


How do we Prevent Injuries and Deaths Caused by CO?

Installing a CO detector will alert building occupants to dangerous levels of CO before it is too late. Carbon monoxide detectors should be fitted in any rooms that have a fixed solid fuel-burning appliance installed. Alarms must be placed anywhere between one to three metres away from the solid fuel heating appliance; preferably on the ceiling and a minimum of 300mm away from the wall.

Toxic poisoning can be suffered as the result of sudden high exposure to CO, or pro-longed exposure over time; therefore the detection of CO is calculated by analysing concentration over time.  BS EN 50291 (the standard for domestic CO detectors) details the alarm requirements for the different concentration levels (as summarised below):




Do Hochiki offer a CO Detector?

Traditionally, fire detection manufacturers integrate CO detection into a multi-sensor to assist with the rapid detection of smouldering fires; however, Hochiki will shortly be releasing the ACD-EN which has been designed to meet the alarm requirements of BS EN 50291 for toxic poisoning (COHb).

Although the ACD-EN is not yet available you can click here for more information.

19/09/2018 / Graham Lowe

The Secret to Cutting Building Maintenance Costs – The Right Way!


Whilst some argue that it is impossible to reduce costs without cutting corners, forward-thinking building maintenance teams have managed to employ some practical changes, which have not only reduced costs, but have also reduced carbon emissions, increased operational efficiency and helped them to remain fully compliant with legislation.

The changes that building managers can implement range from simple ideas, such as installing toilet hippos, to more progressive changes, such as installing a Building Management System (BMS).

Whilst a BMS can be installed as a standalone application, as we move into the era of SMART buildings, more often we are seeing the BMS integrated with a wide range of monitoring programs across multiple platforms, providing building managers with a single, shared view of building operations.

Integrated systems generally include; power, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, access control, elevators and lighting; however, as the technology continues to develop, we will soon begin to see integrated fire and security systems.

Of course, due to their very nature, fire safety systems are subject to a whole host of legislative requirements, and currently, there is no formal guidance for integrating these types of systems. Fortunately, legislative bodies recognise that integrated systems are the way of the future and therefore BS 7273 Part 6 is currently being drafted to outline the code of practice for the interface between fire detection and alarm systems with ancillary systems and equipment.

In a further attempt to improve life safety, official bodies are also currently drafting CEN 169 WG3 in relation to wayfinding technology. This will provide guidance on how information from sources such as fire detectors and control emergency lighting signage can be used to direct building occupants down the quickest and safest possible emergency exit route.

So, why are we telling you this, I hear you ask?

Hochiki have recently launched FIREscape+ to the UK market; a combined fire detection and emergency lighting system with the added benefit of wayfinding technology. This system has been specifically designed with efficiency in mind. It allows you to install fire detection and emergency lighting devices onto one set of low voltage cabling, saving you money on installation and maintenance. Furthermore, all devices are self-testing and can be monitored via a single control panel, making maintenance much more efficient. LED luminaires and low voltage cabling also contribute to reduced carbon emissions and reduced energy bills. These are just some of the great benefits brought to you by FIREscape+; head over to our website to learn more.

09/08/2018 / Graham Lowe

Bold Claims Over Multi-Sensors; But What’s All the Fuss About?

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Multi-sensors are the topic of conversation at the moment, but do we really understand them? This blog has been written to demystify multi-sensors and help you make a more informed decision when selecting the best detector for the environment.


What is a multi-sensor?

BS 5839 Part 1 2017 defines a multi-sensor as a “fire detector that monitors more than one physical and/ or chemical phenomenon associated with fire”. The standard acknowledges that a multi-sensor could be;

  • Optical and heat
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) and heat
  • Smoke, heat and CO

The standard, does however, accept that a multi-sensor can also be used in a single sensor state. Which poses the question; if a sensor has the ability to detect smoke and heat, but can only operate in one state or the other, is it a true multi-sensor? Arguably not, however some manufacturers still label them as multi-sensors.


Why does it matter?

Smoke, heat and CO detectors are each designed to respond to different characteristics of a fire, and whilst there are environments that will benefit from using a single state sensor, in most environments, these technologies used in combination will provide a more accurate and reliable indication of a real fire.

In fact, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) recently conducted research in conjunction with the Fire Industry Association (FIA), which tested 35 different multi-sensors. The study concluded that ‘advanced’ multi-sensors far outstripped other multi-sensors in false alarm testing. The report defined an ‘advanced’ detector as “A detector that contains significant design features that allow it to identify and reject false alarms, e.g. devices that have dual sensor detectors, backward and forward scatter optics, or advanced algorithms that enable it to perform complex background monitoring/pattern recognition”.


How do I know if I am looking at a true multi-sensor?

A sensor that meets the requirements for smoke detection will be approved to EN54-5, a sensor that meets the requirements for heat detection will be approved to EN54-7 and a sensor that can monitor CO to determine a fire condition will be approved to EN54-26. A sensor might be certified to one or more of these approvals, but this does not mean that the sensor is capable of using these states in combination.

A true multi-sensor is likely to be certified to one or more of the following approvals; EN54-29, EN54-30 or EN54-31. A sensor that can monitor both smoke and heat simultaneously will be approved to EN54-29, a sensor that can monitor heat and CO simultaneously will be approved under EN54-30, and a sensor that can monitor smoke, heat and CO simultaneously will be approved under EN54-31.


What do Hochiki offer?

Hochiki offer two true multi-sensors; the ACC and the ACD.

The ACC offers three modes of operation; optical detection, heat detection, or optical and heat detection used in combination.

Hochiki’s newest offering is the ACD; offering 24 EN approved modes of operation. This multi-sensor offers combinations of smoke, heat, CO and COHb detection and is approved under EN54-5, EN54-7, EN54-26, EN54-29, EN54-30 and EN54-31. Furthermore, the ACD has an extra feature called “+RFA”.  This sophisticated algorithm monitors the environment over time and automatically adjusts the sensor’s sensitivity up or down based on the conditions of the environment, thereby reducing the possibility of false alarms even further. The ACD will be available in Q4 2018.


Learn more at

16/07/2018 / Graham Lowe

Record Emergency Lighting Fine of £400,000

Fined 400K - 720

A private landlord has been fined a record £400,000 over the lack of emergency lighting and other breaches of fire health and safety legislation (luxreview, 2018). It is therefore the perfect time to remind building owners, installers, architects and consultants of the revisions made to BS 5266-1 2016. Please note, this blog has been written to provide essential information on key changes found in BS 5266-1 2016, but should never be utilised as a substitute for the standard itself.


  1. Emergency Safety Lighting

BS 5266 now acknowledges that it is not always practical to fully evacuate a building, especially in care homes and hospitals where building occupants might be elderly or infirm. The standard therefore accepts that, a ‘stay put’ strategy may be the most appropriate option when no other risk has been identified, and has introduced the concept of ‘Emergency Safety Lighting’. Emergency Safety Lighting should provide a safe working environment for those who remain in the building; a risk assessment should therefore determine whether any additional precautions should be taken (for example, higher levels of illuminance and/or additional signage). For more information on Emergency Safety Lighting, please read our earlier blog.


  1. Maintenance and Repair

Information regarding routine inspections and testing has been added under Clause 12 and pays particular attention to the need to ensure that appropriate precautions are taken during times when the system is not fully operable. With this in mind, there is also a strong recommendation to ensure that essential service spares are kept onsite to minimise system down time in the event of a failure. Further information regarding service and repair can be found under Clause 13, where it also recommends monthly testing and steers the installer towards self-testing systems.


  1. Auditable Documents

As in previous versions of the standard, BS 5266-1 2016 strongly recommends that the responsible person maintains accurate installation and maintenance records for auditing purposes. The standard provides various model documents for this purpose:

  • Annex H – Model completion certificate
  • Annex I – Model certificate for completion of small new installations
  • Annex J – Emergency Lighting Log Book
  • Annex K – Model certificate for verification of existing installations
  • Annex L – Additional guidance on the compliance checklist and report for an existing site
  • Annex M – Model periodic inspection and test certificate

Annex K and Annex L contain new information regarding existing installations. Instead of condemning an emergency lighting system when an appropriate log book and/ or certification cannot be provided, K1 and K2 have been introduced as a way of checking and validating the existing system. K1 is a model certificate of completion, which should be signed by the responsible person after the check list and report (model K2) has been completed. Please note, this means that the certificate designed for small emergency lighting installations, not exceeding 25 self-contained luminaires, is no longer a dual-purpose certificate.


We hope this blog has provided some useful information. If you would like access to the model auditable documents, these can be found at the bottom of our FIREscape Emergency Lighting web page.

05/06/2018 / Graham Lowe

No Margin for Error in the Life Safety Sector


When it comes to manufacturing life safety solutions, there is no margin for error. In our latest blog, Jay Oliver, Production Manager at Hochiki Europe, discusses how careful planning and innovative production processes ensure that the highest quality products are manufactured on time, every time.

At Hochiki Europe, our Production department is, of course, central to meeting our customers’ requirements – both in terms of creating the life safety solutions we offer as well as the manner in which they receive them. In my role, I oversee and support the operations of both the Production and Production Engineering teams which help make this possible.

The two divisions have a joint responsibility for the manufacture and assembly of our life safety systems. On the Production Engineering side, this means keeping all machinery in full working order so processes can be completed efficiently. For those in production, it is about having the right amount of resource available at all times so components can be readily assembled, packaged and shipped as required.

Our production schedule is heavily dictated by sales to ensure efficiency, with products being manufactured in line with customer demand. That said, we also keep reserve stocks of some products so customers can continue to get the life safety products they need, when they need them, in line with Hochiki Europe’s next day delivery policy. Having production forecasts in place to maintain this reserve stock of products is key. We work closely with our suppliers to make sure we have all the required components for our solutions at all times, which keeps processes running smoothly.

When it comes to bringing new products and systems into our production schedule, we operate a lean manufacturing process. Departments from across the business, including design and technical, come together to understand how we can manufacture high-quality products in a timely and cost-effective way. Once a plan is in place, a product will go into pre-production and a set number of units will be built. This process will then be reviewed to check for ways to increase productivity before mass production. By understanding the different elements of the production process, we are able to constantly review and adapt our practices, so we can continually improve as a manufacturer.

This level of review also feeds into our day to day working within our Production division, and real-time feedback is shared via screens on the factory floor. In the past, this kind of process was done with paper systems which did not always provide the most recent data, and consequently, production was not adequately adjusted to meet targets.

Another part of our production that sets us apart from other life safety manufacturers is our solid smoke testing procedure. Incorporated into our manufacturing equipment is a tool that calibrates our smoke detectors and carries out a smoke test in as few as 15 seconds.

Our production capabilities have grown exponentially in recent years, and our manufacturing output now extends beyond traditional fire detection equipment to accessories, modules and emergency lighting. We’ve also been making the most of our existing efficiencies when developing new products. Earlier this year, we shipped one of our production lines from our Japanese factory to our Gillingham site, solely to manufacture our ACC range. It is processes like this that make Hochiki Europe and our ways of working so unique.

Looking ahead to the next 100 years, we are looking to further expand our production and increase our capacity for the coming year. At the same time, we are also adapting our current processes in line with the latest technological advances. Components are getting smaller, some of which are just the size of a pin head so we’re having to amend our assembly lines to suit this miniaturisation. With this approach, and our new machinery, we are hoping to grow our output by 130%.

This kind of investment will go a long way in improving our productivity, which is already well above target. For example, Hochiki Europe achieved its Q2 targets on both performance and outputs at the end of Q1, and compared to last year, the company is 126% up on its production capabilities. These results are testament to our extensive production planning.

Technology is getting smarter and at Hochiki Europe, we are working to find ways to stay ahead of the curve. By continuing with our rigorous production review process, we can continue to deliver the most robust and dependable life safety solutions promptly, efficiently and effectively.

Jay Oliver is Production Manager at Hochiki Europe. Having joined the business in 1993, Jay has extensive experience in planning and managing production processes. He has been in the role of Production Manager for 12 years and is responsible for running the production department ensuring it supports Hochiki Europe’s wider business objectives.

For more information about Hochiki Europe, and our products, visit

14/05/2018 / Graham Lowe

Mitigating Risk to Ensure Global Life Safety Compliance


Manufacturing life safety products for the global marketplace often means navigating a complex, ever-changing landscape of compliance and certification. At Hochiki Europe, my responsibility is to ensure we communicate effectively as a team and that our innovative products meet current and future internationally-agreed standards.

Managing differing standards

As Hochiki Europe’s compliance manager, I work in the company’s recently expanded UK headquarters in Kent with my team, helping cover compliance in terms of quality, health, safety, and environmental standards. This involves a vast array of different daily tasks, including liaising with industry accreditors, managing workflows, talking to customers about their individual requirements and ensuring we can meet their expectations.

Fire safety system standards vary around the world. For example, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) sets internationally agreed guidelines for products entering the European market place. At the same time, UL covers products entering the Middle East and American markets. For this reason, we need to make sure the devices we’re creating meet or exceed these global standards, so our customers can rest assured they’re receiving ultra-reliable products of the highest quality.

Success through collaboration

It’s been an extremely busy year for us at Hochiki Europe, with a record year in terms of business success, and the compliance team has worked tirelessly to support sales in regions around the world. There’s also a lot going on over the next few months with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) set to completely shake up the way companies interact with their customers. Here, we’re on track to be fully-compliant with the new regulations by the time they come into force and we’re working closely with our suppliers to make sure they are as well. We’re also working on a new integrated management system – which will guarantee a ‘one system fits all’ approach for all of our departments and stakeholders when dealing with compliance processes.

Although it has been a busy time for our department, it’s also been successful in a number of ways. In March 2017, we became the first fire safety business to be awarded both ISO 9001:2015 and 14001:2015 standards. This was a fantastic achievement and completely down to effective team work and communication throughout the company. ISO 9001 sets the internationally recognised benchmark for quality management systems while ISO 14001 looks at how businesses manage their environmental responsibilities. To have achieved both of these accreditations throughout the business is a massive achievement and everyone involved should be extremely proud of the work they’ve done.

In terms of our RMA (return material authorisation) processes, we’ve also made great strides in this area recently. Our customers can now call us with any concerns around products, be dealt with immediately and be given a unique number once they’ve given us some basic information. Ultimately, we aim to complete a full investigation into the matter within 30 days.

Ensuring we can identify risks and opportunities quickly means we can make continual improvements to all our processes and pass the benefits on to our customers. This is why we adopt a systematic approach to product approvals, making sure every issue is dealt with in a timely manner. Currently, Hochiki Europe is leading the way in terms of creating solutions which are synonymous with quality and reliability. By keeping them certified with the latest standards and by implementing processes which ensure quality and responsible production, our customers are assured that the systems they purchase meet every expectation.

With an extensive background dealing with compliance in the automotive, plastics, medical industries and the military, Shane Bartlett brought his expertise and industry relationships to the Hochiki Europe family in 2016. With a focus on continuous improvement and collaborative working, Shane manages an industry-leading team which oversee a robust system of risk management for the business.

23/04/2018 / Graham Lowe



Technology is driving innovation and improvement in the life safety sector, and it is becoming increasingly important to ensure our installers are up to speed with the latest products and legislation. Here, Mark Smith, UK Sales Manager at Hochiki Europe, expands on Simon Massey’s earlier blog in which he explained how fire safety manufacturers should use their time and expertise to help installers stay ahead of the ever-changing game.

Today’s life safety technologies are more intelligent and more complex than ever, with inter-connectivity making systems ultra-efficient and reliable. Legislation has been developed to provide the highest standards of guidance – but, of course, these progressions have brought a number of challenges with them. At Hochiki Europe, we believe there is an industry-wide need to invest in educational resources, and provide customers with bespoke training, guidance and support. Training customers is key when it comes to ensuring the effectivity of life safety systems and standards should be frequently revisited by industry professionals.

Changing standards

A recent example of this are the changes to the BS 5266-1 2016 Emergency Lighting Code of Practice (CoP). The standard introduces a wider range of categories and new guidance regarding testing and maintenance. We recently hosted a CPD-approved emergency lighting webinar to help raise awareness of the changes, which actually proved to be one of the most successful sessions we’ve ever hosted. Offering this kind of insight is an accessible and easy way to help educate our stakeholders on the latest legislation.

We also host a number of other courses and provide tools to help train industry professionals on our intelligent products. In 2015, we extended our range of EN54-23 compliant Visual Alarm Devices (VADs). To help installers comply with the introduction of EN54-23, we created a simple configuration table which allowed customers to select the VAD most suited to their environment simply by answering a series of questions.

Continuous improvement & technical support

Over the last century, Hochiki has been continuously committed to educating the wider sector. Our Technical Support Department are a fundamental part of the business, responsible for delivering our comprehensive, structured product training courses. They are also on hand to provide telephone and email support for our stakeholders. This training provides customers with an understanding of our products as well as boosting their confidence in advising and supporting their own clients. Working in conjunction with the technical team, our Regional Sales Managers also offer field training on a selection of product ranges, as well as CPD and CIBSE-accredited seminars.

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on its electrical systems, there is a growing need for electricians in society. It is vital that manufacturers and installers maintain a mutually beneficial relationship, and continue supporting each other in these changing times.

For more information about the training offered by Hochiki Europe, and our products, visit, or email me at

03/04/2018 / Graham Lowe

Developing an Holistic Service offering


Simon Massey, Technical Support and Training Section Leader, explains why manufacturers of life safety solutions should educate customers on new technological advances, and boost their awareness of life safety legislation and standards.

In the last 100 years, there have been substantial changes to the ways in which life safety systems are designed and made.

In 2018, panels and devices need to be much more complex in order to suit modern day life and comply with the greater number of standards and regulations. For example, L@titude, Hochiki Europe’s new life safety platform, allows facilities managers and those responsible for fire safety in a property to rapidly locate and examine any incidents occurring across their premises, in real-time, from any location. It can even record up to 1,000 events and incidents, providing a detailed history of activity.

With more of these intelligent systems becoming engrained in our society, it is vital to ensure our customers and partners receive the highest levels of technical support and guidance. In fact, in a recent Hochiki Europe customer survey, 20% of respondents said that technical support is the most important factor to them when working with a fire detection manufacturer.

As one of the world’s leading life safety system manufacturers, we know it’s essential to keep stakeholders aware, not only of changes to legislation and regulation, but also of the full technical capabilities of the exciting new products we’re creating. There are a number of key ways in which we address this. For example, our series of training modules devised and carried out by the Hochiki Europe Technical Support Team, give professionals the knowledge and support to confidently select, install and maintain our systems.

Each module introduces a different Hochiki Europe product offering. These sessions can range from simple half-day overviews to more hands-on, one to two-day system installation courses. The majority of these take place in our dedicated Training Centre at our Gillingham Head Office, although Hochiki Europe’s Technical Support Team are also able to travel to conduct programmes at a customer’s premises if required.

To further support those who make use of Hochiki Europe products in their business, we offer CPD registered and CIBSE-accredited educational seminars on topics including; Visual Alarm Devices (VADS), hybrid wireless systems, false alarm reduction, BS 5839 and BS 5266. These CPD courses have been specifically designed to share best practice information with installers, specifiers, consultants, architects and anyone else who is concerned with commercial fire detection or emergency lighting.

There is also a range of reference literature available from our website, including technical documents, product guides and more in-depth whitepapers. We’ve most recently released a free-to-download whitepaper examining the debate around fire safety within Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs). This document, available from our new website, looks at the use of mixed Part 1 and Part 6 systems in these premises.

At Hochiki Europe, we find that some customers or technical engineers require additional support post-sale. To meet their expectations, representatives from our technical support team are always on hand via telephone and email to offer free product installation guidance and training to customers with life safety queries, as well as being able to conduct site visits if required. We also work with a group of over twenty systems partners to offer additional project solutions, and provide full technical support on projects from early inception through to final handover.

All incoming support requests we receive are logged and evaluated. These can range from information on a product number to choosing the correct technology for a certain application. By listening to our customers’ concerns, we continuously identify opportunities where we can offer further training and support, in line with our commitment to providing the highest standard of aftercare.

Having reached our 100-year anniversary, we’re not only looking back at how far we’ve come in terms of technological advances, but also looking forward. We’re always thinking about how we can further enhance our life safety technology and ensure we’re giving customers and partners the best possible support for their projects, before, during and after installation.

To get in touch with the Hochiki Europe technical support team, call 01634 260 133 (option 2 for technical support), or email

About Simon Massey

Simon Massey is Technical Support and Training Section Leader at Hochiki Europe. Along with his team of four employees, Simon’s department is responsible for providing support and training on fire detection and alarm equipment to customers in the UK and worldwide. This includes ensuring clients in sectors – such as government, healthcare and education – are equipped with the highest standard of knowledge on life safety products and services.