Safeguarding commercial and industrial sites from the possible ravages of fire is one of the key tasks of engineers and site managers, so choosing the right fire-protection services is a must. Here are some key questions to ask:
1. What is your track record in the industry?
If you search for commercial fire-protection services, plenty of choices will pop up. So ask prospective providers to present comprehensive details about their offering, case studies of clients they have helped, and examples of how they have gone the extra mile to deliver. Fire safety is too important an issue – for the business, its employees and clients – to leave it in the hands of amateurs.
2. Do you offer comprehensive pre and post-sales service?
Some fire-suppression providers offer a low price, make a sale then move on to the next client. They can be hard to contact after the sale if things go wrong or follow-up service is required. Get a commitment from your preferred supplier that they will provide first-class product support during the installation and commissioning period – and if help is required in the future. Do not just take them at their word, though. Contact some of their previous clients and ask them about their experience with the provider.
3. What technical expertise do you bring to the table?
There is no substitute for experience in the fire-suppression business. Depending on the specific requirements of the site, ask your candidates about their specialist solutions and expertise in areas such as the protection of high-hazard environments; the supply of equipment and systems to firefighting organisations; and the supply of rescue equipment for those involved in rescues and accidents. This will provide an insight into the scope of their skills and knowledge.
4. Are your sales and customer service staff fire experts?
Some fire-protection services roll out their most knowledgeable experts when pitching for a contract – only for them to go missing after a sale is made. It is important for all sales and customer service staff to understand the intricacies of their products and services – and to be across their distributors and channel partners – so they can quickly assist customers. This adds value to the agreement and ensures a consistently high level of service.
5. How much experience do you have in project management?
Smaller, less-experienced firefighting companies may have an adequate range of fire-suppression equipment. What they often lack, however, is specialist engineering and project-management experience. Given that an increasing number of commercial and industrial buildings are adopting risk assessment-based fire safety, it is essential for the fire-suppression specialist to have access to personnel with a sound technical understanding of fire risks when devising solutions. They should be able to work with architects and mechanical services consultants, while also having the ability to develop fire-modelled strategies.
6. Are you up to date with all rules and regulations?
The firefighting sector is dynamic and rules can quickly change based on government decisions and industry trends. For this reason, it is important to commission a fire-suppression expert with a knowledge of long-term industry practices and the latest regulations. A timely recent example is the shakeup around foam firefighting systems in the aftermath of environmental and public health concerns relating to toxic foams containing the compounds perfluorooctane sulphate (PFOs) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOAs). The issue has led to the introduction of new environmental protection policies in some jurisdictions – and it is something about which the managers of high-hazard facilities such as airports, mines, ports and petrochemical sites will need expert advice to ensure their sites comply with new rules.
7. What range of fire-fighting systems can you quickly deploy?
The complexity of modern industrial and commercial sites is often daunting in a fire-protection sense. This demands having an arsenal of delivery systems, ranging from firefighting monitors, gaseous suppression systems and foam concentrates. Without partnerships with world-class suppliers of proven protection solutions, engineers and site managers could be exposed to significant delays and the risk of installing inadequate fire-suppression systems.
Delta Fire specialises in the fire protection of commercial and industrial sites and has a long history of deploying world-class fire-suppression products and systems to assist its clients.
Visit www.deltafire.com.au for more details.