We talk to Laurence Bernard, Sales Director of Imperial Fire & Security in Bristol. The company offers life safety solutions packages for clients including fire detection and alarm systems, video smoke and flame detection, access control, CCTV, intruder, disabled refuge, nurse call, door entry, hotel locking systems, induction loop systems, public address and voice alarm systems. Imperial has a number of accreditations/certifications including BAFE SP203-1, NSI-Fire Gold, NSI-NACOSS Gold, CHAS, SMAS and Safe Contractor.
Do you use a distributor or buy direct from manufacturers?
We use both distribution and purchase a lot of items direct. We try and standardise on a selection on manufactures and make sure that all of our installation and commissioning engineers are fully trained on those product lines.
Is third party accreditation beneficial to you?
The majority of our work is large new build installations and third party accreditation is a must! First of all to prove to our clients that we are a serious company and second it ticks the right boxes and complies with all specifications when we are tendering for work.
What would be a typical project for you?
We don’t really have a typical project, we have just completed a large Academy in the south west and a large pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Devon, we are currently working on a new shopping centre and two MOD sites providing all types life safety systems and security systems.
Do you think there is a skills shortage in the industry? Any trouble recruiting installers?
Yes there is a shortage of good people, we took on two new apprentices in 2014 and would like more as we feel it’s important to bring new blood into the industry.
Are there any common requests from customers that give you problems?
We don’t know why but it has become a common thing that our clients do not place orders until the very last minute and then expects you to be on site the next day giving you no time to plan the installation. It would be great if we could go back to old days where orders were placed way before the installation start date giving us time to prepare labour and equipment.
What is the security industry’s biggest myth?
Fire and security companies / manufactures who blatantly lie about not being closed protocol and even sometimes calling it managed protocol to make it sound better. I understand that some life safety products should not be sold to just anyone but as long as you have the correct third party accreditation and you have received training to install it and maintain it.
All systems should be available for you to install and commission.
What would make your job easier?
Less choice of manufacturers would be great help; the market is flooded with hundreds of manufactures with more and more popping up every day.
What is your ultimate/fantasy electronic security product?
A fire detection system that is not restricted by current draw and could have an unlimited number of devices on the loop.
Also a detection device that could monitor the room for all gases that incorporate a fire situation not just smoke and CO but the full chemical range, detecting fires quicker and reducing false alarms and saving lives.