According to the Oxford Dictionary the definition of loss is ‘The fact or process of losing something or someone.’ At one stage in our lives, we’ve all experienced a loss of some kind. It’s a painful process. A hard one to go through. Be it an object, a person, a beloved pet. Loss is a sad part of life, but an inevitable one in many ways.
In the business field we hear the word loss used all the time, plastered all over the news. Financial losses that send a company spiralling down a black hole. Job losses due to store or manufacturing arm closures. Or loss of credibility, due to product recalls or scandals – they leave long term scars on a business’s reputation. It’s hard to recover.
As a business owner, engineer, landlord or property developer you’re likely to spend a great deal of time on designing, planning and watching your projects and ambitions come to life. That feeling when you walk past a building you helped design and construct or manage, or a new boutique hotel that was your brainchild. It’s an immense achievement. A moment to be proud. The last thing on your mind is the slight chance that disaster will strike and whether you’re ready for it if it does. You’re not thinking about the possibility of loss. Yet.
We hear it all the time. ‘Yea I took some measures, but come on, it’s Malta. It’s not going to happen to me.’ But picture for a moment, if you will, how you would react and feel if disaster did strike. A simple spark from an electrical plug. A guest leaves a hair straightener plugged in on the bed on full heat. No one intends for it to happen, but it does. And the result? A catastrophic loss of the goods inside, the furniture, the rooms, the building and worse still? The loss of lives.
How do you recover from that kind of loss?
You followed the basic safety rules needed to have the building up and running. It was just another item you checked off your to-do-list, an M&E system installed by someone you found on yellow pages. It was just a ‘necessary evil’. An expense you can’t really justify till today. But you did it – so, what on earth went wrong? Now what will the impact be to your business going forward? What would insurance cover? How will you regain your reputation? How will you look into the eyes of the friends and family of the person/people who died in the fire? How could you look at your own family? Will you be liable in court and thrown in jail? Where did you go wrong?
In our line of business, we deal with preventing loss of any kind, be it lives, goods or businesses. As a Senior Engineer I’ve heard most of the excuses around, but I always revert with one simple statement. ‘I hope it’s not going to be your business that changes Malta’s mind about the importance of the right fire prevention methods.’
Responsibility with a capital ‘R’.
The correct planning and installation of fire safety measures for businesses is a huge responsibility that we take on board for our clients. Down to the products and brands that we use, we pay attention to the little details. And we’ve been trusted to do this on some of the biggest development projects in the nation.
Raising the bar on fire safety measures and procedures, as well as providing education on safety is a journey we willingly started over 30 years ago. From educational campaigns and organising seminars with international keynote speakers to continuous training and certification for our 200+ employees – we don’t stop.
One of our most important accreditations is our Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB). Outside of the UK and Ireland, Alberta is the only company that has qualified for this certification, for the design, supply, installation and maintaining of sprinklers, fire detection and gas suppression systems.
The LPCB is the leading international certification body in the fields of security and fire protection. LPCB approval is recognised by governments and regulatory authorities across the world, especially in Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Europe. It’s one of the most important certifications in the field for a reason. Because it’s not easy to get, nor easy to keep.
The team behind the certification.
Even with the best equipment on board, fire protection systems are only effective if they are correctly designed, installed, commissioned and maintained. The LPCB approval installer scheme ensures that the companies conducting the installations have skilled, experienced people to implement the fire safety system. The stress here is on the expert ‘people’.
Unlike other fire safety contractors in Malta, our team of over 20 engineers are certified by system manufacturers and by the LPCB to carry out design of firefighting systems. If you’re thinking this was a one-time accreditation and that’s it, well, you’d be very wrong.
We are inspected twice a year by LPCB officials on random projects and the auditing process is intense. Every single step in our fire safety process is analysed from quote, design and installation to testing and ongoing maintenance. LPCB officials also conduct a thorough inspection of the site installation to ensure that our fire safety installation is in line with the respective standards.
What does that mean for you?
Since Alberta is LPCB certified, we can issue LPCB certificates of the complete fire safety system to the client. It may not seem like much more than a piece of paper to you at first. But think about the following factors:
- Will it save lives, property and goods? Yes. First and foremost a fire safety system isn’t there to give you peace of mind. It’s there to save lives. To prevent the loss from happening in the first place.
- Will it cover me legally? All businesses should have suitable measures in place to protect their building, employees and visitors to the premises. All business should be covered by a fire compliance certificate issued by an accredited “expert” and according to accredited European standards or higher, like LPCB
- Will it help to validate any insurance claims? One of the questions most insurance companies ask when going through the statement of facts is whether the premises had a fire alarm or other fire safety measures in place. Then, if these are compliant to certification, which means, designed, sourced, installed and maintained according to such certification.
- Will it help avoid prosecution and imprisonment? We can’t ever guarantee this,but every day around the world the fire service prosecutes some business owner that has failed in their duties to protect their employees, visitors or members of the public. That time is coming in Malta too.
- Will it save your business and personal reputation? That depends on you. If you took protection seriously from the onset, no one can take the facts away from you.
Hang on, I’ve got someone overseas to do this.
A personal pet gripe here. There is a huge misconception in the field that the design of a fire safety system can be done once by overseas suppliers/manufacturers through the drawing board, without ever attending site. A tactic like this leads to assumptions, which is a dangerous game to play when lives are at stake. Even if the details are all available at the drawing board stage (which trust me, from experience is practically impossible), obstacles will emerge on site when the designer, architect, system engineers and client requirements need to be satisfied. Eventually the design drawings and calculations always need to be tweaked and verified multiple times before the actual fire safety installation takes place. You can’t do this from 1000 miles away.
So what do you do?
Let’s face a few facts here. Contractors have a tough enough time dealing with daily changes and challenges and they probably don’t have an inhouse team of engineers to turn to all the time.
When even the slightest addition of an elbow in a pipe network can fail a calculation, therefore rendering the fire safety system ineffective, doing things the right way with the right people – matters.
Fire safety isn’t about second chances. It’s about getting it right from the start.
My advice? Take all measures to prevent the loss from happening the in first place. Trust me, you’ll sleep easier at night knowing your building has the best possible fire safety system, installed by a specialist team that works hard every day to be the best at what they do and to be recognised as experts by the world’s leading industry authorities.
If you have questions about a fire risk assessment for your building, or you’d like advice on any aspect of fire safety, let us know.