Maintenance, Smart Home, Social Housing

Managing compliance through smart homes of the future

Where does IoT technology feature in your fire safety strategy?

The responsibility of managing compliance can be incredibly challenging and difficult to demonstrate for housing providers.

In the past, documents and reports would have been physically stored and logged for the thousands of social rented properties across the UK, with their compliance status almost a guessing game once the reports had been filed.

For many housing providers, compliance is a function of time. For example, in the case of fire and carbon monoxide protection, straight after a contractor has completed an alarm installation, they are confident that property is compliant. But as time passes and without the resources to test and assess regularly, confidence in the alarm’s status and its ability to protect the residents may decrease. Often, the next time a property’s alarm is checked after its original installation can be up to a year later during a gas engineer or maintenance team’s visit.

Jake Sleeman, Business Development Manager at FireAngel, said: “We regularly hear from housing providers and the fire and rescue services about residents removing smoke and heat alarms from their homes. Whether this is because of false alarms due to incorrect installation, their lifestyle choices or because the alarm needs maintenance, with these alarms removed the resident remains unprotected.

“It may not be until the following year that this removal is discovered, leaving not only that resident, but all of their surrounding neighbours, incredibly vulnerable to the risk of fire.”

Adapting to a changing environment

Smart homes of the future

However, it’s also not just complying with current legislation that housing providers think about. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, regulations are changing fast. When we work in such fluid environments, the scalable nature of connected technology means that housing providers can future-proof their tenants’ protection, knowing that the monitoring of a property’s ecosystem will be expandable in the future.

This provides extra safety and reassurance if they need to adhere to new standards or become aware of a change in a tenant’s needs. And in the future, when we want to improve the ‘healthiness’ of our nation’s homes, further environmental factors, such as property temperature and humidity levels, may become a compliance consideration, thereby only adding to the difficulties.

However, the right technology can now share the burden of this important role in resident safety.

Install today, connect later

Whether you’re planning IoT pilots and roll-outs in your property portfolios now or have it in the pipeline for 5 years’ time, FireAngel have a fire safety solution to suit. In most instances, going from a ‘standard’ install to a ‘connected’ network is as simple as adding a new base plate to any mains powered smoke alarm in the property. Meaning you can take a smart approach to compliance by installing devices today and connecting when suitable in the future.

Designed to meet the needs of UK housing whilst supporting installers, FireAngel Specification range of mains and battery devices meets the latest standards to ensure compliance and offers the flexibility to create interlinked networks with mixed system compatibility, that can be continuously extended and upgraded to include additional safety products when required.

To enable a connected network, a gateway can be added to provide remote real time monitoring of all alarms. FireAngel’s Home Environment Gateway is ceiling mounted and occupies the same footprint of a smoke alarm. The gateway design allows it to be attached as a base on an existing FireAngel mains-powered product, so it is quick and easy to install by maintenance teams.

With built in temperature and humidity sensors, the gateway allows landlords to identify environments which may lead to the onset of damp and mould in the property. It’s also further enhanced with Zigbee capability which allows connectivity with other Zigbee sensors within the property, such as water leak detectors, panic buttons and motion sensors, supporting smarter homes for the future.

With only 79% of social renters having internet access, gaining and then maintaining a secure connection to any remote platform is a key concern for social landlords. With this in mind, the gateway has been designed to remove the need to use Wi-Fi, connectivity as it can use cellular signal, with a back-up of communal Wi-Fi, if available. Device data can be accessed via the free Connected app, which can send optional notifications regarding the system’s status to the landlord or other nominated individual. This provides transparent and consistent clarity regarding the level of protection installed throughout a domestic property in relation to the risk level of the individual residing within it.

A smart approach to compliance

Smart homes of the future

From a contractor’s perspective, this interconnectivity enables them to document the completion of each installation phase and validate the overall installation, as information can be instantly logged via the wireless network. By taking a photograph of each completed installation, the images can be wirelessly uploaded to a centralised platform to generate immediate sign off, which subsequently produces a certification of fire legislative compliance, in accordance with BS 5839-6.

All of the data gathered is also uploaded to the FireAngel cloud platform Connected, where it can be processed to provide insight on the most vulnerable tenants and properties. Whilst Connected offers substantial insight via its dashboard, it also deploys open-source API code which allows full integration into existing asset management databases. This means no more trawling through spreadsheets or digging out old files from the back of a cupboard.

With the IoT, housing providers will have a clearer idea of which properties are no longer compliant and require a prioritised visit from the relevant team. This also takes the pressure off housing teams who can now receive management data into a centralised piece of software without being overwhelmed by a plethora of separate reports.

Taking the steps to install a network today that can become ‘smart’ in the future, will ensure housing teams have compliance confidence all of the time, not just some of the time. Find out how we can support your next domestic project, contact your local specification manager today. 


*Please note: British Standard 5839‑6 takes the form of guidance and recommendations. It should not be quoted as if it were a specification and particular care should be taken to ensure that claims of compliance are not misleading. Any user claiming compliance with this British Standard is expected to be able to justify any course of action that deviates from its recommendations. For more information or to read the standard in full, please visit the British Standards website.

This article was first published in FireAngel’s Guide to Connected Homes, in partnership with Housing Technology. Download the free guide in full here