Sam Sherwood-Hale spoke to Paul Adams, Marketing Manager at Hochiki about Hochiki’s training courses, the different detection devices that can handle common rail issues and how to handle false alarms

What type of courses does Hochiki offer?
It was important to us that we offer courses that are valuable to the industry. We’ve listened to our customers, taken on feedback and created a series of practical and theory-based courses, explaining our market leading products and systems, and how best to install and set these up. The aim with all our courses is to enhance the knowledge of fire and life safety engineers throughout their career.

The curriculum on offer is a combination of online learning and face to face classes, designed and delivered by our experienced and highly qualified course leaders in our state-of-the-art training facilities in Gillingham.

For those looking for fire industry related CPD courses we offer these too and cover standards, best practises and technology. Our UK and Export Sales Teams can also deliver informal Hochiki product awareness courses for anyone interested in learning more about our products and systems.

What are the benefits of attending a Hochiki Course?
All our trainers come from a field engineering or system design background, plus as we ensure our course leaders are up to date in their own training, anyone who attends one of our courses benefits from the most up-to-date product knowledge backed up by real-world fire engineering experience.

Who are your courses aimed at, what stage of their career do you find most of your students are at?
Our courses are aimed at fire and life safety engineers primarily, but we also educate building owners, facility management and consultants. Our intake is varied in terms of experience, so our trainers adapt the course content to suit the room, whether the delegates are apprentices or seasoned fire professionals – we’ve found this works best to ensure delegates get the best experience.

SSH: How involved is a typical course?
Over the years we’ve honed and shaped our courses based on feedback ensuring the best learning possible for our delegates. Therefore, some of the courses are split into an online theory section delivered by our web-based training platform, followed up by a hands-on practical session, held either at our training facility in Gillingham, North Kent or at the learners’ own premises.

Online courses typically take one hour to complete, culminating in a multiple-choice test. Successful completion of the test qualifies the learner to then attend the hands-on practical. These are normally one-day sessions.

What is Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?
The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the world’s leading and largest independent CPD accreditation institution operating across multiple industry sectors. The scheme allows professionals to maintain their level of understanding of a particular subject by continually attending courses, seminars or webinars throughout their career. Sometimes delegates will need to commit to accumulating a set number of CPD hours across a twelve-month period, as part of their job commitments. Here at Hochiki we offer a range of seven CPD courses, regularly delivered online and free of charge to attend. We share details on our website and on our social media channels, so we’d recommend keeping an eye out there.

What are some of the main reasons companies come to you?
Hochiki has been at the forefront of the fire detection and life safety industry for over 100 years since the company was founded in Tokyo in 1918. That pedigree instils a certain level of trust in the brand and people recognise that. As well as manufacturing some of the most reliable products and systems on the market, our collective knowledge and experience means we can deliver exceptional product training.

Do you receive multiple participants from the same company, or is it a more a case of a single individual looking to acquire a specific skill?
We tend to cater for groups of engineers at a time, either in-person or online. It may be that a customer has booked several of their engineers onto a course, or we get a mix of individuals from a few different companies. However, the class of delegates look, our customers recognise that the skills of their engineers need constant improvement as new technologies or new standards come along.

Our Gillingham training facility can host up to six engineers at a time, each with a dedicated workstation featuring a live Latitude panel and loops of devices to work with. And our free online CPD webinars can be attended by anyone looking to top up their knowledge and CPD hours.

The technical seminars provided by Hochiki Europe have all been externally reviewed and approved by the Construction CPD Certification Service. What was the process of getting that approval like?
With the CPD Certification Service there is a set of guidelines to adhere to, no blatant sales pitches are allowed, and content must be educational. We upload our draft seminars and the CPD Service reviews each in turn, offering best practice guidance on any aspect they feel needs improvement, until both parties are happy with the resultant presentation. At that point we receive our certificates and are free then to promote it as a CPD accredited course using their officially licenced logos.

How do you collaborate with the industry when it comes to developing your courses?
Several of our CPD seminars have also been approved by the Fire Industry Association (FIA), which will give anyone familiar with the industry an extra boost of confidence. Part of the remit of the FIA is to improve knowledge and skill levels within the fire engineering community, so having their approval on our educational content adds real value. We also gather feedback from customers and delegates who attend our course to ensure we are offering what the industry needs.

When the government introduces new regulations, how do you go about updating or developing new courses?
Research is key. We monitor the industry carefully for any new content that might become available, for example the UK Government web site or any of the approval bodies we work directly with, such as BRE. We educate ourselves on this latest content first, then we look at how best to turn that content into a course which can provide knowledge and skills for fire and life safety engineers in the real world.

Hochiki installed its Enhanced System Protocol alarms at the Eurostar terminus of St Pancras International. How does the ESP protocol tackle problems at a crowded station, such as the high levels of ambient noise?
One of the largest transport hubs in Europe, St Pancras has around 50 million people visiting the station each year for travel and retail experiences. We consulted with the station and the installer at the time and almost 5,000 Hochiki ESP – Enhanced System Protocol – analogue addressable devices were installed throughout the site. The Hochiki devices selected are proven for their ability to not only combat fire risks and ensure a safe evacuation but also reduce false alarms in this huge multi-activity station. Devices installed included optical smoke sensors for back office and main passenger concourse areas; multi-sensors for more challenging environments such as plant rooms and workshops; heat detectors in kitchens and toilets; audio visual devices and base sounder beacons.

In the event of a confirmed fire, the system directly controls and monitors the station’s voice evacuation system, which is audible in all the station’s public areas. However, in places where high levels of ambient noise may make it difficult to hear voice alarms, such as toilets, Hochiki beacons were also fitted.

What about different environments, such as network control rooms? Do these situations call for different devices?
From the detection point of view, no they typically won’t need any form of specialised devices. But it’s common for repeater panels connected to the main house panel(s) and/or graphics reporting systems to be located here, so that the control room staff can centrally monitor the status of the system 24/7.

What other types of devices need to be utilised in a railway station environment?
A busy, crowded, noisy environment like a station that it full of people who won’t necessarily be familiar with the layout of the building, requires a robust alarm warning system backed up by devices that assist in a quick but safe evacuation. Voice alarms, sounders, strobes and intelligent exit signage can all play a part in ensuring people are clearly warned and directed away from an incident.

Hochiki’s European headquarters were established in 1993 in the UK, how have you seen the industry change in the nearly 30 years you’ve been present in the UK?
Listening and responding to what the market needs is key to long term success, and I think that is why Hochiki have been global leaders for over 100 years. Some of the biggest changes we’ve seen (and often led on) as a manufacturer has been in the diversification of products we design and produce. This has often come from our system integrator customers who need to increase their own portfolio of services to compete in the market. There’s a similar demand from the distribution sector, where they need to style themselves as ‘one stop shops’ covering all life safety equipment, rather than specialising in one area. The technology has moved on in terms of accuracy and sophistication and the inclusion of cloud-based systems for monitoring and reporting. Smart devices incorporating Bluetooth and the ability to piggy-back onto the ‘Internet of Things’ are also new developments. It is an exciting time to be involved in design and manufacturing for the life safety industry.

What different types of detection devices does Hochiki make?
Over 100 years ago Hochiki was developing the world’s first mechanical but addressable fire warning system, installed in the city streets of Tokyo. Since then, the group has become a renowned manufacturer of fire detection devices, setting the standards for reliability, functionality and quality. Our core range of intelligent addressable sensors comes in four types, optical, heat, optical/heat multi and the latest addition, the ACD which is an optical, heat and CO multi-sensor, the most sophisticated device we have brought to market to date.

How do Fire Detection, Specialist Fire Detection and Leak Detection devices differ?
Hochiki manufacture specialist ranges of detection products, based on its world-proven core ranges. Typically, the technology in these specialist products isn’t too different to the standard devices but each specialist range has been submitted for specific testing to gain specialised approvals for those individual environments or industries. These range from intrinsically safe (for hazardous, explosive areas), marine (for ships, wind farms and oilrigs for example) and Safety Integrity Level (SIL), a system used to quantify and qualify the requirements for Safety Instrumented Systems, for environments at particular risk if there is a product/system failure.

What causes false alarms?
In most cases, its malfunctioning systems, in fact according to the latest research from the UK Home Office 98 per cent of automatic fire alarm incidents are false alarms, with 90 per cent of those false alarms caused by faulty apparatus. The research, collated from Fire and Rescue services across the country from 2020- 21, demonstrates clearly that reliable life safety devices and systems are paramount. Costing the UK an estimated £1 billion per year in lost production and interruption to businesses, minimising (or eliminating) false alarms must be prioritised.

Company profile
Hochiki is a wholly independent, multinational, publicly listed group of companies with over 2000 employees working across six manufacturing plants, 38 sales offices and 14 subsidiaries.
For over 100 years Hochiki Corporation has led the way in the design and manufacturer of innovative life safety solutions. Its leading edge commercial and industrial fire detection and emergency lighting products have acquired global acceptance as the benchmark for high-integrity and long-term reliability.

Hochiki’s European headquarters were established in 1993 in the UK. Operating under Hochiki Europe, the business provides advanced fire detection and emergency lighting systems across the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.

At present, Hochiki Europe builds in excess of one million conventional and intelligent detectors and ancillaries per year at its purpose-built production facility

For more details about training with Hochiki, or their range of products visit hochikieruope.com or call +44 (0)1634 260133 or email info@hochikieurope.com