Cities across Ireland and Europe are blessed with historical buildings that add to the character and fabric of each one. For those cities trying to encourage inner-city living through regeneration and refurbishment, these buildings can pose significant challenges, especially when it comes to Fire Safety regulations, Safecility this week won a contract to provide innovative fire safety solutions for historical buildings in Limerick City.
In September, Limerick City and County Council launched a Small Business Innovation Contract supported by Enterprise Ireland to develop solutions which can improve fire safety in historical buildings making them usable for habitation and contributing to the regeneration of the city core.
Limerick is a city with an incredibly rich Georgian core (PDF). Anyone who has recently visited or stayed at the gorgeous One Pery Square will be familiar with some of the potential these spaces offer to a growing city like Limerick.
For planners and architects, the numbers are troublesome. There is a vacancy rate of 40%-60% on the upper floors of Georgian and historical buildings in the city. The ground floor units might be occupied by retail, commercial or office space but the upper floors are not being converted to provide the kind of mixed residential that keeps people in the city.
One of the challenges to bringing this space back into use as homes for city residents has been making the historical buildings compliant with Fire Safety Guidelines at an affordable cost to the owners and tenants. There are special demands to keep the building ‘fabric’ of our historical buildings so that they do not lose their character. This means that it might be inappropriate or impossible to provide fire stops, fire doors, sprinkler systems, multiple-exit routes and so on as they would potentially change the look and feel of the building away from its heritage.
However, at the same time they must be made safe to live in to the satisfaction of the Fire Safety Officer. Challenges like this are not easy to overcome. Especially when the project is on a budget.
What Safecility wants to achieve
Safecility provides a smart wireless Automated Test System for emergency lighting, a key requirement of Fire Safety regulations. Our smart sensors automatically test and monitor each light daily, weekly and monthly in line with legal requirements and report the data to our cloud platform for the owner.
Among our goals, we want to work to eliminate the labour and cost of upgrade by offering compliance-as-a-service to owners who pay over the longer term for better quality compliance and higher standards of fire safety.
In this instance we want to see how our system can improve the ‘lightweight’, ‘wireless-first’ approach to fire safety to expand function and cut the cost of meeting the requirements of a Fire Safety Officer when regenerating units for accommodation.
Fortunately the team working on the Living City Initiative already have valuable data on where we can focus. The whole team at Safecility are excited about the potential for our innovative Smart Building technology to improve the quality of buildings. We are passionate about bringing Limerick’s heritage stock back into use as modern residential space. This is a problem experienced by cities across Europe, which gives us a great chance to build something with a European benefit.