We catch up with Paul Coy to find out more about the latest developments with his fire safety invention, the Vex Box.
Q. The last time we caught up with you, we learned more about some of the testing procedures that the Vex Box undertakes to ensure it meets the requisite safety requirements. Do you think there is enough education about maintaining the integrity of fire rated walls, and what are the key things that installers should remind themselves of?
The requirements and regulations regarding fire rated walls are very specific. People who regularly deal with these matters at a design stage, such as architects and specifiers, have a mass of data and other resources at their disposal to ensure that the installation will be fully compliant when complete. It is alterations or additions to an existing installation at a later date where problems can occur if, the contractor carrying out the work isn’t fully familiarised with the building’s fire resistance properties. Where existing power or ventilation requirements need to be upgraded, it is very easy, for commercial and practical reasons, to plan these alterations using the most convenient and aesthetically pleasing routes for cable containment or ductwork and piping, not taking into account the importance of maintaining the integrity of the building’s fire resistance properties.
In the past, we’ve spoken about submitting a request for information and regulation 38. However, if this information isn’t readily available when the work is carried out then the person carrying out the work should assume the wall is fire rated and to avoid compromising it with penetrations. If a penetration can’t be avoided, such penetrations should be made good with approved and tested products to maintain the wall or ceiling’s fire rating.
Q. Give us an example application or scenario where an installer should be considering the use of a product like VexBox.
Where walls have been drylined and the boxes have been set too far back into the wall or the holes are cut out in the wrong place, this is exactly the problem the Vex Box system was designed to overcome. As well as new builds, when carrying out periodic inspection and tests, if non-compliant installations are identified these can be easily rectified as Vex Box can be retro-fitted.
Q. Since this new version was released, have you had take-up and interest from both wholesalers and installers?
Several electrical wholesalers have shown interest in the product and we’ve had a good take-up from end users directly as well. There has been a little bit of market confusion with some assuming it to be a specialist fire stopping product rather than an electrical installation product, even though no specialist training is required to install Vex Box (as long as the installation guidelines are followed).
Q. Do you have any high profile projects or examples where the product has been put to good use?
The Vex Box system has been used on several high profile buildings in London, with the unit being installed by construction companies, electrical contractors and specialist fire stopping contractors.
Q. What is the future for Vexbox?
We’re always looking to improve, so there have been a few minor alterations to the packaging and installation guidelines in recent times. However, Vex Box is now fully developed and tested, so the challenge is to create awareness of a problem that, for a long time, has not been properly addressed.
To watch a supporting product video of the Vex Box click here