This Grade 1 listed structure is one of the oldest in Plymouth and dates back to the early 1400s, with the most intact part of the distillery, the Refectory Room, built in 1431. A building of this age and stature requires a great deal of care and attention, particularly given the activity that it is used for. The electrical infrastructure has to be installed and maintained to the highest specification, which is why Cornwall based NAPIT Registered Electrical Contractor, IC Holding, is the first port of call for any necessary work.
The production of gin involves solutions of ethanol, which is a highly flammable liquid in an undiluted state and even in solution. Therefore, distilleries are classified as hazardous areas and defined as locations in which the atmosphere contains flammable or explosive gases, dusts or vapours. In such an atmosphere only electrical equipment that has been specifically designed so that it cannot ignite an explosive mixture – not only in normal operation but also in fault conditions – must be used.
Safety is always a top priority and as well as installing and maintaining all of the intrinsically safe equipment, a range of overfill alarms and leak detection sensors are sited in and around the distilling vats. These are all monitored via a touchscreen display by designated personnel and in the event of an alarm these individuals are notified immediately and all the equipment, including the electrical supply, is shut down.
Ian Holding, managing director at IC Holding, says, ‘I am one of the few contractors in the region to be fully CompEX and ATEX trained and certified. This means that I’m able to identify any causes of concern during my activities on-site and ensure that the correct processes and procedures are in place to prevent injury to personnel and ensure business continuity. At any one time the Black Friars Distillery has up to 300,000 litres of 90 per cent alcohol on-site and, therefore, the potential for fire and explosion is enormous.’
Ian is proof that those specialising in non-domestic electrical installation work can benefit from NAPIT membership, and he says, ‘It’s a common misconception that NAPIT schemes only certificate those working in the domestic sector. It is just as applicable to industrial and commercial work and I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the way that the organisation listens to any concerns about the industry and tries to do something about it.’
Ian is proud to be involved in the latest chapter of the Black Friars Distillery’s illustrious history, and concludes, ‘It’s a great place to work and keeping such a landmark building safe is both a huge responsibility and immensely satisfying. ’
If you would like to find out more about the benefits of being a NAPIT member please call 0345 543 0330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org