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The Last Word with VELOX

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Philip Witts, COO of ATEIS Middle East, talks culturally-sensitive fire safety innovation

Could you introduce us to VELOX’s Buhkoor Mode?

The burning of Bukhoor, or Incence at home daily, sometimes more than once per day, is an inseparable part of Arab culture. The heavily fragranced smoke comes from burning scented pellets on a bed of live charcoal in a traditional incense burner called the Mabkhara. This smoke is used to cleanse and fragrance the house as well as personal items such as clothes.

Here at VELOX, we have first-hand experience of the local traditions. Our company started in the United Arab Emirates in 2006 and our innovations are all executed with both local and global requirements in-mind.

The VELOX R&D team were set the challenge of providing the best in detection technology, along with the flexibility for the home-owner to use Bukhoor without causing ‘nuisance alarms’ on the system.

We are proud to say that the VELOX R&D Engineers pioneered and developed a special ‘Bukhoor Mode’ for the VELOX Vita panel to overcome the challenges detailed above. We were the first manufacturer to recognize the importance of adding this mode and it’s subsequent invention, approval and implementation.

How does the Bukhoor Mode maintain safety while reducing false alarms?

The VELOX multi-sensor has 9 different sensitivity levels of smoke and heat detection. In normal operation both the smoke and heat elements are active and will respond to both smoke and heat presence at industry approved levels.

Our Engineers knew that if we could make an easy-to-use interface, the home owner could utilize the possible changes of sensitivity in the detectors to prevent unwanted alarms if they were about to burn Bukhoor.

After a lot of customer interaction and feedback from the necessary bodies/authorities, a series of easy to navigate screens were implemented to activate the ‘Bukhoor’ mode and put the system into a lower sensitivity for temporary period as and when required.

The process for activating the Bukhoor mode is protected by a password and also by a ‘countdown’ timer that will automatically put the system back into it’s normal operating mode in either 5,10 or 15 minutes depending on the user’s selection. The user also can select the specific device they wish to apply the mode-to, meaning that if any other device in the system detects smoke/heat, it will override any timer and put the system into alarm.

What has been the market response to the ‘Bukhoor Mode’?

Our Bukhoor mode enabled system is now protecting thousands of villas in the UAE. The Bukhoor mode feature has been endorsed by the local authorities and is recommended by the Civil Defense for Villas. We are delighted by the response.

What are VELOX’s future plans for culturally-sensitive fire safety innovations?

We at VELOX are always assessing requirements of local markets and how we can align our products with their requirements whilst maintaining the approvals. With the recent opening of our manufacturing and R&D centre in Canada we are broadening our knowledge of possible requirements and working on new innovations – watch this space!

This article was originally published in the January 2024 issue of International Fire & Safety Journal. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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