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Touring and event power company Pearce Hire in Peterborough recently hosted a workshop organised by James Eade with Patrick McGinley from the Health and Safety Executive, for a group of HSE electrical inspectors. The aim of the day was to share information about the application of generator safety measures, especially in relation to earthing requirements, and to discuss some new safety concepts that James is proposing for new IET guidance on the subject.
“The current guidance on generator earthing in particular has not seen many changes for years” notes James. “The advent of modern technologies such as inverter generators coupled with the widespread availability of residual current devices for protection is driving a need to revise current practices.”
Current British Standards and associated guidance categorises generators broadly as either under or over 15 kVA rating, with differing requirements accordingly. In practice that is seldom the case with modern sets all differing in earthing needs. The events and entertainment industry is probably the largest industry sector using generator-supplied temporary power systems and so changes to standards and guidance can have a significant impact.
Shaun Pearce, Managing Director Pearce Hire said that “it was a very thought-provoking day” and added that “it was an ideal opportunity for us to influence the decisions that will not only have a big impact on our company, but more importantly, our industry”.
“We were exceptionally fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss what could amount to quite a substantial change with HSE who were able to bring their collective experience in this area from sectors as diverse as fairgrounds to mining operations” said James, who’s aiming to have his new IET site guide published in time to coincide with the forthcoming 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations this summer.
The workshop dovetailed well with HSE’s current #HelpGBWorkWell campaign, part of which is keeping pace with technological (and other) changes. According to the HSE “Tackling the problems of tomorrow today is a responsible investment that protects workers, enables new and different approaches and provides the new knowledge, skills and expertise Great Britain can share internationally.” With the electrical safety of generator supplies this is very much the case, with the changes proposed being promoted to the International Electrotechnical Commission, responsible for developing international electrical safety standards which are widely adopted here and abroad.
It also provided an opportunity to show HSE the way in which the events industry manages electrical safety using a combination of regular portable appliance checking and on-site inspection and testing in-line with the requirements of BS 7909. Enforcement of such events usually comes within the remit of local authorities, who may need to revert to HSE for technical support so it was a unique opportunity to present industry practices and methods to the experts from the HSE itself. Shaun commented that “it was a welcome opportunity to demonstrate our industry direct to HSE and showcase our operation, putting our safety regimes under such an expert review.”
In all it was a very successful day with attendees gaining valuable insights into each other’s areas, with the collective experience being used to hone the proposed forthcoming guidance.
This month we’d like to introduce you to Steve Hicks - the latest Project Manager to join the Pearce Hire team. Steve joined in November 2016, having previously worked at production company b+h for nearly 7 years as an audio engineer.
His industry career had started through his work with a local band, and as a stage hand at a local theatre whilst he was still at college. After college he worked on a couple of holiday sites – which was a steep learning curve turning around three bands a night every night of the week with fifteen minute changeovers and no sound checks, before taking the freelance route for a couple of years prior to joining b+h.
Throughout his career Steve has known and admired the work ethos of Pearce Hire and he is now delighted to be a fully-fledged member of the team. His job incorporates the management of all aspects of an event – working diligently with the client from the quoting phase right through to the delivery of the event, and the post event invoicing!
Steve loves a challenge and working under pressure - perfect attributes for a member of the busy Pearce Hire team - and is enjoying the opportunity to draw together all of his experience in the role of project manager. Over the past year he has relished expanding his knowledge of the power and lighting aspects of Pearce Hire’s work. With his background firmly in the audio sector, Steve recognises the importance for any project manager to have a good working understanding of all disciplines of an event to ensure that each client is offered the best service possible whilst bringing his extensive skill set to the new customers he is working with.
Steve has a love of all things Formula 1 which started early, growing up in awe of Damon Hill and quite often as a youngster he found himself shouting at the TV watching some of the battles with Michael Schumacher! Steve thinks it’s great to have such a successful British Champion in Lewis Hamilton and has been to Spa in Belgium and Monza in Italy to watch races.
But, as with many of us in the industry, he struggles with the concept of what free time is! Although the breadth of amazing industry events that Pearce Hire supplies is something he is looking forward to being involved in again this summer.
Steve says he loves the industry and one of his career highlights was mixing FoH at the Royal Albert Hall a couple of years ago at the Christmas Carol Concert for the Salvation Army. With a tight load in and set up time, the concert involved a brass band, two choirs, a worship band, a guest band and multiple speakers. Aside from the thrill of working at one of the most iconic venues in London, Steve says he loved the challenge of designing and implementing the Dante system for FoH, monitors and broadcast purposes which also received a full write up from manufacturer Yamaha – no mean feat!
So now to industry advice – Steve says that the best piece of advice he has ever been given is “if you think you know everything, you’re in the wrong job…”
And his words of wisdom in terms of career advice for anyone looking to enter this industry? “Be proactive, nobody else will progress your career for you. So, take every opportunity that comes your way”.
Wise words Steve – thank you!
Over the next few months we will be introducing the team behind the award-winning services of Pearce Hire.
Peterborough based, but with clients across the UK, where better to start than with Shaun Pearce, MD, founder and owner of Pearce Hire. We have a chat with Shaun as he reflects on the company being over 30 years old and still delivering the goods!
“Sitting here now I wonder where on earth the time has gone since I set up Pearce Hire - it was a long while ago! I’d been a mobile DJ and building lighting kit since I was 13. At 21, having completed my apprenticeship as an electrician, I set up as Pearce Electrical using my interest in lighting and sound equipment and electrical contracting to kick start the business. I provided technical support and equipment to bands, spurred on from what I saw at the Peterborough Country Music Festival. I’ve always loved being outdoors and so providing kit to outdoor festivals ticked all the boxes for me! There was really no other company offering these services in the area, and so I seized every job and contact I could get my hands on! By 1988/89 Pearce Hire was born.
It’s hard to pick out any specific stand out moments in my career – I work hard and just get on with the job. 30 years on and I still love what I do! However, early highlights include the Tiffany Ball and doing sound for Edwin Starr and thinking this is amazing!! Also working with an unknown (at the time) band called Radiohead - what a terrific bunch of guys.
As we became established we ended up powering projects in Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda and the bonus of white water rafting the River Nile! Doing a one off Maxi Priest gig in Papua New Guinea was quite special, using local kit and crew yet we somehow pulled it off, to the amazement of the US led production, it’s not every day you have to change the speakers in the monitors whilst the band are still performing, thankfully! And we even took some time out to go diving for a few days afterwards – some precious time off – I should have learnt then that time off is rare and precious!! Glastonbury in the 90s was a moment too…. I was lucky I missed the muddy years! And not forgetting the big raves, Raindance, Pleasuredome, Perception, and many more!
Basically, I love anything with a challenge and there is no better example of this than our our stints out in Doha in 2010/2011 when we were contracted to manage the entire power distribution plus the supply kit and crew system for the ‘Doha Tribeca Film Festival’. When you work on a project that’s long and challenging it can also be incredibly rewarding, and there no feeling like it when it all comes together!
More recently, I take enormous pride in being able to work alongside my son Jake Vernum and the contribution he makes to Pearce Hire whilst he also establishes his own career as an LD – I’m delighted the young generation of my family is interested in the business! Recent acknowledgments and wins at some of the key industry awards is also a big boost for the company and a testament to the extraordinarily hard-working team I have working here at Pearce Hire.
Providing installation services for the Coca Cola Beat Box for the 2012 London Olympics was a challenging experience due to time constraints, where we installed the power distribution, specialist lighting and the audio system. Being involved in that was a once in a generation opportunity for the company.
Any highlights I can recall for Pearce Hire have generally been projects and productions which have been incredibly hard work. In all honesty, it’s the people I work alongside they are the lifeblood of the industry, the jobs we win, the challenges we are set, and proving it is all do-able which really drives me. Delivering a good job, on time, within budget, no matter what the curve balls – and making it happen – well that’s the nature of the industry isn’t it?
I’m very proud that Pearce Hire is still owner operated and holding its own alongside some of the larger corporates which have sprung up in the industry over the past 30 years.
Time away from work with my family is precious and limited - I have a very understanding wife and 4 amazing children – I love snowboarding and have a passion for steam engines and steam railways – generally it’s about being outside, the smell and the atmosphere of the outdoors – it’s probably what drove me into a career focussed on outdoor events and festivals and the vibe of those environments!
The best piece of advice I’ve been given was from my Mum ‘you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it – and to always be honest and fair. My Dad told me never go into partnership as once you do – you can’t make your own decisions!
And for anyone going into the industry now – my advice would be to knuckle down and get on with it – whilst always being polite as manners cost nothing. And…. if you don’t know – then ask!
I hope that Pearce Hire will still be thriving in 10 years-time and that there will be a long-standing legacy and trusted reputation in the Pearce Hire company name, long after I have retired!!