Firefighter’s ‘light bulb’ moment behind downlight firm

A fireman in a yellow helmet surrounded by smoke
Bob Ward tackles the Windsor Castle fire in 1992. He would go on to set up the Lumi-Plugin lighting company.

A FIREFIGHTER who set up a downlight manufacturing company has spoken of the ‘light bulb’ moment that inspired him to launch his own enterprise.

Bob Ward, who tackled many blazes in his years with the Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service, including the Windsor Castle fire in 1992, was once asked to share his fire prevention expertise for a new, open-plan housing development.

The interior designers wanted to prioritise the clean, minimalistic lighting over the installation of an essential – but unsightly – fire sprinkler system, that would save lives but clutter the ceilings. 

Safety won the day, and interior designers were forced to compromise.

The situation gave Ward an idea: what if you combined the safety kit into an elegant downlight?

After all, the future of open-plan design needed a new, open-minded solution.

By integrating essential ceiling fixtures with state-of-the-art downlights it could keep ceilings clean and minimal while saving lives.

Former firefighter Bob Ward has created a downlight with a range of discreet plug-in modules

‘Fire safety is a serious subject,’ says Ward, ‘but that doesn’t mean the solutions can’t look good.

‘We want to give fire safety the superior – not inferior – place it deserves in interior design.’

The result of Ward’s light bulb moment is the Lumi-Plugin, a sleek, tapered-edged downlight compatible with a range of interchangeable plugins.

These include emergency lights, sprinklers, heat alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, PIR sensors and the world’s smallest mains-powered smoke alarms, all of which slot into the centre of the downlight’s halo of LEDs.

The IP65-rated lights have a built-in driver and deliver 600 lumens. 

They’re available in 30, 60 and 90 minute fire ratings and colour temperatures of 3000K and 4000K. The LED ‘lamp’ is dimmable and replaceable.

The Lumi-Plugin has been specified for apartments and housing developments over the UK, including the 57-apartment Central Parade in Perivale, west London and the 92-apartment P&H House in Hove, East Sussex.

Since the launch of the company in 2014, Ward has put together an executive team of safety and lighting experts to market the product to the house-building sector initially.

This month it appointed the former CEO of Wila Lighting, Mike Collett, as its commercial director.