FPA’s first Building a safer future seminar of 2020 attracted over 150 delegates to London to hear the latest updates from the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire. The expert speakers discussed competency, governmental and regulatory changes ahead, third party certification (TPC), dilemmas for the fire and rescue service (FRS) and toxicity. FPA’s managing director Jonathan O’Neill opened by ‘tracking the progress’ of the government’s recent announcements, which he had been ‘sceptical’ about prior, but reflected ‘how wrong could I have been’; the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) having ‘clearly been very busy in recent months’. The day included talks from: Chandru Dissanayeke, MHCLG; Douglas Barnett, BAFE; Allan Hurdle, Smoke Control Association; Dennis Davis, Fire Sector Federation; Howard Passey, FPA; Mark Hardingham, National Fire Chiefs Council; David Poxon, FPA; and Dr Jim Glockling, FPA. FPA will be hosting another Building a safer future seminar on Thursday 28 May 2020 at the Cavendish Centre, London.
Mr. Passey stated that they’re looking at a ‘new world order’, noting multiple changes recommended in Dame Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell Review that will dramatically alter the landscape of premises management which ‘some of us won’t recognize’. One of these changes he notes is that ‘duty holders should ensure that any recommendations outlined in the fire risk assessment are undertaken and completed in a timely manner.’ He adds to this, as a person involved in fire risk assessment ‘what a refreshing change that would be, as he's sure some of us have gone back to the same premises on a regular basis only to find that the recommendations just haven’t been followed up on.’ Constructing and managing buildings Mr. Passey also comments alongside this the requirement to remove technical jargon “To ensure information is provided that people can clearly and more reliably understand and implement.” Accountability and competency was a focus of the seminar, referencing Dame Judith Hackitt’s identification of key roles for every step of the process as “An approach in which we would be able to bring a better level of control to the work that is being undertaken in designing, constructing and managing buildings once they are occupied.” The FPA alone have trained in the region of 1000 delegates in fire risk assessment in the last 12 months Mr. Passey continued discussing Hackitt’s observations and that the important factor here is the requirement for competency for all stages of the process. Mr. Passey adds to this the prescribed ‘golden thread’ of information aims to reliably provide valuable information for the building manager to use and share with appointed competent people, such as a fire risk assessor, that will be employed to help meet their obligations. Risk assessment scheme Mr. Passey notes that the current wording in the fire safety legislation provides a ‘very weak definition of competence’. The FPA alone have“Trained in the region of 1000 delegates in fire risk assessment in the last 12 months.” Sensibly, he adds that “[The FPA] haven’t made them ‘competent’, we’ve just given them the training in what they need [to know].” The main Fire Risk Assessor registers, including BAFE (with BAFE SP205 - the largest UKAS Accredited Third Party Certified fire risk assessment scheme), fall very short in comparison to these FPA training numbers. He states with this “There are very few individuals who are recognized as competent by a third party [certification] body to undertake fire risk assessments.” Most vulnerable occupants Mr. Passey states "As a competent fire risk assessor I recognise my limitations [and know where I cannot provide appropriate assessments and must turn down work]. We might also need to think beyond the high rise residential [buildings], where we have the most vulnerable occupants and think about having specific streams of competency criteria for risk assessors who work in different types of environment.” Competent persons shall have an awareness of their own limitations" BAFE will react accordingly to update the SP205 Life Safety Fire Risk Assessor scheme as appropriate. However, part of the existing scheme document criteria clearly stipulates self-evaluation of the assessor’s limitations: “Competent persons shall have sufficient knowledge, experience and skills needed to meet the requirements of the tasks related to the Scheme. Competent persons shall have an awareness of their own limitations.” - BAFE SP205 Scheme Document V5. Ongoing management of buildings This overview scratches the surface of what was discussed during this seminar, but Howard Passey is right – ‘the future will be complex’ and major changes are on the horizon, especially to the construction industry, but also to ongoing management of buildings to ensure their fire safety is appropriate. BAFE also appreciate the FPA’s ongoing support of UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification to demonstrate competency. After Mr. Passey’s seminar, Frazer Wisniewski – Marketing Manager of BAFE, questioned “What do you consider in your opinion defines the ‘timely manner’ after a fire a risk assessment has been performed to implement the actions that have been recommended?” Implementing effective controls Mr. Passey answered “It’s very difficult to answer, because it is a sort of ‘piece of string’ question. It will depend on the nature of the risk and the problem that needs addressing. And of course that has to be balanced with the organisation and what they’re actually able to achieve.” BAFE strongly recommend them to report this to their local Fire and Rescue Service “The role of the risk assessor should be to support the responsible persons in implementing effective controls and remedial actions, where if the most obvious solution is not immediately practicable - to look at other alternatives to ensure the safety of the buildings occupants by doing things slightly differently. That’s where we need to be.” If one has any concerns over the fire safety of a building, BAFE strongly recommend them to report this to their local Fire and Rescue Service as the enforcement body to investigate and uphold fire safety legislation. Fire risk assessment Stephen Adams, Chief Executive - BAFE, commented, “Whilst the key focus of any fire risk assessment is life safety, it must be remembered that in the event of fire, emergency services are going into these buildings once evacuated to control and extinguish this.” “A quality method of record keeping in an understandable manner that Dame Judith Hackitt recommends and Howard discussed will aid all phases of a building’s life-cycle and therefore a more robust assessment of any risk from fire. This cannot just apply to complex and new buildings however, with the existing built environment requiring the same levels of scrutiny to mitigate risk and ensure a safe building to be in for any person.”
The Fire Protection Association (FPA) is slated to host a Midlands’ Seminar themed, ‘Building a Safer Future: A Call for Evidence’– an opportunity to discuss the government’s long awaited changes to fire safety regulations, including the Fire Safety Order, Call for Evidence and the Building Safety Consultation. Fire safety proposals Following a commitment to improve fire safety regulations within the built environment, 6th June 2019 saw the British Government provide a strong indication on areas in which the fire safety industry can expect to see long-awaited change. These new proposals are intended to put residents at the heart of a new regulatory system These new proposals are intended to put residents at the heart of a new regulatory system and provide clarity to what has previously been an ambiguous area. Fire Protection Association Seminar The Fire Protection Association’s Seminar will endeavor to unravel the government’s response, addressing the detail of proposed changes to both the building regulations and regulatory system. They will look at implications for fire safety and future regulations, competency, the responsible person, product certification and the evolution of the enforcement regulation landscape. Commenting on the relevance of the seminar, Fire Protection Association Managing Director Jonathan O’Neill said, “In the past there was confusion in the interpretation of the Fire Safety Order with regards to the materials used on the outside of buildings. Clearly since Grenfell, and the very recent fire at the block of flats with wooden balconies in Barking, legislation had to change.” Panel of speakers The event will be chaired by John Smeaton, Chair of the Fire Protection Association and the renowned panel of speakers will include: Rod McLean, Head of the British Home Office’s Fire Safety Unit - The Home Office’s response on the Fire Safety Order, Call for Evidence and Building Safety Consultation Jonathan O'Neill OBE, Managing Director, The Fire Protection Association - Post Grenfell: Implications for fire safety and future regulations Tony Corcoran, Membership Officer, Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) - Understanding best practice in passive fire protection - getting it right. Howard Passey, Principal Consultant, The Fire Protection Association - The Responsible Person Ian Moore, Chief Executive Officer, The Fire Industry Association (FIA) - People & product certification and approvals Nick Coombe, Vice-Chair, National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) - How will the enforcement regulation landscape evolve? James Wilson, British Standards Institution (BSI) - BSI’s response to the Grenfell tower tragedy The seminar includes: Access to fire industry experts Topical discussions on the government’s response Networking sessions Delegate pack Lunch Tea, coffee and refreshments Free entrance to the British Motor Museum 5 IFSM CPD hours This Midlands-based seminar is ideal for: Social housing providers Building owners, landlords and managing agents Insurers/brokers Facilities/building managers Health and safety managers Construction industry professionals and manufacturers Architects and designers Building control officers and approved inspectors Fire risk assessors Fire engineers Fire and rescue services enforcement officers