Leaders from across the fire safety sector offered their expertise on how they believe the industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what their various associations have been doing to support their members. Presentations come from the heads of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP), Fire Sector Federation and Fire Protection Association. Social distancing rules Following the presentations, speakers took audience questions, covering: Whether the impact will have long lasting effects on the sector. How have fire safety officers dealt with social distancing rules? Will technology be utilized to improve standards in the UK going forward? Speakers: Ian Moore, CEO, FIA Jonathan O’Neill, OBE, Managing Director, Fire Protection Association Niall Rowan, CEO, ASFP Dennis Davis, Executive Officer, Fire Sector Federation
In these unprecedented times, as the UK’s national fire safety organization, the Fire Protection Association is offering businesses its wealth of knowledge and advice. Of particular relevance to the coronavirus crisis is ‘Unauthorized occupation of non-residential premises’ – a guide to managing the risk, which is available as a free download. As many businesses have had to move out of their buildings temporarily – and at some speed, owners may not have had time to consider that vacant buildings are often more susceptible to the risk of fire (arson), criminal activity, misuse and malicious damage. Managing the risk The Fire Protection Association’s guide explores the trend and offers guidance for owners and insurers This guide looks at what preparations, practical measures and security controls can be applied to help manage the risk. Insurers report that there is often a significant increase in the frequency and severity of claims for damage and clear up costs arising from unauthorized occupations of vacant properties. The Fire Protection Association’s guide explores the trend and offers guidance for owners and insurers. The main areas covered by the guide are: The growing challenge of unauthorized occupations - Insurers report that there has been a significant increase in the frequency and severity of claims for damage and clear up costs arising from unauthorized occupations of vacant properties. Evolution of the problem - Frequently reported are occupations by large numbers of well organized groups making use of empty buildings for dumping by fly tippers in return for cash payment. Vigorous action required - In the light of how this problem is developing, managers and owners would be well advised to revise their risk assessment and, if necessary, take rigorous action to reinforce the physical resistance of their vacant building. Importance of planning - Advance planning covering the preparations that need to be made in advance of an occupation, the actions required should an occupation occur and those needed to protect the operation and assets going forward, is just as important as physical preparations. The law and policing - As part of the advanced planning, managers and owners should acquaint themselves with the legal and policing environment they will find themselves in should the worst happen and trespasses need to be ejected. Help and support - The advice and support of professionals, consultants and specialist services can be invaluable before, during and following an unauthorized occupation. COVID-19 crisis plans Jonathan O’Neill, the Fire Protection Association’s managing director says: “The Fire Protection Association published this guide in 2017, as part of our commitment not only to fire protection, but business resilience – and companies, building owners and insurers would be well advised to read it, to help with implementing their COVID-19 crisis plans.” The Fire Protection Association’s (FPA) report is published by its sister organization RISCAuthority - a scheme supported by a significant group of UK insurers that conducts research in support of the development and dissemination of best practice on the protection of property and business.
As part of the review of Building Regulations (Approved Document B), and in response to emerging evidence on long-term firefighter health issues, the government is investigating whether the effects of fire toxicity should be a legal requirement when choosing materials for high risk buildings. To assist in this research, the Fire Protection Association is bringing together global fire toxicity experts to share their knowledge at an inaugural conference in London on 30th March. The day will be summarised in a review paper submitted to government to assist and support its research program. Building product fire toxicity Fire toxicity is already a consideration for material selection in the transport sector. So why are the same rules not applied in the built environment? Building product fire toxicity is a primary selection factor when choosing materials within the transport sector. The London Underground adopted a fire toxicity strategy when it was constructed - a strategy which is recognized globally. Now, the UK government is investigating whether there is a need for such measures to be implemented in the building regulations. Increasing complexity of some building types Accounting for toxicity in building products is currently not a legal requirement" Dr James Glockling - technical director of the Fire Protection Association explains: “Whether you’re sitting on a train on the London Underground, traveling on a plane or by boat, the likelihood is that the materials surrounding you have been specifically selected to ensure that in the event of a fire, the toxicity of the products resulting from their involvement will have a lower chance of impeding your escape or affecting your long-term health.” “Conversely, measuring. Accounting for toxicity in building products is currently not a legal requirement but might need to be a consideration going forward due to the increasing complexity of some building types and forms of construction.” Long-Term toxic health effects Our international line up of renowned experts will report on the most recent research undertaken, on the challenges of immediate and long-term toxic health effects to the public and firefighters, and consider our readiness to respond to any regulation changes made. Richard Hull, professor of chemistry and fire science, UCLAN - Acute fire toxicity challenges Jeff Burgess, associate dean for research, University of Arizona - Latest research into long-term fire fighter health Anna Stec, professor in fire chemistry, UCLAN - Environmental contamination Martin Weller, senior fire safety engineer, SW Atkins. Case study – Building product toxicity control on the London Underground Hideki Yoshioka, senior researcher, National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management (NILIM), Japan - Regulating for building product toxicity in Japan Per Blomqvist, senior research scientist, Research Institutes of Sweden - Appropriateness of toxicity evaluation test methods Peter Woodburn, associate director, Arup - Challenges of working with a reduced materials palette Protecting buildings and saving lives Jonathan O’Neill, the Fire Protection Association’s managing director says: “This conference is a must-attend, as it will reinforce our view that a range of factors, such as measurement of toxic fumes, need to be considered when choosing building materials, in order to protect buildings and ultimately save lives.” This change could impact the visitor and the building they work in, whether they’re in social or student housing; the fire and rescue service; the education sector; product manufacturing; facilities management; construction and design; fire engineering; healthcare; or local government. To find out more about this event and how this change may impact the future of property protection call the Fire Protection Association’s marketing team. Date: Monday, 30th March 2020 Venue: Aviva, Saint Helen's, 1 Undershaft, London, EC3P 3DQ Time: 09:30 – 16:00
Rethinking fire toxicity – inaugural conference featuring speakers from across the globe – focus on long-term effects of firefighter health. As part of the review of Building Regulations (Approved Document B), and in response to emerging evidence on long-term firefighter health issues, the government is investigating whether the effects of fire toxicity should be a legal requirement when choosing materials for high risk buildings. To assist in this research, the Fire Protection Association is bringing together global fire toxicity experts to share their knowledge at an inaugural conference in London on 30th March. The day will be summarized in a review paper submitted to government to assist and support its research program. fire toxicity strategy Building product fire toxicity is a primary selection factor when choosing materials within the transport sector Fire toxicity is already a consideration for material selection in the transport sector. So why are the same rules not applied in the built environment? Building product fire toxicity is a primary selection factor when choosing materials within the transport sector. The London Underground adopted a renowned fire toxicity strategy when it was constructed - a strategy which is recognized globally. Now, the UK government is investigating whether there is a need for such measures to be implemented in the building regulations. toxicity in building products Dr James Glockling - Technical Director of the Fire Protection Association explains: “Whether you’re sitting on a train on the London Underground, travelling on a plane or by boat, the likelihood is that the materials surrounding you have been specifically selected to ensure that in the event of a fire, the toxicity of the products resulting from their involvement will have a lower chance of impeding your escape or affecting your long-term health." "Conversely, measuring. Accounting for toxicity in building products is currently not a legal requirement but might need to be a consideration going forward due to the increasing complexity of some building types and forms of construction.” long-term toxic health effects Their international line up of renowned experts will report on the most recent research undertaken, on the challenges of immediate and long-term toxic health effects to the public and firefighters, and consider their readiness to respond to any regulation changes made. Richard Hull, Professor of Chemistry and Fire Science, UCLAN - Acute fire toxicity challenges Jeff Burgess, Associate Dean for Research, University of Arizona - Latest research into long-term fire fighter health Anna Stec, Professor in Fire Chemistry, UCLAN - Environmental contamination Martin Weller, Senior Fire Safety Engineer, SW Atkins (Case study) – Building product toxicity control on the London Underground Hideki Yoshioka, Senior Researcher, National Institute for Land and Infrastructure Management (NILIM), Japan - Regulating for building product toxicity in Japan Per Blomqvist, Senior Research Scientist, Research Institutes of Sweden - Appropriateness of toxicity evaluation test methods Peter Woodburn, Associate Director, Arup - Challenges of working with a reduced materials palette measurement of toxic fumes Jonathan O’Neill, the Fire Protection Association’s Managing Director says: “This conference is a must-attend, as it will reinforce our view that a range of factors, such as measurement of toxic fumes, need to be considered when choosing building materials, in order to protect buildings and ultimately save lives.” This change could impact the readers and the building that they work in, whether they are in social or student housing; the fire and rescue service; the education sector; product manufacturing; facilities management; construction and design; fire engineering; healthcare; or local government.
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.
The Fire Protection Association’s (FPA) Building a Safer Future Seminar, held on Monday, January 27th, 2020 in London (sponsored by BAFE), played out the on-going discussion of competency within both the combined construction and fire safety industries. Chair of the event and Managing Director of the FPA, Jonathan O’Neill OBE, opened the seminar affirming his continued “whole-hearted” support for Third Party Certification, stating “I have been banging the drum for long enough on behalf of the FPA, and am delighted when the Fire Sector Federation decided to adopt Third Party Certification being one of its policy objectives in the forthcoming Building Regulations review”. Reflecting on Grenfell Fire Tragedy Chandru Dissanayeke also noted that Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry starts this week Chandru Dissanayeke, Director of Building Safety Reforms - MHCLG, began with his presentation explaining that his role since Grenfell has been to revisit the terrible events that unfolded on 14th June 2017 every day. He stated, “This was exhausting and emotionally draining but strongly emphasised that it was important, considering an event like Grenfell should never happen again”. Chandru Dissanayeke also noted that Phase 2 of the Grenfell Inquiry starts this week. He said, “Phase 2 of the Inquiry will examine the circumstances and causes of the disaster, including how Grenfell Tower came to be in a condition which allowed the fire to spread in the way identified in Phase 1.” Ensuring building fire safety Mr. Dissanayeke also discussed the new building safety programme and that it will be “delivered through measures to make existing buildings safer now and reforming the system for the future for new and existing buildings.” As at the UK Construction Week in October 2019, Chandru Dissanayeke underlined his presentation with the fact that this is a matter of protecting the legacy for future generations. He was very conscious that there is a desire for change and an impatience for Government to “get on with it” – referring to Jonathan O’Neill’s speech from the FPA’s Fire Sector Summit back in November. Importance of Third Party Certification During his time on stage, Mr. Dissanayeke said “Third Party Certification has a part to play in demonstrating the quality of designers, installers, maintainers and the materials used. It was described as a very good tool, but Government needs help and requires the [construction and fire safety] industry to step up and lead the way.” Douglas Barnett, Chairman – BAFE, opened his presentation stating, “Other than leaving the EU on Friday (31/01/2020), this date marks the 16th anniversary of the Rosepark Care Home fire and questioned if lessons had been learned from this event. The Rosepark Care Home fire in 2004 killed 14 elderly residents.” Mr. Barnett argued very little action has been taken in those number of years [other than Scotland requiring sprinklers in new care homes and guidance from the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) in Northern Ireland distributing information on using competent fire risk assessors]. He stressed on the need to push the Government, and the industry to work on this. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification There’s got to be an increase of recognition for competence and all elements of competence" Coming from the insurance sector (as Director of Customer Risk Management – AXA), Mr. Barnett stated that “competence is a massive, massive issue. There’s got to be an increase of recognition for competence and all elements of competence”. He noted the benefits of UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification pointing out the three key areas in gaining this and demonstrating competence: knowledge, skill and attitude. He stressed without the right attitude, it all falls down, stating “People have got to buy in to doing the right thing. Have you got the right attitude when you’re actually looking at what the client’s asking you to do?” Having all three elements of this “demonstrates a commitment to quality for the end client”. Compliance of Fire safety legislations Mr. Barnett also defined “not every Third Party Certification scheme is the same” and later discussed UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) who ensure the ‘checkers’ (i.e. Certification Bodies) are appropriate and can suitably assess the contractor to determine said competence. Further information on UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification can be found here Mr. Barnett noted “One thing that Jonathan [O’Neill] and the Fire Sector Federation did was look at statutory defence. This is actually a very quick win for legislators - is there a statutory defence if a building owner/manager has done as much as they can by using appropriate Third Party Certificated contractors?” Amendment to building regulations Mr. O’Neill added at this point stating, “The barrister came back with this his advice and said he thought it would be a very easy thing for Government to do, it would simply be a case of incorporating it in guidance. And as far as the Building Regulations were concerned, similarly a quick amendment to Approved Document B would probably suffice.” He continued, “now that we are seeing the Government go down the route of choosing the HSE, we are likely to see the adoption of approved codes of practice going forward.” Dennis Davis, Executive Officer – Fire Sector Federation, complimented Mr. Barnett’s presentation with reiterating the areas required to raise the bar of competency. Mr. Davis listed competency as knowledge and understanding, skills and application and reliability and responsibility (i.e. attitude). He noted the task is to bring the industry to acknowledge the three strands of competency and discussed the work of the Hackitt Review CSG (Competency Steering Group) and WG0 (Working Group 0 - Overarching Competence Body). He supplemented Jonathan O’Neill’s earlier comments by saying, “There is a big issue around culture, and I suspect one of the reasons the HSE has been appointed as the building regulator is to drive culture. They were brought in by the Deputy Prime Minister 20 years ago to stop deaths in the construction industry, and they have been extremely successful. And I think this is the same sort of logic to drive a culture through a process.” FPA’s Building a Safer Future Seminar FPA seminar covered multiple topics including smoke control, toxicity and the Fire and Rescue Service The seminar also covered multiple other topics including smoke control, toxicity and the implications for the Fire and Rescue Service post Grenfell. Importantly, Mark Hardingham, Chair of the NFCC (National Fire Chiefs Council) Protection and Business Safety Committee, highlighted his focus. Mark said, “Although Grenfell Tower has focused our attention on high rise residential buildings, they’re not the ones that keep me awake at night [as his role as Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer]. I’m much more focused around care homes, specialised housing, hospitals, student accommodation and others besides. The risk is there with high rise residential buildings, but I think there are from my perspective some equally significant, sometimes more significant, issues that we’re finding elsewhere in the built environment.” Effective building fire safety policies In the question and answer panels following presentations a question was asked to highlight the “priority items that could be addressed to try and take us forward, quickly and effectively, towards the levels of safety that the recent tragedies have demonstrated we need.” Mr. Davies responded “There are definitely quick wins. One quick win for example is Third Party assurance. Third Party assurance to us is one of the first steps in eradicating some poor quality and getting standards to a point where at least you know the people who are dealing with this issue, whatever the issue is, understand from a fire safety perspective.” Frazer Wisniewski, Marketing Manager – BAFE, also who attended the event commented, “The seminar thoroughly discussed the huge topic of competency and the development and scope for a far safer construction and built environment from fire. BAFE will continue to monitor and develop our portfolio of schemes to ensure they remain the best levels of evidence when demonstrating competency of contractors.” Providing efficient fire and rescue service Frazer added, “What is important is to stress, as Mark Hardingham touched on, is the discussion of competent fire safety and the need to apply this to all buildings – especially other potential high risk buildings with vulnerable residents such as care homes. High rise residential buildings have focused the attention, and now this needs to continue throughout the existing and new built environment. BAFE will continue to promote the value of Third Party Certification but require further support from the industry to raise public awareness to benefit everyone, from building management to the Fire and Rescue Service and looking forward, the HSE.”
The recent ban on combustible building materials by the government was for buildings over 18 meters – or six storeys high. The Cube student block in Bolton (providing student accommodation in a six storey block) which caught fire on Friday provides a stark reminder that the problem facing UK fire safety is the result of many issues and not just Grenfell style ACM cladding. Although the final details have not yet been released, there are a number of key issues reported, all of which are relevant to the ongoing discussions around the current Building Regulations review: This was a modern building, designed and built using all of the latest rules, guides and expertise available. Yet, with two people injured, this must be classed as a near miss event. High integrity alarm systems This was a risk in a building only six storeys high, where students sleep The high pressure laminate (HPL) and timber cladding components clearly played a large part in the fire’s progress, possibly in association with the insulation and cavity membranes present. Since Grenfell, HPL has been talked about to some degree, but no doubt thorough investigations and consideration have been hampered by it not being the focus of a major incident - until now. This was a risk in a building only six storeys high, where students sleep. Clearly, one should not limit regulations to the mere height of a building. Fire alarms are reported as being almost a daily event, so it is understandable that students did not assume Friday’s to be any different. Despite this, one knows high integrity alarm systems exist which are tested for immunity for common ‘false challenges’. Despite countless calls for change over many years, they remain not legislated for. Prolonged statistical demonstration Jonathan O’Neill, managing director of the Fire Protection Association, commented: “The fires at the Bolton student block, Worcester Park in London and the Beechmere care village in Cheshire, prove we cannot be housing people in buildings made from combustible materials. This issue needs to be addressed urgently; it simply cannot wait. We urge this issue to be a priority for the new government.” Fire legislation in the UK has always been slow to develop. It is reactive, and often requires a major incident or a prolonged statistical demonstration of emerging issues, during which time much harm may be done. It is interesting to note now after years of lax regulation and the increasing use of combustible materials in the structure, insulation, and cladding of buildings, how quickly evidence of fault is currently being uncovered. It demands a similarly speedy response, faster perhaps than has happened since Grenfell. Believable detection and alarm system Manchester’s fire community has been one of the most proactive in assessing and managingManchester’s fire community has been one of the most proactive in assessing and managing their multi storey buildings since Grenfell, and are to be credited for their response and actions which led to an amendment requiring a full evacuation policy. One must ask again what fire and building regulations have got to do with height. More than two years on from Grenfell, they are still putting vulnerable people at risk. Should this incident alone not demand the selection of non-combustible materials, deployment of a believable detection and alarm system and the installation of sprinklers to ensure the safety of those away from home in education? This scenario is no different to a school, care home or hospital. Risk is a combination of many factors, of which height is only one. High integrity alarm systems The Fire Protection Association, the UK’s national fire safety organization, is calling for: supporting the combustibility ban for buildings based upon risk rather than height alone the mandation of high integrity alarm systems as a means to solving the false and unwanted alarms issue a requirement for two means of escape from high rise buildings for stay put policies to be used only after thorough intrusive inspection to the building to ensure it is capable of supporting it the mandation of sprinklers in high risk environments such as schools and care homes Stephen Adams, Chief Executive - BAFE, comments: "BAFE fully support the Fire Protection Association’s statement. We must seriously consider the level of fire risk for all buildings regardless of their height for the safety of its inhabitants and the building itself. With this, we must focus on the existing built environment and evaluate the fire risk of these buildings – not just new builds moving forward."
The FPA Managing Director Jonathan O’Neill thought it was important to chair the Fire Sector Summit to stress his feelings towards the current state of the fire industry. He opened the event commending the Fire and Rescue Services but commented “Please don’t see Sir Martin [Moore-Bick]’s comments and recommendations [regarding the Grenfell Tower fire] as an attack. See them as an opportunity.” “If Dame Judith Hackitt gets her way you will likely to be asked to do more and more and to be better at it. You mustn’t stand by and see others moving out of the shadow of austerity, whilst you are left behind. Show that you are a service that listens and learns. Recognize the changing risk profile on your patch, such as greater number of at-risk groups and individuals being accommodated in more combustible, less resilient structures and demand the resources to sort this out.” High Integrity detection and evacuation systems Jonathan O’Neill continued strongly “And to Government – get on with it. I heard they aren’t planning to introduce the legislation that will see Hackitt’s recommendations become law until the middle of next year, and the law will take about a year to get through the Parliamentary process. That is four years after Grenfell – it’s too long. I make the plea to Government, after the General Election whoever is in power – get on with it.” Make the changes in building regulations that are so obvious they really don’t require further scrutiny" “Make the changes in building regulations that are so obvious they really don’t require further scrutiny. Mandate Third Party Certification, ban single staircases in tall buildings, and install sprinklers and high integrity detection and evacuation systems and ban combustible materials in all high risk occupancies, regardless of a buildings height. This is not rocket science, so get on with it and get on with it immediately please.” This self-proclaimed ‘soapbox’ moment received a loud round of applause in agreement from the delegates before the plenary session could continue. Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment scheme Chris Auger – BAFE Head of Schemes, who attended the event, commented “BAFE fully support and reiterate Jonathan O’Neill’s statement and demands to Government. An important factor here is to consider the entire life-cycle of buildings and their ongoing assessment for fire risk." "The competency of fire risk assessors however continues to remain a largely unregulated and precarious market. BAFE introduced the SP205 Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment scheme in 2012, developed with the request from Government after the Lakanal House fire in 2009.” “The industry has regulatory procedures available, but whilst this remains voluntary only the overtly responsible providers are gaining third party certification to prove their competency in this realm. Big changes are required to ensure only competent providers are being used for the appropriate work. Construction and fire safety providers cannot let all of the excellent work done in the Competency Working Groups go to waste through inactivity from Government or the Industry!”
At the UK Construction Week (UKCW) 2019 event, day one focused heavily on the fire safety and what actions are being taken in the construction industry to prevent further tragedy. Attending the show, BAFE observed an industry that is responding to the fire safety issue, but more action is required and fast. This comes just days after Dame Judith Hackitt told the industry to not wait for regulations to ‘raise the bar’. On the UKCW main stage, ‘Building Safe Homes: When will there be fundamental reform?’, discussed these issues with a highly qualified panel. Chair of the panel Peter Caplehorn, Chief Executive – Construction Products Association, questioned “how do we correct the obvious problems that were so clearly identified in the Hackitt Review, how can we progress through a culture change that is needed?” Responsibility for managing risk Peter Baker, Director – Building Safety Programme Response – Health and Safety Executive (HSE), pointed out the obvious yet very appropriate declaration that rarity breeds complacency: “There are two lessons from 1974 [Flixborough chemical plant disaster]; One is: the primary responsibility for managing risk rests with the people who create it. It’s not the regulators job to run the plant and manage the risk, it’s the duty holder – it’s the people who create the risk." One of the biggest lessons we can learn from major disasters is that they do happen" "The second is: the rarity of major accidents tend to breed complacency. Because they don’t happen very often, people forget, people lose focus. One of the biggest lessons we can learn from major disasters is that they do happen, they may not happen very often, but when they do, they can have massive consequences not only for people, but also for businesses and also communities.” building regulations change Jonathan O’Neill OBE, Managing Director – Fire Protection Association, emphasized that change is required right now to establish safer homes: “It seems quite extraordinary to me, that the best part of two and half years – after the worst loss of life from fire since the Second World War, we still haven’t had a building regulations change in the UK. Essentially, apart from a change in the banning combustible materials on very tall buildings, I can build a building pretty much the same way now as I could before Grenfell. When are we going to get change? When we get building regulations change." "If we are going to put at-risk housing groups in combustible construction, we are going to have big big trouble. We have not learnt the lessons, we are far from learning the lessons. If [the Crewe care home fire] happened at night, we would be talking the exactly the same situation that we are about Grenfell just over two years after it happened. We’ve got to see regulatory change. [Dame Judith Hackitt has said last week] to the construction industry ‘you do not need to have legislation to effect cultural change’. Let’s face it, we do… we need change and we need it now.” introducing new regulations When will reform happen however? Dame Judith says, ‘industry should not wait – it must put its house in order, it must change its culture’.” Paul Everall, Chief Executive – LABC, recounted his experience with introducing new regulations: “As [Jonathan O’Neill] said, legislation will be required. Hopefully we shall see a draft bill this winter, but of course legislation takes time. In my civil service career, I was responsible for taking a number of major bills through Parliament and it can take up to a year for a bill to pass all its stages in the Commons and the Lords." "And that means it is unlikely to come into force before the Spring of 2021, which will be almost four years since Grenfell occurred. We cannot afford to wait until the legislation is complete, even though it will be required to ensure everybody follows it. Dame Judith says, ‘industry should not wait – it must put its house in order, it must change its culture’.” high risk situations Nick Coombe MBE, Building Safety Programme Lead - National Fire Chiefs Council, discussed their input to establish change but also reminded the construction industry audience that his firefighters have to go into these high risk situations when it goes wrong: “We kind of have a design system that puts in that, if everyone gets out and 10 seconds later the building collapses, building regulations have been met. That is ridiculous, because firefighters might be in there.” He also notes that “The Fire Safety Order is not a tool to fix something that should have been done in the building stage. We have to design buildings to ensure the lifetime of the people that are going to be [living] there – that it’s fit for them. People in the construction industry need to know they are going to get caught, and if they get caught that the punishment is severe, and they won’t do it again [change is not going to happen] unless there is strong legislation and strong enforcement. The industry is failing, so our legislation, our new regulator, needs to have oversight of the whole industry, not just tower blocks.” no more excuses We all cannot offload our risk and say it is no longer ours or someone else’s problem" Chandru Dissanayeke, Director of Building Safety Reforms – Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, proclaimed that after Grenfell he continues to hear excuses from the industry. He said, “it’s our shared problem, and we need to make sure it is not our legacy.” He reiterated in the question and answer session “Let’s be clear, even from this stage I’m hearing excuses – it’s your fault, it’s your fault, that needs to happen before this can happen – and as long as that happens, this industry has a long way to go. I just want to be really clear, there can be no more excuses. We all have to be in this, we all cannot offload our risk and say it is no longer ours or someone else’s problem. This is our legacy, it’s not future buildings which is our legacy, they’ll be fine. It’s the existing stock, that is our legacy and we need to correct.” Fire and Rescue Service In the question and answer session that followed the seminar, Nick Coombe and Jonathan O’Neill responded to discussions about doing the right thing vs cost: Nick Coombe – “At the moment if you try and do the right thing, it costs more and therefore people will go to the cheapest denomination. They won’t get the [appropriate competent] people because they don’t have to. That’s a real issue at the moment, people [in the industry] are trying to change, but then they are not getting the work because the end user will look at the quotes and they don’t know the difference. From a Fire and Rescue Service point of view, we are trying to promote people with Third Party Accreditation [Third Party Certification], promote the people that we want them to use so they know what they’re getting. I think a lot of people don’t know what they’re getting.” Jonathan O’Neill – “We have commissioned, through the Fire Sector Federation, a view of a barrister which we have given to Government about making the use of Third Party Certificated installers and manufactures a statutory defense in law. [This provides] great incentive to those who are actually commissioning buildings to ensure they are using Third Party Certification as no cost whatsoever.” appropriate safety requirements Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, comments that this was a really valuable discussion (with too small an audience) which needs much wider circulation. There is a general fear from the fire industry that the issues raised will be ‘swept under the carpet’ by the wider construction industry safety concerns. As the speakers said it is the improvement and maintenance of the current building stock that will be our legacy to residents and end users with UKAS Accredited Third Party Certificated competence being the way forward for fire safety service providers. This will greatly support Hackitt’s recommendations of continuing the “golden thread” of information and quality evidence of conforming to appropriate safety requirements.
Recently there have been five UK fires in commercial and residential timber framed buildings. Fires which have put multiple lives and property at risk. The Worcester Park fire in September saw a four-story block of flats destroyed and families lose their homes and belongings. Despite the widely reported tragedy at Grenfell Tower in 2017 and the progress made from the Independent Review of Building Regulations by Dame Judith Hackitt, fires are not decreasing in frequency, size or impact. The Fire Protection Association’s annual Fire Sector Summit aims to provide the very latest sector thinking and developments to protect people and buildings. Held on 5th November at One Great George Street, the 2019 Summit will cover newly-emerging issues such as the toxic effects of fire - something research has shown can cause ongoing health issues. catalyst for change within the fire sector Challenging the current state of affairs is a frequent theme at the Summit. Stewart Kidd, Managing Director from the Loss Prevention Consultancy will question whether life safety codes go far enough to protect one's assets, heritage and schools. He will present alongside the Fire Protection Association’s own Technical Director, Dr James Glockling. Workshop sessions such as this one will allow delegates to tailor the event to their own taste. Our delegates add just as much to the event as our experts by challenging views which are pivotal to the future" The event will be chaired by Jonathan O’Neill OBE, Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association. Commenting on the necessity to progress fire safety regulation, Jonathan says: “The recent report from the Competency Steering Group was lacking in its commitment to act. The Summit will remain a catalyst for change within the fire sector. Our delegates add just as much to the event as our experts, by challenging views and concepts which are pivotal to the future of fire safety." latest fire safety trends The impressive program of speakers will include: Fighting fires in timber frame buildings – Mark Cashin, Chief Fire Officer, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Services The cladding industry post Hackitt, the competence piece and toxicity in Building Regulations – Dr Jonathan Evans, Chair of the Technical Committee, Metal Cladding and Roofing Manufacturers Association (MCRMA) Assessing the toxic risks from warehouse fires - Graham Atkinson, Principal Scientist - Major Hazards Group, HSE Science Division The health effects of toxins - Vitalina Kirgizova, Immunogeneticist, University of Cambridge The Summit includes: Access to fire industry experts The latest fire sector knowledge and developments Networking Delegate pack Lunch Tea, coffee and refreshments 6 IFSM CPD hours London Summit The London Summit is ideal for: Building owners, landlords and managing agents Insurers/brokers 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 Social housing providers
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
The 2018 Fire Industry Association Annual General Meeting (AGM) and lunch was again, one of the standout industry events of the year bringing together more than 300 industry leaders. The FIA AGM provides the ideal opportunity to highlight the achievements of the association over the last year and signal our priorities for the future. Our members mingle with industry colleagues, entertain prospective customers and catch up with the FIA Secretariat team. This year Ellie Taylor provided the after-lunch entertainment, which helped create the memorable experience. Recognizing contributions to fire safety industry The FIA Honorary Award signifies a member's sustained commitment and outstanding volunteer contributions to FIAAfter lunch and the Chairman’s address the FIA recognizes the exceptional contribution to the fire safety industry. This year Jonathan O’Neill received the FIA’s most prestigious, Lifetime achievement award. As he collected his award, FIA CEO, Ian Moore cited some of Jonathan’s achievements and commented “I cannot think of anyone better connected within the fire industry than Jonathan – he has been consistent in his support for improving the resilience of the built environment and has provided educated and informed challenge where it is due both within the UK and internationally.” The FIA Honorary Award signifies a member's sustained commitment and outstanding volunteer contributions to FIA. Both Martin Harvey and David Murfitt were recognized for their long-term contribution that started before the formation of the FIA, back in the days of BFPSA and FETA. Congratulations once again to all the award winners! The 2018 FIA AGM & Lunch was brought to the members in association with the industry leading FIREX International, the world's leading fire safety exhibition.