Dame Judith Hackitt has provided an update to the Construction/Health and Safety/Fire Safety industry via HSE’s Building Safety eBulletin. “BAFE fully support Dame Judith’s comments, stressing the interest in UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification has increased over the last three years with the addition of more tender specifications stipulating this requirement." "BAFE continue to monitor the portfolio of Schemes available to ensure they remain the highest levels of determining quality evidence of competency for life safety systems and provisions”, Stephen Adams, Chief Executive of BAFE. current regulatory system Information from HSE Building Safety eBulletin: An update from Dame Judith Hackitt - “More than 3 years ago, in July 2017, I started my independent review of Building Safety and Fire Regulations in the wake of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower. In those first few weeks, I interviewed many people and almost without exception they told me that the current regulatory system needed radical change. The people I talked to also expressed doubts about whether the system would actually change as a result of my review.” Over the last 2 years or so we’ve heard some really encouraging stories of the progress people are making" “Three and a half years on and we now know that radical change is on its way and the doubts expressed were unfounded. Given the scale of the tragedy at Grenfell which had led to my review the momentum for change was greater than it had ever been before. After my final report was published in May 2018, my involvement continued when I was asked to chair the Industry Safety Steering Group." variety of explanations "We brought together very senior people from a range of industry backgrounds to challenge the industry to accept the need for culture change and to adopt new practices ahead of legislation mandating them to do so. Over the last 2 years or so we’ve heard some really encouraging stories of the progress people are making. These are from the people who recognize the need to change and want to do the right thing now, not wait for legislation to make them do it." "But of course, we’ve also heard from others who haven’t changed yet and who offer a variety of explanations – ‘not my problem to fix’, ‘tell me what to do’. The thing that makes the difference between those that are getting on with making change and those who are holding back is not about resources or competence or clarity - it’s all about leadership. So, we need many more companies and organizations to step up and show leadership.” deliver new regulatory regime We meet monthly and will continue until the new regime is up and running" “I am delighted that the Building Safety Bill is about to make its passage through Parliament and that the new Building Safety Regulator has been announced and will be part of HSE. There can no longer be any excuse for holding back or doubting that things are going to change." "There is still a huge amount to do to achieve this once in a generation change, by everyone involved and through the Transition Board we will maintain the pressure to deliver the new regulatory regime and the new regulator as soon as is possible. We meet monthly and will continue until the new regime is up and running." safer homes for residents "In the coming months I want us to focus on the positive outcomes that this new regime will deliver - safer homes for residents is of course front and center but this is also a chance for the whole built environment sector to raise its game.”
Apsana Begum, Labor MP for Poplar and Limehouse, has asked the UK Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government that “Whether he plans to provide funding for remedial work to buildings which do not comply with fire safety regulations but do not have problems relating to cladding.” Fire safety legislation The Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government) Christopher Pincher, Conservative MP for Tamworth, reminded building owners and premises management that fire safety remains their responsibility as outlined in fire safety legislation. Building owners managing blocks of flats are responsible for the safety of their buildings" Pincher stresses, “Building owners or other responsible entities managing blocks of flats are responsible for the safety of their buildings. We have made £1.6 billion available to support the remediation of unsafe cladding on buildings of 18 meters and above. This reflects the exceptional fire risk that certain cladding products pose at that height, as noted by Dame Judith Hackitt in her independent report.” Establishing a safe building environment Post Grenfell, cladding has been one of the areas that the UK Government has intervened to assist in establishing a safe building environment with funding made available. However, Pincher warns that the unsafe cladding funding does not absolve industry from responsibility and taking action. Pincher adds, “We expect developers, investors and building owners to cover remediation costs themselves, meeting their legal and contractual obligations, recovering costs or drawing on warranties where applicable, without passing on costs to leaseholders.” Pincher concludes by stating, “This Government is determined to identify suitable financing solutions, remove barriers to remediation, and protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs. The UK Government has asked Michael Wade to accelerate work with the financial sector to identify affordable solutions, and we will be updating the House.” Adhering to fire safety obligations BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment) and UK Fire and Rescue Services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have stressed that fire safety obligations must continue to be met to provide a safe environment from fire. Any additional COVID-19 safety measures introduced must also acknowledge all health and safety and fire safety requirements on-site and must all work together in the interest of life safety and protection. This was recently noted in BAFE’s response to the UK Government Fire Safety Consultation Stephen Adams, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at BAFE, commented “This issue is very interesting, as it raises huge questions of misunderstanding of fire safety legislation and responsibilities. The Minister of State is completely right, building owners should already be implementing any remedial work required to meet these obligations.” Stephen adds, “This misunderstanding is precisely why BAFE demand stronger Government issued guidance on who is considered competent to provide essential life safety work.” This was recently noted in BAFE’s response to the UK Government Fire Safety Consultation. BAFE Fire Safety Register At the time of submitting the response to the consultation, the BAFE (British Approvals for Fire Equipment) commented, “The BAFE Fire Safety Register (and the whole UKAS Accredited competency sector) demands much greater Government issued guidance on who is considered competent to provide essential life safety work. This must be at the same level of HSE Guidance, which can then be used to lawfully judge who was at fault for any safety breaches under the FSO [Fire Safety Order] and included in any statutory defense.” The BAFE statement adds, “With many buildings not having a dedicated fire safety officer, these responsibilities are just a part of another staff members/owners’ duties and clearer guidance must be issued for quick reference to ensure they remain compliant to the law. Stipulating what is required to determine competency can assist in sourcing quality providers to help them meet their fire safety responsibilities with due diligence. Compliance will improve with mandated competency levels that must be adhered to and specified, thus appropriately regulating the industry with no additional cost to Government.”
BAFE FireQual Ltd is pleased to announce that they have appointed Nic Preston as the FireQual Qualifications Manager from 1st September 2020. Nic has over 14 years of experience in the training and development sector with a proven ability in quality assurance demonstrated in several roles influencing training environments within the UK. His most recent roles have been developing and implementing growth strategies as Chief Executive of SFEDI Awards, the Awarding Organization for enterprise development. Alongside this he has also been responsible for their compliance with regulatory systems across the UK and was the Responsible Officer for their systems for learners and training centers. Nationally recognized qualifications Nic said “Introducing a range of high quality nationally recognized qualifications for the betterment of fire protection services and staff within the fire safety industry will be a rewarding task. FireQual has huge potential to make the industry safer and demonstrably more competent and I look forward to the challenge this offers.” Although FireQual is a new venture, it builds on the vast array of knowledge and expertise within the sector" “Although FireQual is a new venture, it builds on the vast array of knowledge and expertise within the sector both within BAFE and through our valued external partners who continue to support this new endeavor as we move forward. I welcome the opportunity to work with a range of excellent industry partners, training organizations and their candidates to build new relationships and opportunities as we move forward.” BAFE licensed Certification Bodies Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, added “We believe FireQual is being entrusted in very good hands with Nic. His experience will be invaluable in the development of this Awarding Organization. This is a big opportunity to develop individual skills to ensure that competence remains at the forefront of the fire safety industry. We are pursuing this because we know that it is the right thing to do in the interest of life safety.” The BAFE Fire Safety Register is delighted to announce that Chris Auger, currently the BAFE Head of Schemes, has been promoted to Director of Schemes, with responsibility for the organization and development of existing and new schemes, together with our quality assurance and complaints management. He will have the vital day to day support role with BAFE licensed Certification Bodies. Wide range of influencers Organizational competency and evidence of individual expertise remains the forefront of this discussion" Chris continues to do a first class job with his work on the Hackitt Working Groups and other stakeholders, especially to promote the value of Third Party Certification and competence, which is now gaining much stronger traction, with the support of UKAS. He has brought a much stronger profile for BAFE amongst a wide range of influencers across the construction sector. Chris commented: “The BAFE Competence schemes continue to grow and develop, with registrations rising even during the lockdown period. We are grateful to Companies and Certification Bodies for continuing to recognize the importance of Third-Party Certification and finding new methods to ensure compliance. We have a number of new initiatives to support the industry, specifiers and end users and I am delighted to be taking on this role.” “With the development of FireQual there will also be a genuine prospect to include accredited technician competence into more of our Company schemes, which will be considered by our dedicated Scheme Monitoring Groups. This will consider all appropriate training and qualifications available, not just FireQual. Organizational competency and evidence of individual expertise remains the forefront of this discussion.”
BAFE and the FIA announced the acquisition of the FIA AO by BAFE FireQual Ltd. BAFE strongly believe this will be a significant opportunity for the fire industry to develop an exciting range of accredited qualifications to meet the demand for quality assurance of individual skill and expertise required by the industry. This necessity was heightened by the Grenfell tragedy and its subsequent reports outlined by Dame Judith Hackitt and the Competency Steering Group. Dame Judith Hackitt stated: “The lack of a coherent approach to competence levels and experience required – or professional qualifications where these may be necessary – and how these qualifications and experience should be evidenced so that they are clearly understood by all those operating within the system.” - 5.2 Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: Final Report. Board of Directors FireQual will operate as a separate wholly-owned subsidiary of BAFE, with its own Board of Directors, and will be led by a newly appointed Qualifications Manager who has a wide experience at a senior level in the qualifications sector. The FireQual Board currently is made up of Chairman Lewis Ramsay - former Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Scottish Fire & Rescue, Pauline Traetto - previous Executive Director of BRE Academy, Douglas Barnett - Chairman of BAFE and Stephen Adams - BAFE Chief Executive. For full clarity FireQual will only offer exams and qualifications – neither BAFE nor FireQual will be delivering any training. FireQual will be working with licensed training organizations (including the FIA) who will offer the approved syllabuses to their learners. BAFE consider this separation from training and exams/invigilation, as currently operated at BAFE with the BS 5306 fire extinguisher exam, is important to deliver independent quality assurance of this process. Certification Bodies Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, commented, “There are natural synergies that will occur along with the BAFE ethos of Third Party Certification for companies delivered through licensed [UKAS Accredited] Certification Bodies. We believe that the introduction of accredited qualifications will only enhance the BAFE company schemes. These are not to be thought of as one or the other however, BAFE will continue to monitor company assurance of specific service competency which holds important value. FireQual will develop qualifications for individual expertise for specific services, whether the candidate works for a BAFE Registered Company or not.” Following the acquisition, the FIA AO will continue to deliver their exams until FireQual has established the necessary systems and delivery processes. FireQual aim to make this transition as quickly as possible with all the requirements for OFQUAL and the equivalent standards in Scotland and Wales under way. Fire safety industry qualifications FireQual will take the opportunity to contact a wide range of organizations that currently deliver training across all aspects of fire safety to consider the application of the new range of qualifications that we will be reviewing. FireQual welcomes any approaches to consider how this should develop and looks forward to collaborating with the industry to progress the future of individual qualifications for the fire safety industry.
BAFE shared the announcement made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Most notably, the one meter plus rule (in England) will help in the continuation of the fire safety industry gaining access to buildings to perform essential fire safety work and maintenance as required by legislation. We await further guidance to be released by Government in the near future which will assist the industry to determinedly continue with extreme care and diligence. Fire safety provisions Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE comments “From the 4th July, multiple venues that have been closed for a considerable amount of time will reopen. This indicates a large number of buildings that will need to, by law, ensure that their fire safety provisions and systems are appropriate after making changes to accommodate for coronavirus safety measures. Please be safe, review your fire risk assessment and use competent providers to help meet these obligations.” “Fire and Rescue Services continue to uphold fire safety legislation and have measures in place to check commercial buildings. Remember all safety measures are in place for life safety, this includes coronavirus, fire and other safety requirements – don’t simply focus on the virus. The last thing anyone wants is for any business to re-open and be struck by fire.” BAFE continue to recommend to the fire safety industry that they work with premises managers to help them meet their fire safety obligations.
The fire industry has made it absolutely clear, led by authorized bodies including the BAFE Fire Safety Register, that the current pandemic does not remove the need to comply with any fire safety requirements under the Building Regulations. As we now look beyond the lockdown period, John Allam, Operations Director at Amthal Fire and Security reviews the raft of new proposals demonstrating the Government and industry’s commitment to compliant fire safety and new immediate demands placed on responsible persons. Multi-Occupancy residential buildings Whilst the second phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry has been put on hold until July at the earliest over coronavirus restrictions, the government has continued its quest to effect change and bring the Fire Safety Bill and Building Safety Bill into legislation. While the Building Safety Bill will ‘place new and enhanced regulatory regimes for building safety and construction products’, both bills aim to strengthen the ‘whole regulatory system’ for both building and fire safety. The Fire Safety Bill will apply to England and Wales, to amend the Fire Safety Order 2005 and seeks to clarify responsibility for reducing fire risk in multi-occupancy residential buildings. The details of the Fire Safety Bill, which has now had its second reading in the House of Commons, includes recommendations of regular inspections of lifts and sprinkler systems for buildings over 11m tall. Quarterly fire door inspections Building owners will now face ‘enforcement action’ from emergency services if they do not manage fire risk Significantly, it also introduces compulsory quarterly fire door inspections, which is a hugely significant development in its own right, to influence an industry where this is no specific legislation that requires fire doors to be checked. The Fire Safety Bill intends to ensure evacuation plans are reviewed, regularly updated and communicated to residents in a ‘form that they can be reasonably be expected to understand.’ And it highlights the importance of individual flat entrance doors, where the external walls of the building have unsafe cladding, comply with current standards. This will play a key part in increasing residents’ fire safety, whereby building owners will now face ‘enforcement action’ from emergency services if they do not manage fire risk in a building’s structure. Improving the fire safety of buildings In addition, the government is consulting with the National Fire Chiefs Council to begin testing evacuation alert systems for high-rise blocks of flats, which could support fire and rescue services’ operational response by alerting residents if they need to escape. The National Fire Chiefs Council to begin testing evacuation alert systems for high-rise blocks of flats The new program will be governed by a Building Safety Regulator (BSR) that will initially be led by Dame Judith Hackitt during the set up phase, who will be tasked with improving the fire safety of buildings. Launched by The RT Hon Robert Jenrick MP Secretary Of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, he cited the new program as taking, “Ambitious steps to further reform the building safety system with the biggest changes in a generation to ensure residents are safe in their homes.” He added: “This new regime will put residents’ safety at its heart, and follows the announcement of the unprecedented £1 billion fund for removing unsafe cladding from high-rise buildings in the budget.” Major regulatory decisions The BSR will be responsible for all major regulatory decisions made at key points during design, construction, occupation and refurbishment of buildings. And such decisions and obligations must be upheld and maintained throughout a development’s life. The new safety case regime will apply not only to new buildings, but also to buildings that are already in use" In Dame Judith’s own words: “When introduced by the new regulator, the new safety case regime will apply not only to new buildings, but also to buildings that are already in use and occupied. If those buildings were built to poor standards in the past, it will not be the case that you can simply say ‘well it complied with building regulations at the time’. The test will be different. The test will be ‘is this building safe to be occupied?’ and, if not, what are you going to do to improve it?’ … People will be asked to think about what they can do, what is reasonable and what is practicable to do in order to improve the safety of a given building.” Regulating the fire safety industry Both Hackitt and the Government want the BSR to be set up in shadow form before the Building Safety Bill becomes law. The plan is to put the bill before Parliament by the autumn, despite the challenges thrown by the Pandemic. The new legislation proposed by Government will undoubtedly ensure that buildings and those that live and work in them are maintained to be fire safe. In the words of BAFE CEO Stephen Adams: “The time is right to help better regulate the fire safety industry to change end user behavior and create a UK that's safer from the devastating effects of fire.” As BAFE further attests, as lockdown measures begin to be lifted, there will be a need for the competent maintenance of fire safety systems/provisions and fire risk assessment work. Fire doors and risk assessments Amthal is working closely with building owners and managers across the UK to deliver the benefits of safer environment This means for those who own or manage residential buildings, will soon be ‘held into account’ if they do not ensure fire safety in their buildings, and the requirements will impact further on costs and resource allocation, for investigating buildings and ensuring compliance. There is a definite sense to be proactive in acceptance of the new impending legislation. But the concern cited amongst building owners is the industry’s ability to undertake the volume of assessments required, given the lack of current lack of specific legislation on specific elements such as fire doors and risk assessments, together with the steep expectations for fire strategy and evacuation plans. Amthal is working closely with building owners and managers across the UK to deliver the benefits of safer environment within a holistic fire safety approach. Working in partnership, means taking the time to understand the implications of the Government’s Fire Safety Bill, alongside the implications of the Building Safety Bill and BSR program. This way, we can ensure responsible persons confidently achieve all operational requirements for the ultimate benefit of residents’ peace of mind.
WYFRS recommends to review the fire assessment as soon as possible after everyone returns from lockdown and systems and provisions are maintained to check they are working correctly. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, commented: “We are pleased to see Fire and Rescue Service information mirrors what BAFE has been advising as we begin the process of returning to a ‘new normal’. Many business premises will have changed the way they operate due to new coronavirus safety measures. This will prompt an immediate requirement to review the fire risk assessment [recommended in the WYFRS information] and any actions required from the result of this to be undertaken in the interest of life safety.” Reminding business owners BAFE warns fire safety should be addressed as soon as possible as all ease out of coronavirus lockdown. Remember, don't just specify, verify! When sourcing help, make sure to specify competent fire safety providers and verify their Third Party Certification is appropriate and valid for the work required. As the Coronavirus lockdown is set to ease over the next few weeks with more shops and retail outlets due to open to the public, the Fire Service is reminding business owners to be vigilant about fire safety within their premises. To refresh people’s minds about fire safety regulation West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has created a handy leaflet with some top tips of what to be vigilant about once the shutters open up after weeks away. Fire alarm systems More commercial premises are set to get the green light to open up again" The leaflet, called ‘Returning to Work after COVID-19 Lockdowns,’ is available on the Fire Service website and helps business owners know their responsibilities around fire safety in the workplace in order to keep employees and customers safe. It gives top tips on everything from keeping fire exits and escape routes clear, to the regular testing of fire alarm systems and keeping fire risk assessments up to date. Whilst aimed at business owners, the advice is also applicable for school premises. Senior Fire Protection Manager Chris Kemp said: “More commercial premises are set to get the green light to open up again and it’s important that we all focus on the measures that will be in place to safeguard people as much as possible from the spread of Coronavirus.” Fire safety measures “At this time we also want to take the opportunity to remind people to be vigilant to ensure that fire safety measures remain present in premises in order to keep staff and the public safe. Fire doors, fire exits, escape routes and regular testing of fire alarm systems, are vital and just some of the topics covered in our leaflet, which is a quick and easy read.” “One concern we have is that people may be tempted to wedge fire doors open to limit any transmission of the virus through the touching of handles or the door plate. This creates a serious fire risk because if a fire door is wedged open and a fire occurs in the premises it would spread freely which could put people’s lives in danger. Our advice is to keep fire doors shut and clean handles and door plates regularly to mitigate the risk of virus transmission.”
There is a bombardment of information coming out regarding the coronavirus pandemic and the changes to the ‘new normal’ all are becoming accustomed to. BAFE has been keeping abreast of this information and hopes one finds news provided on the BAFE website useful. With coronavirus lockdown measures in place slowly beginning to ease BAFE strongly advises that fire safety measures are not overlooked or deferred further. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, has been discussing this within the industry using multiple outputs such as the FSM Podcast (episode 3) and the Fire Safety Event Online (15/05/2020). During the event online, Mr. Adams clearly stated the fact that fire safety legislation has not changed to accommodate the coronavirus pandemic, it is still very much being enforced in the interest of life safety. Planned maintenance can begin Housing minister says planned maintenance and void work should resume in letter to social housing tenants Inside Housing recently reported that “Housing minister says planned maintenance and void work should resume in letter to social housing tenants” (19/05/2020). The article discussed the current status of gas safety checks, writing “the government reiterated its view that landlords should ‘make every effort’ to abide by statutory obligations and conduct annual gas safety inspections.” BAFE must stress fire safety obligations should also continue to be followed with as much significance, performed as safely as possible. Fire does not discriminate, and as BAFE has discussed many times before, fire systems and provisions are often taken for granted and their maintenance can be overlooked, especially if those responsible for fire safety have not been working in the building or are on furlough. Unlike security systems, which one deactivates and activate on a regular basis, fire systems are always set to active ready to react in the event of fire. Regular scheduled maintenance This means one may not pick up on faults early that could jeopardize the effectiveness of the system and the safety of one’s occupants. Therefore, regular scheduled maintenance performed by competent providers is crucial (and noted as best practice in the appropriate standards). Following this, with documented evidence, will demonstrate due diligence. All fire safety systems and provisions should continue to be well maintained ready for when people begin to reoccupy buildings. This is prevalent with the current situation, as measures implemented to deal with COVID-19 may instigate an obligation to update one’s fire risk assessment (and to action any issues highlighted) to comply with legislation. Competent fire safety expected We are fully aware that the fire safety industry is somewhat invisible to the greater public" Stephen Adams comments, “We are fully aware that the fire safety industry is somewhat invisible to the greater public, and just expect their premises managers to be ‘doing the right thing’, even throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Competent fire safety is simply expected, and it comes down to the industry to contact their clients to educate them of the facts. Legislation is still in place; standards continue to recommend scheduled maintenance and Third Party Certificated providers can competently assist them in the interest of keeping people safe from fire.” Fire safety obligations Previous guidance issued (17/03/2020) by Chris Auger, Head of Schemes – BAFE, specified: “If a client is not permitting access on-site due to coronavirus precautions, please make sure you explain that this is their decision to not allow you to complete this work. It is the role of the premises management (i.e. Responsible Person/Duty Holder) to ensure they fulfil their fire safety obligations. Advise them of any risk and if they still do not grant you access on-site, document this communication. This will provide evidence you have acted responsibly with your clients. If you are allowed access on-site, please stay safe and follow appropriate coronavirus guidance to ensure you are not unnecessarily increasing risk to anyone in the premises or yourselves.” BAFE continues to encourage this action, stressing contact with clients is important at present. As all begin to adapt to new ways of working and ongoing developments regarding the pandemic please continue to uphold best practice in the fire safety industry, whilst being understanding of client’s decisions at present.
In lieu of the Fire Safety Event which was meant to take place late April this year (now postponed until September), Nineteen Group hosted an online webinar event to discuss current fire topics. A number of notable fire safety specialists discussed different topics, but the overarching topic was how the coronavirus pandemic will affect fire safety and any additional changes it will require. Niall Rowan, CEO - ASFP, noted Dame Judith Hackitt’s comments that the previously thought difficult process to change the construction industry is very much possible, and coronavirus action has proved that. Fire safety procedures This is also applicable to all building fire safety procedures, if buildings can implement coronavirus safety measures, updates to fire safety (and health and safety) should be running parallel with this in BAFE’s opinion. In the opening session, Peter Aldridge, General Secretary - NAHFO, discussed the fire approach for the NHS Nightingale at Harrogate. Multiple areas were discussed, but it really came down to the thorough skilled assessment of fire risk that ensured multiple people with vulnerable and critical patients were as safe as possible from this element. Conspicuously the ‘humble’ fire extinguisher was one of the significant safety features used. Safer building environment BAFE are a member of the Federation and will continue to support their drive for a safer building environment from fire This was to control any potential smaller fires and prevent the necessity to evacuate COVID-19 affected patients. This was supplemented with the execution of making all NHS and site staff occupying said areas aware of their operation with training. Also touched on was action taken since the Grenfell Tower Fire. Dennis Davis, Executive Officer – Fire Sector Federation, discussed the Federation’s investment in a ‘Decade of Improvement’. One slide proclaimed fire safety was to ‘protect lives and property’. It stated to “use third party certified products to detect, suppress, contain and extinguish fires [and to] encourage suppliers and maintainers to become fire safe accredited [certificated] companies.” BAFE are a member of the Federation and will continue to support their drive for a safer building environment from fire. Fire safety providers Peter Wise, Principal Consultant – FPA, referred to the Act for rebuilding the City of London 1666 as the Dame Judith Hackitt of its day. As we quickly approach the third anniversary of the tragic Grenfell fire, BAFE hopes to see further action taken regarding all the recommendations soon, most notably regarding competency of fire safety providers to protect life. Remarkably in 1666 it only took six months from the fire until the Act was passed in February 1667. Fast forward to now and industry continues to self-regulate with UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification. Mandating this could be a ‘quick win’ for legislators, as previously said by Dennis Davis, Executive Officer – Fire Sector Federation, at the FPA’s Building a Safer Future seminar in January. Physical risk assessment Stephen highlighted the fact that fire safety legislation has not changed in the coronavirus pandemic Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, spoke about the importance of Third Party Certification regarding fire safety providers. Stephen highlighted the fact that fire safety legislation has not changed in the coronavirus pandemic. If anything, BAFE believes this has greatly increased its relevance at present, as many buildings are changing their use to comply with coronavirus safety measures. Questions that followed Stephen’s session focused on Fire Risk Assessments. BAFE strongly advised that Third Party Certificated Fire Risk Assessment providers are used and that they are confident to assess your type of building. Coronavirus measures will affect access to particularly high risk areas where online video links with assessors could potentially supplement an exhaustive assessment and review certain accommodations (but this would not replace a physical risk assessment of the building). Any actions taken must be the best course to mitigate fire if building use is changing (e.g. moving staff to previously unoccupied rooms/areas or use of fire doors and keeping these open to minimize contact with handles).
HM Government have released ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’, a document outlining the UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. Section 4 outlines the ‘roadmap to lift restrictions step-by-step’. Regarding returning to work, Government guidelines state ‘All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open.’ Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open, for example this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. As soon as practicable, workplaces should follow the new ‘COVID-19 Secure’ guidelines, as set out in the previous chapter, which will be published this week. Fire risk assessment These will ensure the risk of infection is as low as possible, while allowing as many people as possible to resume their livelihoods. It remains the case that anyone who has symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house to go to work. Those people should self-isolate, as should those in their households. BAFE recommend all Registered Companies with work scheduled and ongoing service and maintenance agreements to remain in touch with their clients. Whether they are currently still operating or closed and planning to reopen in the near future, they must ensure their fire safety systems and provisions remain operational and well maintained. This may also require an updated fire risk assessment and any issues actioned for any changes to the building to comply with COVID-19 measures. Devastating fire events Please continue to remain safe, following Government guidance and using appropriate PPE Government prefaced the above information by noting that “The changes to policy in this step will apply from Wednesday 13 May in England. As the rate of infection may be different in different parts of the UK, this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.” Please continue to remain safe, following Government guidance and using appropriate PPE. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, added: “Fire safety legislation is still very much being enforced in the interest of life safety. It is crucial at this time that the industry reminds their clients of their responsibilities, and the recommended actions of the appropriate British Standards, to mitigate risk from fire as best as possible.” “We are fully aware this will have to be performed in a sensitive manner, but statistically companies affected from fire struggle to return. The last thing anyone wants on our exit out of lockdown are devastating fire events causing further dire complications for businesses.”
BAFE is delighted to announce that Lewis Ramsay QFSM has joined the BAFE Board of Directors. Lewis Ramsay is a former Assistant Chief Fire Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service specializing in both Response and Resilience and extensive work in Prevention and Protection. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, commented: “The BAFE Board brings together a very wide range of experience of the fire protection industry and related skills. Lewis’s experience and knowledge will be incredibly important and will help in our efforts to develop BAFE both nationally with the Fire & Rescue Services but also with a focus on Scotland. Scottish Government and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have always been quick to react to fire safety requirements to keep the public and working environment safe.” fire protection Industry Lewis Ramsay noted in a response to the Board and Council “I am delighted to have been appointed to the Board and will work hard to support BAFE during my tenure.” I consider BAFE to have a critical role in the development of competence and quality standards" Also, at the BAFE AGM 2020 (online), Douglas Barnett was also unanimously voted to continue as Chairman for the next two years. Douglas is Director, Mid‑Market and Customer Risk Management for AXA Insurance. The BAFE Board, Council and team welcome this decision especially at this time of great challenges for the fire protection industry. competence and quality standards Douglas responded: “It is a great honor to receive such strong support from the BAFE Board and Council. I consider BAFE to have a critical role in the development of competence and quality standards in the fire protection industry in the post-Grenfell era. I am delighted that Lewis Ramsay has joined the Board bringing a wide range of skills and experience to support us. I look forward to working with the team over the next two years.” BAFE are extremely grateful for the Board and Council’s contribution in developing and promoting quality in fire safety and for the support of our Certification Bodies, Trade Associations and most especially the commitment of our Registered Companies.
BAFE, the independent register of quality fire safety service providers, have launched a new campaign to inform premises management and the public that specifying Third Party Certification is only part of the process in acting with due diligence. The campaign, ‘Don’t just Specify, Verify!’ points out the important second, and sometimes overlooked, verification stage when specifying and sourcing a competent Third Party Certificated provider to help comply with fire safety legislation. Importance of verifying Third Party Certification Specifying Third Party Certification is a robust method of sourcing a competent provider" Stephen Adams, Chief Executive Officer at BAFE said, “As noted in Government guidance, specifying Third Party Certification is a robust method of sourcing a competent provider to help you fulfil your fire safety obligations. However, there is still an onus on the premises management [Responsible Person/Duty Holder] to check that their chosen providers are appropriately Third Party Certificated and competent for the work required.” Stephen adds, “If you specify a Third Party Certificated provider, but don’t verify this before awarding a contract, this could result in insufficient fire safety in your building and makes you accountable under current legislation. It is easy and quick to check, which helps towards a safer building and, in the event of a fire, stronger defence having acted with due diligence.” UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification within the fire industry at present is completely voluntary. This means that any provider who holds this has taken intentional steps to gain independently assessed certification, demonstrating their competency for a specific service. BAFE pointed out that no one would use an unregistered gas engineer, so why anyone’s fire safety requirements should be treated any differently. BAFE continue to promote to public, specifiers and end users of the fire safety industry on the value of Third Party Certification in the interest of life and building safety. The culture of chasing the lowest quote for fire safety work must end, focusing instead on sourcing evidentially competent, independently assessed providers to get the job done right. As with most things, quality comes at a cost, but the cost of a fire with poor fire safety management could be far more disastrous. Make sure you specify Third Party Certificated fire safety service providers and verify they are appropriately certificated for the service you require. It’s a quick and simple action, but incredibly important.
The Government consultation Fire safety: risk prioritisation in existing buildings, closes in mid February 2020. In January Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, encouraged everyone to review the document provided on the MHCLG website and to respond accordingly. The call for evidence noted it was ‘in line with the Secretary of State’s commitment to conducting a full-scale technical review of the Fire Safety guidance to the Building Regulations (Approved Document B) and to provide advice to building owners and residents.’ Changing the fire safety requirements BAFE’s response agreed that a ‘case by case risk-based approach should be taken for existing buildings’ and noted multiple factors (aside from height) that should be considered when classifying building risk. These included: Fire Risk/Fire Protection – What is identified in the Fire Risk Assessment and what is the current level of fire protection? Occupancy – Are there vulnerable residents in the building that would be at higher risk in the outbreak of fire? Construction methods/materials and current means of escape – Could these measures be improved in the interest of life (and building) safety? Change of building use - Has the fire risk assessment been reviewed/updated and has this changed the fire safety requirements needed? Ongoing maintenance and risk assessment The second example was the fact that the greatest number of fires occur in domestic premises BAFE believe that height is only partially significant when classifying building risk and noted two clear examples to illustrate this. The first being the Rosepark Care Home fire, that in 2004 killed 14 elderly residents, was not a tall multi-storey building. January 2020 marked the 16th anniversary of the Rosepark Care Home fire and Douglas Barnett, Chairman – BAFE, recently questioned at the FPA Seminar if lessons had been learned from this event. The second example was the fact that the greatest number of fires occur in domestic premises. Height should be one of the factors considered from the inception of the building design to the ongoing maintenance and risk assessment of any building, but categorically not the key factor to classify building risk. Fire safety related services The consultation asked to specify the ‘areas of research on the prioritisation of risks in buildings’ that should be considered. Without hesitation BAFE noted materials. This is an obvious answer following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and the evidence that the materials used aided the fire to spread at such an alarming rate. Greater emphasis on regulating quality of any provider of fire safety related services Coinciding with this is competence, BAFE strongly believe in quality evidence of competency (such as UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification). Greater emphasis on regulating quality of any provider of fire safety related services working in a building is paramount to improving fire safety in existing buildings. In the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report, Dame Judith Hackitt discussed the ‘golden thread’ of responsibility. More competent industry Stronger regulation (i.e. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification) of fire safety service providers can aid in establishing a far more competent industry and a safer built environment. The consultation asked to ‘provide innovative ideas’ of approaching the assessment of risk in existing buildings. Although Third Party Certification of fire risk assessors has been established for a while now, it is still seen as a pioneering model to assess their ability to fulfil this task and needs further discussion in Government. This comes back to Hackitt’s aforementioned ‘golden thread’ of responsibility and accountability. Current legislation and the enforcers of this (currently Fire and Rescue Service) need to emphasise the importance of competency when completing a fire risk assessment and what clearly defines this competency.
The Government consultation ‘Fire safety: risk prioritization in existing buildings’, closed recently. In January Stephen Adams, Chief Executive, BAFE, encouraged everyone to review the document provided on the MHCLG website and to respond accordingly. The call for evidence noted it was “in line with the Secretary of State’s commitment to conducting a full-scale technical review of the Fire Safety guidance to the Building Regulations (Approved Document B) and to provide advice to building owners and residents.” risk-based approach BAFE’s response agreed that a “case by case risk-based approach should be taken for existing buildings” and noted multiple factors (aside from height) that should be considered when classifying building risk. These included: Fire Risk/Fire Protection – What is identified in the Fire Risk Assessment and what is the current level of fire protection? Occupancy – Are there vulnerable residents in the building that would be at higher risk in the outbreak of fire? Construction methods/materials and current means of escape – Could these measures be improved in the interest of life (and building) safety? Change of building use – Has the fire risk assessment been reviewed/updated and has this changed the fire safety requirements needed? ongoing maintenance and risk assessment The consultation asked to specify the “areas of research on the prioritization of risks in buildings” BAFE believe that height is only partially significant when classifying building risk and noted two clear examples to illustrate this. The first being the Rosepark Care Home fire, that in 2004 killed 14 elderly residents, was not a tall multi-storey building. Recently was the 16th anniversary of the Rosepark Care Home fire and Douglas Barnett, Chairman, BAFE, recently questioned at the FPA Seminar if lessons had been learned from this event. The second example was the fact that the greatest number of fires occur in domestic premises. Height should be one of the factors considered from the inception of the building design to the ongoing maintenance and risk assessment of any building, but categorically not the key factor to classify building risk. The consultation asked to specify the “areas of research on the prioritization of risks in buildings” that should be considered. fire safety related services Without hesitation BAFE noted materials. This is an obvious answer following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and the evidence that the materials used aided the fire to spread at such an alarming rate. Coinciding with this is competence, BAFE strongly believe in quality evidence of competency (such as UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification). Greater emphasis on regulating quality of any provider of fire safety related services working in a building is paramount to improving fire safety in existing buildings. The consultation asked to “provide innovative ideas” of approaching the assessment of risk in existing buildings In the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report, Dame Judith Hackitt discussed the “golden thread” of responsibility. Stronger regulation (i.e. UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification) of fire safety service providers can aid in establishing a far more competent industry and a safer built environment. fire risk assessment The consultation asked to “provide innovative ideas” of approaching the assessment of risk in existing buildings. Although Third Party Certification of fire risk assessors has been established for a while now, it is still seen as a pioneering model to assess their ability to fulfil this task and needs further discussion in Government. This comes back to Hackitt’s aforementioned “golden thread” of responsibility and accountability. Current legislation and the enforcers of this (currently Fire and Rescue Service) need to emphasize the importance of competency when completing a fire risk assessment and what clearly defines this competency.
The Fire Sector Federation acknowledges and welcomes the announcement made by the Government in advance of a debate in Parliament on the Grenfell Tower fire. The delay in positive action has been a deep cause of concern to Federation members so the outlined steps, particular of the role of Health and Safety Executive and a new Act, are seen as helping move the whole process forward. Developing third party assurance Federation members have with many others been working together for over two years Federation members have with many others been working together for over two years to improve fire safety by advancing standards and quality. Picking up the theme highlighted by the Building safety Review of ‘not marking your own homework’ developing third party assurance for people and products the Federation has called for fast tracking third party certification by recognizing it within formal guidance and using third party assured companies to supply products and services, like fire risk assessments. The announcement the Federation hopes demonstrates that a serious transition step, of turning deliberation and advice into action, is now actually starting. Development of Fire Safety Regulations Michael Harper the Federation Chairman said today: "Having called for a decade of change to prevent another tragedy and to help ensure we have a UK built environment safer from fire I welcome and acknowledge on behalf of the Fire Sector Federation the Governments' significant announcement and commitment to improve building fire safety." "BAFE welcomes the statement made by the Secretary of State concerning development of Fire Safety Regulations and fully endorses the response from the Fire Sector Federation. We continue to actively participate in relevant Working Groups to ensure the recognition of competence and third party certification for fire protection providers. We would encourage all BAFE registered companies to monitor and respond to MHCLG statements and calls for evidence, to ensure that the fire industry voice is heard at this important time." - Stephen Adams, Chief Executive - BAFE.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on Jan 20, 2020 launched a consultation seeking views on ‘how to assess and prioritize fire safety risks and how to better understand the complexity of building risk’ to ensure that an appropriate level of safety is achieved in existing buildings. Assessing fire safety of buildings MHCLG (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) stated that they are commissioning research to develop an evidence base on fire safety risk in buildings, which could assist building owners in the prioritization of risks in existing buildings and prioritization of buildings based on a broader understanding of risk. This call for evidence is seeking views and evidence to help define the scope of this research by providing, in advance, stakeholder and industry views on approaches, tools and methodology that should be considered for this complex project. Technical review of Building Regulations BAFE will respond to the consultation in the interest of determining evidentially competent providers The proposed research is in line with the Secretary of State’s commitment to conducting a full-scale technical review of the guidance to the Building Regulations and to provide advice to building owners and residents. BAFE will be responding to the consultation in the interest of determining evidentially competent providers for on-going fire safety requirements of existing buildings. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive Officer at BAFE, noted, “We encourage everyone to review the document provided on the MHCLG website and to respond accordingly. It is extremely promising to see research into the existing built environment, something we have been calling for as necessary for some time. Improving the fire safety of new builds is vital, but it is just as important – if not more important, to make those responsible for existing buildings already inhabited appropriately manage their risk and action this.” Fire safety: risk prioritization The open consultation Fire safety: risk prioritization in existing buildings is a call for evidence that is open for responses from Jan 20, 2020 and closes on Feb 17, 2020 at 11:45pm.
SSAIB, one of the licensed certification bodies who deliver BAFE scheme assessments, have achieved an historic milestone of 300 active BAFE scheme-certificated companies. In September 2019, BAFE registered A1 Fire and Security Ltd, who are the 300th active company on the BAFE Fire Safety Register that have been assessed and third-party certificated through SSAIB. They join the more than 1450 BAFE-registered companies who are third-party certificated, with over 1700 BAFE fire safety scheme certifications. Third-party certification Devon-based A1 Fire and Security Ltd gained third-party certification and BAFE registration to the SP203-1 scheme, for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and alarm systems. The certification provides us with substantial credibility that will help us promote this service" Matthew Weigham of A1 Fire and Security Ltd stated, “Gaining certification to the BAFE SP203-1 scheme, through SSAIB as our certification body, is vital to show our commitment to quality when providing our fire alarm services. This audit was important to us to prove we are competent, and the certification provides us with substantial credibility that will help us promote this service.” Commitment to fire safety industry Stephen Adams, BAFE chief executive, said, “We congratulate both SSAIB on this milestone and A1 Fire and Security Ltd on gaining their third-party certification. SSAIB have been a long-standing supporter of BAFE, who are extremely proactive with their commitment to the fire safety industry. We wish them, and all of our licensed certification bodies, further ongoing success in our combined efforts to develop the quality regulation of this industry.” SSAIB chief executive Alex Carmichael added, “SSAIB are extremely proud to offer the BAFE scheme assessments for fire safety third-party certification in multiple disciplines. Our congratulations go out to A1 Fire and Security on gaining their certification and I would also like to congratulate our fire systems scheme manager, Keith Strugnell, and the SSAIB team on this achievement.” “We will continue to work with BAFE to support the future of fire safety and, through certification of quality companies like A1 Fire and Security, the fire safety of customers’ premises.”
Around five years ago, BAFE representatives went to see two Scottish Government civil servants to discuss fire safety and in particular Fire Risk Assessments. The responsibility for Tony Maskens, then BAFE Technical Schemes Manager, and Euan Robson, Governmental Adviser - Caledonia Public Affairs, was to explain that Fire Risk Assessors should be professionally qualified and certificated and at present there is no requirement for them to be so. When The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 was published it left Duty Holders with the responsibility to conduct Fire Risk Assessments on their premises. There was no real guidance as to how they might fulfil these responsibilities however. Proper Fire Risk Assessment The problem was that the Act required Duty Holders to have a proper Fire Risk Assessment There was a lack of understanding that quickly alerted BAFE to the fact that there was no recognition of these difficulties. The Act was then, and is now, entirely fit for purpose but too much was missing as far as its implementation was concerned. The background to the 2005 Scottish Act was the appalling fire at the Rose Park care home in Lanarkshire in 2004 (in which several elderly residents died). At the subsequent fatal accident enquiry, the Sheriff had made clear that Fire Risk Assessments should be carried out by properly qualified/certificated people. In short, the problem was that the Act required Duty Holders to have a proper Fire Risk Assessment but there was no signposting as to how to do this. Fire Risk Assessment providers BAFE began a long campaign to change the situation. It was also very apparent that, surprisingly, many Duty Holders had no idea as to their legal responsibilities. Many businesses simply did not know that they were required to have a Fire Risk Assessment let alone how to carry it out or whom to ask to do so. BAFE was able to provide part of the answer by discussing its SP205 Third Party Certification scheme for Fire Risk Assessment providers (BAFE SP205 Life Safety Fire Risk Assessment), as well as other Third Party Certification available covering Fire Risk Assessment. After rounds of meetings official thinking began to change. Several Parliamentary Questions and a debate, led by Michael McMahon MSP on the tenth anniversary of the Rose Park fire in his constituency, triggered a review of the Act by the Regulatory Reform Group set up by the Scottish Government to look at the effectiveness of regulations. Need For properly qualified people By 2016 fire service colleagues and civil servants were on board to a considerable degree Tony Maskens was invited to join the relevant RRG committee and with the help of fire industry colleagues, was able to craft the recommendations in a way which emphasised the need for properly qualified/certificated people to work in the field of fire safety. By 2016 fire service colleagues and civil servants were on board to a considerable degree. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's website was altered to signpost Duty Holders to Third Party Certificated Fire Risk Assessors. BAFE's SP205 scheme and others were clearly identified to enable Duty Holders to have comfort that what they were paying for was fit for purpose. Subsequently the Scottish fire law website was also altered. Moreover, strong references have been provided in Scottish Government Guidance issued for various types of premises in Scotland. Fire safety in high rise domestic properties Third Party Certification of Fire Risk Assessors is recommended for example in guidance on fire safety in sleeping accommodation. Now partly in response to the Grenfell tragedy, it is in guidance on fire safety in high rise domestic properties also. BAFE is not sitting back. Progress has indeed been made and the position that existed five or six years ago has been markedly improved. Nevertheless, there is a need for Scottish Government to actively promote an awareness scheme amongst Duty Holders - especially for small or medium-sized businesses located in complicated properties. As BAFE's Chairman Douglas Barnett has warned, awareness raising of the importance of a proper, professional Fire Risk Assessment in hotels and overnight accommodation is critical. Unwanted fire alarm signals What is even worse is that many of the UFAS calls originate in public sector premises BAFE continues to say that compulsory qualifications/certification may well be necessary in key types of premises if there is not a marked improvement in the quality of Fire Risk Assessments in the months ahead. BAFE's work in Scotland is not limited to Fire Risk Assessment. Unwanted fire alarm signals (UFAS) are causing serious problems as in the rest of the UK. Astonishingly in some areas of the country, over 50% of monthly call outs for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service are as a result of UFAS problems. This not only wastes precious resources but also unnecessarily puts emergency services personnel at risk and costs the organisations in whose premises the false alarm was raised a great deal of lost productivity. What is even worse is that many of the UFAS calls originate in public sector premises. In certain parts of Scotland, the NHS is the main culprit, in others, local councils' education establishments. Permitting quality levels of compliance BAFE has continuously stressed the value of Third Party Certification of installed systems and continues to propose measures to ensure the competence of the workforce as well as practical steps (such as inexpensive covers for emergency buttons to prevent accidental activation). BAFE's work has attracted the interest of MSPs and we intend to repeat a reception in the Scottish Parliament, as the last one in 2017 was well attended and received. Clarity of purpose and persistence is paying off, but it's all meant to protect the public from injury and death and to promote the value for specifiers and end users to procure their fire safety and protection services from Third Party Certificated contractors. Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, comments: “BAFE are pleased about the continued development of Third Party Certification being made in Scotland. The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have been very accommodating to listen and develop their guidance in the interest of competent assistance to permit quality levels of compliance to The Fire (Scotland) Act. We hope to continue this dialogue moving into the next decade to create a Scotland safer from fire.”
BAFE launches a new scheme to assess the competency of dry riser/wet riser service and maintenance providers. With over 12 months in development including a public consultation, BAFE have worked with industry experts to establish robust criteria to assess and determine evidence of a provider’s competency to deliver maintenance of dry and wet risers/falling installations. Dry And Wet Riser Installations The BAFE Competency of Organizations for the Service & Maintenance of Dry and Wet Riser/Falling Installations (SP105) Scheme is the first of its kind to assess competency to deliver this service. Chris Auger, Head of Schemes – BAFE, said: It’s crucial that BAFE represent the best levels of quality for the fire safety industry to achieve" “It’s crucial that BAFE represent the best levels of quality for the fire safety industry to achieve. There are possibly thousands of dry and wet riser installations nationwide and we acted on the fact that a method of determining a provider’s competency to deliver this important service was required. I am very happy to say we have delivered this to the industry, and I am confident this is a crucial step forward in the current climate of fire safety competence.” Maintaining Competency Schemes Stephen Adams, Chief Executive – BAFE, added: “BAFE continues its commitment in developing and maintaining our competency schemes in support of the Responsible Person [Duty Holder/end users] and specifiers of fire safety services.” “The new SP105 Scheme demonstrates this, offering a way to easily source an evidentially competent provider for wet and dry riser maintenance – an area I’m honestly surprised the industry has not demanded until now.” Further information regarding the BAFE Competency of Organizations for the Service & Maintenance of Dry and Wet Riser/Falling Installations (SP105) Scheme can be found on the BAFE website.
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."