Speakers representing the fire service, primary contractors and the export sector provided welcome recognition of the vital role played by passive fire protection in maintaining life safety and property protection at the Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP) Annual General Meeting, held in the Cabinet War Rooms in London, on 6 July.
ASFP Chairman Nigel Morrey welcomed delegates to the event with an overview of the Association's activities: "Over the last year, the ASFP has been active on many fronts; commercially, technically and politically. We have released essential new guidance and developed a strong profile in the UK and Ireland, as well as in other parts of the world."
Neil Gibbins, QFSM, FIFireE, Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and the Chief Fire Officers' Association Lead for Business and Community Safety Support, advised that, with more Government-led legislation and guidance unlikely and increased localism expected, greater cross-sector collaboration is necessary.
"It is now time for the fire sector to work together in partnership to improve life safety and economic sustainability in the UK. Co-regulation involving the fire service, the fire sector and business working together is the only way forward," he declared.
Praising the ASFP for releasing its Guide to Inspecting Passive Fire Protection for Risk Assessors, he called for increased sharing of data and intelligence to enable the development of suitable guidance, standards and competency frameworks.
Meanwhile Leigh Omer, Procurement Manager and Ross Wilson, Project Manager from primary contractor Laing O'Rourke explained how the company is working with its project teams and supply chain to raise the profile for passive fire protection, making it a priority across its business.
The company has recognised the importance of early engagement with passive fire protection contractors and is reinforcing the use of third party certificated products and installers on all its projects. It has developed a firestopping guidance document and a series of training sessions for its management teams, while also enhancing its procurement strategy for this critical element of works.
Kevin Towler, UKTI Standards Envoy outlined the challenges faced by the UK fire sector within the Middle East and the initiatives now being taken, including a Technical Mission to the Gulf States later in the year, led by Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, Sir Ken Knight.
ASFP CEO Wilf Butcher commented on the success of the event and welcomed the opportunity for greater collaboration with other key industry bodies: "Face to face communication is now an essential element in how the ASFP develops its aims and objectives. The Association has a responsibility to ensure that the voice of the passive fire protection sector is clearly articulated and that the sector offers strategic guidance to the wider built environment.
"The ASFP will continue to maintain a proactive role with other key industry associated bodies and looks forward to working with all to promote continuous improvement in all aspects of passive fire protection to ensure increased business and community resilience."