Open for business
The Fire Protection Association reports on being officially accredited by UKAS to carry out BS 8414 testing – the effectiveness of external cladding on buildings
In response to the Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, cladding testing has now become of paramount importance. Currently, the UK has few facilities for this test to be conducted and even when a slot is available it can take months to receive results – the vital evidence needed to satisfy Building Control.
The Fire Protection Association’s easily accessible sites at Moreton‐in‐Marsh and Blockley in Gloucestershire now offer a comprehensive range of testing facilities, providing results that often exceed legislative guidelines – and today has received accreditation from UKAS to carry out the BS8414 tests.
Fire Protection Association Managing Director Jonathan O’Neill said: “We’re proud to announce that the Fire Protection Association is now accredited by UKAS to carry out BS8414 testing. We have been instrumental in guiding legislation in the pursuit of thorough cladding testing and use of non‐combustible materials, so this accreditation is vital to highlight our expertise. Our experienced laboratory staff are able to guide our customers through the testing process, while providing independent and impartial results.”
The Fire Protection Association has built two rigs for commercial 8414 testing, which evaluates the effectiveness against fire of external cladding on buildings. These can test Part 1 (cladding attached to a concrete wall) and Part 2 (cladding attached directly to a steel structure). We also offer a half sized rig to test bespoke elements surrounding a cladding test, for example the addition of a window or other opening to more closely replicate a real‐life situation.
Jonathan O’Neill continues: “As we have only just received accreditation we are able to offer availability for urgent testing requirements at competitive prices, as the Fire Protection Association is a not for profit organisation. We also pride ourselves on fast reporting turnaround times, usually providing the 8414 report within two weeks of testing.”
Association backs government plans for electrical safety in private rented sector
Electrotechnical trade body ECA supports the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government in the move for mandated five-yearly electrical checks
Following the government’s response to a public consultation on electrical safety in the private rented sector (PRS), the ECA has responded to the main conclusions.
ECA Director of Technical Steve Martin commented: “ECA has long argued for regular electrical checks to take place in privately rented homes. It is vital that tenants feel safe wherever they live, and that landlords are provided with a cost-effective and practical way forward, which these proposals deliver.
“An important test will lie in the enforcement regime, and it is vital that those with oversight, such as councils, have the tools they need to ensure landlords follow the law. It is now key that the government puts these plans into law at the nearest opportunity.”
Some of the main conclusions set out in the government’s response include:
- Introducing legislation to make five-yearly electrical safety checks mandatory
- Producing new guidance for landlords that demonstrates the levels of qualification and competence required to carry out electrical inspections
- A commitment to ensuring the regulations are properly enforced and that there are real penalties for failing to comply.
ECA Director of Employment and Skills, Andrew Eldred, added: “The government’s response represents a pragmatic, practical approach that will ensure that businesses with a properly qualified and skilled workforce who follow good industry practice can deliver this vital work.
“ECA backs government plans to provide new guidance to landlords that will put qualifications at the heart of proving the competency of those carrying out the work.”
The government’s response comes after an initial consultation was held from February to April 2018, to which ECA responded. In July 2018, government announced that regulations would be introduced requiring private landlords to carry out electrical safety checks every five years.
The MHCLG announcement this week on electrical checks comes just weeks after the government responded to the Hackitt Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. The government backed all of the recommendations in the review, including the need for greater regulation, and clearer standards and guidance.
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire noted at the time: “The construction and fire safety industries are leading work to improve levels of competence – we look forward to a robust proposal that will bring coherence to the competence of all those working on buildings in scope of the new regime.”
Expert advice and latest fire protection products at FIM Expo
Organisers report on FIM Expo’s return to the Madejski Stadium, home of Reading Football Club, on April 3
FIM Expo is an excellent opportunity to get hands-on product demonstrations, have in-depth technical discussions, and compare products between manufacturers – all whilst in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere of a local expo.
Organised by the Fire Industry Association (FIA), FIM Expo features many of the UK’s leading fire detection and alarm manufacturers and focuses on showcasing the latest products and developments in this sector of the industry.
The FIA will also be hosting two free seminars at the Expo. One will outline the changes on BS 5839-1:2017 (the standard for fire detection and alarms) and the second one will focus on the need for competency and qualifications and what this means for the future. Both seminars are CPD accredited and free to attend.
With a wide range of exhibitors confirmed so far, FIM Expo is for anyone working in this area, whether as an installer or maintainer of fire detection and alarm systems, a manager of such systems in commercial premises or as an architect or person specifying what type of fire protection systems should be installed in a building.
“We are absolutely delighted to present FIM Expo,” said Kat Schabowska, the Event Co-ordinator. “It’s a fantastic place for like-minded individuals to meet, exchange ideas, network, and learn more about new products from a wide range of manufacturers. New products are being released onto the market all the time and this is a great way to come and see them first-hand and discuss how these new products might work for you.”
This year, the Fire Industry Association will also have a stand, so that those interested can meet the Membership Manager and enquire about the benefits of FIA membership (which includes discounts on fire protection training and qualifications, and the possibility of a stand at FIM Expo).
With an average of 25 exhibitors over the last few years, FIM Expo has grown to become the best local expo for the fire industry. To see a full exhibitor list, visit: www.fim-expo.com
FIM Expo is open from 0830 to 1430 on April 3 and is free to attend. Parking and refreshments are also available free of charge, including a buffet. To register visit: www.fia.uk.com and click on Events.
Sprinkler system not to blame
Dr James L D Glockling, Technical Director at the Fire Protection Association, comments on the Ocado warehouse fire, stating that it should not detract from the unrivalled reputation of sprinkler systems, but may ask questions of whether we are reaching the limit of what can be reasonably protected
The Ocado warehouse fire is a stark reminder of the instantaneous impact that fire can have on a major business, its operations, and share price. Automated warehousing facilities present significant fire protection challenges as a result of very high storage densities, limited access, electronic conveyancing systems, high racking, and cold storage requirements.
With (unconfirmed) information emerging that the Ocado warehouse was sprinkler protected, this sad event will no doubt prompt a thorough investigation as to the circumstances that might have led to the protection system being overwhelmed. Sprinkler system failures are very rare events, they are specifically designed to offer levels of resilience far in excess of any other suppression technology and millions are spent every year around the world ensuring that installation and design rules keep abreast with modern day challenges and storage methods.
Although the majority of sprinkler operations result in a fire being extinguished, their design remit is to stop the development of a fire, hold it at a manageable size, and support fire and rescue service intervention (ensuring structural integrity of the building and supporting tenable conditions) for a predefined period of time until it is manually extinguished by them. With the increasing size of buildings, complexity of internal structures limiting access within the building, and the potential for fire seats (where the fire starts) to be at some height, there may need to be a need to review just how effective fire and rescue services can be expected to be within the sprinkler system design time frame.
That said, the design of any sprinkler system needs to be accompanied by strict control of the environment it is designed to protect. Any holistic design requires a passive envelope to work within and control over key parameters that might act to form sustained ignition sources or spread fire, requiring isolation of power, heat, energy systems, and conveyancing systems to name but a few. Failure of any one of these supporting systems could contribute to creating conditions that the sprinkler system was never designed to cope with.
It is the Fire Protection Association’s belief that this isolated event should not detract from the unrivalled reputation sprinkler systems have for performance and for the enormous contribution they make to the protection of the UK’s business economy, and that we learn from whatever this teaches us to make future systems better still. The UK has the laxest mandated requirements for the protection of the commercial estate from fire in Europe – allowing enormous unprotected compartment sizes. Subject to the findings of any investigation, perhaps now might be the time to review this so that the Fire and Rescue Service response and installed protection systems can be designed with knowledge of an upper limit by the constraining of building proportions and compartment size to a level that assures protection performance and FRS response can work in harmony as design demands. Might it be that we are finding the limit of what can be reasonably protected?
Fire Safety Event to showcase live demonstrations
Western Business Events report on the exhibition and seminar programme for this year’s Fire Safety Event
Now in its third year, the Fire Safety Event features a powerful combination of education, networking and business support designed to help organisations maintain the very highest standards of fire safety management.
Visitors will be able to see the latest products and receive hands-on advice from 40 plus major fire safety brands exhibiting at the event. Current exhibitors include: Checkmate Fire Solutions Ltd, FFE Limited, Fike Safety Technology Ltd, FirePro UK Ltd, Klaxon, Turner & Townsend, FireClass, WAGNER UK Ltd, and Xtralis UK Ltd and many more. The Fire Safety Event 2019 is pleased to welcome back many of its key partners and associations who have supported the exhibitions in previous years, as well as the Fire Safety North and Fire Safety Scotland editions.
Many exhibitors will also be hosting dynamic, specialist demonstrations on their stands, including controlled live explosions conducted by leading safety storage cabinet manufacturer Asecos (stand FS220) to help demonstrate the robustness of their chemical storage cabinets. Kingspan will also demonstrate a live burn test on it insulated panel core. Helen Massay, Kingspan Marketing Manager, UK and Ireland, comments: “Safety is paramount and understanding how the fire performance of building products test as assembled systems is key. With an assembled group of insurers, risk assessors and health and safety professionals this is the event to engage with these stakeholders and ensure this group can witness first-hand the fire performance of Kingspan products.”
FirePro UK are the master distributor for UK and Ireland for the FirePro fire suppression product. Their mobile showroom facility will be in the hall (stand FS140) and between 1000 and 1600 will be delivering a free presentation detailing why the FirePro product is unique and completely versatile to protecting numerous risk types. The company will also offer case studies of completed installations, including successful fire activations resulting in a fire being extinguished before the arrival of fire and rescue services. Advanced will also provide a live demonstration on how to ensure your fire alarms are reliable and to prevent unwanted alarms. The demo will take place in the entrance to the Fire Safety Keynote Theatre at the end of each session in that theatre.
Alongside the exhibition itself, the free seminar programme covers critical topics in fire safety management today and features a mix of case study presentations, thought-provoking debates and legal updates all presented by government officials, lawyers, and leading industry professionals. Among the speakers at this year’s event is Dame Judith Hackitt, author of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety following the Grenfell Tower fire, the recommendations of which are due to be implemented by the government in full. Also featured in the seminar programme is Sal Cassano, former Fire Commissioner of New York Fire Department, a decorated firefighter who has been recognised worldwide for his development of NYFD after the 9/11 attacks.
The Fire Safety event takes place from April 9-11 at the NEC, Birmingham. Co-located with the Security Event, the Health and Safety Event and the Facilities Event, this year’s exhibition is a must-attend for anyone who has a focus on improving life safety, business continuity and business protection for their organisation.
UK Fire Association celebrates tenth anniversary
February 2019 marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of the UK Fire Association (UK-FA), created to support small and medium sized fire prevention and protection companies across the UK
To mark the occasion the organisation has created a subtly updated anniversary logo and invested in a new website – www.UK-FA.org – which gives both trade association members and consumers an easy to navigate, up-to-date platform to search for advice, regulations and members who can offer fire safety services, education and training.
Alan Palmer, founding Director and UK-FA Secretary, told current members: “This project has taken a while to come to fruition as we all juggle our professional roles with delivering and developing the UK-FA.” He continued: “I am incredibly proud of the UK-FA and this website is a tool that can make our members more accessible to consumers and each other, when looking for potential partners, using a fantastic new member’s directory.”
Treasurer and founding Director Tom Law continued: “We now have over 200 members across all regions of the UK and this online platform is vital to link them together and bring them to the forefront of consumer who, often in an emergency, are looking for fire safety solutions. The new website creates the opportunity for members to take control of their directory listing and to undertake automatic membership renewal and meeting bookings. This makes our administration more efficient which can only be good for members as we focus on delivering technical support and advice.”
Andrew Berry, UK-FA Chairman, believes the new website will attract other small and medium sized companies to join and create a more interactive and vibrant association for the next ten years and beyond.
For more information on the UK-FA visit: www.uk-fa.org
Fire prevention specialist announces new directors
Aico Ltd, residential fire and carbon monoxide alarms specialists, report on the appointment of two long standing members to new director positions within the company
We are pleased to announce the promotion of two long standing members to new director positions within the company. Aico prides itself on promoting from within and these appointments follow a long line of similar actions.
James Cavan has been promoted to the role of Sales Director. James first joined Aico in September 1997 as an Area Sales Representative progressing to National Sales Manager before this latest move. During James’ time at Aico he has invested in his personal development and attained a Level 9 Professional Development Award in SCQF and in October 2014 he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business and Enterprise from Napier University, Edinburgh.
Matthew Small first joined Aico in 1999 as a Warehouse Operative and, after a series of promotions over the last 20 years, has now been promoted as Aico’s Commercial and Financial Director. Matthew has also invested in his personal development and is a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians , has completed the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Management Accounting.
Neal Hooper, Aico Managing Director, comments: “I would firstly like to congratulate James and Matthew upon their promotions. Their attitude, commitment and dedication to Aico has been exemplary. We have a passion for developing people, including our current work with an external company, and they are living proof that this culture provides opportunities. Whether it is through coaching for all, seven current apprenticeships or a home grown management team, people are our focus.”
As part of their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, Aico works with schools and colleges via careers days and assemblies to help promote the various job roles available within the fire and CO industry and the importance of having the right attitude and commitment to succeed in your chosen career path.
Matthew Small feels that this is a vital message to relay to students. “Having worked with students in our local schools and colleges over the last year and having been involved with helping students to raise their aspirations within Shropshire, I feel it is important to point out that I started working at Aico as an Apprentice within the Warehouse Team. Through a combination of hard work and investment by my employer I was able to develop and reach the position of Director within a company that I care deeply about.”
For more information visit: www.aico.co.uk
Video addresses third party certification
BAFE, the independent register of quality fire safety service providers, reports on releasing a new video promoting third party certification
The video, What is Third Party Certification? is available either on the BAFE website or BAFE YouTube Channel and has been created to act as an educational tool for the end user audience.
After the devastating Grenfell Tower fire and following the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety by Dame Judith Hackitt, there has been an increased focus upon acting on fire safety responsibilities ‘so far as reasonably practicable’. This emphasises the responsibility of the person appointed for fire safety within a building and actions they can take to minimise fire risk to the best of their ability in accordance with national fire safety legislation and government guidance.
Frazer Wisniewski, BAFE Marketing Manager, comments: “With the growing attention the fire industry has been understandably receiving, it is important to educate this wider audience on the importance of third party certification. With a greater understanding, we aim to help drive demand for third party certificated fire safety service providers. Until there is a clear legislative definition of competency for these specific services, we believe that UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification is the best independent evidence of competency within the fire safetyindustry.”
Stephen Adams, BAFE Chief Executive, added: “First and foremost we encourage people to specify UKAS Accredited Third Party Certificated providers in the interest of life safety. We anticipate a much stronger emphasis on competency by government and the fire and rescue services in the future landscape and third party certification will be a key element of this.”
Third party certificated companies must successfully complete stringent and regular assessments to ensure they can suitably perform specific services. By specifying this certification as a requirement demonstrates you have taken constructive action to find a competent provider.
To view the video and for further information on UKAS Accredited Third Party Certification visit: www.bafe.org.uk/what-is-third-party-certification
Fire safety contractors sought to help landlords meet updated obligations post-Grenfell
Specialist fire safety and building compliance contractors across Scotland are being invited to apply to become ‘preferred contractors’. This is part of a newly launched Dynamic Purchasing System. It is designed to help registered social landlords meet new higher standards to protect properties from smoke and fire, introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire
The new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) is being managed by PfH Scotland, specialist providers of procurement services to the housing sector and jointly owned by HouseMark, the National Housing Federation and the Chartered Institute of Housing. It will be available for use by the growing number of Scottish social landlords that are PfH Scotland members to help streamline the process for procuring a variety of fire safety and other specialist safety works.
As for other procurement solutions recently announced by PfH Scotland, the new DPS has been specifically designed to encourage SME participation by creating separate ‘preferred contractors’ lists covering six individual regions of Scotland.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017, the Scottish Government established a Ministerial Working Group on Building and Fire Safety to review existing building and fire safety regulatory frameworks in Scotland. As part of this work, a public consultation on fire and smoke alarms was launched. In March last year, Scottish Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced plans to extend the existing standard for protection from smoke and fire required in private rented housing to all tenures of housing via an amendment to the 1987 Housing (Scotland) Act.
For registered social landlords (RSLs), the new standard will necessitate the installation in all social rented properties of at least one smoke alarm in the room most frequently used, at least one smoke alarm in spaces such as hallways and landings and at least one heat alarm in every kitchen. The new standard also specifies a maximum age of ten years for all alarms and requires all homes to be fitted with a carbon monoxide detector.
More recently, the Scottish Government has also announced plans to make the installation of sprinkler systems compulsory in all new domestic buildings above four storeys in height. At a UK level, the applicable British Standards governing fire doors are also expected to be updated or replaced, introducing a requirement for two-way compliance.
PfH Scotland’s new DPS for compliance services is specifically intended to help RSL’s procure the specialist fire safety services they will need to comply with the amended 1987 Housing (Scotland) Act and other stricter fire safety provisions introduced in response to the Grenfell Tower fire. But it will also offer access to a range of other specialist health and safety compliance services such as electrical testing, surveying, testing and removal of asbestos, installation and servicing of lifts, radon testing, testing and treatment of legionella and the treatment of invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed.
Contractors can register their interest in the new compliance services DPS via PfH Scotland’s electronic procurement portal. The DPS will remain open for contractors to join for a period of five years. Any contractor fulfilling the stipulated pre-qualification criteria will automatically have the opportunity to tender for any contracts subsequently procured through the DPS in whichever category and region or regions they have expressed an interest in working. Tender opportunities via the DPS will be advertised to approved DPS suppliers from the end of February 2019.
Commenting on the newly launched DPS for compliance services, PfH Scotland Head of Operations Stephen Herriot said: “The devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in June last year has precipitated some far-reaching policy changes concerning the protection of homes from smoke and fire. As part of these changes, registered social landlords will now have to ensure that their properties meet reinforced standards governing the installation of heat and smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
“At the same time, as RSL’s seek to modernise their housing stock to meet increasingly stringent standards for quality and energy efficiency, there is a growing need for specialist contractors to deal promptly and safely with other factors with significant health and safety implications. These include safe removal of asbestos, treatment and prevention of legionella, electrical testing of equipment, installation and servicing of lifts, testing for radon and dealing with invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed. PfH Scotland’s new Dynamic Purchasing System is designed to help RSL’s achieve compliance with the latest health and safety standards in all these areas as straightforwardly and cost-effectively as they can.
“We are now calling for specialist contractors throughout Scotland to put themselves forward for the opportunity to be considered for significant new work across all of these categories.
“As our membership of RSL’s located throughout Scotland continues to grow, so too will the opportunities for specialist health and safety contractors to secure new contracts through our newly launched Compliance Services DPS.”