Fire Sector Federation acknowledges frustration at progress to prevent future fires like Grenfell Tower

Speaking at the Firex International event Fire Sector Federation Chairman Michael Harper welcomed the progress made whilst expressing the frustration professionals and residents have concerning the lack of positive actions taken to stop another catastrophic fire

  • Fire Sector Federation Chairman Michael Harper recognises second Grenfell Tower Fire anniversary calling for “action”
  • A “refresh and renewal of efforts” is needed he says to stop another Grenfell Tower fire happening again.
  • Accepting a lot of good preparatory work has been done and is underway within industry, public services and government he demands more speed and practical actions to increase fire safety

 

Introducing a lively debate on Building a Safer Future at the Firex International event held on June 18, 2019 in the ExCel centre in London, Michael Harper, who became the Federation’s Chairman last year, welcomed the progress made whilst expressing the frustration professionals and residents have concerning the lack of positive actions taken to stop another catastrophic fire.

 

 

Fire Sector Federation Chairman Michael Harper

 

He told the audience of well over 100 that the Fire Sector Federation (FSF) along with many others inside and outside government had been trying to address the myriad of issues in a building system that so clearly failed, while also trying to identify the products that can and cannot be used in circumstances like high-rise or high-risk buildings. Observing “this has not been an easy or indeed fast task, and in fact it has at times been frustrating and painfully slow”, he added the caveat that “it does of course have to be thorough and meticulous”.

Part recalling Churchill’s “this may be the end of the beginning” Michael Harper also emphasised the clear wish to see the public inquiry move quickly into its investigative second phase and for the government’s current building safety consultation to bring into fruition the “bedrock change” of a better building control system. One that “chased down the whole culture and competency of a construction industry that had somehow become complacent if not, in some cases, positively indifferent about fire safety”.

Outlining that the Federation had joined with many others to implement 100 per cent of Dame Judith Hackitt’s final report to stop cherry picking or conversely avoid the “too difficult” issues and very recently had also backed the Inside Housing campaign to have public finance allocated to assist private tenants remove the cladding from their buildings, Michael pointed out this was no sudden call to action.

Indeed, for a number of years FSF members had, he said, argued for a review of building regulations; pressed the case for defining competency; suggested strongly that third party installers offer assured quality; promoted sprinklers and alarms to protect the vulnerable; and argued for better building protection. And this was not because of vested commercial interest but because all FSF members share a common commitment to improve fire safety in the UK.

Organisations like FSF often had a difficult task in bringing the diverse views of their members together, but he closed his comments by saying he was pleased that on many issues that common commitment had allowed FSF to agree “a common denominator” position in a number of fire safety concerns.

Immediately after the introduction to Building a Safer Future a panel of FSF lead officers addressed issues relating to fire strategy, competency, active and passive fire protection. The concern that two years after Grenfell little change had actually happened in regulation, products and practices was raised and debated. The underlying belief that few people really understood fire from a risk perspective, knew how to recognise companies and people who were competent and third party assured, and were unprepared to support a socially responsible industry simply because it cost more to have that quality, were all explored by the panel and their questioners.

www.firesectorfederation.co.uk


Institution of Fire Engineers announces new CEO

IFE Chairman Grant Lupton reports on the recent appointment

Former London Fire Brigade Deputy Commissioner Roy Bishop has been appointed Acting Chief Executive of the IFE.

The Board of Directors of the Institution of Fire Engineers have announced that they have appointed Roy Bishop as Acting Chief Executive following the resignation of the previous Chief Executive. Roy was formerly Deputy Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade and a Past International President of the Institution.

 

 

Former London Fire Brigade Deputy Commissioner Roy Bishop

 

Roy will ensure that the current growth of members and interest in the Institution continues unabated, given there is greatly increased interest in professional competence and standards post the Grenfell tragedy.

The IFE is a global professional membership body of fire experts striving to build a safer society. As a registered charity founded in 1918, the IFE assesses knowledge of fire and professional experience, awarding internationally recognised membership grades and fire-related qualifications. The IFE delivers over 6,000 exams annually which are recognised in the UK and internationally. Managed for fire professionals by fire professionals, the IFE aims to promote, encourage and improve the science, practice and professionalism of fire engineering.

For further information about the IFE visit the website: www.ife.org.uk; or for enquiries email: marketing@ife.org.uk


Fire Risk Assessment Scheme revision released

BAFE, the independent register of quality fire safety service providers, reports on releasing the revised Scheme Document for their Fire Risk Assessment Scheme (BAFE SP205)

Following a thorough review process and a five week public consultation period, BAFE has launched the revised document for fire risk assessment providers. A major point of the review was to maintain the robust certification process whilst acknowledging the large number of sole traders and in-house fire safety teams looking to gain this independent evidence of their competency.

With assessments delivered via UKAS Accredited Certification Bodies NSI and SSAIB, BAFE, remains fiercely confident that the SP205 scheme continues to represent the best measures of competency in providing the vital service of fire risk assessment.

Stephen Adams, BAFE Chief Executive, said: “After the Lakanal House fire in July 2009, BAFE and other organisations were asked by government to provide a competency scheme for fire risk assessments – which we delivered in 2012. This major review reflects our ongoing commitment to quality and safety regarding the importance of a fire risk assessors competency to perform this task in the interest first and foremost of life safety. As the Hackitt Review groups reach their conclusions we will continue to review this scheme against new requirements that arise.”

Notable changes to the BAFE SP205 Scheme Document include:

  • Revised, clearer management system requirements for sole traders with guidance.
  • A specific sole trader application process, acknowledging current membership status to a professional trade body and/or current certification.
  • All sub-contractors must be third party certificated (by a UKAS accredited third party certification body) in their own right.
  • Enhanced report monitoring for sole traders.

 

For further information on the BAFE SP205 Scheme and to view the new version of the Scheme Document, visit the BAFE website: www.bafe.org.uk


Building regulations challenge two years on from Grenfell

The Fire Protection Association reports on renewing its call that government changes to building regulations do not go far enough

The Fire Protection Association, the UK’s national fire safety organisation, is highlighting that if we want to prevent another Grenfell Tower tragedy, it is time for some immediate change. The Fire Protection Association says the solution should be:

  • Third party certification – we welcome the acknowledgement of the value of independently verified products, but believe this assurance should be mandated and extend to the installers of products and the risk assessors
  • Extending the ban on combustibles to all high-risk buildings regardless of height – not just buildings over 18 metres
  • Ban single staircases in building in excess of 18m – to offer both an entrance and exit staircase
  • Mandatory installation of multi-sensor detection for all high-risk occupancies – a fire detector that monitors a number of potential dangers, including smoke, heat, carbon-monoxide.

Jonathan O’Neill, Managing Director, Fire Protection Association, commented: “The Fire Protection Association supports a total ban on combustible building materials. We also want a ban on single staircases in all tall buildings, because in the event of a fire you need at least one staircase for people to be able to evacuate the building, and a second staircase for the fire and rescue services for entry.

“Our support of third-party certification, to provide independent verification of building regulations services, as well as the mandatory installation of multi sensor detectors (that can detect several sources, such as heat, smoke and carbon monoxide) is also a key consideration. There is clearly much that still needs to be done, so we are keen to see change now – and will help in any way we can to ensure that we never again experience a tragedy on the scale we witnessed at Grenfell.”

www.thefpa.co.uk


Fire protection workshops at Firex

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection report on hosting a series of practical workshops and lunchtime lectures at Firex International on June 18-20 at ExCeL London

The workshops and lectures were offered in a special presentation area within the ASFP Passive Fire Protection Zone. The focus for each day was on a different aspect of construction, with two ASFP practical workshops delivered by the sssociation and its members. Day one was on planning passive fire protection for new buildings, day two covered passive fire protection considerations in refurbishment projects, and day three feature passive fire protection considerations in occupied buildings.

On June 19, Andrew Alexander, Head of Strategic Policy, Oversight and Risk Strategy Division, Building Safety Portfolio, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, provided an overview of the government consultation on fire safety legislation

The ASFP Passive Fire Protection Zone aimed to help visitors to gain a greater understanding of the essential role of passive fire protection within today’s built environment and offered advice for all involved from designers, specifiers and contractors, to building owners, risk assessors and facilities managers. It brought together in one location a number of ASFP member companies, representing a cross section of the passive fire protection sector.


Fire Sector Federation continues its remit to shape the future of UK fire policy

Business moved forward in a purposeful way at the Fire Sector Federation’s recent annual general meeting, which took place in the offices of the Association of British Insurers at One America Square, London

  • Fire Sector Federation steps up advocacy of Third Party Certification to demonstrate competency
  • It revitalises relationships and presents a clear and focused representation on behalf of Federation members
  • Chairman Michael Harper says that progress has been made in recent months but much remains to be done

 The Fire Sector Federation’s (FSF) objectives are to establish efficiency in the running of its business as mandated by members and within budget, inform communities internally and externally of FSF aims, review and revitalise external relationships, create transparent and effective working structures and achieve clear focused representation on behalf of its members.

The Board of Directors were elected and agreed as Michael Harper (Chairman), Dennis Davis (Executive Officer and Competency), Jonathan O’Neill (Policy and Strategy), Tom Roche (Active Protection), Niall Rowan (Passive Protection) and Andrew Lynch (Communications).

Ronnie King announced he was standing down as Treasurer due to the additional demands now arising from greater Parliamentary engagement linked to the Grenfell public inquiry. He was warmly thanked by members and a welcome was extended to Dave Russell, the interim Treasurer.

Over the past year the FSF has re-established discussions with the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), Home Office, Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and other strategic influencers.

Jonathan O’Neill, Managing Director of the Fire Protection Association, introduced a discussion on the advice received from David Stotesbury QC concerning Third Party Certification and the role this might play as statutory defence, accepting always that it is the courts that determined any ultimate outcome. The advice appeared to support the FSF strategy that Third Party Certification is an important part of demonstrating responsible industry and achieving a more secure and safe environment.

This advice has been shared with NFCC, MHCLG and Home Office and discussion meetings are to be scheduled. Federation members were supportive of the Third Party Certification policy and await further briefings.

In summary, Michael Harper said that “progress has been made” by the Fire Sector Federation, but “much remains to be done”.

After the AGM the FSF was addressed by Chandru Dissanayeke from MHCLG. He explained the logic and approach adopted to take forward the government’s Building Safety Programme. He also talked about the progress that had been made with groups looking at competency, regulations, conformity assessment and early adoption – and reminded FSF members that over £600 million of public funds had been allocated to remedial improvements related to ACM cladding. Chandru answered multiple questions and was thanked for his openness, participation and mutual support for continued dialogue.


BSI releases full revision of standard for fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic buildings

BSI reports on publishing the revised BS 5839-6:2019 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings – a code of practice for the design, commissioning, installation and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises

In the UK, around 80 per cent of all fire deaths and injuries occur in domestic premises, totalling over 300 deaths and around 9,000 related injuries each year. Fire detection and fire alarm systems are proven to substantially reduce the risk of death or serious injury from fire. The fire fatality rate is an estimated two to three times higher when no smoke detector is present and functioning than in those premises with adequate installations.

BSI, the business improvement company, has recently published the revised BS 5839-6:2019 Fire detection and fire alarm systems for buildings – a code of practice for the design, commissioning, installation and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises1. It provides the latest recommendations for fire detection and fire alarm systems in both new and existing domestic premises in order to make them safer to live in.

The main revisions include:

  • Re-grading, and revision of statistics and recommendations
  • Updating guidance to take all other standards in the BS 5839 series into account
  • New table on testing and servicing by grade of alarm system
  • New recommendations for ensuring alarm signal transmission required within social care and sheltered housing settings function accordingly
  • Increased protection in sheltered housing and supported housing
  • New recommendation that communal fire alarm systems should not normally be installed in purpose built blocks of flats.

Ant Burd, Head of Built Environment at BSI, said: “Fires in the home are one of the biggest threats occupants can face and therefore fire detection and alarm systems are a crucial fire safety component in helping make sure people can get out of their home safely. BS 5839-6 provides detailed guidance on the design and specification of fire detection and alarm systems in domestic and residential properties.”

The standard is aimed at architects, engineers and other building professionals, enforcing authorities, installers and others responsible for implementing fire precautions in domestic premises. It is not intended for occupiers, for whom government advice is published. The standard does provide recommendations for simple systems that may be installed by non-specialist installers.