What is the value of a well-protected property?

Iain Cox, Chair of the Business Sprinkler Alliance, reports on the need to better protect our building stock

The past 25 years have seen the construction of a huge number of new buildings. Yet, questions remain regarding fire safety features and strategies within many of these properties. One has to question why fire safety has not been held in the same regard as a buildings design, aesthetics or ‘green’ credentials.

The optimistic belief that a fire “will not happen to me” could explain why businesses are not always considering the real impact of fire and its consequences. They underestimate the direct financial impact on both the property and the business and the time it takes to recover from a fire. This all can have an impact on business value over time. A business property that is well-protected in terms of fire protection and safety will have a far greater intrinsic value, yet the ‘market’ does not seem to value this.

When you look at the value of a property, it is important to think about performance over time. We use metrics, data and evaluations to do this. However, how does this include considering risk and events that may happen, like fire? Compare this to an EPC rating, which is seen as a key indicator of energy efficiency of a building and energy costs. This information has to be provided when a property is sold. The lack of a rating would be questioned and the value of the property is impacted if the information is not provided.

The same is not always true for fire safety; there are no fire safety ratings of buildings. If fire safety information is not available it does not always lead to questions. It should do and this is perhaps a more prominent item for certain buildings today. There are moves afoot for selected buildings to have such information through discussions of items like a Golden Thread. But, this needs to spread to a wider set of buildings. Fundamentally, we need to be asking how the building delivers fire safety and is protected against such events, and where is the information to support this? This should become a valuable piece of information for any owner and similarly have a negative impact on the value if not provided across all buildings.

For example, if one office block has sprinklers, fire alarms, documented maintenance, plans etc and another does not have sprinklers then the sprinkler-protected building is clearly worth more. If nothing else it has more equipment. The value of that equipment can be seen functionally, but it is also an investment in terms of fire safety and protection of the property over time. A sprinkler investment means that if anything goes wrong, then you are likely to have more of that asset left afterwards. A well-protected property therefore has an intrinsic value.

This also raises the question as to the value of the property that has been sprinkler-protected over time. Some would argue that value only comes to pass when you stop something bad happening. The analogy to airbags would be a good example, as you hope you will not ever have to use them. Interestingly, airbags were developed in the early 1950s and while they are a feature of all modern cars, this safety solution is still not a legal requirement – but a car could not receive a suitable safety rating without one.

Today, automatic fire sprinklers are not widely used in the UK partly because the regulatory guidance rarely prescribes their use and partly because even when prescribed they are often ‘value engineered’ out. Yet automatic fire sprinklers prevent large fires because they activate automatically over a fire, controlling or even extinguishing the blaze before the Fire and Rescue Service arrives. They therefore protect the lives of those in the building and the firefighters who attend an incident – but they also prevent significant damage or destruction of a building by fire.

The misconception surrounding the cost of sprinkler systems can be dispelled by looking at the true costs of a building over its lifespan. Some would say that if a fire does not happen, the cost of the sprinkler system has been wasted. However, thinking about airbags, we do not make the same arguments if they are not used during the ownership of a car. Why, for example, deliver a warehouse, factory or school as cheaply as possible but leave out fire safety measures; only to find five years later it is lost completely due to a fire event, resulting in greater costs?

This goes back to a fundamental issue, that owners are perhaps not fully considering the potential for a fire during the life of a building. It is often manifested in not valuing what they own in terms of the potential to replace property and thinking that they are going to recover from a fire a lot quicker than they do. We need to place risk into context and understand the impact, so that what is at stake is understood and planned for appropriately. Clear outcomes in the face of fire can then be defined. An inescapable item is that the inclusion of a sprinkler system can prevent major financial and equipment losses, containing what could be a potential major disaster and ensuring it is only a minor inconvenience.

Fire is indiscriminate and inexplicable, but that does not mean actions cannot be taken to prevent and control it when it occurs. As warehouses and similar industrial buildings are likely to proliferate in the coming years, now is the time to think of how, and why, we should protect these valuable assets which may not be glamorous, but nonetheless are vital as part of the UK’s business infrastructure. Protecting the value of such properties and those who work within them.

For more information about the BSA visit: www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org

Business Sprinkler Alliance

The Business Sprinkler Alliance was established in 2010 and is an alliance of fire safety professionals working to protect UK plc against fire. The BSA aims to highlight the true cost of fire and increase the number of business premises that have automatic fire sprinklers fitted. The BSA is driving a culture change so that sprinklers are understood and accepted as the norm for UK business buildings.

The BSA’s founding members are the National Fire Chiefs’ Council, the European and National Fire Sprinkler Networks, the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association, commercial insurer, FM Global, and the Fire Protection Association.

Economic impacts of fire and fire safety

There is some correlation between fire safety regulation and the incidence of fire, according to new research, reports Fire Safety Correspondent Ron Alalouff

There is a degree correlation between the level of fire safety regulation in each of the four nations across the UK, and the incidence of fire and its effects on people, according to new research commissioned by fire and CO detector manufacturer Aico.

The research, carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, comprises a review of the legal requirements, regulations and standards surrounding fire safety, a statistical analysis of the prevalence of fire, and an impact assessment of fire safety measures.

Regulatory Landscape

Fire safety is a devolved matter, so there is clear divergence in legislation and regulation across the UK’s four nations. Despite this variation, there are some common trends, including a general tightening of fire safety measures across all nations in recent years.

The most pronounced increase in regulation has been in Scotland, where there is now a requirement to have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in all dwellings, while in the other nations of the UK, these are only required under certain types of tenure.

The key findings of the research are:

  • The cost of each fire has fallen by 41.5 per cent in Scotland, compared to 23.2 per cent and 24.4 per cent in England and Wales respectively
  • Significant savings in the total cost of fire have been seen in Scotland. If England saw the same relative reduction in costs as Scotland, this would amount to savings of £243 million a year
  • The aggregate cost of dwelling fires was £1.1 billion in 2019/20 after adjusting for inflation
  • Lower income households are 60 per cent more likely than higher income groups to face serious fire hazards in their homes
  • Of those who have experienced a fire, 18.7 per cent reported psychological trauma, representing almost one million adults
  • People with children under five years’ old are the most likely to have experienced trauma after a fire, amounting to 31.8 per cent of those in this category

While the rate of improvement is highest in Scotland, it comes from a high base of fires. The latest figures for 2019/20 show that Scotland had 894 domestic fires per million inhabitants, compared to 506 and 516 for England and Wales respectively. Although the rate of dwelling fires in Great Britain is lower now than ten years ago, the rate of improvement has slowed over recent years.

The ten local authorities with the highest incidence of fire are all in Scotland. Glasgow has the highest rate at 141.4 dwelling fires per 100,000 inhabitants (2018/19), compared to just 30.3 per 100,000 in Warwickshire, which has the lowest rate.

Across the UK, there were positive correlations between the prevalence of fire in an area and the proportion of social rented housing, people living in fuel poverty, and levels of overall deprivation. Meanwhile, negative correlations were seen when the incidence of fires was compared with the number of dwellings classed as houses, properties that are owner-occupied, and the number of older residents.

Despite the variation in regulation, themes common to all nations included more stringent carbon monoxide and fire safety measures in new build properties. Trends point towards a tightening of fire safety measures, though it remains to be seen whether such tightening has a statistically significant impact on fire incidents, casualties and fatalities.

Contrary to some perceptions, the likelihood of experiencing a fire at home decreases with age. The highest rate of fires was seen among households with a household representative person (HRP) between 16 and 24 years of age, and this rate decreases in progressive age bands until it reaches the over 75s, when it rises slightly. Fires are more prevalent, however, where the HRP suffers from a long-term illness or disability.

Economic and Human Costs

While the cost of fire safety equipment in dwellings stood at £134 million in England, Scotland and Wales in 2019/20, the total cost of dwelling fires amounted to £1.1 billion – a fall from £1.5 billion in 2010/11. The £1.1 billion figure includes the direct costs of fire including deaths (£469 million), injuries (£139 million) and property damage (£393 million), and the indirect costs which include relocation, time off work, insurance excesses and administration costs.

Introducing the research at an event in London, Tina Mistry, Relationships Manager at Aico, said: “The research was commissioned because there were lots of conversations about regulations and fire outcomes, but the economic assessment of fire safety had not really been addressed. We now need to go out and engage with and empower real communities and share these stories.”

This will be done utilising the Housing Safety and Wellbeing Taskforce, which aims to build and maintain relationships with UK-wide partnerships to influence and advocate positive change for safer homes. The taskforce consists of organisations from across the private and public housing sectors seeking to develop solutions to address the safety, wellbeing and sustainability of the UK’s homes.

The Housing Safety and Wellbeing Taskforce seeks to drive change through evidence-based research to call for an enhanced level and standardisation of fire and CO safety regulations across the UK, so that communities are equally protected under the strongest possible terms, regardless of location or property type.

Are we finally learning that fire safety cannot be treated as a burden?

Dennis Davis, Executive Director, Fire Sector Federation, appeals for fire safety to be given priority to address the current imbalance

As the examination of the events that led up to the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire emerge everyone must have become increasingly aware of how the economics of the construction sector, which effectively reduce prevention to a cost equation of controlling fire, has interfered with public safety.

The current UK economic model places the construction sector in the upper quartile of the delivering economic benefits as an employer and consumer of products and services generating wealth and consequently prosperity and that rightly deserves recognition. The difficult part is then balancing other performance expectations within this commercial environment so that achieving those benefits does not compromise other deep principles.

The example of protecting the construction workforce is a good one here as it shows how intervention using controls to reduce unacceptable levels of death and injury has improved worker safety. It is a case where a major health and safety principle was introduced without precluding commercial progress to continue. But there are some concerns the new building safety regime will not reach that level of sophistication as amendments are already being introduced to allow flexibility in roles like building safety management.

Quite how do we change this perverse logic that pervades all our policy and decision-making? Letting it continue is not the outcome that we want; it will simply let us carry on down the old pathway, the one that was seen by Dame Judith Hackett and led to the “race to the bottom”.

We must challenge this in a more fundamental way than before if we really want to stop moving fire safety down the route of stable door legislative upgrades. A repeating cycle that continues down the known route from being happy, content complacent, have a tragedy, say what failed, address that issue, change the system, be happy...

The term we are now using to approach issues of concern is to talk of “proportionality”. It is understandable for government to respond as we enter a period of likely austerity with extended calls for costs to show measured benefits. Industry uses the same playbook and we can only achieve what is affordable in a priority sequence. In the Fire Sector Federation’s view, that priority must include fire safety.

This is underpinned by a call that recognises fire safety as a part of, and a prerequisite of, our societal fabric. It is not a bolt-on, or an addition, or something that has to be interminably and subsequently debated in arguments as to whether or not it can be afforded. Neither is it a cash cow for the unscrupulous. It is a basic requirement, the same as our right to be respected, live free and safely as individuals.

As a highly developed country with the capacity, knowledge, capability and skills to have one of the safest environments in the world for its population to work and reside within, our built environment really should reflect a fundamental or basic requirement to be safe. And not just minimalistic way, but rather within an economic social model that genuinely tries to take account of affordability without being held ransom by expense that it ends up being so basic that it can be manipulated easily to suit costs.

Building requirements must face the fact that new ideas and innovations move so fast since not to accept this reality will leave our regulatory systems inevitably trailing behind. We must change that process so, rather than just keeping up, we get in front by being aware of what is likely to emerge. We can then at least try to adapt and improve our methods of control, so as to maintain a safe approach to innovative products and the practices.

Nobody ever said leading was easy, but the challenge for our leaders is to redress the existing in-balance in the national decision model that has run the test of time and sadly continues, in almost every decade, to show a tragedy of failure. Fire safety, life safety and economic wellbeing should not remain estranged bedfellows.

Agreement with major developers to fund building safety repairs

The government has revealed a wide-ranging agreement that will see industry contribute £5 billion to address the building safety scandal

  • Major homebuilders accounting for half of new homes pledge to fix all unsafe tall buildings they have had a role in developing
  • More than £2 billion committed by over 35 developers to make buildings safe
  • Extension to the Building Safety Levy will raise a further estimated £3 billion forcing industry to pay and protecting innocent leaseholders

The government has revealed a wide-ranging agreement that will see industry contribute £5 billion to address the building safety scandal.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has agreed a solution with the housing industry that will see developers commit a minimum of £2 billion to fix their own buildings. Industry will also pay up to a further £3 billion through an expansion to the Building Safety Levy.

Under the new agreement, which will become legally enforceable, over 35 of the UK’s biggest homebuilders have pledged to fix all buildings 11 metres plus that they have played a role in developing in the last 30 years.

For the companies yet to make the pledge, the Secretary of State has also confirmed there is little time left for them to sign up, and that those who continue to refuse will face consequences if they fail to do so.

As set out in January, a new government scheme will also see industry pay to fix buildings where those responsible cannot be identified or forced to in law. This follows previous confirmation that plans for a 30-year loan scheme paid for by leaseholders would be scrapped.

The new scheme will be funded through an extension to the Building Safety Levy that will be chargeable on all new residential buildings in England. This is expected to raise up to an additional estimated £3 billion over ten years from developers and ensure no leaseholder in medium-rise buildings faces crippling bills, even when their developer cannot be traced.

New proposed laws, announced in February under the Building Safety Bill, will ensure qualifying leaseholders are protected from the costs of historical building safety defects, including total protection against cladding costs. The deal establishes that the industry responsible – not innocent leaseholders – will pay.

Mr Gove said: “This marks a significant step towards protecting innocent leaseholders and ensuring those responsible pay to solve the crisis they helped to cause. I welcome the move by many of the largest developers to do the right thing.

“But this is just the beginning. We will do whatever it takes to hold industry to account, and under our new measures there will be nowhere to hide.

“The pledge published by government commits developers who have signed up to legally binding contracts, and to implement their promises as soon as possible.”

The detailed agreement confirms developers will:

  • Act as quickly as possible to fix buildings
  • Implement new proportionate guidance on building safety
  • Regularly report to leaseholders and government on their progress
  • Respect an independent dispute resolution process established by government; and
  • Refund money already received from the taxpayer to fix their buildings.

The government is introducing new powers that could be enforced on a developer should they breach the agreement, as well as on any remaining companies who fail to sign up. These new powers would allow the Secretary of State to block those who refuse to sign from building and selling new homes.

The government states that building safety is an industry-wide issue and that cladding and insulation manufacturers are yet to accept their share of responsibility and come forward with a proposal. The Secretary of State has also written to the Construction Products Association and warned he will do whatever it takes to hold cladding and insulation manufacturers to account.

Last month’s announcement follows a statement from Mr Gove in January, when he set out a four-point plan to reset the approach to building safety and give leaseholders more protection against unfair costs.

The Building Safety Levy

The Building Safety Levy will be chargeable on new residential buildings of all heights – see clause 57 in the Building Safety Bill.

Leaseholders will be contacted by their developer in due course to confirm whether their building is covered.

The Building Safety Bill includes far reaching provisions to protect qualifying leaseholders, in law, from the costs associated with historical building safety defects. Qualifying leaseholders are those living in their own homes or with up to three UK properties in total in medium and high-rise buildings.

The Building Safety Bill will also give government, regulators, and leaseholders and others new ways to hold to account companies that fail to ‘do the right thing’.

Failing landlords to be named and shamed as government steps up support for social housing tenants

The government will “name and shame” failing social housing providers as part of major reforms to give residents a stronger voice and drive up standards

  • Sub-standard social landlords to be publicly shamed if failing to meet standards
  • Resident Panel will give tenants a voice to raise their complaints at the heart of government
  • Social housing reforms will transform the experiences of residents by tightening regulation and holding landlords to account
  • Measures will help ensure targets to half number of non-decent homes by 2030 are met

The move to “name and shame” failing landlords means social landlords providing sub-standard housing and services would be publicly called out on the government’s website and across social media channels.

Measures announced by the government also include a Resident Panel that will allow tenants who live in social housing to be heard directly by government. Around 250 social tenants from across England will be invited to share their experiences and help to ensure government reforms work to drive up standards.

As set out in the Social Housing White Paper, the reforms – due to be delivered through legislation – will, according to the government, transform the experiences of residents, with a major reform of the way in which social landlords are regulated and held to account for the homes and services they deliver.

The government has already set out a wide range of measures designed to drive up standards and fix a broken complaints system including strengthening regulation of the sector, improving the Housing Ombudsman Service, and empowering residents to know and exercise their rights.

A package of measures announced by the government goes even further. It includes:

  • Publicising on social media where landlords have breached the Regulator’s consumer standards or where the Housing Ombudsman has made its most serious finding – severe maladministration – against them.
  • The launch of a Resident Panel, inviting residents to have their say on how to improve the quality of social housing. The panel will allow residents to scrutinise and influence measures to strengthen the Decent Homes Standard, training and qualification for staff, a new Access to Information Scheme and other planned reforms.
  • Publishing draft clauses to legislation that will reform the regulation of social housing through tougher consumer powers, greater enforcement tools to tackle failing landlords and new responsibilities on social landlords.
  • A new factsheet explaining the role of the Regulator of Social Housing and Housing Ombudsman Service.
  • A single gov.uk page, setting out progress on implementing the measures in the Social Housing White Paper and further measures being introduced to improve quality of social housing.

Minister for Social Housing Eddies Hughes MP said: “Everyone in this country deserves to live in a safe and decent home. It is unacceptable that anyone should have mould covering their walls, risk slipping on a wet floor or have water dripping from the ceiling.

“We have published draft legislation today to toughen up regulation of social housing landlords. This includes naming and shaming those landlords who fail to meet acceptable living standards and giving tenants a direct channel to raise their concerns with government.

“This package will help to deliver on our commitment in the Levelling Up White Paper to halve the number of non-decent rented homes by 2030.”

Association further expands its administrative team

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection has expanded its team with the appointment of Lauren Smith as Operations Administrator

Lauren will provide clerical and administrative support to the Association for Specialist Fire Protection’s (ASFP) training, membership and technical departments, taking responsibility for a range of projects. She will play a key role in managing and maintaining data in the ASFP’s new customer relationship management system, website and on-line store and will ensure office procedures are followed at all times.

Lauren joins the ASFP team having previously provided maternity cover for the British Coatings Federation. Prior to this, she worked for five years in automotive purchasing and buying, including at Jaguar Land Rover. In a previous buyer position, she bought parts for James Bond’s Aston Martin from the film, No Time to Die.

Welcoming Lauren to the team, ASFP CEO Steve Davies stated: “The ASFP is growing rapidly and we are expanding the range of services and support we offer to members. Lauren will play a key role in maintaining close contact with our members to ensure we provide tailored services and support. We are delighted to welcome Lauren to the ASFP team and look forward to encouraging her in the development of this important new role.”

FIA announces next FIM Expo and Conference

The FIA reports on the next Fire Industry Manufacturers’ Expo as well as its first FIA Conference for a number of years, which is coming to the Principality Stadium in Cardiff

The Fire Industry Manufacturers’ (FIM) Expo features many of the UK’s leading fire detection and alarm manufacturers and showcases the latest products and developments in this sector.

What makes FIM Expo different to many other trade exhibitions is the informal format, regional focus, and ability to see the latest from all the major fire detection manufacturers in one place. It also includes complimentary seminars covering key topics affecting the FD&A world.

FIM Expo is a wonderful opportunity to meet and network with top manufacturers (around 25) in the industry; delegates will gain great and valuable information on their industry-leading products and can even place orders with them on the day. This is a fantastic opportunity to build business relationships for both 2022 and this new decade by connecting with both potential and existing clients. This is a great chance to expand your own brand or find brands that you want and need.

In addition to meeting the manufacturers, FIM Expo also offers delegates free CPD Accredited seminars. These seminars will give delegates the opportunity to maintain and enhance the knowledge and skills you need to deliver a professional service to customers, clients and the community. These seminars will be delivered by the FIA Technical Team on key topics to the fire industry and provide a great opportunity to gain free CPD points.

What is more, we know how important great conversations can be in business, so why not put yourself on the best platform to boost sales and meet customers both old and new? Enjoy in-depth conversations with a diverse range of stakeholders in the fire industry, particularly from installation and maintenance companies and end users.

We at the FIA seek to continuously improve what we offer to the fire industry; this year we will be hosting a free drinks reception after the exhibition giving attendees the opportunity to carry on your conversations from the exhibition and to network with the exhibitors, attendees, the FIA board and staff.

Rather than just take our word for it, here is some feedback from last year’s event in Belfast:

“It was a very good event – probably the best event we have done in some time. The size of event in terms of both exhibitors and delegates is very good.”

“Provided a great opportunity to have some much-needed face to face interactions with a good mixture of professionals from installers, sales, system designers etc who we had not seen in a long time & to hear feedback on our new products.”

“It was good to catch up with so many customers, competitors and colleagues in the industry in one place.”

FIA Conference September 14

In addition to FIM Expo, the Principality Stadium will play host our very first FIA Conference on Wednesday September 14. This conference will contain a host of CPD seminars from FIA members, panel discussions on key topics on the industry with a focus on current and future technologies. As well as further opportunities for networking with key industry stakeholders from across the fire industry such as: installers, designers, maintainers, commissioners, local government, standard bodies, Fire and Rescue Service professionals, colleges, and universities.

For more information visit: https://www.fia.uk.com/event-listing/fim-expo-and-fia-conference-cardiff-2022.html

BSA pumped-up for FIREX 2022

As a proud supporter of FIREX International 2022, the Business Sprinkler Alliance reports on welcoming the return of Europe’s leading safety event which this year takes place at the ExCel Centre in London on May 17-19

Themed ‘Making life safety a right, not a privilege’, FIREX 2022 is the first opportunity in over three years for the global fire and security markets to get together and reconnect face-to-face. Following last year’s virtual event, this year’s exhibition will give fire and security professionals access to the very latest advances in safety products and guidance for the first time since the pandemic.

The BSA is proud to be hosting at its stand FI2235, where representatives will be raising awareness of the benefits of sprinklers to provide property protection, as well as life safety.

“After the upheaval of the pandemic we are looking forward to participating in this year’s event in person,” said Iain Cox, Chair of the Business Sprinkler Alliance. “FIREX continues to be one of the most important events on the fire safety calendar, a not-to-be-missed event which provides excellent networking opportunities and enables us to drive greater awareness of fire sprinklers to effect a culture change for their acceptance and adoption.”

The conference programme offers participants access to the latest fire safety technology, product demos, thought-leadership content and offers delegates the opportunity to have one-to-one meetings with leading international suppliers in fire safety.

The Business Sprinkler Alliance advocates greater business resilience by enhancing protection against fire through the increased acceptance and use of fire sprinklers in commercial and industrial premises.

To find out more, or book a place at FIREX at the ExCel Centre in London on May 17-19, see pg 64 or visit: https://www.firex.co.uk/en/home.html

For more information about the Business Sprinkler Alliance visit: www.business-sprinkler-alliance.org

“An ‘Accountable Person’ must be a qualified person”

Tall buildings fire safety expert Russ Timpson reacts to the Building Safety Bill amendment

An amendment to the Building Safety Bill, which removes the requirement for landlords to appoint building safety managers in leasehold buildings seven storeys and over, is being challenged by a leading tall buildings fire safety expert.

Russ Timpson – a former firefighter and Managing Director of the Tall Buildings Fire Safety Network – is urging the government to reconsider its decision to scrap the recommendation first proposed by Dame Judith Hackitt in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire.

“This latest iteration of the all-important Building Safety Bill states that responsibility for fire safety will now fall squarely on the squarely on the shoulders of an ‘Accountable Person’, such as the freeholder or head lessee or a management company.

“Whilst the exact details regarding how this might be implemented are scant at this point, a dramatic rolling back of the proposals would be out of step with the Hackitt report and is something which must be avoided.

“It is abundantly clear, in my view, that when it comes to health and safety an ‘Accountable Person’ must, above all, be a qualified person. In other words, someone with the knowledge, skills and competencies to proactively tackle and reduce fire safety risk amidst an increasingly complex threat environment.

“The Grenfell disaster, and other high-risk building fires, have highlighted the need for more expertise in this area, not less, to help tackle incidents and improve fire safety. My hope is that government acts swiftly to ensure that anyone who assumes responsibility for fire safety in tall buildings will be suitably qualified once the Bill eventually passes into law.”

Candace Miller, Executive Director of SFJ Awards, the awarding organisation which certificates a wide range of fire safety qualifications in the UK, including those of the Tall Buildings Fire Safety Network, said: “It is fundamentally important that anyone who is put in charge of tall building fire safety has undergone specialist training, which is backed up by a recognised qualification.

“A change in legislation is an opportunity to professionalise and raise standards. The tailored training provided by the Tall Buildings Fire Safety Network has undergone a rigorous accreditation process and is a key steppingstone toward achieving that.”

For more information visit: www.tallbuildingfiresafety.com

Electrical safety checks for social housing moves one step closer to becoming law

Following extensive campaigning, Electrical Safety First reports on new government draft regulations which could see mandatory electrical safety checks required in England’s social housing

The draft regulations could see mandatory electrical safety checks which will provide protection benefits for over four million households living in the social rented sector and create parity with the private rented sector.

Published at the end of March, the Social Housing Draft (Regulation) Bill would pave the way to finally remove the inequality in the law whereby private tenants are protected by mandatory five yearly electrical safety checks but social tenants are not.

In a major step towards equal electrical safety protection, the draft regulations would establish electrical safety checks for social housing tenants by amending current legislation so that it also applied to ‘a registered provider of social housing’.

Following extensive campaigning by Electrical Safety First over the years, the government enacted new laws in 2020 that introduced five-yearly electrical safety checks in the private rental sector, protecting millions of people from electrical hazards.

The charity has since called for the same protection to be afforded to those living in socially rented homes. The announcement is a major step in the process towards changes to the law.

Commenting on the draft publication of the regulations, Lesley Rudd, Chief Executive of Electrical Safety First, said: “Today’s draft regulations are a real step in the right direction to ensuring that social housing tenants are better protected from electrical dangers and that the housing sector and landlords have clarity on safety standards. We look forward to working very closely with the government and await the announcement of the consultation.”

The government is yet to consult on electrical safety standards in the social rented sector and any secondary legislation would be subject to the outcome of the consultation, due to take place in the summer of this year.