According to Passive Fire Protection Federation (PFPF), any restructuring of the way the Fire Service works must include a 'health check' of the buildings they protect. David Sugden, Chairman of the PFPF, said that inadequate risk assessments and poorly installed and maintained fire protection pose a growing risk to firefighters and to the public.
David Sugden said: "Firefighters are naturally concerned that their job is made more hazardous, and the public put in danger because our built environment is not up to standard, but while the existing regulations and guidance are robust, compliance is poor. Built-in or 'passive' fire protection such as fire doors, fire-resistant glazing and fire-resistant insulation and basic principles such as compartmentation are compromised from initial construction to ongoing maintenance. Certified products are substituted for cheaper, non-certified versions in construction while many risk assessors don't know what to look for, or how to maintain fire protection measures so they remain resistant to fires. Simply put, ignorance of fire safety is endangering lives."
At Firex North exhibition, Nick Coombe, speaking on behalf of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said that one of the main problems with risk assessors was their failure to understand passive fire protection, and that quite often they mistakenly thought that putting in a fire alarm compensated.
David Sugden added: "The construction industry and any business owner must take responsibility for fire safety. Specifiers and developers must insist on using products and installers who are certified by independent, third party schemes. Meanwhile existing buildings can be brought up to modern safety standards by ongoing and thorough risk assessment using qualified and experienced assessors. Six people died in last year's tragic fire at Lakanal House, very likely because the built-in fire protection of the building had been destroyed over the years thanks to routine refurbishment. We can't allow this to happen again."
For more information and guidance on fire protection and risk assessments visit www.pfpf.org.