FIRE Editor Andrew Lynch reports on introducing an integrated approach to fire protection:
Fire UK is facing a difficult dilemma: how to provide an effective service in a restrictive economic environment. Throw in an increasingly divided society and the problem is magnified. Speaking to James Cleverly, the new Chair of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority on his first official day at work this week, it became apparent that London is at the forefront of this complicated issue.
The Shard and countless architectural wonders are redefining the London skyline and bringing with it a whole new ball game when it comes to modern methods of construction. At the recent Fire Lecture the Building Research Establishment admitted it does not have data on the materials used in many of these constructions. Whilst London Fire Brigade's fire engineers have had close involvement in these constructions, it is not the same throughout the rest of the UK.
At the other end of the spectrum, old building stock provides an on-going threat to the vulnerable population, as evidenced at the tragic Lakanal House fire. Retrofitting sprinklers would seem like an ideal solution, although it is easy to get carried away with a one-size fits all, off-the-shelf answer. A risk profile of a five mile circle around the City of London would show a staggering range of buildings, combined with shifting populations and demographics.
Crucial is risk management and becoming involved in building construction at the earliest opportunity. This reporter is passionate about championing the sustainable qualities of sprinklers, which unites the cutting-edge architectural genius of new constructions with saving lives and reducing property and environmental damage, regardless of building type.
A lot of attention has been focused on retrofitting sprinklers; the time is right to illustrate the engineering advancements that have taken place to make them valuable additions to new, complex builds. The next issue of FIRE will illustrate how this approach is garnering support from across the sector, not least from the Chief Fire Officers Association.
In an increasingly complex and divided world, the solutions are surprisingly simple. More thought is required on how to integrate all aspects of fire protection and present as a compelling and undeniable argument for the earliest possible inclusion. Once again, over to you…