New safety legislation is on its way – but does it go far enough? And what are the challenges we still face? Unfortunately, from the fire industry’s point of view, there are still many hurdles to overcome.
The legislation, for instance, will not be mandatory. It will merely ‘advise’ on having systems for early warning of fire, extinguishing it, and providing accessible exit routes.
Challenges in building construction
New materials and methods of construction have resulted in many changes to the build environment. Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) frequently involve timber-framed properties. From a fire risk point of view, these can be highly flammable.
Challenges for firefighters
As a result of MMC, firefighters are being faced with new construction methods that they’re not as familiar with. For instance, they have been trained in how traditionally built buildings react in the face of fire, i.e. brick and mortar built, but not with some of the new sustainable green construction materials and methods. Additionally, they aren’t always sure of how quickly a fire will spread with this new material.
This means that firefighters are continually having to train to keep up with construction.
The case for sprinklers
Many building management firms don’t like the use of sprinklers due to the water damage caused by them. Sprinkler systems can also prove expensive, and they aren’t a minimum requirement when it comes to regulatory fire guidance. But many in the fire industry know that they are a proven method of extinguishing a fire – to the extent that if there is a fire and sprinklers are deployed, it’s not unusual for residents to be back in their homes within a few days (rather than months or years if the fire was allowed to spread unhindered).
Accountability for buildings
An ‘accountable person’ is to be made legally responsible for the fire and structural safety of an apartment building with residents. He or she has the task of managing and mitigating the risk of fire for the structure and external walls. This includes the building’s cladding, balconies and windows, and entrance doors to individual flats opening into common areas.
@skillsplatform: “A comprehensive fire risk assessment requires identifying and evaluating potential hazards and at-risk persons, deciding on necessary controls and mitigation measures, whilst recording and monitoring the risks on an ongoing basis.”
Prosecuting ‘bad practice’
A new regulator, together with a team of inspectors, has been appointed under the legislation to crack down on buildings which are fire hazards. But whether there will be enough manpower to carry out investigations and inspections remains very much to be seen.
Get in touch
Here at FireRite, we specialise in advising letting agents, landlords and all types of businesses about their building’s fire risk. We can carry out an initial assessment of your property and advise back on any necessary action. We can then provide regular monitoring and assessments to ensure you are continually compliant with current legislation. To find out more, tel: 029 2086 7222 or drop the team an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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