The effective fire management of buildings in the UK is essential to fulfil the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Responsible persons under Article 11- “must make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate, having regard to the size of his undertaking and the nature of his activities, for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventative and protective measures.”
Building Regulations 2010 regulation 38 should capture the earliest stages of a building’s life cycle where the contractor should provide relevant information in relation to fire safety information to the responsible person not later than the date of completion of the work. “Fire safety information means information relating to the design and construction of the building or extension, and the services, fittings and equipment provided in or in connection with the building or extension which will assist the responsible person to operate and maintain the building or extension with reasonable safety”
Both dates are not recent, 2005 and 2010, yet it is true to say that those requirements are not always understood or managed appropriately.
“Building a Safer Future” the independent review of building regulations and fire safety led by Dame Judith Hackitt DBE FREng and published in May 2018 following the devastating fire at Grenfell identified the “system failure” of these and many other areas of building construction and management in relation to fire safety.
Developing a very clear model of risk ownership
Providing an outcome-based regulatory framework
The consideration of buildings as a system of layers of protection
A risk-based approach
Transparency of information and an audit trail
Although the focus for the review is based on high risk/high rise buildings, we believe there is a strong case for an improved risk-based model to be adopted universally. The Building Safety Expert Group formed to provide guidance for the Welsh Government have provided similar recommendations and aligned the concerns with those of “Building a Safer Future” and their publication “A Road Map to a Safer Wales” (March 2019) provides recommendations on a way forward and prioritising actions in Wales.
Both documents identify that the current system is ineffective, and that systemic change is required to move forward. This will take time, funding, legislation and resources for the situation to improve and does little to help the “Responsible Person” at this point in time.
Organisations with substantial property portfolios at any risk level still have a legal obligation to manage their risk appropriately as required under Building Regulations 2010 or the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Putting high risk and high rise aside, the life cycle of a building from the planning stage through to occupation is the one constant that all buildings go through and it is the control of this process that has rightly received a lot of focus in both documents.
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Road Map to safer buildings in Wales.
Building Safety Expert Group
The Golden Thread
“The Golden Thread”, the management of all relevant legislation for a building’s life is now the focus of attention. There is a good argument to say that this is nothing new, Regulation 38 has been there for some time and all too often we have seen the requirements fall sadly by the “wayside”.
Looking forward, organisations are now starting to understand the importance of retaining this information to ensure that it is available for the future. FireRite recognises these challenges and can offer consultancy support to organisations. Development of fire strategies, preoccupation fire risk assessments and the development of fire policies for organisations all help to offer guidance and support. Tailor-made training packages can support an organisation from Board level to the occupiers of your building stock.
Fire Risk Assessments, compartment surveys help you understand the risks within, and we can help you develop an action plan to reduce that risk.
Our accredited fire risk assessment model also allows you to maintain an online database of fire-related actions, maintenance and service ensuring you have an effective audit trail as part of the “Golden Thread” for your building.
Effective control of risk is the positive way to manage and maintain safe buildings and FireRite have the skills, knowledge and resources to support you in that quest. Please feel free to contact us for further information on our consultancy, training, passive and active fire system resources to support you.
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