Audit, Inspection and Safety

04.09.17

Support for councils following Grenfell

Source: PSE Aug/Sept 2017

Ian Moore, CEO of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), discusses the wider lessons of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and what measures and assessments local authorities need to have in place to protect their estate and buildings.

Somehow it seems to take a really horrendous disaster to highlight a problem. Grenfell Tower in Kensington sadly went up in flames on 14 June and the media have been reporting the event almost non-stop ever since.

Whilst issues surrounding fire safety seem to have been hugely magnified now, I’d like to iterate that the highest standards for fire safety has always been the FIA’s aim throughout the 101 years that the association has existed in its various forms over the years. We have been providing advice, guidance and training to the fire industry for a very long time.

At this time following the disaster, we should all be asking the question: how can we improve the safety of our buildings? What can we do better? What steps should we be taking to ensure the highest possible levels of fire safety?

First and foremost, the fire risk assessment of any building (except privately-owned dwellings) is a legal requirement, and must be completed by a competent person. The reason for this is that simply filling in a ‘tick sheet’ style fire risk assessment may miss out some key aspects, and the building really needs a thorough and robust assessment that analyses the hazards and risks, as well as makes recommendations to reduce or negate those risks.

It is a legal requirement that the fire risk assessment is both ‘suitable’ and ‘sufficient’. This is why a risk assessment must cover every aspect of a building – from the fire detection and alarm system, to the means of escape, to the risk of the people within the building, and much more. If you yourself are not certain that you have the skills to complete a risk assessment – hire an expert. It is far better to spend a little extra money or allocate a larger budget to this than to later find out that the risk assessment was not satisfactory.

However – a word of warning. A professional fire risk assessor legally speaking does not have to have any qualifications and may not be as ‘expert’ as they claim. For that reason, we firmly recommend using a company that has third-party certification (TPC). 

TPC is evidence that a service or product adheres to certain standards. An independent expert, the third party, has assessed the service or product and certified that it complies with those standards. TPC can cover the technical qualities of what is being provided, but it can also relate to environmental, ethical or other qualities. This allows purchasers to be confident that what they are purchasing is fit for purpose or that the supplier is capable of doing the job.

 

Fit for purpose and competent

If you purchase goods or services you want to be confident that they are fit for purpose. Not just that, it is a legal requirement for the purchaser of fire safety services to ensure that the person or organisation carrying out the work is ‘competent’.

For the convenience of those seeking services in fire safety, such as fire risk assessments (as well as other services such as installers and maintainers of fire protection equipment), the FIA has a list of third-party certified companies listed under the ‘Find a Member’ section of our website.

As a trade body, we have over 700 member fire protection companies that have all been successfully audited and certified before becoming a member. We are not interested in representing contractors who are not up to the job and who give the industry a bad name. Credibility, a reputation for high quality and second-to-none service are what FIA members are about.

The events at Grenfell may have highlighted the need for stronger fire safety measures. It might even seem that from the sudden influx of attention from national media that our calls for stronger regulations and higher levels of professionalism are a knee-jerk reaction to a frankly terrible situation – but the fact remains that the FIA has been calling for higher levels of professionalism of those contracted to perform fire risk assessments and install and maintain fire products for a long time.

This is why we promote the use of TPC companies – as this is the only way to tell if a company can do a job as well and as competently as they say they can.

We also have many years of technical and fire safety-related legal expertise behind us and are available for over-the-phone support should the need arise for some advice or guidance. Our website also has a range of publications in PDF format that may be of use when deciding which professional fire risk assessor to hire.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

London council ‘negligent and in denial’ over tower blocks at risk of collapse

22/06/2018London council ‘negligent and in denial’ over tower blocks at risk of collapse

Two tower blocks in North London are at risk of collapse, with the area’s council announcing it wants to begin re-housing residents “... more >
Christchurch allowed into High Court over Dorset council merger battle

22/06/2018Christchurch allowed into High Court over Dorset council merger battle

An ongoing battle between Christchurch Borough Council and a planned council merger has been given the go-ahead to proceed to the High Court. ... more >
Government does not ‘currently have understanding’ of skills businesses need going through Brexit

22/06/2018Government does not ‘currently have understanding’ of skills businesses need going through Brexit

Government departments “do not have sufficient understanding” of what skills UK businesses need, or how Brexit will impact the supply... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >
Christchurch allowed into High Court over Dorset council merger battle

22/06/2018Christchurch allowed into High Court over Dorset council merger battle

An ongoing battle between Christchurch Borough Council and a planned council merger has been given the go-ahead to proceed to the High Court. Last month, Christchurch council outlined its pl... more >
Government under fire for lack of care funding after £20bn NHS pledge

18/06/2018Government under fire for lack of care funding after £20bn NHS pledge

Council chiefs have heavily criticised Theresa May for not including social care funding in her promise to increase cash resources by £20bn annually for the NHS to mark the service’s ... more >

the raven's daily blog

The work of the vanguards can help overcome the challenges of integrated care

29/05/2018The work of the vanguards can help overcome the challenges of integrated care

Following the announcement of the second wave of integrated care systems (ICSs), NHS Providers, the NHS Confederation, NHS Clinical Commissioners (NHSCC) and the LGA reflect on how lessons learnt by members from across the four organisations – that have designed and worked together as part of the vanguards – will support the j... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Grenfell, one year on

18/06/2018Grenfell, one year on

In the year since the Grenfell Tower disaster, the LGA has been working tirelessly to ramp up fire safety regulations and ban ‘desktop&rsqu... more >
Brexit's long shadow over devolution

18/06/2018Brexit's long shadow over devolution

The EU Referendum and the stop-start Brexit negotiations have left a looming shadow of uncertainty over devolution in the UK, writes Anthony Sala... more >
Decisions, decisions

18/06/2018Decisions, decisions

The true social value of procurement comes from asking challenging questions and thinking outside the box, argues Melissa Bell, sustainable procu... more >
Finding the balance

18/06/2018Finding the balance

Douglas White, head of advocacy at the Carnegie UK Trust, evaluates the risk-benefit relationship of data sharing within the public sector, highl... more >

interviews

Data at the heart of digital transformation

03/04/2018Data at the heart of digital transformation

SPONSORED INTERVIEW Grant Caley, UK & Ireland chief technologist at NetApp, speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the benefits of movin... more >
GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

03/04/2018GDPR: The public sector scarecrow

SPONSORED INTERVIEW PSE’s Josh Mines chats to Martin de Martini, CIO of Y Soft, about what the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)... more >
Keeping London safe

05/03/2018Keeping London safe

Theo Blackwell, London’s first-ever chief digital officer (CDO), speaks to PSE’s Luana Salles about the role he plays in ensuring the... more >
BIM: Digitising the public sector

19/02/2018BIM: Digitising the public sector

PSE’s Josh Mines talks to Stephen Crompton, CTO at GroupBC, and Stuart Bell, the company’s sales and marketing director, about how Bu... more >

public sector focus

  • 12/06/2018G-Cloud 10: small changes, big opportunities

    Rafael Cortes, Foehn head of marketing, explains how G-Cloud 10 should be a catalyst for innovative solutions and not a source of complacency. It was...
  • 04/06/2018Targets and tribulations

    David Willett, corporate director at The Open University, walks us through the university’s research into the apprenticeship levy, as well as...
  • 30/04/2018The legacy of Grenfell

    PSE’s Seamus McDonnell looks at the reactions of councils and the government to the Grenfell Tower fire, from the immediate aftermath to the...
View all News