“Essential industry changes needed post-Grenfell”
Dame Judith Hackitt recently discussed the current industry landscape and outlined a strong belief that competence and accreditation are set to be major features in the fire safety sector (including fire door contractors) going forward.
During the recent BESA webinar discussion with David Frise (CEO at the Building Engineering Services Association), Dame Judith stated: “At the heart of the report was the need for a strong regulator who could operate what I call a safety case regime that puts onus on the Responsible Person at any particular point in a given building’s life-cycle to demonstrate that what is there is safe and fit for purpose. Clear responsibility is at the heart of the system.”
While there were some great points made during the webinar, the standout points for us as fire door contractors are:
Third Party Accreditation
“Building owners, occupiers and financiers are going to demand proof of quality and competence in the future………. This really is, I believe, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to let go of that race to the bottom that we’ve seen over the last 20 years or so and really turn this industry…..around. BAFE believes that works completed by third party certificated fire safety providers will be key when it comes to demonstrating that competent fire safety work has been performed as specified.”
The argument for evidential competency (such as third party certification) will become a much stronger requirement. Dame Judith said competency schemes “absolutely” have a future.
“If you move to a future world where the regulator is going to say ‘prove to me that this is going to be a safe building’, the question they will ask is ‘how will you ensure that this is the case?’ The duty holder, whether that’s the client, the major contractor or whomever it is, will need to be in a position to say ‘because I am employing competent people to do this job, and here is the evidence that I am employing competent people to do this job’. There is no doubt at all that competence and accreditation is going to be a major feature of the future.”
Fire Door Experts are proud to be BM Trada Accredited. We strongly believe BM Trada’s Q-Mark approach offers the most thorough inspection, maintenance and installation protocols for fire doors, and sits perfectly with Dame Judith’s thinking. With no doubt left as to whether the fire doors in question are actually factory tested fire doors or not, and Accepted Repair Techniques strictly adhered to with regards to maintaining existing fire doors back to their originally intended fire rating, Fire Door Experts can offer the best assurances of competency.
“Dame Judith wants “clear accountabilities and responsibility” and is adamant that there’s a need for “the industry to recognise it must change its culture, stop waiting to be told what to do and take responsibility. The industry has an important role to play in ensuring that people have properties that are safe for them to live and to use.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated to Dame Judith that the industry is “capable of massive change, at pace, when it needs to do so.”
As a proactive company, Fire Door Experts welcome any positive changes in culture around passive fire protection, and look forward to the day when industry regulations are introduced to ensure all fire door assemblies are treated as equals, with an agreed criteria for fire doors to be measured against. Specifications are clear for new installations, yet existing doors can currently be measured against a swathe of inspection schemes, resulting in a wide variety of recommended actions, leading to potential confusion – there aren’t various MOT options available to car drivers, so why so many vagaries with potentially life saving equipment??
Regular maintenance programs
“Current buildings will be under scrutiny moving forward and the fire safety industry should be working to Best Practice and appropriate standards to ensure that all work is deemed suitable in the interests of life safety.” Hackitt explained that “previous work should also be reviewed and maintained regularly, with premises management teams advised as such.”
Preventative Planned Maintenance schemes will rise in popularity, which is why we have been working behind the scenes to review, refresh and relaunch our Fire Door Experts 360© programme. We truly believe we offer the industry leading Planned Preventative Maintenance scheme – that’s quite a boast, but when you consider we offer bespoke plans to clients, with programmes agreed door by door, building by building, with works carried out while the doors are surveyed, it’s easy to see why Responsible Persons are turning to FDE as their fire door contractors to remove this headache from their already heavily-laden desk.
“Must have a culture of keeping a body of evidence…..” and crucially passing this information onto the building owner / manager / Responsible Person in a format that is easy to communicate and understand.
Here at FDE we document everything we do with detailed reports and photographic evidence right from survey stage through to project handover. This means each client receives a fully documented and photographic journey of their fire door project, stored in a shared online library accessible to clients, detailing what specific works were carried out to each door assembly to maintain them back to their originally intended fire rating.
All of these measures will add clarity for Responsible Persons providing clear guidance as to what work needs carrying out and at what frequency. Fire Door Experts are able to simplify this process even further; why not get in touch today and find out how we could help?!