Industry News and Updates
March 2022 - Imperium Fire achieves Constructionline Gold status
Responsible Persons Flowchart - Courtesy of Warren Spencer, leading fire safety/industry legal specialist - Blackhurst Budd Solicitors
1st October 2021 - False Fires - just how prevalent are they?
An increase in technology has brought about a surprising increase in callouts to the fire brigade, often without due cause. Fire detection and highly sensitive alarm systems have resulted in an increased number of 999 calls to the fire brigade. False alarm incidents in the NHS overall have risen by 12% over five years.
A false fire alarm is where the alarm is sounded and the fire brigade arrive to discover that there is no fire to extinguish, this can be for one of three reasons
Malicious – Where the alarm has been falsely triggered simply to cause disruption.
Good Intent - When an individual wrongly suspects that a fire may have broken out.
Apparatus/Technical - This is when apparatus malfunctions or triggers the alarm falsely. This can occur for several reasons including, shower steam, burnt toast, aerosols, etc.
According to UK Government fire statistics, false fires in the year to December equaled 220,000, accounting for 41.5% of the total of 528,601 callouts. This was a five percent decrease during covid compared with the previous year, but an increase over the ten years preceding.
143,683 fire false alarms due to apparatus: a seven per cent decrease from the previous year (155,269).
71,468 fire false alarms due to good intent: an increase of five per cent from the previous year (68,298).
5,281 malicious fire false alarms: a decrease of 21 per cent from the previous year (6,704). (Source: FIRE0104)
The majority of alarms are caused by automatic systems, which may summon the fire service as soon as they activate. This can be caused by badly maintained or damaged systems or activities such as burnt toast or dust, shower steam or aerosols, animal/human activity such as cable gnawing, and urinating on electrical components.
In a single year Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to more than 2,500 Automatic Fire Alarms. On 99% of occasions these were avoidable false alarms caused by either a faulty system or an accidental activation for example, cooking fumes. Most Fire services now no longer respond to an Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) in non-sleeping premises unless the alarm has been backed up by a call confirming that there is a fire.
False alarms cost businesses time and money. They also divert firefighters from genuine emergencies and other duties.
23rd August 2021 - 23 Industry bodies condemn school fire safety proposals as a "lottery" and state sprinklers should be installed over 11m
A COALITION of 23 industry bodies representing hundreds of thousands of teachers, firefighters, surveyors, architects, insurers and engineers has accused the Government of creating a fire safety “lottery” in schools. In a letter sent to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, the coalition has demanded the Government urgently rethinks plans that would only see sprinklers installed in school buildings over 11 metres in height, warning that this would leave “the majority of schools exposed to fires”.
We have seen many schools over the years with poor fire safety management principles in place, poor active and poor passive system measures - this is all too often not the problem caused by the schools either but by the governing/controlling bodies like local authorities not simply having or giving the budgets to make the necessary changes. Now its 'knee jerk' reactions!
16th August 2021 - Northampton (Abingdon takeaway) owner receives suspended prison sentence for Breaches under the Fire Safety Order (RRO)
Fire safety inspectors from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service visited Sami's Takeaway in Northampton in August 2019 and found that the owner of the business and director had failed to ensure there was an adequate risk assessment of fire (or any working smoke alarms) and had also failed to protect escape routes in case of fire. It was also noted that a previous sprinkler suppression system had been removed.
Since 2005 there have been over 800 prosecution cases for breaches and failures to comply under the RRO 2005, of these to day there have been approximately 40 custodial sentences and the balance issued fines. Pre Grenfell the average fine was around £21K (with court costs around £6K and the fines around £15K). This has now post Grenfell risen to more the £53K average.
7th May 2021 Fire at London’s New Providence Wharf flats
Over 100 firefighters tackled a blaze for nearly three hours at a block of flats covered in ACM cladding at East London’s New Providence Wharf in Poplar on the morning of 7th May. Inside Housing has since reported that the smoke detection system installed in the New Providence Wharf block failed when smoke began to spread throughout the building. This meant that doors, which are crucial to a fire compartmentation strategy, in the communal areas did not close, and smoke consequently filled the areas as residents attempted to escape.
Fire Safety Bill (Fire Safety Order 2005) passed
Last year on the 19th March 2020 in the wake of Grenfell, The Home Office introduced the new Fire Safety Bill, in an effort to improve fire safety in buildings in England and Wales. The Bill has now passed through the parliamentary process to become law.
The act was introduced to amend the Fire Safety Order 2005, the Fire Safety Act 2021 has been designed to “ensure that people feel safe in their homes, and a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower fire never happens again”.
Key to the act is that it now sets out clarification to who is accountable for reducing the risk of fires – the RP/building owner for multi-occupied, residential buildings. They must manage the risk of fire for:
The structure and external walls of the building (e.g., cladding, balconies, and windows)
Entrance doors to individual flats that open into communal areas
Fire risk assessment for a building/premises will therefore be required to cover both of these two areas (it is only applicable to England and Wales). Extra measures include the responsibility for lift inspections, the reviewing of evacuation plans and fire safety instructions to residents.
See more here: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2730
Friday 22nd September
Latest Grenfell & Hackitt Report Update
Grenfell Tower's insulation was sold for around a 50% discount for a "case study"
'Grenfell Tower may have been used as “a guinea pig” for a newly branded insulation material that burned and released toxic gas, contributing to the deaths of 72 people, the inquiry into the disaster has heard.'