PBC Today article – SCA Chairman discusses Future Building Regulations

Chairman of the Smoke Control Association (SCA), David Mowatt, has written an article, ‘Future Building Regulations: Competence, compliance and a commitment to change’, published in PBC Today.

Future Building Regulations

Mowatt mentions the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety which he claims will bring much-needed reform and provide clear guidance on accountability and responsibility for building safety.

He also said,

‘The SCA fully supports the government reform proposal that recommends someone remains responsible for managing fire risks throughout the life of the building, ensuring regular maintenance on all life safety systems.’

Mowatt goes on to talk about the increased complexity of high-rise building design, saying the primary objective of the smoke ventilation system being to protect the staircase and communal areas.

He states,

‘It is hoped that the new regulations will encourage exceptionally high levels of competence in the design of life safety systems in high-rise residential buildings, improving conditions for residents and firefighters alike.’

The Chairman finishes by touching on the fact the SCA has taken the lead on improving competency levels within the smoke control sector and that the association is responsible for producing guidance on smoke control systems in high-rise buildings so designers, installers and authorities can access this vital advice on the prevention of smoke spreading throughout a building.

‘As an association committed to raising standards, the SCA strongly believes that the industry has suffered from a clear lack of resolve when it comes to issues involving compliance and enforcement and is hopeful that the proposals stemming from Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review will go a long way towards addressing the problem and forcing through a lasting cultural shift.’

Read the full article on the online edition from page 236 at https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/publications/pbc-today-august-2019/61165/.

You have probably heard the term ‘golden thread’ before. It is the idea that a feature is present in all parts of something, holding it together and giving it value. From a fire safety perspective, the golden thread refers to the sharing of information by all involved in a project, from the early conceptual stages through to ongoing use.

With the many elements involved with fire safety, the consistent sharing of information becomes exceptionally challenging. To the multiple party’s involved in a project, from the initial brief and design through to construction and service and maintenance a golden thread would be incredibly beneficial. With a full-service smoke ventilation and fire safety consultant, the necessary requirements to establish the golden thread of information could be facilitated.

Teams

There are many people to consider in a building project. For starters, there are your statutory bodies, then you have your client team, followed by your design team and after that your construction team before even thinking about service and maintenance.

Having one golden thread, in the form of a fire safety consultant, who can help the communication and integration of all these separate teams can significantly reduce errors due to miscommunication and project delays, all whilst ensuring full compliance to regulations.

This concept has been endorsed by the Hackitt report, suggesting a ‘golden thread of information’ should be kept for all high-rise buildings in order to ensure safer buildings for all occupants.

Service and maintenance

Remembering that work does not stop once the building is up; service and maintenance is an integral part of fire safety. Not only in order to be compliant, but also to afford occupants the greatest chance of escape and firefighters the best chance of access to avoid further ramifications, maintenance of fire safety solutions is vital.

Fire safety systems and smoke ventilation systems need maintaining like everything else within a building. And with so many options out there and depending on many factors that are unique to your project, you need to ensure you are receiving expert advice. This is where FDS Group comes in.

FDS Group

FDS Group is comprised of two sister companies; Fire Design Solutions and FDS Consult. Working closely together, and all experts in their respective fields, FDS Group is the perfect solution for all fire safety and smoke ventilation requirements.

FDS Consult uses their experience and skills to start the process by looking at the strategic design, brief and concept design. They then overlap with FDS on the detailed design of the system before
FDS takes over completely to carry on with construction, handover and maintenance. All the while, you will have one primary point of contact overlooking the entirety of your project and there to answer any queries you may have.

Not only is enlisting the services of FDS Group cost-effective, but it will save the hassle of finding and managing separate consultants. You will have one primary contact and the reassurance your project is in the hands of the experts.

Contact us today to find out how FDS Group can run a golden thread through your project, making it seamless, effortless and compliant.


At Fire Design Solutions, we consider ourselves a pro-active solutions provider that is committed to providing safety through concise fire safety design and implementation. It’s this drive that has led us to adopt recommendations from the revised RIBA Plan of Work for Fire Safety.


The RIBA Plan of Work for Fire Safety

The RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) is the professional body for architects, both here in the UK and globally. It drives excellence in architecture by serving its members and society to deliver better buildings and places, creating a more sustainable environment that harbours stronger communities.

In September 2018, the RIBA launched a consultation on a new Plan of Work for Fire Safety. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, the institute highlighted the need for a change in building regulations, strengthening several requirements including means of escape. It’s clear that post-Grenfell an independent review of building regulations and fire safety is required.

Current regulation in the form of Approved Documents B, as provided by Building Regulations, includes clear guidance. However, over the years, it has become over-complicated, too prescriptive and open to interpretation with multiple options and alternatives.

The ADB guidelines are not laid out in a way that reflects the design process and are seen by the industry as difficult to follow, lacking a transparent method for tracking completion or compliance.

However, it’s going to take more than a change in regulations. The industry needs to take a seismic shift towards adopting a new culture and act upon existing complacencies. The RIBA Plan of Work for Fire Safety looks to offer a common-sense protocol to achieve this objective.

The Plan of Work acts as a critical resource for design and construction teams, providing clarity on the roles and responsibilities of fire safety at each stage of the process. The revised Plan of Work for Fire Safety was introduced in June 2019. It demonstrates increased scrutiny on the preparation of fire strategy, fire specification and materials. It also provides a set of precise management tools that will enable project owners to ensure compliance and record issues.

The Plan of Work for Fire Safety is an explicit action by the RIBA to incentivise a change in the industry. It’s now down to industry leaders to adopt these changes to ensure fire safety in all buildings.


Fire Design Solutions

As experts in fire safety, Fire Design Solutions have been avidly keeping pace with the preparation of the revised RIBA Plan of Work for Fire Safety. It’s been clear to us for some time that the industry needs to take the lead in delivering improved fire safety for all buildings.


Early Engagement


We actively encourage early engagement, which provides clear benefits to a project with regards to specification, design and rationalisation. It’s with strategic consultation that projects can achieve compliance, provide complete effectiveness and also meet budgetary requirements.

Alongside early engagement, we boast a seamless service that can transition a project from specification through to completion and ongoing service and maintenance. This seamless service provides a ‘Golden Thread’ of information that runs throughout the entirety of the project. The benefits of using a full-service consultant like Fire Design Solutions are clear; and have been merited in the recent Hackitt report, which suggests a single solutions provider is essential to ensure safer buildings for all occupants.

Conclusion

It’s clear to us that as a leader in our field, we are best positioned to manage fire safety projects from specification, through design and implementation and onto service and maintenance. It’s a testament to our experience and high level of expertise that we feel compelled to offer this complete seamless service, encouraging our client to rely solely on Fire Design Solutions for fire safety.


If you’re looking to enlist a fire safety specialist onto your latest project, then speak to the team at Fire Design Solutions. We’ll be able to highlight the benefits that only a full-service consultant can bring to your project.


Smoke VentilationAfter a project’s initial build or refurbishment is over, the main deciding factor in a fire safety system’s ongoing effective operation is how well it is maintained, so it makes sense to have this carried out by experienced experts.

Beyond merely being a ‘tick-box’ exercise, the maintenance and routine servicing of fire safety systems safeguards a building’s occupants and assets in the event of a fire, while also ensuring that the property complies with the relevant Building Regulations.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, or RRO, states that companies are deemed responsible for providing the correct level of fire safety on their premises, as outlined in the building’s fire strategy. As any installed fire safety systems form part of this strategy, the RRO requires a responsible person to be appointed to ensure that all equipment is maintained and in good working order.

Due to the grave consequences that could result from a system malfunction, including injury and loss of life, failure to correctly maintain fire safety systems is considered an offence, and can result in the prosecution of the building’s owner or manager.

This requirement for the servicing and maintenance of fire safety systems is echoed by British Standards BS 7346:1-1990 and BS 5588:12-2004, as well as the Building Regulations Approved Document B (ADB), removing any doubt as to its importance.

Beyond the obvious safety benefits and need to obey the relevant regulations, carrying out routine maintenance can also provide significant cost savings, with preventative upkeep allowing systems to run efficiently for longer, and inspections can identify issues before they develop into costly system failures.

While maintenance staff may be appointed to carry out some checks, FDS’ maintenance service provides peace of mind, with our experts regularly checking and maintaining systems, removing the risk of fines for non-compliance, or the potential loss of income that results from closure by the local fire service.

Regardless of the system’s original manufacturer or installer, our maintenance team will visit your premises twice a year, undertaking complete tests of the fire alarm and smoke detection systems, ensuring compliance with all relevant legislation.

As well as visual inspections, our experts will also carry out a rigorous 15-point test of each fire safety component throughout a property, maximising resident safety. If a failure does occur, we also provide a 24-hour emergency call out service. All visits, whether callouts or routine inspections and maintenance, are thoroughly documented.

For more information on our service and maintenance offering, contact us.