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Ron Alalouff is a journalist specialising in the fire and security markets, and a former editor of websites and magazines in the same fields.
April 28, 2023


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“A comprehensive suite of fire safety measures for the public sector” – What’s the LHC Fire Safety (FS2) framework all about?

In February, LHC – a procurement body for the public sector built environment – called for fire safety organisations and individuals to apply to bid for its new FS2 fire safety framework. Here Paul Dawson, LHC Group Technical Manager, tells us more about the skills and competencies they are looking for and why professionals should get involved.

Can you tell us about the FS2 framework on fire safety across the public sector built environment?

Paul Dawson (PD): The LHC Procurement Group Fire Safety (FS2) framework comprises a comprehensive suite of fire safety and fire protection measures. It covers active fire measures and fire suppression to passive fire protection, cladding and waking watch, while incorporating the latest legislative requirements. The suite of measures has been placed under one framework to reflect public sector client feedback and the marketplace, giving access to suitably qualified and experienced contractors and consultants via a single source.

More about LHC

LHC Procurement Group (LHC) is a not-for-profit construction framework provider delivering exclusively to the public sector across Great Britain. The organisation, which has more than 50 years of construction procurement experience, develops and operates frameworks across England, Scotland and Wales through its five business units: London and South East (LSE); Consortium Procurement Construction (CPC); South West Procurement Alliance (SWPA); Scottish Procurement Alliance (SPA); and Welsh Procurement Alliance (WPA).

The free-to-use frameworks are available to all publicly funded contracting authorities to procure works, goods and services to construct, refurbish and maintain social housing, schools and public buildings.

LHC’s services have evolved over the years to meet the needs of the public sector. Clients are looking for trusted technical expertise, which is developed through industry engagement and professional knowledge and embedded into each framework.

How do the frameworks work in practice?

PD: LHC frameworks offer a fast and efficient procurement route to market, where certain terms and rates have been pre-agreed and contractors have been pre-qualified. This enables cost savings for clients, and helps build relationships between local authorities or social housing providers and SMEs, as well as local communities.

How does the process benefit the local communities?

PD: Enhancing local communities and environments is also key for LHC, and forms a core part of our vision. To support that commitment to helping public authorities deliver social value and improved quality of life to their communities, members in each region are given the opportunity to create and distribute a Community Benefit Fund.

This allows them to pool their rebates from spend on our frameworks, and use these funds to give grants to community projects or social causes. Independent, expert Community Benefit Fund managers find the best local charity partners to meet the specific priority needs of members. Grants have been allocated to community groups and projects focused on diverse issues, including literacy, technology, sustainability, health and wellbeing.

What are the specific criteria you are looking at to engage providers in the following sectors?

PD: In all sectors, approved contractors will be required to have, as a minimum, suitable experience and qualifications along with the capability to deliver passive fire protection services in our regional areas. The criteria for specific sectors include:

  • Passive fire protection: The full range of passive fire protection and containment will include design of suitable systems, along with installation and maintenance. Contractors are expected to be suitably experienced and certified by a recognised third-party certification scheme.
  • Cladding remediation/replacement: A key consideration within this lot is PAS9980:2022 Fire Risk appraisal of external wall construction and cladding of existing blocks of flats. Code of practice.
  • Detection and alarm systems: The range of services will encompass the full range of fire detection systems and categories. This will include design of suitable systems, along with installation and maintenance. Contractors are expected to be suitably experienced and certified by a recognised third-party certification scheme.
  • Fire suppression systems: The scope will include design, installation and maintenance of systems which may range from risers through to sprinkler systems.
  • Consultancy/fire risk assessments: The consultancy may include fire risk assessments, although its primary purpose is to provide high-level guidance to clients on aspects of fire safety, with a holistic view of fire safety measures in line with current and future legislation. Consultants are expected to be suitably experienced and certified by a recognised third-party certification scheme. The range of services is expected to cover all aspects of fire safety, including active and passive measures, suppression and general knowledge.

Can you outline the provisions of the previous FS1 Framework, and how FS2 takes those further?

PD: The FS1 framework contained consultancy, risk assessments and passive fire protection services. FS2 builds on this, extending the portfolio of products and services within this framework to include active measures and waking watch services, along with wet and dry rising services and cladding.

Why is fire safety receiving more attention than previously from the likes of LHC?

PD: It is not necessarily receiving more attention; however, the legislative backdrop has changed since the tragic Grenfell Tower fire. It’s vital that frameworks account for new regulations and offer the public sector the right expertise. FS2 does have a wider scope than the previous FS1, and this in itself is also attracting more interest from a diverse range of organisations.

How do the provisions of the Building Safety Act 2022, Fire Safety Act 2021, and Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 affect the provisions of FS2?

PD: FS2 has been totally revamped along with expert consultancy input to ensure that up-to-date coverage of all current legislation is included within the provision. This enables peace of mind for our clients, with the assurance that industry developments and best practice are followed.

Although aimed at local authorities and social housing providers, will the FS2 criteria or guidance be accessible to private sector providers too?

PD: As with all of our frameworks, FS2 is designed for public sector use. This will therefore extend to areas such as blue light services, NHS trusts and universities.

LHC-FireSafetyFramework-FireSafetyStock-23What specific features of FS2 help SMEs and regional suppliers?

PD: LHC acknowledges that many SME organisations, as well as many micro-SMEs, have good industry knowledge in specialist areas. The intention is to tap into this so that we can provide our clients with an array of organisations with suitable capabilities to engage in various types of projects, specialisms and value, to suit our clients’ needs.

Can you explain how the process works once you have received registrations of interest?

PD: Once interest for the framework has been received from an organisation, details for the online portal In-Tend are provided. Organisations are then required to register on In-Tend against the project, where documents, communication and tender questions can be asked while the tender period is open.

When the tender period closes, the financial, regional, and technical quality evaluation starts. Bidders are scored against question criteria, and the highest-scoring (overall best value) organisations will receive framework award letters for acceptance. These letters will detail the lots and regions for which they have been successful. Those whose bids have been unsuccessful will also receive letters of notification to advise of the bid status.

When is FS2 likely to go live?

PD: The FS2 framework is earmarked to go live in early 2024. Early market engagement is currently taking place with clients and suppliers, who/which have previously registered interest. Tender documents will be made available to prospective suppliers to apply from June this year from LHC’s In-Tend Portal, which also has more information available here.


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