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Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
October 19, 2022

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Fire safety

Calls for creation of a national fire safety strategy which goes “beyond the legislation”

A whitepaper was launched at the Fire Conference 2022 in October by the Fire Sector Federation and other industry leaders, calling for a wider discussion to create a national fire safety strategy in the UK.

FireSectorFederation-whitepaperMain-22The whitepaper, Developing a National Strategy for Fire Safety, sets out a possible pathway for the fire sector and government to work together to create a safer society – one which goes beyond the current legislative proposals.

The paper seeks government support to ensure that fire remains a priority, to integrate policy across departments and devolved administrations, and to make full use of the technical expertise within the specialised fire sector to achieve success.

The Federation suggests three areas for immediate priority that the fire sector itself will focus on:

  • raising competency
  • mitigating fire risk in modular and other buildings using mass timber
  • partnering the construction sector to raise awareness of fire risk from innovative new products and methodologies.

The proposals were developed by a new Fire Sector Federation Fire Safety Strategy Board, chaired by the Federation’s Policy and Strategy Lead, Jonathan O’Neill OBE, with leadership expertise drawn  from across a diverse range of sectors including, fire safety, fire and rescue, construction, insurance and building control.

Targeted actions will revolve around people, products and performance, such as recognising the value of third-party assurance, managing innovation in construction to bridge the gap prior to regulation and working to build competence and fire risk assessment and awareness.

Why is a national fire strategy required for the UK?

The group highlights that there are currently barriers that can and should be removed or managed to ensure that fire safety becomes and remains a priority. It acknowledges that while Britain has  been a leader in global fire engineering for building design, the progress has been evolutionary rather than planned.

Meanwhile, complacency has creeped in to the sector following two decades of low death rates leading policymakers to believe in the false assumption that they understood fire and had it under control.

Fire Sector Federation Chair, John Spencer, said: “While we have seen significant new legislation introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it is incumbent upon everyone in the built environment to avoid further complacency and address problems we know continue to exist and may evolve in future. Industry is well placed to understand these problems, and just as importantly, some of their solutions.

“Engaging positively and supportively with government, we believe a National Fire Strategy is the most effective way to achieve the shared aim of a fire safe society. Our desire is to have a road map to deliver an effective and resilient fire safety agenda aligned within a secure and sustainable environment and that requires collective actions in both industry and government.”

Jonathan O’Neill OBE, Chair of the Federation Fire Safety Strategy Board, added: “The Board’s vision is to create a single voice to support the management of fire risk and achieve a safer and sustainable solution with a clear, integrated pathway to success.  As an industry, we can use our unrivalled knowledge and experience to define the route to better fire safety.

“We need to break the cycle of stable door legislation following major tragedies and replace it with a proactive approach that secures for government and the sector a holistic solution to prevent and protect society and the economy from foreseen losses”.

“A new strategy will address the current gaps in fire safety and in doing so will enable the industry to help government set appropriate policy priorities for success. The white paper highlights the need for ‘fire’ to be a priority for government with a better understanding of the complex factors involved and for better integration of policy across ministerial portfolios. The fire sector promotes professional understanding in a responsible industry and wants a vibrant and successful UK. Awaiting another tragedy as the precursor to moving fire safety up the policy agenda would only represent  failure and suffering.”

The current membership of the Federation Fire Safety Strategy Board comprises a wide range of recognised leaders and experts in fire safety from the following organisations:

  • Fire Sector Federation
  • Association for Specialist Fire Protection
  • Fire Industry Association
  • AXA Insurance
  • Local Authority Building Control
  • Construction Products Association Marketing Group
  • Institution of Fire Engineers
  • National Fire Chiefs Council
  • Construction Industry Council
  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Download the whitepaper: Developing a National Fire Strategy for Fire Safety


 

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