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December 21, 2023


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

fire safety

Fire safety: Reflections and predictions from fire industry experts

2023 has proved to be a pivotal moment for fire safety in the UK, as long-awaited legislative changes, particularly in the form of amendments to the Building Safety and Fire Safety Act, finally came to fruition.

As we approach the year’s end, we’ve collected insights from fire industry experts on the significant milestones achieved, the evolution of fire safety in 2023 and 2024 forecasts.

The insights gathered from a diverse group of industry experts shows clear trends emerging. They underscore the importance of heightened collaboration, ongoing research and development, and the incorporation of technological innovations which are all set to be key focus areas for the industry in the new year.

There’s also a growing consensus for a more stringent approach to third-party testing, identified as an area for improvement with the potential to positively influence building and fire safety practices across the board.

Ben Hancock

Ben Hancock, Managing Director, Oscar Acoustics:

“Updates to fire safety regulations in 2023 have brought a renewed focus on the safety and compliance of working environments, particularly within office spaces. As a result, companies want proof that products can perform and requests for third-party certifications are increasingly common.

“We expect more relevant testing to be requested”

“We’ve also seen a sharp rise in fire safety awareness and knowledge. Specifiers want acoustic products that go above and beyond Approved Document B fire requirements, as the ideal is to produce little to no smoke and no droplets, supporting the safe escape of occupants.

“As fire safety strategies continue to evolve and safeguarding measures become paramount, we expect more relevant testing to be requested, as product fire performance can differ wildly between light and dark colours or thin and thicker applications.”

Rob Norton, UK Director, PlanRadar:

Rob Norton

“2023 was a year of much-needed legislation change, increasing the accountability of RPs and laying the foundations for watertight fire safety protocols. It was the push the sector needed.

“I predict an increasing reliance on digital tools and platforms”

“Moving into 2024, I predict an increasing reliance on digital tools and platforms as the industry looks to improve the speed and accuracy of fire safety processes. In particular, the stringent management of fire safety information and record-keeping. Efficiency will also be key, as fire-safety procedures become embedded companies will want to find ways of recording and sharing information more easily, be it between internal teams or those outside of their organisation.

“The golden thread will also continue to dominate workflows, and many businesses will increase investment in digital technologies and systems to ensure industry compliance. Going further, I hope to see further collaboration in construction’s approach to fire-safety, bringing greater consistency and quality to fire-safety checks and strategies.”

Ian King, COO, Zeroignition:

Ian King

“2023 has seen major developments in terms of addressing the gaps within fire safety. Added responsibilities for RPs (Responsible Person) has been a wake-up call and stricter requirements around the recording and sharing of fire safety information will go a long way to achieving the much-discussed, Golden Thread.

“The introduction of planning gateway one is another positive stride towards elevating building safety standards and refining risk management practices. But the recent much publicised fire on a construction site in Reading shows there’s a way to go.

“There’s promising emphasis on the use of wood in UK construction projects”

“Looking ahead to 2024, there’s promising emphasis on the use of wood in UK construction projects. As staunch advocates of timber construction, we hope this trend continues and recognise that when followed diligently, fire protection protocols around such structures can match the safety levels of other materials. Timber also facilitates faster, lower-carbon builds and boosts off-site construction. Modular construction, with its stringent quality control measures, stands out as a game-changer for future projects.

“It is my hope that regulatory reforms persist next year, particularly around increased investment into third-party testing facilities and product certifications. A focused effort on this area will help create a safer building product market and encourage a ‘safety first’ mindset. Let’s set our sights on combining safety with sustainability, for a better future for all.”

Peter Long, Divisional Fire & Certification Director, Optima Systems:

Peter Long

“The past year has highlighted some continuing issues around fire safety; mainly that the design process and strategies towards it are often not given enough time to allow proper coordination.

When faced with quick turnarounds, it’s difficult to ensure specified products have appropriate fire test evidence and their performance credentials replicate real-life application. Working in this way leaves space for mistakes and misspecification.

“We must explore ways to standardise levels of competency”

“Going into the new year, I’d like to see increased collaboration between all parties involved in the supply chain. It’s time for the industry to tackle fire safety projects in a holistic way, rather than the current siloed approach where construction products are specified and procured individually and without proper consideration for their direct interfaces.

“As a manufacturer of fire-rated steel-framed glass partitions, Optima is spearheading this initiative, going above and beyond what’s required when it comes to publishing fire-test evidence. It’s not possible to achieve assured fire safety if manufacturers, designers, specifiers and architects do not share information or recognise its importance.

“We must also ensure that each party understands the latest regulations and guidance, making sure fire safety is considered every step of the way. In the coming years we must explore ways to standardise levels of competency within the industry, starting with better training on products and systems as well as tools that improve communication.”

2023 Fire Safety eBook – Grab your free copy!

Download the Fire Safety in 2023 eBook, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry. Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, we explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.


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