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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
September 18, 2023

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

building safety

‘Resident knowledge of building safety improving, but poor standards still persist’

Despite an improvement in resident accessibility to key building information, a new report has also revealed how poor standards and service still persist such as unaddressed maintenance requests, posing potential fire safety risks.

TallBuilding-Residential-HighRisk-KaiPilger-AlamyStock-23The whitepaper, released by Zutec and Createmaster, focuses on building safety and maintenance. Entitled: Building Safety in the Digital Age — Embracing Technology for Enhanced Building Information, it has been published ahead of the next provisions of the Building Safety Act 2022 coming into force in October 2023.

It aims to explore how the UK building industry has changed over the past five years, and the progress asset owners and building operators have made to manage information and address regulatory requirements, according to both firms.

It is focused on the UK residential and rental market and supported by two national sample surveys with non-freehold tenants.


Further reading: October deadline for higher risk building registration & Building Safety Act provisions approaching: What do you need to know?


The whitepaper highlighted that asset owners have improved in terms of quality and consistency of communication, with a 22% rise in resident satisfaction with asset owner communication in the 18 months between the two polls.

In 2023, almost half those polled had a greater knowledge of crucial documentation, especially fire certificates (44%) and the party responsible for them (90%). This suggests more robust protocols around building information provision to residents within the 18-month period.

Unaddressed issues 

AdobeStockauremar-FireSafetyManager-20However, whilst engagement has improved, actively addressing arising defects and damage appears a greater challenge. Consistent across both data sets, two thirds do not feel their maintenance requests are promptly resolved, with half reporting unaddressed issues.

This dissatisfaction extends to the quality of maintenance provided as the report indicates residents are now three times more likely to live in poorly maintained homes – service satisfaction declined 10% over the 18 months between the two polls.

According to the whitepaper’s supporting research, in 2023, only 2% felt somewhat unsafe in their homes, which is an improvement on 2021 results when some tenants stated they felt very unsafe.

It also outlined that resident awareness around correct fire procedure has risen, equipping them with a better understanding of how to protect themselves in case of future fire outbreaks.

However, it seems fire safety issues persist for a significant minority, some attributable to building occupants (items stored in corridors, fire doors propped open), others to the asset owner (no sprinklers, faulty fire alarms and locked fire escapes).

“Accelerate efforts to eliminate any risk”

Whilst the whitepaper does flag problems it shows, Zutec believes, that asset owners and facilities managers are on the ‘right track’ towards a better built environment, with maintenance spend increasing year-on-year.

Zutec COO, Emily Hopson-Hill said: “Asset owners should take heart in these findings, using them to accelerate efforts to eliminate any risk in their properties. Whilst there were significant improvements in information provision and communication, maintenance response times remain a frustration for tenants. We need to achieve an environment where residents feel 100% safe and satisfied in their homes and asset owners and facilities managers can make informed decisions quickly by easily accessing the right information when they need to.

“Digitising property information is one key, easy-to-achieve component, particularly as asset owners work to achieve compliance. As Building Safety in the Digital Age makes clear, with easy-to-access, affordable tools and platforms to achieve complete, up-to-date building data, there can now be no excuse not to invest in this crucial, legal requirement.”

 

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