Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

Author Bio ▼

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.
July 5, 2021

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

FIREX Connect Day 2: Leading fire industry experts debate how we make buildings safer

The second day of content for FIREX Connect (24th June) was dominated by a panel discussion featuring leading fire safety experts from UK associations debating how we make buildings safer in the UK. There was also a FIREX Tech Talks session from Polyseam, as the company showcased a new system to help reduce the waste and environmental impact on construction sites.

Following on from an engaging day of content the day before, where several companies introduced new products and technologies for the fire safety market and a panel discussion on the evacuation of tall buildings, hundreds more professionals tuned in on Thursday 24th June for more exclusive content from FIREX Connect.

The morning session played host to Polyseam’s Protecta brand, which provides a range of fire protection products, including penetration and linear gap seals. Technical Manager, Duncan Alabaster, highlighted the company’s environmental credentials by showcasing its new Eco-Foil system. Said to be a cost-effective solution to help reduce the waste and environmental impact on construction sites, the system swaps a traditional, single use cartridge for a re-usable one which can be refilled up to 60 times with Protecta’s 300ml fire rate sealant foils. Duncan was then on hand to answer plenty of questions regarding the solution and the overall environmental impact of the construction sector.

Making buildings safer – what are they key issues?

BureauVeritas-TallBuildings-20In the afternoon, a panel of leading fire safety experts discussed the key challenges involved in making buildings safer. Ever since the events of the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people, building safety has been a major discussion point for new legislation and regulation from the Government, with new laws now beginning to go through the parliamentary process and be passed to ensure occupant safety.

Fire safety has a significant role to play in all of this, and FIREX Connect attendees were therefore treated to a insightful and engaging debate. As host, I was joined by:

  • Dennis Davis, Executive Officer, Fire Sector Federation
  • Niall Rowan, Technical & Regulatory Affairs Officer, ASFP
  • Jonathan O’Neill OBE, Managing Director, Fire Protection Association (FPA)
  • Will Lloyd, Technical Manager, Fire Industry Association (FIA)

A variety of topics were discussed, including a plethora of questions from the live audience, but there was particular focus on the incoming legislation and what affect this may have on the fire safety sector, such as the Fire Safety Act and Building Safety Bill. Crucially, it was also debated on how does the sector work to encourage a wide adoption of a new safety and risk conscious culture in construction and building safety – from planning through to occupation.

The discussion kicked off with each panellist offering their thoughts on the key challenges at the moment as to why buildings aren’t considered safe enough throughout the UK. Issues such as competency were raised, as well as ‘value engineering’ and a lack of knowledge of products and systems, and how they interact within the building. A poor awareness of fire protection measures, working in tandem with requiring a “better understanding of the performance of modern buildings in fire scenarios”, as a greater use of combustible materials are being used in construction, is a major concern, it would appear.

A recurring theme of the debate revolved around building safety too often being focused on high-rise residential buildings. At several points in the webinar, panellists pointed out that much of the current legislation and regulation is being focused on residential buildings over 18m, whereas there continues to be significant numbers of other structures and facilities left at risk, as those not in scope are left at risk of poorer standards.

Legislation, such as the Fire Safety Act which has just gone through the parliamentary process, and the Building Safety Bill, was also on the agenda. Advice was given on how to keep up with the latest (such as by signing up to IFSEC Global’s weekly fire briefing), alongside the impact training and competency programmes may have on improving construction standards.

Will Lloyd, the FIA’s Technical Manager, raised the point that fire risk assessors, and other professionals involved in fire safety, need to ensure they ‘know their limits’ and ensure they’re not taking on projects that they don’t have the knowledge and experience to carry out effectively. Niall Rowan added to this that the lack of requirements involved in becoming a fire risk assessor has been warned about for years – while a competency steering group and registers are coming in to being, the quality of work remains a concern.

Modern methods of construction, the insurance sector and training were also all discussed.

The webinar is now available to watch on-demand, below…


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