Freelance journalist

Author Bio ▼

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, who has also contributed to numerous national business titles including Utility Week, the Municipal Journal, Environment Journal and consumer titles such as Classic Rock.
July 6, 2018

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FIREX 2018

All buildings should be publicly rated for fire and life safety, says Australian firefighter

Could TripAdvisor serve as a template when it comes to rating buildings for fire safety?

Speaking at FIREX 2018, Justin Francis from Queensland Fire Service said a ratings system, similar to those already used for environmental and food standards, could drive up safety standards.

“We rate restaurants, food and hotels,” he told delegates at London ExCeL. “Most of you here have looked at some rating in the last week for entertainment, yet when it comes to our largest investment – where we live – we have no idea what fire and life safety rating it has.

“When we advertise a property is for sale, we find there’s granite benchtop, but there’s no advice on the fire and life safety.”

Mr Francis said a building fire and life safety rating system would also create incentives for new buildings to be built above the minimum standards.

“An example would be installing occupant evacuation lifts, which could give a building a higher rating,” he explained.

“A building fire and life safety rating system would create incentives for new buildings to be built above minimum standards.”

“It could also create incentives for older buildings that were built to older standards. All of a sudden, we would have a trigger point for a building that is falling down to a one or two-star rating. Do we need to improve that building? Are you going to rent a building in a one-star building? Possibly not.

“This would then lead to tenants demanding for buildings of a higher fire and life safety rating and it would create change in the industry.”

Automotive analogy

He added there are already rating systems for cars and sustainability.

“In Australia ANCAP ratings advise the purchaser of a vehicle of the safety of that car,” he explained.

“We have the Neighbours environmental efficiency rating system, so when I walked into a building in Brisbane I can see it’s a five star environmentally rated building. And in New Zealand, they have implemented an earthquake prone rating system for buildings susceptible to earthquake. And depending on the rating they are forcing the buildings to improve.”

“Tall buildings are becoming more complex and holding more people, which will impact the way they are evacuated”

Last year, Mr Francis was awarded a fellowship to study evacuation procedures from tall buildings around the world.

He said tall buildings are becoming more complex and holding more people, which will impact the way they are evacuated.

Mr Francis cited the example of London’s The Shard, which contains offices, restaurants and hotel rooms and Roppongi Towers in Tokyo, which can house up to 100,000 people in a single location.

He also quoted the example of the Dubai Mall, which can have up to 700,000 people in its busiest day. Outside the mall, temperatures can reach more than 50 degrees, which makes evacuating people outdoors very difficult.

“Environmental efficiency has been a big focus in the last 10 years within the building development industry, but have we dropped the ball on the fire safety aspect,” said Mr Francis. “I’m pushing for more of a proactive approach to building fire safety.”

The Future of Fire Safety: download the eBook

Is the fire protection industry adapting to the post-Grenfell reality fast enough? At FIREX International 2019, Europe's only dedicated fire safety event, some of the world's leading fire safety experts covered this theme. This eBook covers the key insights from those discussions on the developments shaping the profession, with topics including:

  • Grenfell Inquiry must yield “bedrock change” – and soon
  • After Grenfell: Jonathan O’Neill OBE on how austerity and policy “on the hoof” are hampering progress
  • Hackitt’s Golden Thread: Fire, facilities and building safety
  • Fire safety community has to “get on board” with technological changes

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Helen Curry
Helen Curry
July 26, 2018 11:52 am

I know that in the UK, TripAdvisor has actively removed reviews which criticise fire safety standards at hotels