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Fire Safety commitments to be more rigorously enforced

Andrew Shankland, Managing Director, Linear Building Compliance

In recent years, fire safety has taken centre stage in the construction industry for all the wrong reasons. Following the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, and the subsequent Hackett Review, the focus on fire safety measures and individual responsibilities are set to be overhauled as we build on the learnings and recommendations from this terrible incident.

For some time, we have been calling on building owners and managers to act and adopt a new mindset to ensure they are meeting their responsibilities in relation to Fire Safety. The time is right to act in advance of the new guidance which will form the basis of the Building Safety Bill, anticipated to become law soon and change the face of the UK construction industry. The clear message here is that it is no longer acceptable to cut corners or pay lip service to regulations, as lives are truly at stake.

Our experience teaches us the importance of effective compartmentation of a building. This is the very bedrock of fire safety and one of the important facets of this compartmentation is provision of fire doors. These should not be treated as normal doors as they are vital elements of lifesaving equipment. A fire door set can also assist in stopping the spread of fire to other areas of a building. As such, it is paramount to ensure all fire doors are installed and maintained in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions, in order to save lives and minimise damage in the event of a fire. The ability for fire doors to make a material difference to the outcome of a fire cannot, and should not, be underestimated.

Looking ahead to the new proposed legislation, this will make it a legal requirement that all fire doors are installed and maintained in line with manufacturers’ guidance. So, in short this will put the onus on the building owner or manager to ensure that any installation or maintenance must be carried out by fully qualified, third-party certified installers, being legally enforceable, any failure to do this leaves building owners/managers open to criminal prosecution.

The simple way to minimise any risks, and avoid potential prosecution, is to ensure your fire doors and fire compartmentations are inspected and maintained by a reputable third-party certified installer, thus showing due diligence, and preventing possible future litigation.

Sadly, our experience shows us that there are still significant numbers of poorly installed fire doors and inefficient compartmentation measures within the current built environment, often in newly built premises. It is also worrying to consistently see many building owners and managers still failing in their duty to carry out competent Fire Risk Assessments in their premises with those that do them, often ignoring the recommendations contained within the reports.

At Linear Building Compliance we have adopted a dedicated and comprehensive approach to the provision of expert solutions covering fire compartmentation, fire doors to ensure compliance. Early engagement and collaboration are the keys to the most successful outcome, once again we would call upon the industry to act now and make changes ahead of legal enforcement, as it may protect your reputation, protect from potential prosecution but most importantly save lives.

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