prevention

10 Years after Penhallow: Have we learned anything?

It is now 10 years after Penhallow, which has been described as the worst British hotel fire for 50 years and I think that it is important to look back at what we have learnt from this tragic failure of our fire safety laws. To add to this we now have the Grenfell Tower Fire that will surely be the worst fire that the UK has seen in living memory. I am also including some of the fire safety failures that I found during my recent undercover inspection of hotels in the South West for the BBC to illustrate the problem.

The Penhallow Hotel Fire 2007 For those who may have forgotten what happened this was an article that I wrote following the fire The Penhallow fire: accident, arson or imcompetence? The one part of this tragic incident that has remained with me over this period is this statement given by one of the witnesses at the inquest. She told the inquest how she saw one of the victims, 80-year old Joan Harper, trapped in her blazing room. She said that firefighters with just one engine and no firefighting ladder were to ill-equipped to come to the rescue. Describing the moment firemen did arrive at the scene, she is quoted as saying: Everybody was shouting at the fire brigade to save the lady, but they did not take any actions to save her When I saw their single fire engine with one hosepipe, this just reinforced my despair. They did not have the capability to deal with the fire. Tragically, this was not the only fatality as Peter Hughes jumped from a third story window and his 86 year old mother Monica Hughes also perished. At the inquest there were also many other factors that came to light including a poor fire risk assessment, poor access, lack of water, lack of equipment (high rise ladder) and the FRS (Fire and Rescue Service) being sent to the wrong address. Following this incident the FRS went around the country informing interested parties about this fire and when I asked them about aspects such as being sent to the wrong address they replied that they had no knowledge of this but these items are clearly in the inquest records both written and recorded.

The Grenfell Tower Fire 2017 Whilst obviously I cannot say a lot about this fire I think it is important to say that, if what has been reported in the media is true, then there are a number of similarities to the Penhallow Hotel Fire particularly in respect of people being trapped in the building and late arrival of a high rise ladder.

10 Years of Fires So what have we learnt in the last 10 years as we are always informed following these tragic incidents that we must learn from these tragic fires so they never happen again . Clearly when we find out what happened in the Grenfell Tower Fire there does need to be some major changes and Brexit should give us the opportunity to make these changes but I wonder if the will and impetus is there to make the radical changes that in my opinion are needed. Another important aspect that has come to light since the Grenfell Tower Fire is the subject of how we investigate serious fires and it is my view that I have stated many times that we need to establish a more robust, independent and open system that people can trust and respect. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 Whilst Fire Certificates issued under the Fire precautions Act had their drawbacks I think that on balance it was a far better system than Fire Risk Assessments that in my opinion don t really work. There are many reasons for this and one of them is how the legislation is enforced. Figures released to the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act showed the number of specialist staff in 26 fire services had fallen from 924 to 680, a loss of 244 officers between 2011 and 2017. Between 2011 and 2016, the government reduced its funding for fire services by between 26% and 39%, according to the National Audit Office, which in turn resulted in a 17% average real-terms reduction in spending power. Together with cuts to the FRS we have to look at how FRA are carried out and with no real standard assessment in place and poorly defined competency levels this was a recipe for failure. I found these words from a very well respected hotelier during the BBC investigation very interesting: I wish that the old system of fire certification with annual inspection was still in place.

The interesting thing here is that back in the 70 s/ 80 s each Fire Brigade interpreted legislation differently from area to area. The problem now is that consultants and operators interpret differently which of course in turn leads to a plethora of interpretations. In addition it is hard enough being a good hotelier let alone an expert in Health and safety/fire/food safety etc etc as well, however we do try to comply coupled with contracted professional guidance. Whilst the RRO appears on the surface to offer a better solution to our fire safety needs by placing the onus on the responsible person in practice I don t think that it works for the following reasons: Poorly defined standards. Poorly defined competency levels Poor enforcement and training/experience. Lack of clarity and transparency by enforcing authorities. Fire Deaths The latest figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government show that 294 people died in fires in England during 2015, an increase of 21% compared with the 242 deaths recorded in 2014 and the largest increase since figures were published in 2001-02. The rise comes after a decade in which the long-term trend in the death toll from fires fell, from a peak of 469 in 2003 and obviously don t take into account the Grenfell Tower Fire. Significant Fires There are a number of significant fires that I think highlight why the system doesn t work and these are just four that highlight the tragic loss of life, our heritage and to fire service personnel.

The Clandon Park Fire 2015 I looked at this investigation https://www.ifsecglobal.com/clandon-park-fire-questions-from-national-trust-member/ because I was a National Trust Member and would like to have seen what the NT investigation had to say and because I had some concerns about the FRS Report but even though I registered an official request and complaint the NT has never made this information available about what steps they took to protect our heritage neither did they address my complaint. Whilst there was no life loss in this fire it shows how difficult it is to get answers to questions raised by the media and public. The Cathedral Green Fire (Royal Clarence Hotel) 2016 This hotel was destroyed by a fire that started in Cathedral Green in Exeter and again it raised questions from the media and public that would not be answered. This was the article that I wrote https://www.ifsecglobal.com/royal-clarence-hotel-fire-destruction-uks-oldest-hotel/ unfortunately, we still don t have answers to these important questions. Lakanal House Fire 2009 Tragically, six people, including three children, died on the 10th and 11th floors. It is reported that those who died had been told to stay in their homes by 999 operators, who believed fire safety measures would be sufficient to prevent flames and smoke from reaching them . Southwark council admitted it failed to address fire risks at Lakanal House in Camberwell, south-east London, in the years leading up to the UK s worst ever tower block fire up to the 3 July 2009. Atherstone on Stour Warehouse Fire 2007 On 2 November 2007 a major fire occurred at a warehouse near the village of Atherstone on Stour in Warwickshire. Four firefighters from the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service were killed whilst tackling the blaze.

This was the largest loss of life for a fire brigade in the United Kingdom for 35 years. BBC Inside Out South West Investigation This is the third investigation that I have carried out for the BBC and this does not convince me that the level of fire safety is improving in fact quite the opposite. The BBC asked me to look at two hotels that had recently appeared on the Enforcement Register and the first one was so bad that I notified the FRS of my concerns because of a missing fire door at the head of the stairs and a fire exit that would not open. The second one had done some fire safety improvement work but still had many problems including combustible rubbish and compressed gas cylinders stored under an external fire escape, poor fire compartmentation and poorly fitting fire doors. The third hotel was one that I could see had carried out a lot of fire safety work but needed improvement because of poor housekeeping, unprotected escape routes, fire doors wedged open and poor electrical installation. It was also good that the hotel owner was very cooperative and agreed to action the items that I had raised. The fourth hotel was one that had not been covered in the TV programme but one that I had stayed in and this was a hotel that had a great 150 year history together with many fire safety problems these were just a few: Hotel bedroom fire door with lock removed Corridor fire door poorly fitting at head Poorly fitting fire door in corridor Unprotected window adjacent to external fire escape This is where both fire escapes meet note the portable building and ventilation plant under the common bridge and staircase. There were a lot more problems that I noted but I think that you can understand my concerns I did write to the hotel and the FRS and the hotel responded indicating that they wanted to resolve the problems. Clearly, this hotel would have had a Fire Certificate under the FP Act together with a number of Fire Risk Assessments under the RRO so how did we get to this position?

1. Looking at the hotel and the standard of fire safety I can clearly see what was done under the FP Act to gain a Fire Certificate and this would probably have included bedrooms fire doors and separation of the main stair case to allow people to by pass it.

2. It is rather more difficult to establish what has been done under the RRO as the standard does not appear to have changed a great deal but there may have been some upgrading of the fire alarm and automatic fire detection but this is just a guess.

3. Clearly, the biggest problem here is where to two fire escapes converge above the portable building and the associated ventilation plant below the one stair case as any fire here may render both escape routes useless. Unfortunately, in my travels I find many hotels with similar problems and this is why I feel that the RRO is not working.

During the course of the BBC investigation I stayed in 2 hotels and visited two more and all four had problems of varying concern including one where the FRS took 7 bedrooms out of use following my report because a fire door had been removed at the head of a stair case and a fire exit would not open. I was interesting to note that this hotel had recently been the subject of enforcement action. Where to now for fire safety? The last 10 years have seen some significant failures of our fire safety standards that have clearly not given us the level of fire safety that I feel are required in this day and age.We have seen significant failures in both life and property safety in the UK and whilst it is hoped that the outcome from the Grenfell Tower tragedy will provide an answer I think that with Brexit on the horizon we need to think about how we can overcome these problems with a more open and transparent fire safety regime that people can have confidence in. Having started my career in the age of fire certificates I am well aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this form of control and wonder if a combination of fire certificates and risk assessments may provide a better solution. This could take the form of a combined building control and fire certification authority that certified the building structure and approved the occupiers operational plan for its use. I does appear inconsistent in this day and age when we can go to a restaurant and find out its hygiene rating or buy a car and find out its crash rating but have no idea of the fire safety level of buildings that we stay/work in together with no way of establishing this. It would be nice to think that this information could be obtained by Freedom of Information (FOI) requests but the FRS are constrained by the Data Protection Act and are also using the response that they cannot provide this information because it may be used for acts of terrorism. I was recently trying to establish how many fire risk assessments that selected FRS had carried out in hotels and how many were found to be unsatisfactory and I was surprised at the variation in replies whilst a number gave me their figures, one indicated that they did not record this information and one required a payment of 450 for the information.

I would have personally thought that this was fairly basic information that should be easily available. I think that now is the time that the fire safety profession needs to get behind a scheme to improve fire safety to protect people and our heritage and not just to protect individual organisations or interests. Free Download: A Technical Guide to Fire Detection and Alarm Systems Fire legislation, which is written for the purpose of life safety, requires duty holders in non-domestic premises to assess fire risks and put in place arrangements for the prevention of fire and to protect people from fire when it occurs.

This guide provides an overview of the need to know information for fire detection and alarm systems and your legal requirements, key actions, key terms and more.

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What is surveillance?

Surveillance is the continuous gathering of health data needed to monitor the population’s health status in order to provide or revise needed services. Note the words “dissemination…to those who need to know” in both definitions. This means that collection of health data without sharing and using those data is NOT surveillance.

A little story:

When one of us asked the Ministry of Health staff if they had good communicable disease surveillance data, they proudly took him to a large closet, opened the door, and showed him stacks from floor to ceiling of yellow, moulding surveillance forms which had been completed and submitted to the Ministry over the past years. He asked if anyone had ever looked at these forms, and they acted very surprised at such a bizarre idea.

In sum, surveillance is data for action. If you don’t plan to take any action, don’t waste your time doing surveillance. If you need to take action, but need data to do so, consider surveillance as one of the data collection methods available.

References

  1. ^ Outline (conflict.lshtm.ac.uk)

BSIA endorses guide on prevention of false hold-up alarms

The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has contributed to a new guide published to help installers of hold-up alarms (HUAs) to reduce the number of false alarms. The document, created by the National Police Chiefs Council Security Systems Group, discusses the impact that false alarms can have on police resources before offering recommendations on how installers can help to reduce these incidents. Recommendations include taking HUAs out of service before work starts and remembering to return them to full service once work has been completed.

Others including reminding users of the proper use of HUAs as advised by the police. The guide reiterates such alarms are for use during an attack or threat of an attack involving people and staff at premises protected by this type of alarm. These, and other, simple steps can cut the number of false alarms, reducing the impact on the police whilst maintaining the reputation of alarm receiving centres and installers. David Wilkinson, the BSIA s director of technical services, said: Preventing false hold-up alarm activations will help to ensure that hold-up alarms remain an effective method to deliver a rapid police response and maintain users confidence in security systems. Free Download: A Technical Guide to Fire Detection and Alarm Systems Fire legislation, which is written for the purpose of life safety, requires duty holders in non-domestic premises to assess fire risks and put in place arrangements for the prevention of fire and to protect people from fire when it occurs. This guide provides an overview of the need to know information for fire detection and alarm systems and your legal requirements, key actions, key terms and more. Click here to download now Related Topics Free cybersecurity seminar will focus on physical security systems and star ethical hackers Mike Tennent of Tavcom Training wins posthumous industry contribution award all winners revealed Want to export outside the UK in the defence and security markets?

Get some advice at IFSEC 2017

Majority of renters left in dark on basic fire safety measures

New research has shown three months after the Grenfell Tower disaster that the majority of tenants still feel left in the dark when it comes to fire safety. The study of more than 1,000 tenants in August 2017, commissioned by the British Woodworking Federation and released to mark Fire Door Safety Week, showed 55% of tenants do not feel fully prepared on what to do in the event of a fire. It also showed some 40% of renters said there was not a clear fire escape route displayed in their building.

More than a third of tenants (39%) said they had seen fire doors propped open as well. Renters also complained about damage to their building s fire doors 21% and just under a fifth (18%) said they reported a safety infringement or concern to their landlord but a quarter waited weeks for a response. Landlords Research also revealed that 10% of social landlords and 23% of private landlords had been in contact with tenants since the Grenfell disaster to discuss fire safety measures. As a result of the disaster, a quarter of adults surveyed feel more nervous/anxious about living in a rented apartment since the tragedy and the issues it exposed with regard to fire safety. Free toolkit A free toolkit of resources has been put together by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) to provide information and fire safety advice, including a downloadable Responsible Person poster. Further information for fire, health and safety professionals can be found at firedoorsafetyweek.co.uk/advice/ Hannah Mansell, a spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week, as well as BWF technical manager, chair of the Passive Fire Protection Forum and a trustee of the Children s Burns Trust, said: This new research shows that landlords and building owners still have a long way to go meet their fire safety responsibilities. It is astounding to learn that in the last three months so little has been done to address the concerns of tenants and residents. Many people do not realise that the real job of a fire door is to hold back fire, smoke and toxic gases, delaying the spread around a building and keeping the vital means of escape route clear. They only work properly if they are specified, manufactured, installed and maintained correctly, and of course, closed when a fire breaks out.

This is especially important in high rise buildings, houses of multiple occupancy and other types of shared sleeping accommodation. Checking fire doors should be part of a regular fire risk assessment. This should examine all aspects of fire safety management, including active and passive fire protection measures, signage, means of escape and the specific fire plan procedures. There needs to be crystal clarity about the Responsible Person and a total transformation of attitude towards fire safety of tenants in rented accommodation. Our focus for Fire Door Safety Week in this pivotal year is to ensure all landlords and tenants have the knowledge and resources they need to stay safe. Life-changing role of fire doors Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner who oversaw the fire and rescue service s response at Grenfell Tower, said: London Fire Brigade fully supports Fire Door Safety Week. This is an important campaign which drives home the potentially life-saving role that fire doors play in buildings, especially residential buildings such as tower blocks. It is extremely concerning that the lives of the public and our firefighters are still being put at risk by poorly maintained fire doors and people acting irresponsibly by removing self closers or by keeping doors wedged open. Good fire doors help stop fires from spreading.

Fires that spread put more lives at risk and I would urge everyone to check that their fire doors are properly maintained and kept shut. Remember they don t just protect you, but everybody in the building. Paul Fuller CBE, chief fire officer of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and chairman of the Fire Sector Federation, said: It is simple. Proper fire doors save lives, but only if they are correctly made and installed, and certainly not if they are wedged open or in disrepair. Too often our officers walk into a building and see fire doors in an appalling state. We do what we can to advise and enforce the responsibilities of a building owner, but it is time for the Responsible Person to really step up. That s why we are supporting Fire Door Safety Week there can be no excuse, all the resources you need to promote door safety are there on the website and free to download. National campaign Fire Door Safety Week, a national campaign now in its fifth year, is run by the BWF, the BWF-Certifire Scheme and the Fire Door Inspection Scheme, in partnership with the Government s Fire Kills campaign. It aims to raise awareness about the role of fire doors in preventing life changing injuries and the legal responsibilities of managing fire door safety.

Fire Door Safety Week 2017 took place from 25th September 1st October. This article originally appeared on IFSEC Global s sister site in health & safety, SHP Online Free Download: A Technical Guide to Fire Detection and Alarm Systems Fire legislation, which is written for the purpose of life safety, requires duty holders in non-domestic premises to assess fire risks and put in place arrangements for the prevention of fire and to protect people from fire when it occurs. This guide provides an overview of the need to know information for fire detection and alarm systems and your legal requirements, key actions, key terms and more.

Click here to download now Related Topics

Why Do We Need Surveillance Cameras in Public Places …

With the ever-advancing technology field come conflicting opinions about what should and should not be used. One of the pieces of technology that causes a bit of controversy is surveillance cameras that are placed in public. Although some believe that they should not be used, they can be an important part of society and can be quite helpful.

Why Do We Need Surveillance Cameras In Public Places ...

Surveillance cameras are for safety. credit: Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Public Safety

Surveillance cameras can be used to keep an eye out for any crimes that are in progress or that can be stopped before they even start. If a suspicious person or item is in the area, the proper authorities can be informed before any crime can be committed or damage can be done. In addition, the area can be cleared of any people as a precautionary measure.

Can Help Catch a Criminal

If a crime is committed and there is a surveillance camera, there is a good chance that the authorities will be able to get a viable image of the criminal. The camera footage can be used to put the image on posters and aired on television where someone might be able to recognize who the person is. Without the surveillance camera, it may be more difficult to get a detailed description of the perpetrator.

Sense of Security

For some people, knowing that surveillance cameras are in certain areas can help create a sense of security. No one wants to fear having to go into an area or feel as though she is not safe. Some may believe that there may be less of a chance that a crime will be committed if there are cameras in the area watching over them.

Crime Prevention

Some businesses and authorities may place cameras in areas in hope that it will prevent crimes from being committed in the first place. If a person knows that there is a surveillance camera in a specific area, he may be less willing to commit a crime at that location for fear of being caught. Some cities are even putting, or have already put, surveillance cameras on stoplights in hopes that it will prevent people from speeding or committing other traffic offenses.

Evidence

In court, the footage from the surveillance camera that captured a crime can be used as evidence against the accused. Without the footage, there may be little to no evidence to go on and the criminal could go free.

In some cases, the footage may also help prove the innocence of someone who was accused of a crime, but did not commit it.

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Watch: The LPCB Attack Testing Zone at IFSEC 2017

Security doors, perimeter fencing, shutters and covers were subjected to hammers, wire cutters and other handheld tools in the LPCB Attack Testing Zone at IFSEC 2017. The new area, which took place within Borders & Infrastructure Expo itself debuting and is expected to return again for the 2018 show, saw technicians from the LPCB put non-approved products to the test alongside LPCB-approved alternatives that have achieved a minimum of LPS 1175 SR-3 compliance. We ve put together a highlights video, below, from the Attack Testing Zone.

The LPCB Loss Prevention Certification Board was set up by certification body BRE Global. embedded content Free Download: Securing UK borders: An examination of the implications of leaving the EU for UK border management. Recent tragic events in Manchester and London have, among other things, underscored the importance to national security of getting Brexit right.

This report considers the implications of leaving the EU for the management of the UK s borders and making it as easy as possible for international business to thrive and legitimate movement to occur in a post-Brexit UK.

Click here to download now

GAO WEST NILE VIRUS OUTBREAK.

Lessons for Public Health …

Transcription

1 GAO United States General Accounting Office Report to Congressional Requesters September 2000 WEST NILE VIRUS OUTBREAK Lessons for Public Health Preparedness GAO/HEHS

Smart buildings case study: 240 Blackfriars, London download

Smart Buildings Case Study: 240 Blackfriars, London Download

When UBM London relocated to new premises a few yards down the road from their current office, they were moving light years away in terms of technology. In moving to 240 Blackfriars, a 19 storey tower completed in 2015, the company which organises IFSEC International and publishes this website they sought to reshape working culture and automate and integrate building technologies for a smarter building environment. Download this smart buildings case study, which is part of the Protecting London series, to find out more about cloud-based booking systems, water-saving devices, solar-controlled blinds, access-card-controlled lockers, cashless vending, desk-booking systems and other automated or smart technologies.

This case study features insights from 240 s head of facilities management, Stephen Vause, Euroworkspace MD Adrian Cowley and head of PMO (project management office) David Self.

Complete the form to download the whitepaper.

Security Guarding – CTR Secure Services

Our SIA licensed security officers can be integrated with additional services provided by us or as a stand-alone requirement, they can provide an overt presence in order to deter and respond to any form of incident. Having security guards at your location who are presentable, correctly trained and have a high level of motivation is vital to your organisation, not just from a security perspective but also as an extended representative of your organisation. With this in mind we provide the highest level of trained security staff on a permanent or semi-permanent basis in line with your requirement. All security officers are vetted to BS7858 standards and we have gained accreditation through the Security Industry Authority1 (SIA) as approved contractors and members of the British Security Industry Association2 (BSIA). We also hold ISO 9001 and BS EN 18001 accreditations.

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With the purpose of protecting people, property and assets then our services for security guarding will enable your business to remain secure and also to maintain business continuity. All our officers have undergone the necessary Security Industry Authority training in their field and in addition have also undergone extensive internal training, this ensures that they are at the highest level when it comes to doing their job for your company. In addition to this, every security officer is backed by our company including relevant policies and procedures, and administrative support. To ensure that you will always have cover then we have a proven back up of trained reserve personnel, who are able to deploy at short notice. At every step then you will have contact and support where needed from a duty security manager, their role is to ensure that any queries you may have are answered in a timely and professional manner.

If you are a business that is looking to integrate security guard services into your business or whether you have an exisiting security company in place but are not confident in their approach or ability, then we would welcome any enquiry and offer an in depth analysis of your business and actual requirement with a view of increasing security but with a strong emphasis on actual needs and relevance. As a company we do not believe in the use of any form of security just for the sake of having security, and this means ensuring that we understand your business and the risks faced. This way we are then able to propose a solution that better meets your individual needs and this may include an integrated approach using other forms of security, this in turn may also reduce your current security expenditure although we will never sacrifice results over cost.

Contact a member of our team to arrange a no obligation assessment.

References

  1. ^ undefined (www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk)
  2. ^ British Security Industry Association (www.bsia.co.uk)