residential housing

Residential landlords still haven t learned Grenfell lessons especially in social housing, survey reveals

Fewer than one in four (23%) private landlords have been in touch with tenants to discuss fire safety measures since the Grenfell Tower fire and even fewer social landlords have done likewise. Three months on from the fire, which killed at least 80 people, only 10% of tenants in social housing say they have been contacted by the landlords about fire safety. That s one of the headline findings of a survey released to coincide with Fire Door Safety Week (25 September-1 October), and the results seem to demonstrate the need for such a campaign.

Some 39% of tenants polled said they had seen fire doors propped open and 21% had noticed damage to their building s fire doors. Forty percent of renters said there is no clear fire escape route displayed. Of the 18% that have reported a fire safety infringement or concern to their landlord, almost a quarter (24%) waited weeks for a response. It is astounding to learn that in the last three months so little has been done to address the concerns of tenants and residents. Hannah Mansell, spokesperson, Fire Door Safety Week A majority (55%) say they feel uninformed about what they should do in the event of a fire and about one in four (24%) feel more anxious about living in a rented apartment since the Grenfell Tower fire. This new research shows that landlords and building owners still have a long way to go meet their fire safety responsibilities, said Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for Fire Door Safety Week. It is astounding to learn that in the last three months so little has been done to address the concerns of tenants and residents. Misunderstood The role and importance of fire doors remains widely misunderstood, believes Mansell, who is also BWF technical manager, chair of the Passive Fire Protection Forum and a trustee of the Children s Burns Trust. 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. Mansell who has spoken to IFSEC Global more extensively about the fire safety landscape believes better education and greater transparency are essential to effect meaningful change. Crystal clarity 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. Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner, oversaw the fire and rescue service s response at Grenfell Tower. London Fire Brigade fully supports Fire Door Safety Week, she said.

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. We do what we can to advise the building owner, but it s time for the responsible person to really step up. Paul Fuller CBE, chief fire officer, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service 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 says: 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. Fire Door Safety Week is run by the BWF, the BWF-Certifire Scheme and the Fire Door Inspection Scheme in partnership with the Government s Fire Kills campaign. On 30 August the Government issued fresh advice for tenants and residents on steps to take if they have any concerns about fire safety in their building: In the first instance, contact the landlord or building owner with any concerns. If still concerned and not receiving reassurance, then contact the relevant local authority or local fire and rescue service for advice. IFSEC Global is proud to support Fire Door Safety Week, which runs from 25 September to 1 October. You can pledge your support for the campaign here, and by tweeting under the hashtag #FireDoorSafetyWeek and sharing or using the wealth of resources found in the campaign s toolkit which includes a downloadable Responsible Person poster. The site also includes advice aimed at fire and health and safety professionals.

Related Topics A rogue s gallery of fire doors unworthy of the name (and perfectly good ones rendered useless) We re often dealing with decades of neglect : Hannah Mansell on fire doors and the post-Grenfell rush to improve fire safety Watch: The consequences of badly specified and fitted fire doors plus 5 tips for getting it right

Dates announced for tall building fire safety events

FIRE EVENT The recent fires in Grenfell Tower (London) and The Torch (Dubai) have highlighted the need for improvements in tall building design, construction, management and firefighting. The Tall Building Fire Safety Network, which offers regular courses and conferences on tall building fire safety management in locations around the world, has announced a full schedule of events for 2017/18. The 5th International Tall Building Fire Safety Conference will take place between 19 21 June 2018 at Excel London alongside the FIREX International exhibition.

Day one will consider design and fire engineering in tall buildings, including fire testing of cladding systems; day two, management and insurance of fire risk in tall buildings, including construction and refurbishment; while the last day will consider firefighting in tall buildings. This will be followed on 22 June by a Tall Building Firefighting Summit . The objective of this Summit is to bring together fire chiefs and firefighters from around the world to discuss and challenge the current state of the art with regard to tall building firefighting. The event will be free to serving firefighters and seek to develop the next generation of firefighting procedures for tall buildings. Meanwhile, the next Institution of Fire Engineers Recognised Tall Building Fire Safety Management Course will take place at The Shard, London, UK between 11-15 Dec 2017. Other dates in the UK: 15-19 January 2018, Birmingham 19-23 February 2018, London 19-23 March 2018, Manchester 21-25 May 2018, London And in Australia: 9-13 October 2017, Perth 16-20 October 2017, Melbourne 23-27 October 2017, Sydney The Tall Building Fire Safety Management Training Course is packed with useful tools and techniques for those tasked with management. Training will address the issues raised by the Grenfell Tower fire. Instructors on the course are experts in their field and come with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Delivered over five days in existing Tall Buildings, the course covers a wide syllabus of relevant topics and case studies including: Prevention, including; case studies, fire risk assessment, management systems Detection and Alarm, cause and effect, maintenance, degraded systems, false alarms Escape, evacuation strategies, lifts, disabled escape, wayfinding, car parks Containment, passive barriers, steel protection, sprinklers, construction work Firefighting, fire statistics, fire growth, firefighting techniques, wind driven fires The course is ideal for anyone who has a responsibility for managing fire safety in a tall building, including high rise residential, hotels, business and office blocks and mixed use.

For further information on the courses or to book, please email Russ Timpson: [email protected]

West London housing provider is first organisation certified to PAS 7 FRMS standard

fire risk management system A West London housing provider has become the first organisation to have its fire risk management system (FRMS) certified to the PAS 7:2013 standard. RHP Group, which owns and manages around 10,000 homes across Richmond, Hounslow and Kingston, received a FRMS Management System Certificate from MMRA, a member of the Mott MacDonald Group, at a presentation ceremony on 8 August. Many in the fire industry may be heartened that a housing provider should be the first to meet the exacting criteria of PAS 7, given the fire safety deficiencies in social housing exposed by the recent blaze at Grenfell Tower.

MMRA Ltd is the first body to be accredited to assess the PAS 7 standard by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) as a third-party certification body. This is a great achievement by RHP in not only having a FRMS which meets the requirements of PAS 7, but also in being the first organisation ever to be awarded this certificate and setting a standard for other organisations to follow, said Paul Bardsley, head of MMRA. Launched in June 2017, the PAS 7 certification scheme which is UKAS-accredited provides guidance that stipulates minimum standards, functions and accessibility of fire safety management information across a corporate entity or multi-site organisation.

A documented FRMS demonstrates that an organisation as taken clear steps to reduce substantially the fire risk to people and assets and to meet its regulatory obligations under the Fire Safety Order. It also provides an auditable trail to back this up. Ben Bradford, managing director at BB7, outlined the merits of PAS 7 in a 2014 article.

Paul Bardsley, head of MMRA (Third from right), presented the certificate to Sara Tutton (third from left), RHP Group Head of Health and safety at a ceremony attended by CEO David Done RHP Group (second from left)