ASFP takes first steps with RIBA-based Work Plan for Fire Protection

Niall Rowan CEO of ASFP, introduced a FIREX panel session about improving passive fire protection, recapping the progress made by the ASFP panel of experts with the development of an overarching Construction Strategy. Since its inception at FIREX in 2016, the panel has convened at a number of meetings and a roundtable to improve collaboration across silos in the construction industry with the aim of engaging fire safety engineers at an earlier stage in the construction process. This has resulted in the first steps being taken to deliver a RIBA-based Work Plan for Fire Protection to combat the fragmentation with regard to best practice in the world of construction, from building contractors to insurers.

The ASFP panel of experts was set up to include stakeholders from across the construction industry and represents the views of the following groups: architects/designers, criminal regulatory lawyers, fire engineers, tier-one contractors, passive fire protection manufacturers, passive fire protection insurers, the PFP trade body, fire service, building control, insurers, building owners. A number of these experts were present at the panel session to discuss the new Work Plan and answer questions from the audience. Present: Paul Bussey architect RIBA committee; Damian Ward Technical Compliance manager; Colin Wells Aviva; Glenn Horton consultant fire engineer; David O Reilly ASFP Ireland; Carl Atkinson Chairman.

7 Work Stages of Fire Management Architect Paul Bussey (AHMM) introduced the Fire Risk Identification, Evaluation, Reduction & Communication Process by RIBA work stages the panel has been working on. This new work plan proposal investigates the possibilities for introducing a sign off process as construction progresses, with all information reaching the end-user to support adequate fire risk management. The RIBA work stages method was chosen to identify each of the stakeholders and to define their roles and responsibilities at each stage, specifying who would contribute, inspect and sign off. Bussey explained: Building regulations do not have a good process throughout architects are trained as general practitioners and cannot be expected to be expert in every field. So we are trying to work with other specialists and bring them in the process at the right time The RIBA work plan methodology is used by UK architects to manage and plan the building design and construction process. Bussey introduced the 7 work stages of fire management that have been added to this: (Stage 0-1) Fire Risk? L,M,H; (Stage 2-3) Fire Design Strategy; (Stage 3-4) Fire Design & CDM; (Stage 3-4) Contractor Fire Plan; (Stage 4-5) Specialist Fire Input; (Stage 6-7) Fire Management. As Bussey explained, Stages 2&3 are the early stages in which big decisions need to be made about risk assessment. As architects progress through the stages, more detailed performance criteria are required and collaboration with technical fire experts and engineers becomes key.

At the early stages obtaining the right information about interfaces between one material and the other is an important aspect of the fire risk assessment, but details about requirements are often lacking. Simplifying the whole process will make it clear at the tendering stage how far the design has been developed. The next hurdle to overcome is the prescriptive stage: here a lot of specialist input is required and the input has to be coherently integrated. In the Fire Management stage the project is handed over to the client who has to start maintaining the building and has to know what exactly has to be maintained. The panel is working towards a document that captures all of this process with details about installation and certification resulting in a manual that can be used to check the process. The aim is to encapsulate key information and identify the role of each of the stakeholders for each of the RIBA work stages. Currently a discussion is underway to see whether inspection sign-off should be a regulatory sign-off as it is in Ireland. Ensuring there is a paper trail of sign-offs is an important part of the improvement proposed. But who exactly is responsible for carrying these out has not yet been established.

David O Reilly explained that the current code of practice in Ireland gives the owner paramount responsibility for appointing competent designers, certifiers and contractors. These assigned certifiers must be registered architects, chartered engineers or chartered surveyors. Colin Wells (Aviva) also pointed out that insurers would like to be involved at the earliest possible stage of design. However, this can often result in a discussion about costs and a discussion about risk needs to be had at this stage to assess whether the building should itself be protected once everyone is out of the building. During the Q&A the question was raised why no one from local government was represented on the panel. However Rowan explained that a representative from a local authority is on the panel but could not attend the session, noting that they are one of the most important stakeholders for sign off. Another point of interest raised was the problem that approved inspectors are paid by the client and that this can cause a conflict of interest. The panel acknowledged this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Professional standards need to be raised and attitudes need to change to ensure standards.

The work stage plan formalises the process. It explains a very complicated system and perhaps a plan of work is also required for refurbishments. But it needs to be simplified into a usable document. Also more complex building will require more complex solutions but ultimately it is important to ensure collaborating on every project is coordinated. The challenge is to get the right people involved at the right time. Visit FIREX International for cutting-edge solutions, essential knowledge and the ability to grow your business by getting direct access to the whole fire safety industry. It is the perfect place to get your product in front of thousands of buyers, across a multitude of featured areas.

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