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Supplier Spotlight – Horbury Property Services: Getting It Right With Fire Risk Assessments

Richard Sutton, General Manager at Horbury Property Services, looks at the importance of passive systems, such as fire doors and other fire compartmentation.

“For many building owners, businesses and landlords, fire safety starts with the fire risk assessment. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order 2005 requires that this must be carried out by a competent person… someone with ‘sufficient training and experience or knowledge’.  But the question many people are asking is, how do you determine how much training, knowledge or experience is enough? Many organisations are not aware of any third party accreditations for fire risk assessors, or simply don’t know or check just what is required to become a good fire risk assessor.

Obviously practical experience counts for a great deal, as does having an understanding of building regulations, construction methods and building materials, which allows the assessor to better judge the risks.   There have been cases that have gone through the courts that have involved fire risk assessors being jailed for failing to carry out a suitable fire risk assessment.  Without adequate training and the relevant knowledge and observational skills, it is highly likely that breaches of passive or active fire protection measures will go undetected in social housing.

Take, for example, fire doors.  A typical fire risk assessment of a set of fire doors requires only a visual inspection – it does not require that every door is inspected.  According to FDIS (Fire Door Inspection Scheme) potential punishments for fire door related convictions can include up to two years in jail and unlimited fines.

The reason that fire doors are failing in such large numbers is that any problems are not being picked up in fire inspections, or thorough inspections are not being carried out by the responsible person.  Without adequate training, a person would not be able to know whether a fire door would fail, or whether it would perform as it should, offering adequate protection in the event of a fire.

The Exova BM Trada certified course is one that is widely recognised and respected in the fire safety industry and housing providers should check that their contractors are certified to meet this standard.

If fire door inspections are not being carried out by fully approved and certified individuals, how can building occupants and owners be safe in the knowledge that they are being given the best protection.  Often as part of the fire risk assessment, a small sample of fire doors are given a visual inspection.  If the individual is untrained, they are unlikely to pick up any faults with the fire door and could lead to a building having several doorsets that are not compliant.  In the case of a fire, this could be a very serious situation that is putting lives at risk and resulting in serious consequences and fines.  Often after fire door inspections, remedial works may be required to protect occupants and ensure compliance, which needs to be part of regular planned maintenance for a building.

Regular fire door inspections

With the current concerns about fire risks in residential and commercial buildings, then there is a very real need to prioritise inspection of fire doors to ensure that remedial work can be carried out as quickly as possible.

Indeed, there is a lack of understanding about the need for fully certified fire doors.  Budgetary pressures again may mean that an inferior fire door is specified which may not be certified to perform to either 30 or 60 minutes’ fire resistance.  This could mean that it does not meet that building’s minimum fire safety requirements.

The same is true of fire compartmentation.   This needs to be considered as part of the overall fire risk assessment.  However, this is often not given due consideration as the responsible person in most cases will not have the skills or understanding to be able to carry this out effectively.  As fire compartmentation requires just a visual inspection, it needs specialist skills, expertise and equipment.

Fire compartmentation

It is not just fire doors that are critical to maintaining fire compartmentation in buildings. A local authority building that we inspected recently was found to have 168 breaches to its fire compartmentation.  A thorough inspection of its fire compartmentation had not been carried out since it was built.  Most of the breaches were due to IT and mechanical work being carried out on the building without the correct fire stopping being put in place.    It is surprising how often compartmentation has been breached, which leads to the risk of rapid smoke spread in the event of a fire.

An added concern is how, due to budgetary pressures, remedial work on fire doors is being carried out these days on a responsive basis, rather than as a regular programme of planned preventative maintenance.  This has created a bubble of repairs that are required and an increase in the potential risk.  If issues are identified, it may be the case that work cannot be carried out for several weeks if a framework of approved contractors is not in place.

It is quite a worry that many public and private buildings are still not being regularly and competently inspected for their fire doors and fire compartmentation.

The fact remains that the fire risk assessment has to be taken seriously.  As part of this, only fully trained and certified fire door and passive fire inspectors should be carrying out assessments of fire doors and compartmentation.  This will ensure that building are compliant and occupants are offered the best possible protection.”

For more information about fire compartmentation, fire stopping and fire stopping inspections, contact the Horbury Property Services team on: 01709 917555 or visit the website www.horburypropertyservices.com.

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Press enquiries: Marina Wood, Dragonfly PR, Tel 01709 300130 or email: marina@dragonflypr.co.uk

 

The Social Housing Compliance Forum Review

The Social Housing Compliance Forum met again last month for another series of discussions and guest speakers covering a range of the most pressing issues facing maintenance and planned and void property works.

First up was Ryan Dempsey, Chief Executive Officer of The Compliance Workbook, who gave a presentation based on his expertise in the field of Electrical Testing.  Ryan’s presentation covered the core components of what makes up effective Electrical Testing; from strategy and planning, asset management, the risk and review process, and lifecycle delivery.  His session finished with a look to the future of compliance management.  From big data to machine learning, compliance is moving into an age where technology and innovation will only grow in importance.

Richard Townsend, Technical Development Engineer at Napit followed with an interactive session looking at EICR observations and codes.   Presenting a series of electrical observational tests, forum member’s had to decide what EICR code they would ascribe to each one, if needed. This prompted discussion on a range of issues, from the role of the manufacturer to the installer becoming the designer and accepting responsibility for faults.

Following a request from members to have a session dedicated to sprinklers in high rise buildings, the Forum was happy to welcome Keith MacGillivray, Chief Executive, British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association. Keith began by looking to establish a consensus on what sprinklers were, highlighting the many questions he had been asked in his role; do they make fires worse? how much water do they use in comparison to the Fire Service? And what are the labour and cost implications, whether by installing or retrofitting sprinklers?  The session emphasized the role of fire sprinklers in preventing deaths in tower fires and put forward a case for retrofitting.

Moving onto boiler failures and engineer call outs, John Jackson, Area Sales Manager for the Yorkshire and North East at Sentinel spoke next.  John began by highlighting the large number of boiler call outs that are to systems that actually do not have the correct water treatment and what products are available to clean, protect, and maintain water systems.  Water treatment works in a similar way to topping up the oil of a car – it’s an important part of ensuring the system lasts longer and performs better.

Maintaining a focus on boilers, Peter Hobson, Regional Sales Manager at Neomitis Ltd updated attendees on the need-to-know information following April’s introduction of the Boiler Plus legislation.   For combi boilers, the new minimum performance standards in homes in England is now  set at 92%ErP.  It was also integral that combi boiler installations included certain features (although not all at the same time) such as the monitoring of either external weather data, a function to maintain internal temperatures, or functions that promote energy efficiency or automation.

As with all Social Housing Compliance Forums, the day ended with the meeting of a dedicated gas group.  As part of this, Neil Holden from the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting and Marr Darville, Head of Field Performance Certsure LLP fielded questions from members. The conversation centred around the 18th Amendment regulations.  Attendees sought clarification on the new Code 3 protection regulations; if something complied with the old regulations but not the new, would this be coded as unsafe?  The consensus around the room was that this would not necessarily be the case, but it was best practice to ensure people were aware of potentially unsafe areas.  Finally, the group agreed that the next meeting would consider radon gas as part of the agenda.

Ryan Dempsey from The Compliance Workbook and Keith MacGillivray, from the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association will be speaking at the upcoming NHC Health and Safety in Housing Conference taking place 12 July 2018 in Leeds, book your place now at https://www.northern-consortium.org.uk/event/health-safety-housing-2/.

The next meeting of the Social Housing Compliance Forum will be taking place September 2018.  For further information please contact Liam Gregson, Member Engagement Officer, Northern Housing Consortium, by emailing liam.gregso@northern-consortium.org.uk.

 

Consortium Procurement Surgeries for Electronic Payment Services

We want to speak to members who are you currently working with us on the Electronic Payment Services Framework or who have an interest in electronic payment services in general. We are hoping to undertake a series of surgeries throughout June to find out our members’ views on the current electronic payment services agreement, the challenges, what they would like to see going forward and their requirements in general.

We are planning to hold four surgeries in the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland, the North West and North Wales, the Midlands and the South and South Wales. The events will offer attendees the opportunities to talk with our Head of Procurement, Louise Chase and Procurement and Contracts Officer, Drew Frame about any issues they are experiencing and any feedback they have. The responses will then be taken forward to help improve the framework for members.

If your organisation is interested in attending one of the above events further details can be found here https://www.northern-consortium.org.uk/event/eps-surgeries/ or please get in touch with Drew Frame at drew.frame@consortiumprocurement.og.uk or calling by 01915661035.

Marsh Ltd will be our Consultant for new commercial insurance solution

We are delighted to announce that we have appointed Marsh Ltd as our Consultant for a new commercial insurance solution. Through our engagement activity we felt that a commercial insurance solution would be beneficial to our members and we will be working with Marsh to offer this in time for 2019 renewals.

Our Procurement and Contracts Officer Drew Frame said “we are really excited to continue our relationship with Marsh offering tailored bespoke insurance policies to meet individual requirements. Whether it’s public liability, medical malpractice cover, cyber liability or cover for commercial building work we can help provide a wide range of insurance solutions for our members”.

For further information or to get involved please contact Drew Frame.

Supplier Spotlight – Domestic Sprinklers: Safer High Rise Living

Written by Connor Saddington, Domestic Sprinkler’s

From 2007 in England all new high-rise apartment buildings greater than 30m in height have had to fit sprinkler systems fitted. This is in contrast with Scotland where the limit stands at 18m and since 2016 in Wales all new apartment buildings and houses must have sprinkler systems.

Due to this regulation only coming into effect in 2007 there are still a great number of high-rise blocks across the UK without the additional feature of a sprinkler system. We stand with London Fire Brigade’s commissioner Dany Cotton who says; “for me where you can save one life then it’s worth doing,”

“Is it possible to retrofit a sprinkler system?”                              

For a long time, it was deemed impractical and uneconomical to make it a requirement to retrofit high-rise blocks with fire sprinklers. This was something that we felt had to be put right. Domestic Sprinklers were appointed to carry out the very first High Rise Retrofit installation in the UK, at an occupied 13-floor 1960’s High-rise residential block in Sheffield. A project funded and directed by the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association (BAFSA) for the Sprinkler Coordination Group (SCG).

Work at the building was undertaken in September of 2011. The primary objective being to determine the practicality of installing a complete system, without the need to decant residents. Fitting sprinklers in 47 flats, plus, utility rooms, common areas, bin stores and an office took less than four weeks to complete. This proved to many how practical and cost effective it can be to retrofit a sprinkler system in occupied High-rise buildings in reasonable time and with minimum impact on residents.

More recently, Domestic Sprinklers have been awarded the contract to design, supply and install sprinkler systems in Albion Towers, Sturminster House and Shirley Towers in partnership with Southampton City Council.

Sadly, two fire fighters lost their lives in 2010 when a blaze at the 15-storey Shirley Towers started in a ninth-floor flat. An inquest revealed the blaze started after a resident left a curtain resting on a lamp.

These three towers were prioritised due to the complex scissor block design where flats are divided between two separate floor levels and separated by a landing level.

Canberra Towers, Redbridge Towers and Millbrook Towers are the tallest council blocks in the city and have been identified as the next towers to be fitted with a sprinkler system.

“Will the sprinkler s

ystem cause more damage than the fire?”

Many assume that property fires will cause far less damage than the water from a sprinkler system, this simply isn’t true!

In residential and domestic properties each sprinkler head operates by means of a fusible temperature link located within each sprinkler head. Each concealed sprinkler head is fitted with a cover plate flush with the ceiling, no bigger than a common smoke alarm. The solder link above the cover plate melt upon reaching a temperature of 57 degrees centigrade. The sprinkler head itself then descends at 68 degrees centigrade, discharging water over the origin of fire.

Sprinkler systems are proven to always control and, in some cases, extinguish the fire, limiting the extent of the fire and smoke damage. Ultimately allowing further time for residents to evacuate the building safely.

A chief fire officer has said that having a sprinkler system is like having a fire-fighter in your property 24/7.

“Who can install a sprinkler system?”

It is imperative you choose a sprinkler system contractor who has the skill and experience of installing such a system. The British Standard, BS9251 says that the system should be designed, installed and maintained by a “competent person”. We strongly recommend that you choose a contractor registered with FIRAS and third party accredited. It is common practice to use someone in the Gas Safe scheme to service your boiler, so it makes perfect sense to take the same approach when installing a sprinkler system and use a FIRAS approved company. At the end of the day it could save your life.

Summary

  • Fire sprinklers can be retro fitted into high rise properties, with little disruption.
  • High-rise flats can be retro fit with a sprinkler system for around £1,148.00
  • The annual maintenance of a sprinkler system is in the region of £250.00
  • The water from a fire sprinkler system will cause less damage to the property than a fire.
  • Be sure to always use a FIRAS approved company to install your sprinkler system

 

 

 

 

 

Supplier Spotlight – SS Systems: Benefits of Integrated Fire and Security Systems

Written by Michelle Reynolds, Commercial Director, SS Systems

In an ever-competitive marketplace, organisations are continually looking for ways in which to make things more efficient and cost effective.

From a property management perspective, it is certainly worth considering integrating your fire and security systems. It can not only save you money, but also make your life so much easier – always a plus!

In this brief article we will consider the benefits of integration and the things you need to consider before embarking on major change.

Historical Considerations

In many organisations, the installations of a fire alarm, intruder alarm, access control, CCTV and fire extinguishers (to name but a few) has happened gradually over years, rather than being a conscious decision to purchase all the systems at the same time.

The purchases are often made by different people, with varying reasons behind each purchase – all very valid when they are made, but over time those needs and circumstances change, warranting an overhaul of existing systems.

Technological Advances

The introduction of IP technology (internet protocol), and the willingness of manufacturers to share product coding, has made it easier for many systems to be integrated. Events registered by one type of system (eg CCTV) can be used to trigger an action on other systems.  This can be in the form of a simple integration (for example, when the fire alarm is triggered, it sends a signal to the access control in order to control door releases), or it can be advanced.

An example of an advanced integration could be a link between intruder, CCTV and access control – on alarm, the intruder system sends a signal to the CCTV system to pan onto the violated area, and on confirmation of an intruder sends a signal to the access control system to lock all doors and will also alert the keyholders.

Benefits of Integrated Systems

The benefits of integrating your fire and security systems include:

  • Fewer false alarms. The systems can be set up so that an alert is made only after confirmation from a number of sources (eg intruder alarm and CCTV camera) thus reducing the chance of a false alarm.
  • Lower maintenance costs. It can often be the case that individual systems are maintained by different companies, each of which attend at different times throughout the year. When the maintenance of all systems is covered by just one company, the costs and disruption can be reduced.
  • Better control. An integrated system can be controlled, managed and monitored by many different people. Technology is such that many aspects of the system can be controlled via an internet connection, making it very flexible and user friendly.
  • Reduced management time. It takes less time for the responsible person to manage one system and contract as opposed to many.

Where do you start?

So, if you are considering an integrated solution for your fire and security requirements, then here’s a guide on how to make a start on the project.

Where to start

Review Existing Systems

A good place to start would be to review what you currently have. We have recently undertaken a comprehensive survey for a local council and it proved extremely useful.  The review should enable you to clarify exactly what equipment you have, the functionality of the systems, the scope covered by existing fire and security systems and the shortfalls/gaps in protection.

As part of your investigations, note down how much it costs you to maintain the system, both in terms of cost and personnel time.

Your Requirements

The next stage would be to consider the level of protection and the functionality you require from your fire and security systems. If you are part of a larger organisation, it helps to gain a wide view so involve as many people as is feasible in your research.

Things to consider in your research could include:

  • Risks or threats already known
  • Speed of response required in the event of an incident
  • Areas of the building & grounds to be covered by an integrated solution
  • Ease of use required
  • Level of protection, specific to areas
  • Essential versus “nice to have”
  • High risk areas – specialist requirements
  • Insurance policy stipulations

Summarise your Findings

When you have completed your initial research, prepare an outline detailing the scope of the project. This helps to clarify requirements for your own organisation, and will assist consultants or suppliers when you speak to them to get a project underway.

Advice

If you are keen to explore the benefits of integrating your fire and security systems, then it helps to bring in external support.

When asking companies for advice, always ensure that they have experience in designing, installing and maintaining a wide range of solutions. It can help to ask for examples of where they have installed an integrated solution so that you can ensure their experience is suitable for your requirements.

For further information, contact:

Michelle Reynolds, Commercial Director

 

 

Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety – Information for Members and Suppliers

Since the tragic events of the Grenfell Tower disaster in June 2017, there has been an independent review of building regulations and fire safety which we believe our members and suppliers should be made aware of. The review has highlighted a number of areas in which improvements and changes need to be made in terms of funding, design and building processes. One of these fundamental areas focuses on the roles and responsibilities of both the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor.

Within the report it states “Primary responsibility for ensuring that buildings are fit for purpose must rest with those who commission, design and build the project. Responsibility and accountability must rest with clearly identifiable senior individuals and not be wholly dispersed through the supply chain. Roles and responsibilities across the whole life cycle of a building must be clearer”

The final report is due to be published in Spring 2018, although it is highly unlikely that changes will be made to current building regulations.  

The consortium would like to reassure our members that our specification for the Fire Safety Framework, is flexible and does in fact cover all eventualities. As long as the Consortium have confirmation of who the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor will be, the terms of our framework will cover all aspects.

The Consortium are more than happy to provide both members and suppliers with as much information regarding the review as possible. Any updates or news regarding the review, we will strive to make members and suppliers aware of as soon as possible.

For any queries regarding the review or our Fire Safety Framework, please contact us

solutions@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

 

 

 

Supplier Spotlight – NWG: Water Compliance Considerations For Your Business

Written by Michael Dean, Water Systems Manager, Total Water Solutions

Businesses face a wide range of legislative requirements to ensure that their water supplies are safe and hygienic. Ensuring high levels of water hygiene is vitally important. The well-being of your employees, customers or tenants depends on it. Businesses who fail to stay compliant can face prosecution, suffer negative PR, or worse, be responsible for causing potentially fatal illness.

In this article we’ll cover two major areas of water legislation – the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, and the legislation covering Legionella control – and introduce the main responsibilities your business has for maintaining compliance.

These are an introduction to the main areas of responsibility businesses have, but are not exhaustive. Your business’s regulatory responsibilities will vary depending on a range of factors, so it’s important to get expert advice on what’s required to maintain compliance.

Legionella Risk Management

Legionella is a bacteria which occurs at low levels in natural water supplies, but which can multiply to dangerous levels within water systems. It’s the cause of Legionnaire’s disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

All businesses have a responsibility to assess and manage legionella risk under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation (1994). Requirements are set out in the Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L8, and businesses who fail to comply with these regulations could face prosecution.

The main areas of responsibility for your business are as follows:

  • Risk assessments
    All employers, building owners and landlords are required to carry out a Legionella risk assessment to BS 8580 standard. This is a thorough review of your water system designed to identify areas which could pose a Legionella risk.
  • Remedial risk management
    Where issues are identified in the Legionella risk assessment, your business will need to carry out remedial work to control the risk. This could include changes to your water systems like removing “deadleg” pipes, replacing tanks or sanitising your systems.
  • Monitoring and record keeping
    Your business will also be required to monitor and maintain its water systems to control Legionella risk. This could involve regularly cleaning and disinfecting parts of your water system like shower heads, monitoring the temperature of water from taps, and regularly testing water samples for bacteria.

Once a risk assessment has been completed, ongoing Legionella risk management can be very straightforward as long as the right training, processes and measurement methods are put in place from the start. Often, simple measures are all that’s necessary to ensure your water supply is safe and hygienic.

Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999

The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 are in place to ensure that any new plumbing systems supplied from public mains are safe, efficient and high quality, reducing the risk of waste, contamination or other problems. While they’re mostly applicable to businesses who are installing new water systems or making modifications to existing systems, there are also some points that all businesses should be aware of.

The legislation covers several major areas:

  • Installing new water fitting
    If you are installing new water fittings on your business premises, you are responsible for adhering to a number of regulatory requirements. These include notifying your water company of your proposed work ahead of time, and ensuring that work is completed to appropriate quality standards.
  • Pressure testing of new supplies
    If you’re installing a new water system, you’ll be required to pressure test it before connecting it to the public water mains. During the test, water is pumped into your system at a set pressure, then monitored for 30 minutes for any drops in pressure. This ensures that there are no leaks or weaknesses that could cause water to escape.
  • Chlorination
    During the chlorination process, a disinfectant solution is circulated around your water network, killing bacteria and ensuring that your new water mains are safe. Your water supply will also undergo bacteriological testing to certify that your system is sanitised to the requirements set out in BS 8558. This required before any new water infrastructure is connected to the mains. It can also be necessary if you’ve made significant changes to your water systems, or regularly as a maintenance method for tanks.

The Water Supply regulations help to ensure that your water systems are installed and maintained to the highest standard. They also help to protect the public water mains, by preventing “backflow” from contaminated systems, and by reducing the risk of leaks. By adhering to the right standards when you make changes to your water system, you can also ensure that your systems run as efficiently as possible, saving your business money.

Stay on top of your compliance responsibilities

While water regulation can be quite complex in places, maintaining compliance doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right advice and a strong strategy, your business could have the confidence that it’s fully compliant with all applicable legislation with a minimum of effort.

Supplier Spotlight – Appello: Why housing providers need to switch on to the potential of digital today

Our new Fire Safety framework has launched

We are delighted to announce that our new Fire Safety framework has now launched.

The new framework is a renewal of our existing fire related services offering; however we have updated, improved and expanded the services now available in relation to the fire safety of premises and people within.

The framework provides for the design, supply, install, certification and maintenance of fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, water mist systems, dry and wet risers, fire compartmentalisation, emergency lighting systems and fire fighting equipment; as well as the provision of fire risk assessments, fire safety training and consultancy.

Rachel Wheeler, Senior Procurement and Contracts Officer said: “We listened to our members and saw the need to expand the current fire safety offering and to support our members in procuring their fire safety requirements in an easy, open and transparent way. I believe this new framework will be of a great benefit to our members, offering them a choice of quality suppliers to enable them to comply with the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order, as well as providing value for money.”

The new framework allows for both direct award and further competition call-offs. This means that should you wish to directly contract with one of the suppliers on the new framework (from our product catalogue or for Fire Risk Assessments, Training, or Consultancy) you will simply need to establish an overarching contract with the supplier and then you are free to order directly with them.

Alternatively, should you wish to test the market against your own bespoke requirements, Consortium Procurement can facilitate a further competition with the framework suppliers to ensure best service and value for your organisation.

For further information please contact your dedicated account executive, or email solutions@consortiumprocurement.org.uk.