On Tuesday 18th of June BJF’s Lead Fire Consultant Tom Newton visited FIREX International 2019, Europe’s only dedicated fire safety event. Here’s some of what he saw and heard.
The show fittingly took place in the week of the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, the largest domestic fire the UK has ever witnessed and one week after another fire in a residential apartment block located in Barking, London. With the anniversary and another fire taking place it was clear that the industry feels let down by the government with little movement on Hackitt’s recommendations; this was evident with the comments made by the Fire Sector Federations Chair: Michael Harper; “The industry had become complacent if not indifferent”.
In a lively panel discussion featuring Fire Sector Federation (FSF) board members the topic of 3rd party certifications and competence registers were high on the agenda. The fire industry looks to catch up with Electrical and Gas where proving competence is a requirement by law.
The FSF are pushing the government for 3rd party certification but believes that until the legislation is in place it is unlikely to become commonplace. The panel noted on more than one occasion the fact that current legislation has not changed significantly in 13 years and that it is outdated to say the least.
In terms of innovation, visiting the product stands he saw a variety of organisations offering market leading active and passive protection systems, including a live compartment wall breach being made good and a fire door fitting demonstration on the Warrington Fire – BM Trada stand.
Day 1 closed with another panel discussion, the time on the subject of the “Golden Thread,” part of the Hackitt review. The Golden Thread is about arming end users with information about what has been built in order for them to make correct decisions on how to manage the building safely.
The panel again highlighted a need for the government to legislate but also discussed a requirement for a cultural shift. At the moment there is a real concern that contractors won’t take the necessary steps to record information unless they are made to. Tom Roche mentioned that similar requirements are in force as ‘Regulation 38’, although they are not enforceable. Again, the emphasis is on legislation to ensure compliance by ensuring that the enforcing authorities ‘have the teeth’ to enforce improvements in practice.
All in all, the show was insightful as industry experts discussed the progress thus far and where they see the improvements that are desperately needed.
To find out more about BJF Group’s fire safety services visit our Fire Safety Solutions page