Fire safety isn’t a one-and-done solution. It’s an ongoing battle. In the residential construction sector, we should be arming ourselves with knowledge on precautions, armouring ourselves with regulations and surrounding ourselves with those who have the know-how to change our attitudes on fire safety and make sure we keep our residents safe.
The following preventative fire safety strategies exist to avoid further tragedies like that at Grenfell Tower and attempt to undo the unsafe practices left in place from the 20th century.
Collaborating with fire experts
Staying vigilant in regard to fire safety is nothing without the input of and collaboration with experts in the field. Arming ourselves with the knowledge of county fire departments is key in not only making sure the correct decisions are being made, but also in making sure we can change our attitudes to fire safety as an industry. Historically, fire safety considerations have come in second place to a focus on environmental impact. Whilst environmental impact should absolutely be considered a high priority when designing new buildings, this should not come at the expense of keeping residents safe from fire.
By keeping in close communication with fire experts, we can set a precedent as an industry that we will not allow tragedies to occur as a result of negligence in fire safety.
Why should I take fire safety precautions?
New policies have come into place as a result of an increased focus on fire safety. One of the most crucial of these is the ongoing replacement of certain Aluminium Composite Materials (ACM) on the cladding of high-rise buildings. The flammable nature of ACM has meant that an urgent replacement is necessary and has been stipulated in the Hackitt report and governmental fire safety policy as a requirement on buildings over 18 meters tall.
The Golden Thread of information can make sure that installations on a building site are correct and compliant with current fire safety standards, helping us take precautions when building, such as keeping a record of information on fire safety, accountability, and quality at all times. The Golden Thread of information can, beyond this, also help to identify sections of a project that are high and low risk from a fire safety perspective and assist with redesign where necessary.
Why are fire safety regulations important?
Regulations are incredibly important in keeping ourselves in line as an industry. When we have regulations, rules, and procedures to follow, it can help to keep safety a top priority. In respect of this, The Building Safety Regulator was set up to oversee safety at three critical junctures.
The planning sign-off, design & concept, and pre-occupation stages are each supervised by this Regulator to keep the Golden Thread of accountability and safety alive. During each stage, a relevant department is responsible for confirming the safety of a building. For example, in the design and concept stage, confirming that the materials being used are not a fire risk, nor that the design itself would be hazardous if a fire broke out inside the apartment.
As an industry, we need to stay alert in the ongoing battle with fire. Keeping residents safe from fire through an accurate, up-to-date Golden Thread of information is crucial and this will only be bolstered by collaborating with experts, following regulations, and taking all necessary fire-related precautions.
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