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Bureau Veritas outlines detail underpinning first-ever Fire Safety Awareness Week
17 November 2020
REFLECTING THE company’s continued commitment to educating businesses on regulatory Best Practice in the fire safety arena, Health and Safety expert Bureau Veritas has announced the details underpinning its first-ever Fire Safety Awareness Week which begins on Monday 23 November.
The week will feature daily themes – among them Building Regulations and fire risk assessments – with each topic having its own webinar or educational video offering expert insight on compliance-focused issues. The Fire Safety Awareness Week will then culminate in a panel discussion involving some of the business’ top specialists.
The Building Regulations have seen a number of changes in 2020 with the outcomes of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety conducted by Dame Judith Hackitt resulting in a new Building Safety Regulator and amendments to Approved Document B duly altering the current trigger height for sprinklers in new residential flats. As such, Bureau Veritas is grabbing the opportunity to remind construction firms of the importance of fire safety throughout building design, construction and operation.
Fire risk assessments are, of course, an essential part of any fire safety system and designed to help protect people and property. When fire breaks out, the results can be disastrous if the fire safety installation chain breaks down. However, recent figures show that 60% of local authorities have delayed fire door maintenance and inspection programmes in the first half of 2020, with 53% citing COVID-19 as the main reason as to why. Despite England now entering a second lockdown period, Bureau Veritas is encouraging organisations to understand regulations around fire risk assessments and how they can proactively remain compliant.
The Fire Safety Awareness Week will also cover topics such as fire science, fire engineering and the already much-discussed Building Safety Bill.
The Bureau Veritas Fire Safety Awareness Week schedule is as follows:
*Monday 23 November: Building Regulations – live webinar with Andy Lowe (director of building control)
*Tuesday 24 November: Fire Engineering (including a new ‘Behind the Project’ video)
*Wednesday 25 November: Fire Risk Assessments – live webinar with Lee Perry (commercial manager)
*Thursday 26 November: Fire Science (including the ‘Safety at Christmas’ video and a ‘Fire Science Behind the Project’ video)
*Friday 27 November: Building Safety Bill (including the ‘Safety Regulator Golden Thread’ live webinar with Andy Lowe)
Live Q&A session with Bureau Veritas experts Andy Lowe, Lee Perry, Paul Currie and John O’Sullivan (register your place and submit a question to the expert panel here)
Steve Highwood, building and infrastructure market lead at Bureau Veritas, told Fire Safety Matters: “Despite COVID-19 necessarily being a major focus for everyone this year, we cannot ignore the other statutory Health and Safety procedures that must take place to ensure the safety of employees and visitors. Added to this, more than ever businesses are facing increased competition and pressure on their resources.”
Highwood continued: “Achieving compliance and meeting Best Practice standards concerning fire and life safety may not always be easy. While fire safety should be at the forefront of many duty holders’ minds, a substantial proportion may not fully understand what their role and responsibilities truly entail.”
He went on to state: “Our Fire Safety Awareness Week has been designed with all sectors in mind. The various expert webinars and educational videos on offer will help local authorities, duty holders and business owners alike to garner a greater understanding of their responsibilities around fire and life safety and take the necessary steps to ensure compliance.”
The statistics speak for themselves, with recent figures revealing Fire and Rescue Services attended almost 154,000 fires between March 2019 and the same month of this year. In addition, of the 48,400 fire safety audits carried out by Fire and Rescue Services in 2019-2020, just 66% were deemed satisfactory, with houses converted to flats, licensed premises and hotels seeing the lowest proportion of satisfactory ratings.
Fire safety management
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to fire safety management,” explained Highwood. “Ultimately, duty holders or building managers must be confident that they’ve identified the fire precautions necessary to reduce the risks to employees so far as is reasonably practicable and that those precautions are implemented and work in practice. Key to this is a reasonable, realistic and achievable compliance strategy.”
Whatever the level of in-house expertise pertaining in a given organisation, Bureau Veritas offers a comprehensive range of fire and life safety consultancy services to suit all requirements. From fire risk assessment services through to topic-specific consultancy, the testing, inspection and certification expert offers clients the opportunity to select the services they require to help improve fire safety management in their buildings, while also gaining from the cost-efficiencies realised by a combined service.