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Fire Sector Federation outlines pathway for national strategy on fire safety

25 October 2022

WORKING IN conjunction with numerous industry leaders, the Fire Sector Federation has launched an initiative calling for wider discussion that will ultimately result in the creation of a National Strategy for Fire Safety. A strategy which goes beyond current legislative proposals to “comprehensively address” measures designed to mitigate fire risk in the UK.

The Federation’s White Paper entitled ‘Developing a National Strategy for Fire Safety’ sets out a possible pathway for the fire sector and Government to work together to create a society that’s better safeguarded from fire. Further, the Federation is seeking Government support to ensure that fire remains a priority, integrate policy across Government departments and devolved administrations and “make full use” of the technical expertise within the specialist fire sector in order to achieve success.

According to the Fire Sector Federation, there are three areas for immediate priority: raising competency, mitigating fire risk in modular and other buildings using mass timber and partnering with the construction sector to raise awareness of the potential fire risk posed by innovative new products and methodologies.

Fire Safety Strategy Board

The proposals put forward have been developed by a new Fire Sector Federation Fire Safety Strategy Board. That Board is chaired by Jonathan O’Neill (the Federation’s policy and strategy lead), with leadership expertise drawn from across a diverse range of sectors including fire safety, Fire and Rescue, construction, insurance and building control.

Those involved include recognised leaders and experts in the discipline of fire safety from organisations including the Fire Sector Federation itself, the Fire Industry Association, the Association for Specialist Fire Protection, the Institution of Fire Engineers, the National Fire Chiefs Council, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, AXA Insurance, local authority Building Control, the Construction Products Association Marketing Group and the Construction Industry Council.

Speaking about this development, the Fire Sector Federation’s new chair John Spencer said: “While we’ve seen significant new legislation introduced in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, it’s incumbent upon everyone in the built environment to avoid further complacency and address problems we know continue to exist and may well evolve in future. Industry is well placed to understand these problems and, just as importantly, some of their solutions.”

Spencer added: “Engaging positively and supportively with Government, we believe a National Strategy for Fire Safety is the most effective way in which to achieve the shared aim of a fire-safe society. Our desire is to fashion a roadmap to deliver an effective and resilient fire safety agenda aligned within a secure and sustainable environment and that requires collective actions in both industry and Government.”

Creating a single voice

Jonathan O’Neill observed: “The Board’s vision is to create a single voice to support the management of fire risk and achieve a safer and sustainable solution with a clear and integrated pathway to success. As an industry, we can use our unrivalled knowledge and experience to define the route to better fire safety.”

O’Neill continued: “We need to break the cycle of stable door legislation following major tragedies and replace it with a proactive approach that secures for Government – and the sector at large – a solution that’s genuinely holistic in order to protect society and the economy from foreseen losses.”

In addition, O’Neill stated: “A new strategy will address the current gaps in fire safety and enable the industry to help Government set appropriate policy priorities for success. The White Paper highlights the need for ‘fire’ to be a priority for Government with a better understanding of the complex factors involved and for better integration of policy across ministerial portfolios.”

Ultimately, the fire sector promotes professional understanding in a responsible industry and wants a vibrant and successful UK. O’Neill concluded: “Awaiting another tragedy as the precursor to moving fire safety up the policy agenda would only represent failure and suffering.”

As an organisation, the Fire Sector Federation seeks to exert influence in shaping future policy and strategy related to the UK’s fire sector. The Federation is a not-for-profit, non-Government organisation established to act as a forum for the benefit of its membership and to evolve as a central source of information on all aspects relating to fire safety.

*Further information is available online at www.firesectorfederation.co.uk