Home>Fire>Alarms and Detection>IFE, BAFE and FireQual statements mark sixth anniversary of Grenfell tragedy
Home>Fire>Business Continuity>IFE, BAFE and FireQual statements mark sixth anniversary of Grenfell tragedy
Home>Fire>Enforcement>IFE, BAFE and FireQual statements mark sixth anniversary of Grenfell tragedy

IFE, BAFE and FireQual statements mark sixth anniversary of Grenfell tragedy

26 June 2023

AS WE await the much-anticipated second and final report from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, the fire safety industry must “continue to lead and collaborate with its partners” in order to “rebuild trust and confidence within high-rise communities and the wider built environment”. That’s the considered view of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) as the organisation marks the sixth anniversary of the tragedy that unfolded in London on 14 June 2017.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry has “highlighted invaluable insights, revealing systemic failures and shortcomings that must be addressed” in order to prevent such a catastrophic incident from ever occurring again.

The IFE has urged that industries across the built environment must collectively learn from the tragedy and make meaningful changes in order to protect the lives and safety of all those who reside in high-rise buildings, ensuring that industry professionals are keeping abreast of new legislative changes and those to follow.

Enhancing competency

Prioritising the safety and well-being of high-rise communities, the Building Safety Act 2022 and the Fire Safety (England) Regulations have been widely discussed following their introduction. Providing support for those operating across the built environment, the IFE published guidance to help industry professionals navigate the new legislation and understand the impacts on current fire safety Best Practice.

To provide clear understanding of the Building Safety Act ‘Gateways’, the IFE and the British Standards Institution have jointly developed a free webinar series focused on explain the processes to be adopted.

Further, the IFE recently added a mandatory rule to its Fire Risk Register in that new and existing individuals must now be dual registered with The Engineering Council, thereby ensuring a competent and multi-skilled cohort of fire safety-focused professionals.

Driving necessary change

For its part, the Fire Sector Federation launched an initiative in October last year, calling for wider discussion to create a national fire safety strategy that would address measures to mitigate fire risk within the UK. The IFE assisted in the development of this document, identifying potential risks and raising competency standards. A full update on the development of the document will be forthcoming in October.

The IFE has commented: “Rebuilding trust and confidence among those resident in high-rise communities is crucial and requires collaboration between all stakeholders across the built environment. Government bodies, building owners, construction industry professionals and the fire sector in general must be involved. We must work diligently to implement the recommendations outlined in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, ensuring that they become the foundation of a safer and more secure future.”

The statement continued: “The fire sector remains dedicated to its mission of protecting life, property and the environment. As leaders within the industry, we continue to enhance our operational capabilities, invest in training and share knowledge and Best Practice with our counterparts both nationally and internationally.”

The IFE concluded: “We recognise that these efforts do not mitigate the suffering and trauma of Grenfell’s victims and their loved ones. However, we can honour the memory of those we lost and ensure that their legacy serves as a catalyst for lasting change. The fire sector stands united with our partners and the community to build a safer future for all.”

Third party certification

Both BAFE and FireQual have also acknowledged the sixth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. “Everyone involved in the fire safety industry remembers this tragic event and our respects go out to all affected.”

Justin Maltby-Smith CEng FIET, Group managing director at BAFE, has stated: “What’s important to note is the ongoing response and aftermath of this event, the latest developments of which are the forthcoming updates to fire safety legislation. There’s now a far stronger focus on the ‘Responsible Person’. Their duties are being scrutinised more so than ever before.”

According to Maltby-Smith, now is the time to “seriously acknowledge” UKAS accredited third party certification as the “key indicator” of competence. This is particularly important for ‘Responsible Persons’. Their choice of life safety systems-focused contractors will now be a clear sign in terms of whether cost or safety was the main driver in the decision-making process.

Maltby-Smith continued: “While there is always scepticism from some quarters regarding third party certification, we strongly believe this significantly aids in regulation of quality organisations and their employed individuals. It’s a clear demonstration of objective evidence, audited at least annually by an independent party [ie a UKAS-accredited certification body]. This is the most robust form of regulation on the market. At present, it’s completely voluntary, which also strongly demonstrates an organisation’s dedication to competence if they choose to go through this process.”

Focusing on fire risk assessors, Maltby-Smith observed: “In terms of the competence of fire risk assessment providers, Government has stated that it is actively working with the [fire] sector to develop a robust roll-out plan and will provide more information on this in the coming months. BAFE is proud to be part of this process and trusts that Government will make suitable improvements moving forward to help regulate this vital service.”

Maltby-Smith concluded: “Multiple organisations and individuals have stressed that we cannot let an event such as the Grenfell Tower fire happen again. BAFE and FireQual’s work supports these statements by developing quality avenues to further knowledge that’s underpinned by regulated qualifications and helps to demonstrate competency through appropriate third party certification.”